The Most Difficult Games

Discuss text adventures here! The classics like those from Infocom, Magnetic Scrolls, Adventure International and Level 9 and the ones we're making today.

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bryanb
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The Most Difficult Games

Post by bryanb »

Difficulty in text games is a relative thing. I know many people found Zork II and Deadline more difficult than The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I definitely didn't. A puzzle that one reasonably intelligent person finds easy isn't necessarily going to be easy for another. We all have the ability to be obtuse and not see solutions that are right under our noses. And parsers can be unreasonable and downright hostile. I can't count how many times I've "solved" a puzzle mentally but failed to type in the right words and as a result thought I was doing something wrong and went back to square one. That said, I'd like to think that there are some games we can universally consider hard because they are designed not to be solved. Games that are intended to be exercises in frustration...games that mock and belittle all who play...games that are misanthropic paeans to some human-hating deity. This is the thread for those games.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stands out in my mind because it was a game I really, really wanted to solve but utterly failed to do so for years. I played the game before reading the books so it was my introduction to Douglas Adams' fantastic writing. I'm not sure there's ever been a funnier IF game written. It was also a space game and I love space games. I ended up breaking down and using a walkthrough to solve it
which I hate to do. Whenever I've gone back to try to play it again I get stuck again.

Curses by Graham Nelson was another tough one. It has a really entertaining beginning, but after a while you start to realize that this game -- and Graham himself -- really doesn't want you to succeed. Graham ended up admitting he was disappointed that so many people were ultimately able to win the game. It was one the few new text games I played in the 90s pre-comp era and that's probably the main reason I put enough time in it to actually solve it. I do recommend it to the patient.

I trust Roody's opinion enough to add Enemies by Andy Phillips to the list. It's the kind of game that starts kicking your ass practically from the moment you start it up. I never got very far into the game, but what I saw looked great.

What's on your list of most difficult games? Also, on a related note, has there ever been a published text adventure written that no player other than the author has ever been able to solve? If so, we should totally work together to beat it.

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Flack
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Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Flack »

The hardest one I remember playing was Rambo: First Blood Part II, by Mindscape. The game begins with Rambo parachuting into the jungle. Your first move is pretty obvious (remove parachute) but if you don't also hide the parachute in a nearby log, soldiers will find and kill you almost immediately. Also, helicopters pass by randomly overhead and each time you hear one you have to type "hide", otherwise they will see and shoot you. The problem is, not all locations have a place to hide, which means you're gonna die and the only solution is to restore from a previous save point and try to be in a place that has somewhere to hide when the helicopter comes. The first goal is to make it to the enemy camp, and I challenge anyone to make it that far without looking up a walk-thru.
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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

This is the best idea for a thread I have seen in a long time. Tomorrow I will have something proper to say about it.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

Roody_Yogurt
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Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Roody_Yogurt »

Flack wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 6:29 am
The hardest one I remember playing was Rambo: First Blood Part II, by Mindscape.
A lot of what you describe existed in a bunch of the Mindscape/Angelsoft games. I covered one of them, an Indiana Jones game, on my old transcripts blog. Random events, terrible parsers, and more made those games a frustrating experience. Just the same, probably solely based on the licensing, I always wanted to like them. One of my only goals of learning python was to port a BASIC script for text-dumping Angelsoft games (I never got around to it) with the possible but illegal goal of rewriting and fixing them so they weren't so horrible.

Really, there are so many terribly difficult games out there that I don't even know where to begin (several of the others I covered in my short-lived blog also probably fit the bill).

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Jizaboz
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Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Jizaboz »

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:53 pm
Flack wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 6:29 am
The hardest one I remember playing was Rambo: First Blood Part II, by Mindscape.
A lot of what you describe existed in a bunch of the Mindscape/Angelsoft games. I covered one of them, an Indiana Jones game, on my old transcripts blog. Random events, terrible parsers, and more made those games a frustrating experience. Just the same, probably solely based on the licensing, I always wanted to like them. One of my only goals of learning python was to port a BASIC script for text-dumping Angelsoft games (I never got around to it) with the possible but illegal goal of rewriting and fixing them so they weren't so horrible.

Really, there are so many terribly difficult games out there that I don't even know where to begin (several of the others I covered in my short-lived blog also probably fit the bill).
I didn't know about the Indiana Jones game! Yeah that's always how it is. "Masters of the Universe in Terraquake" comes to mind as well. I love anything He-Man, but man what a frustrating game.

I totally agree with Deadline too. Never beat it or Suspect.

Wonderland is one for me. I got stuck for ages on a puzzle regarding getting a key from the other side of a locked door. Never figured it out! Would really like to finish that one one day.

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pinback
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Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by pinback »

I get the sense that any extremely difficult IF game is due to bad design/implementation. Unless there is one where only the author has ever finished it, in which case it's just the author being a dick, and then jacking off said dick.
In the yard, not too far from the car.

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