Take, for example, last night's Daytona 2001 session. Instead of cooly placing my pad on the floor and turning my Dreamcast off when I failed, yet again, to place in the top five of the first Championship series (ie, the 'easy' series); I instead found myself spinning around on the floor on my hands and knees, punching the couch and growling like that retarded dancing bear on the RSPCA advert. Naturally, after catching a glimpse of my actions in a nearby mirror, composure was quickly restored. It seems though, that there is many a game on the Dreamcast that can bring forth the inner fury locked deep within all but the most emotionally repressed of gamer's souls, and hence we proudly present:
The Dreamcast Junkyard's Official Top 10 Most Wall-Punchingly Fucking Infuriating Games...In The World...Ever!
10. Jet Set Radio
First off, this isn't a list of poor or bad games - and that's illustrated by the inclusion of Jet Set Radio: arguably one of the Dreamcast's finest moments. The whole thing reeks of pure quality, from the graphics and outstanding soundtrack, to the presentation and gameplay. So why include it? Jet Set Radio makes this list for only two reasons (and that's why it sits so far from the top spot):
i) The horrific 'boss' levels where you have to tag members of a rival gang. If you're unfamiliar with these stages, basically you have to chase several members of an enemy skating crew around specially designed circular levels. When you get close enough - tag them. Sounds simple. It aint.
ii) The horrific 'copying' stages where you have to copy a prospective new gang member's actions in order to get them to join your club. When the AI character shows you what you have to accomplish in order to unlock the new character, it looks simple enough: grind a rail, jump a gap, grind another rail...until you attempt it and fail every single time because the camera won't align properly and you fall to your doom. AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: swear, turn it off and make a brew.
Again, not a bad game by any means, infact Re-Volt is a rather good little racer and is certainly unique on the Dreamcast as the only RC Car simulation. My first encounter with Re-Volt came on the N64, and I recall it being rather fun - and the Dreamcast is superior in terms of visuals, sound and number of tracks...although it retains the unbelievable uber-sensitive controls that mean the difference between finishing a race on the podium, or languishing in last place. And that's why Re-Volt makes this list - the awful, twitchy behaviour of the vehicles, and the way just the slightest mistake can send you right to the back of the pack, even if you've been leading the race for the last few laps with no AI cars in sight.
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: punch the air, swear and turn it off.
HeadHunter - the DC's answer to Metal Gear Solid. And what a game it is. Solid storyline, brilliant voice acting, hours of excellent Tarrantino-style shoot outs...until you get to the mission where you have to race around the city streets on your trusty superbike, getting to the checkpoints before the bomb timers run out. However, it's not that the timer counts down too quickly that earns Jack Wade a place in this countdown. It's the ridiculously poor handling of the bike that makes it simply impossible to complete the section.
Now, there's analogue control, and there's analogue uncontrollability: Wade's bike falls into the latter catergory. Pull in the analogue trigger quickly and the bike rears up on it's back wheel and careers in a straight line into the nearest wall. Pull the trigger in slowly...and the bike rears up on it's back wheel and careers into the nearest bus. Granted, motorbikes on their back wheels generally don't steer that well due to the front wheel being a foot off the floor - but to over-do the power differential so much makes the bike sections in HeadHunter almost impossible to complete.
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: Scream into a cushion, and turn it off .
7. Vanishing Point
Acclaim's highly polished racer likes to do things differently. Playing like the bastard love-child of The Need For Speed (the original) and Club Drive, VP shuns the regular formula of racing against AI cars in an attempt to get ahead of them in the rankings. Instead, it throws up a bizarre system where you still race against AI rivals, but it's all based on times and each vehicle's lap is compared to the others,' and your position is calculated every time you pass a certain checkpoint. The reason behind VP's inclusion here is only in part connected to this system of ranking though, for combined with this unorthodox ranking procedure are (booming voice) "The Controls from Planet X."
If you've ever driven a car that's had it's suspension replaced with water beds, you'll know what to expect in Vanishing Point. The super-squishy nature of the vehicles' suspension makes VP an excercise in trying to keep your car in a straight line as it bounces around like a fat kid on a trampoline. Turn too sharply and the centrifugal force sets it off, wobbling back and forth across the road like a 300 bhp jelly. This, in turn causes you to over-compensate by opposite-locking ad nauseum, until you inevitably pile into the back of a drone vehicle. Your car spins, the clock ticks, you're in 22nd position. You'll never get back up to 1st - you might as well quit and start the stage again. What do you mean I have to do the ENTIRE FUCKING CHAMPIONSHIP ALL OVER AGAIN?!
Grrr-o-meter rating: Thrown joypad, kicked cat, several minutes of swearing.
6. Resident Evil: Code Veronica
What can you say about Resi Veronica? It's a superlative adventure that we've studied many a time here at the Junkyard. Not only is it a great game in it's own right, but it represents a true evolution of the Resi series into the age of 3D. The visuals are astounding, the sound perfection, the plot twists come in thick and almost as often as rotting hands reach for your throat...that is until you get to the end of the first disk...
Yep, you've spent a few hours running around the military installation; met the whining Steve Burnside; killed his dad; been puzzled by the jeep enclosed in a coutyard with a door that's too small for it to fit through; systematically cleared the mansion of the undead room by room; opened up a family-sized can of whup-ass on a mutant with Dhalsim's arms; collected a Taliban's hideout full of weaponry and even fired a crossbow at a dog. Cool.
So, wearily, you put the last 'proof' in the hole by the sea plane, race against time to raise the bridge, get back to the plane and take off before the whole installation goes tits up in a ball of fire...and escape from Ashford's Harrier jump jet. At last. Disc 2 beckons. Or so you thought.
Armed with no ammo and no guns, and having only saved a few minutes previously, enter the fucking mutant in the back of the plane. Marvellous. Better start again, then. Or not.
Grrr-o-meter rating: WTF? AAAAAAAARRRGH!! Thrown pad, kicked cat, disk skimmed.
5. Super Magnetic Neo
Super Magnetic Neo is a delightful little platform game much in the vein of Crash Bandicoot or Pandemonium. You play the Titular Neo, a white panted moron with a magnet for a head. LSD, anyone?
Anyway, for the first few levels, it all rolls along at a comfortable pace. You swing across gaps and avoid the attention of various baddies by switching your magnetic field's polarity, thus attaching or propelling your diminutive frame to/from various magnetic surfaces.
Easy, right? WRONG. With a capital W, a capital R, and a capital ONG.
As you get farther into the game, delightful little tricks are introduced, such as magnets that switch allegiance (+ to - and vice versa) and spin around and all sorts of shit. What was originally a lovely, twee, garish, vomit inducingly cute cartoon platform adventure morphs into the game that Satan gets out when his mates come round for a beer. You'll die - oh God you'll die. A thousand times. High blood pressure? Don't buy Super Magnetic Neo.
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: Joypad dessimated, disk ripped from drive and skimmed across the room in direction of the nearest family member.
4. MDK 2
One of the Dreamcast's best adventure games, MDK 2 features so many insanely difficult areas you could fill the Library of Alexandria with written accounts of them, and still have to use the bins round the back to store the overspill.
Where do I begin? The opening stage where Kurt is skydiving to earth and you have to avoid the missiles being fired in your general direction? The boss at the end of the first proper level where you have to sniper the weak points whilst avoiding being shot at by parachuting goons? The bit where you have to guide Max's rocket through the asteroid field? the section where you have to shoot grenades through the tiny openings in the tops of the shields on the floating platforms? The bit where you have to fly up through the vertical tunnel avoiding overwhelming enemy fire and watching your jetpack fuel? I could go on and on and on. Sure, the graphics are very pretty and the dialogue and comic-book style cut scenes are genuinely amusing...but it's so hard many people will give up way before they should because it's causing skull-ripping migraines. A shame.
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: Contrary to the name, Murder, Death and indeed Kills will ensue.
3. Daytona USA 2001
I only recently learned to love Daytona. Sure, it all looks very nice at first glance but when you sit down and play it, how many can say they truly appreciate the subtleties of the handling model? It's only after several hours play that you can truly get a feel for the way the cars handle, and only after a few hours on top of those that you realise that these cars were intended to go around corners sideways...
But it's not the handling that gets Daytona a perch at Number 3. No - once you unlock the potential of the power slide, the handling is second nature. Daytona is at 3 because the Championship mode is the most unforgiving I've ever played. In the first two series, you only have to finish the the season in the top 5 to progress. Fair enough you'll think. Untill you try. For some reason, tracks you could lick in single race mode become impossible to beat - I raced a perfect race on 777 Speedway and still came in third and when the pressure heats up because you need the points to progress, you cave in and almost always end up coming 9th. Grrr. But that's not all - if enemy vehicles come alongside you and bang into you, it's your car that loses speed - not theirs!
OK, my reasons for putting Daytona so high may be down to my own ineptitude under pressure, but when you spend so long perfecting your game only to be constantly rewarded with a 'game over' screen, it's a bitter pill to swallow. Fortunatley, Daytona has such a powerful 'just one more go' effect, you can't help but play on into the night - but the unfair advantage AI cars have when cornering or in the speed-boost stakes...well, it makes me want to cry sometimes.
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: Spin around on the floor with your head in your hands, screaming.
2. 4 Wheel Thunder
The psuedo sequel to Midway's other arcade racer, Hydro Thunder, 4 Wheel Thunder enters the chart at number 2 for good reason. Sure, it features an impressive game engine that virtually eliminates pop-up, fade in, clipping or whatever you want to call it; and there are plenty of tracks and multiplayer games bolted on. All fine and dandy. But when the methods you are forced to employ in order to win races are as cheap those executed in 4 Wheel Thunder, there's only going to be one outcome: the shot-putting of a Dreamcast through a closed window.
As an arcade racer, 4 Wheel Thunder ticks all the right boxes. Awesome visuals, wank rock soundtrack, bouncy controls, nitro boosts, hills, jumps, shortcuts - it's all here; but therein lies the reason behind 4WT's ascent to the penultimate spot in this run down of the most blood-vessel busting Dreamcast software: the reliance on short-cuts and nitro boosts in order to win.
Fair enough, umpteen games grace our favourite console that feature alternative routes - Rush 2049, Speed Devils and Super Runabout are but three - but in these games taking deviations from the beaten track are not compulsory in order to place in the points, and neither is the collection of every single nitro boost on the circuit. As in Hydro Thunder, these nitro pick-ups come in two different flavours - one gives a short boost, the other gives a long one. Fair enough, but 4 Wheel Thunder forces you to collect every single one and keep your finger on the 'boost' button for the duration of the race, otherwise you ain't coming in the top 3 and you ain't progressing any further. To put an even finer point on why 4 Wheel Thunder is at number 2: if you miss a single boost or fail to take a single shortcut, you might as well kiss your prospects of victory goodbye before you've even completed the first lap.
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: Ever used a joypad with bite marks in it? Thank 4 Wheel Thunder.
1. Soul Calibur
Ah Haaa! Weren't expecting that were you?! Yes - Soul Calibur is THE Number 1 most wall-punchingly infuriating game on the Dreamcast! "How so?!" I hear you collectively gasp. How could such a good looking, massively playable, easy-to-pick-up-but-difficult-to-master title be placed at the zenith of such a chart?
You've just answered your own (well, my rhetorical) question.
Remember - this isn't a chart detailing how good or bad it's components are; it's a chart detailing levels of frustration that lay a 5-week siege to your cerebral cortex whilst playing them - and Soul Calibur scales to the very pinnacle for the following reason:
No matter how good you think you are at Soul Calibur, someone who has never even seen a Dreamcast before can shuffle along, pick up a pad...AND KICK YOUR ARSE! AAAAARGH!
It's happened to me many a time. Just when you think you're an unstoppable tetsujin, laying waste to all and sundry - up steps a new challenger with the question "what are the buttons?"
With an all knowing smirk, and with the carcasses of fallen heroes scattered all around your feet, you oblige "just press anything."
And they do. And you get the shite knocked out of you by a cretin with Yorkshire puddings for hands but the onscreen persona of one 'Kilik.' Round two is much of the same: whist you try to get close and unleash a devestating combo or special, your adversary mashes at the buttons and pulls off special after combo after special, intercut with the odd accidental Soul Charge that inexplicably heralds the introduction of an accidental parry and 'accidental' victory.
So you see, all those hours battling through the story mode and kicking ass in arcade mode to open new characters...it all inevitably leads to nothing but smashed teeth at the hands of a gaming virgin. And that's why Soul Calibur is the single most soul crushing, infuriating, aneurysm inducing game on the Dreamcast.
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: Kneeling in the backyard, in the thundering rain, screaming at the Heavens with upstretched arms whilst all around you lie the scattered shards of a smashed Dreamcast: