Inappropriately named Final Fantasy Adventure (since rereleased as Sword of Mana) had an extremely bad case. You are given the following clue from a man in town as a way to the next dungeon: "Palm Trees... and 8." Most players will quickly find the screen with 8 palm trees and begin combing it for the dungeon entrance. The solution? On another screen, you walk in a figure eight around two palm trees. Not even one time; it takes 2 or 3 tracings to unlock the dungeon entrance.
The German translation tells you to follow the eight at the palm trees. Better, but still poor.
The Bonus Boss in Etrian Odyssey has a bad case of this trope. The whole 6th stratum Bonus Dungeon is downright evil, with warps and pitfall traps throughout it; but it's at least theoretically possible to muddle through if you have a lot of time to burn. The final bonus boss is different; it can be beaten only if you can predict every single one of its elemental attacks (and it will probably get off about 50 of them during a typical fight) and use the appropriate one-turn elemental defense against every single one. It turns out that if you have less than ten status effects, its elemental attacks follow a set pattern (which is not hinted anywhere, and which you must know exactly in order to beat it.) Any more of them, and it's random. Worse, the defense powers you need to use are only learned by one specific class (which you may not even have) and you must level those powers to exactly 5 (out of 10) — any higher and they start to absorb damage instead of negating it. It sounds good at first, but the absorption won't protect you from accompanying status effects, which will cripple your party, and, if you're unlucky, will make the boss start attacking at random and cause you to lose immediately. It also has all three OHKO spells that former FOE bosses had and seems to use them at random.
Additionally, if you're going for 100% completion, filling out the last few items in the item compendium, requires that you kill some enemies using certain skill, NOT using certain skill, kill them within a turn limit or even OHKO them. Not to mention that some of them are simply veryRare Drops, and just happen to be listed in the same area as the conditional drops in the bestiary.
About a couple chapters into Etrian Odyssey III you are presented with two apparently unimportant, But Thou Must kind of choices: whether or not to promise not to reveal the location of the hidden city, and whether or not to reveal it anyway. To get the Golden Ending you have to both make the promise and break it. And you won't see the effects until after 20-40 hours into the gameplay.
Dark Souls is filled to the brim with this trope. There are so many hidden items, weapons, and characters that can only be encountered under strict circumstances that most players will never find them unless they look at a guide. One example would be saving Solaire in Lost Izilath. When the game first came out, many thought that he was meant to die as a part of the story. Turns out, he can be saved and join the player in the final battle if they reveal a hidden wall, join a covenant with a nearby NPC, level that covenant to a certain amount (which will take many hours), and take a shortcut into Lost Izilath containing nine enemies that must be killed. If these steps are taken, he will be spared.
It should be mentioned that the game in no way tells you that leveling up a covenant is the way to open the door, only saying it is "locked by some contraption" which usually means a switch.
There are also several levels that are extremely hard to find. The Great Hollow and Ash Lake are only accessible behind an illusory wall in a remote corner of the poisonous Blighttown swamp, in an already fairly well-hidden room containing a rare item. The Undead Asylum can be returned to by jumping off the elevator linking Firelink Shrine and the Undead Parish, and contains several very useful items, including a key to another secret level later in the game and an item that makes Blighttown infinitely more tolerable.
Want to get in on some hot PVP action with the Darkwraiths? Well, then, go get the Lordvessel. Oh, you did what the game said to do and visited Frampt with it? Too bad; the Darkwraith covenant and all its assorted benefits are now Lost Forever.
After you kill Lautrec and recover Anastasia's Fire Keeper Soul, you can use it on her cell to revive her, which will relight the Firelink Shrine bonfire. However, if you use it to reinforce your Estus Flasks, then the Firelink Shrine bonfire cannot be relit in this playthrough.
If you hit an NPC, they will become hostile to you, seemingly permanently. As you can imagine, this will absolutely cripple your game if you hurt a vital merchant or a blacksmith. The only way to make hostile characters neutral to you again is to visit Oswald of Carim (who is located in an early game boss room, well off the beaten path) and use the 'Absolve Sin' option (which costs an assload of souls).
A pure sorcerer build may have a harder time of it if they don't know that leveling up the Dexterity stat decreases casting speed. Too bad the game-even the stat explanation screen-doesn't tell you that.
Although not quite as labyrinthine in its requirements, its predecessor Demon's Souls also had issues with this — to the point that the US release came with a strategy guide.
Demon's Souls contains one of the worst examples, though. Remember those NPCs you find in the various zones? Remember how you rescue them and they become part of the hub area, often becoming useful vendors and the like? Well, the joke's on you if you do this with Yurt. Then keep progressing after he appears in the hub (which is not initially after you rescue him, but after you beat a specific boss). Then fail to notice that the other NPCs in the hub are turning up dead one by one. Then don't realise it's Yurt who's killing them! Granted, he does tell you his mission is to elimiate everyone.. *if* you find him and talk to him in the obscure place he's hiding at in the hub. Without a guide you may lose even the vendors before you realise where he is and that you must kill him.
Though to be fair a few NPCs tell you he isn't a good man. His armor also looks way too spiky to be a good guy.
In fact, this trope's prevalence has resulted in some people who read the included guide not finding the game as "hard" as everyone claims it is.
Many a gamer had their journey come to an end shortly after getting the boat in Dragon Quest II. Finding almost a dozen plot-essential items scattered across a humongous world is almost impossible without some sort of help (on top of that, some of the most evil dungeon designs in video game history - namely, the Sea Cave, which requires you to walk through damaging lava in order to look for staircases that may or may not lead you to the item you're looking for, and the Road to Rhone, which has several pitfalls that send you to a lower level and repeating rooms that look exactly the same, some of which indistinguishably loop around). While the NPCs generally do give useful advice, they don't point out everything. On top of that, the NPC that tells you where to find the Watergate Key is locked inside a jail cell; to open the cell, you need the Jailer's Key, which you need the Golden Key to acquire!
Dragon Quest IX is rife with Guide Dang Its, such that when interviewed about the game's difficulty, creator Yuji Horii said that it was set higher than on previous games specifically with the expectation that the players will look up information on the Internet. Thankfully, this trope only comes into effect once you finish the game's main storyline and start the bonus content. Still, there is a very good reason why the Brady's guidebook published for this game is as thick as some phonebooks...
Have fun completing all of the game's whooping 184 quests without a guide. Hell, have fun completing even a fourth of that amount on your own.
To elaborate, most of the quests are extremely vague on what you must do, and some of them even have prerequisite quest(s) that must be completed before you can even do those. Unsurprisingly, the game doesn't even leave hints on which quest(s) needs to be done first. And far too many of those quests either require fighting monsters (or even bosses) that can only be found with the game's Grottoes or crafting a very rare item via Alchemy. Don't be shocked if the two go hand in hand with each other either.
Speaking of Grottoes, they themselves are massive GDIs, as they are basically randomly generated dungeons whose monsters, bosses, and respawning treasure chests (and the pool of items they contain) are all determined by a obnoxiously complicated algorithm and the TheHero's level. Even finding the location to these grottoes will often require help, as the treasure map that unlocks a Grotto only shows a very small portion of the world map where it is located, and there are 150 potential locations where that one grotto can spawn, and only one grotto can be accessible at a time. This is no jest.
Then there's the Alchemy Pot, the game's Item Crafting system, which is yet another mess itself. While the game does give you a bit of a break here with having recipes being learned from bookshelves and NPCs, most of them only covers items and equips that are largely balanced around the main story's difficulty curve, which doesn't even require using Alchemy to finish. All of the post-game equips and items will require significantly rarer materials, and a large number of those can only be crafted if you know the recipe from an outside source or by guesswork, as there is no way to learn the recipe for them in-game without actually making it beforehand. Oh and most of the best equips are a complete pain to make given the rarity of some materials, as many of them can only be found in the grottoes mentioned above. Lastly, some of the best items in the entire game are only crafted at a 10% chance when a weaker counterpart is made, meaning you'll have to Save Scum to get those after finding the materials. Naturally, the game doesn't tell you this as well. And to get 100% completion, everyone of these items has to be made at least once. Fun.
The good news is that you don't need to learn the recipe in-game to make the item, once you create an item that wasn't listed in the recipe list, the game will automatically add it to the list so you can quickly make multiples in the future. Should you screw-up wild-guessing the recipes, the NPC will tell you and will return your items.
In Legend of Mana, obtaining the best weapon that can be obtained without crafting (which is itself a Guide Dang It) requires you to have a save file of SaGa Frontier 2 (another Square game), go to a save point, highlight the save file in the list, and then go to a particular location (whose purpose at this point is solely to get some fairly crappy pets) and fight a fairly difficult boss fight. The "highlight a save file from another game" mechanic? Never referenced anywhere, despite the fact that it is also used to obtain a particular pet early in the game, using a Final Fantasy VIII save file.
This file is a description of the tempering (Item Crafting) system in Legend of Mana. It's 160 kilobytes in size, and you better hope your head doesn't explode before you grasp the basics.
Aside from the exceptionally deep crafting system and pet raising, the game is a collection of 67 side quests. Some of these quests are dependent on the placement of artifacts on a carefully selected piece of the map, with a specific order, and the quests have to be done in the correct order. Some quests require that another quest is not completed or active. In other words, if you want to be able to do all 67 quests in one run, you're going to need a guide. It's next to impossible for a gamer to figure out a structure for the game without prior experience playing it and a lot of mathematics and brain wracking.
Possibly the worst example of this is the quest "Rachel". It seems impossible to find a guide that knew for certain what the requirements for triggering this quest are.
Even figuring out how to complete some of the quests can be extremely frustrating without a walkthrough. Two of the three main story arcs don't make it clear how to start a fair number of the component quests, and to advance in some of the optional quests you have to do things like enter a town area from a specific direction, go to a completely random different town to find a NPC you're looking for (who isn't generally known to be there), and repeatedly talking to the leader of a tribe of creatures who speak a one-word language until a nearby NPC happens to wander close enough that he'll offer to translate.
An infamous example occurs in Star Ocean: The Second Story, where one can affect the Relationship Values of characters via battling or items in order to get a number of variations on the generic ending — the box art famously advertises multiple endings. However, these values are never shown or alluded to in the game and are not known to the player until the end of the long game.
Though there is an in-game way to guess at Relationship Values using the Art skill, characters will tend to paint pictures of the character they have the highest Romance or Friendship Value with. Of course no one tells you that...
There is in-fact a way to look at the Relationship Values in game using the Fortune Teller during the Minigame Zone of the game...although she only tells the relationship values for the main character and even then only in vague words.
One of the best examples of Guide Dang It- the extra content in Star Ocean 2. Unlocking the end-game dungeon requires the player to reach the very last save point of the game, return to the main world, and speak to an NPC who will send your character back to a game area that was destroyed. Who is this important NPC? A generic old man NPC sitting in a crowd of people in an arena's stands. And, once you get there, you have to know that it's on an island that was previously inaccessable without flight. It's kind of funny that the designers would spend so much effort on a very impressive end-game dungeon, equipment, and bosses, while leaving the means to reach it so vague and obscure. (The remake at least changes the image for the save file after using the last save point, but it still doesn't make it obvious that the change means anything.)
Probably the best example in the whole game, though? A series of specific scenarios accessed by having the party split up in various towns, the first of which gets blasted out of existence shortly after your first trip to it, making it stupidly easy to miss and impossible to get back, and none of it ever gets even slightly hinted at, save for the final boss fight. And your reward for catching all these easily missed, seemingly minor events? The final boss gets his full power unleashed, making him nearly impossible to beat even with maximum stats and the best equipment in the game. Have fun!
Another comes in the form of the underlying plot of disk two, i.e. the final boss's real intentions— not the ones Narl told you about at the start of the disk. You have to read ALL of the files in North City's database, and then talk to several NPCs in a certain order, over a certain period of time. You are given clues here and there throughout the process once it's started, but there's little to give you the impression there's any information to go out and find to begin with. If you don't go through with the entire process you never find out the real reason the big bad is doing anything that's he's doing— hell, if you don't poke around enough you won't even know that the reasons originally given are lies in the first place!
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was full of this. The best example was perhaps the list of 300 "Battle Trophies" that the player must acquire by completing certain tasks in battle. If some of them are instinctive and/or will be earned sooner or later anyway (doing a certain number of battles, for example), others will require you to beat the final boss with a party of level 1 characters, or to stay in battle for 2 whole hours.
Another one worth mentioning: the best available weapons in the game (without using the nonsensical crafting system, in itself another Guide Dang It, or going to the bonus dungeon that only unlocks after beating the game once)is to go into a house you never need to enter otherwise, and give two people directions to the previous town. This happens very early on in the game, and once missed is Lost Forever. Then, you have to do it twice more, and if you give them the wrong directions, guess what? No weapons for you.
Not to mention the whole business about your last 2 party members...
Also this game probably gave the WORST directions possible when it told you where to go next; if it actually gave you directions. Best line ever "It's past the pointy rock!" EVERY ROCK IS POINTY DUE TO LOW POLYGON COUNTS! Thanks old lady...
While we're on the topic of Star Ocean, some of the character recruitment methods are obscure to this point. The original and its PSP remake were the worst about this — for two egregious examples, to get Pericci/Perisie. In order to unlock her, you must clear the Pirate Hideout within a certain timeframe that is never specified, then, afterwords, you have to pick up a random item whose location is only shown by a single blink and you'll miss it sparkle and is Lost Forever if you leave the area, then, after reuniting with Millie and Ronyx, you have to go all the way back to the very first town of the game and activate a hidden private event.
In fact, acquiring certain characters to be added to your party itself really affects the outcome of character recruitment throughout the game. Keeping Ashlay means a few certain characters will not join because some events won't occur and keeping Joshua guarantees the recruitment of Mavelle. So obviously, you don't know that getting some characters bars recruitment to the others. Guide, Dang it!
Another character called T'Nique was and is still a secret character in Star Ocean, but compared to unlocking most "secret characters" in some games, this is actually rather easy...if you have a guide that is. You have to manipulate which events will happen so that you will have six characters or less by the time you are on a quest for the emblems. Then you have to return to the town with the arena for no obvious reason and then fight in there until you are challenged by T'Nique.
One of the most shining examples goes to Erys. Granted, she is a Secret Character after all, so it makes sense that she's hidden. However, what you have to do is recruit three specific characters. Obviously Ioshua and Mavelle - which make sense anyways, since if you recruit Ioshua you'll have Mavelle anyways, and they are connected to one another if you know what's going on. However, you are also required to have Ashlay in your party - a character with no connections to them whatsoever. Then when you go into the Ancient Ruins, where you normally boot Mavelle, Mavelle instead goes back into Erys's body and Erys joins. The killer is Ashlay - because in addition to having no visible connection to these two characters, is easily missable. But to be fair, if you poke around the town you find him in, he gives you a hint that he's playable.
The other secret character, Welch meanwhile requires you to go out of your way with seven characters or less and them she'll join you. However, what do you do? Go out of your way and there she is. You don't have to jump through any hoops to find her other than simply going way out of your way...but to be fair, a curious player who inspects every little nook and cranny of the world for hidden places can uncover this. Whether or not they're doing this when they have seven characters or less is a different story.
To acquire one advanced attack in Chrono Trigger the player has to obtain one character's ultimate weapon (which is, fortunately, not really Guide Dang It material in and of itself), re-enter a dungeon from far earlier in the game, put that character in the lead position of the party, go to a particular room within the dungeon, then let an enemy hit the party (i.e., the first member) with a thrown rock. That character will then examine the rock and declare it is actually a magical stone. Nothing hints toward this in-game, and no other items are gained in a similar manner.
The "Slide Show"/"Memory Lane" ending (original/DS names) has a very specific time in which you can see it. You must defeat Lavos after seeing Schala open the door to the queen's chambers in Zeal, but before walking through that door yourself. If you wait too long, you get the normal ending after defeating Lavos. This is especially offputting since the ending usually only changes after the game's milestone events. To put it in perspective, the ending last changed after the destruction of Tyranno Lair and changes again only after Crono dies.
The Geno Dome has a small, but annoying one at the very beginning. When you use the computer, Robo says "Analysis complete. Please follow me." and nothing else happens. What this means is that you have to put him in front of the party and THEN use the computer.
It's optional, but two steps to winning the trial can be Guide Dang Its. Namely that after you bump into Marle, you need to talk to her BEFORE you pick the pendant up, and when she's buying candy, you need to stand perfectly still and not press anything until she's done buying it. Saying "No" when Melchior asks if you can persuade her to sell her pendant may or may not be a Guide Dang It depending on what kind of player you are. The other steps - not eating the guy's lunch and bringing the little girl back her kitten - can be Guide Dang Its too, though not as severe as the first two.
Admit it, when you first talked to the guy who "lost his lunch" you tried to bring it to him, didn't you?
For some reason, one juror will only vote "Not Guilty" if you bring the little girl her lost kitten without talking to her first.
Shortly after the Fall of Zeal, your trio confronts Magus. He gives you a brief Exposition Break and then asks 'I suppose you want to fight me?'. Most players would assume it's a case of But Thou Must, seeing as how he's been a thorn in your side all throughout Zeal, he's the Disc One Final Boss, and his boss music is playing. It's not. If you refuse, he joins your party. If you fight him, he's Killed Off for Real.
The completion of the Moon Stone sidequest is pretty tricky. Placing the stone in 65,000,000 BC and traveling a few time periods forward, you will discover that the Stone has disappeared sometime between the Middle Ages and the Present. A quick flyby on the world map will reveal that the greedy mayor of Truce has stolen it, but he'll deny everything and end the conversation there if you bring it up. What are you supposed to do? Buy some (very expensive!) jerky from a guy in the Snail Stop, then travel back in time to 400 AD. A lady in the Elder's house there will offer to buy it off you for a hefty sum of money, but you can also give it to her for free - in which case she promises to teach her children to be equally generous. Travel back to the present, and the mayor, now a kind, caring soul, will hand over the Moon Stone next time you talk to him. The only clue you are given is that the location of the Elder's house in the past corresponds to the mayor's house in the present.
A room in Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete required you to enter 4 doors in the correct order. The game itself gave no indication of progress until the final door is entered, making it hard to know what the puzzle actually is. There was a nearby sign meant to explain the puzzle; unfortunately, that sign was replaced with one that provided no insight to the puzzle at all.
The puzzle was so obtuse, Working Designs ended up just posting the solution to it on the top page of their website for several months.
The Golden Ending of Valkyrie Profile seemingly requires one to 1) view a certain order of cutscenes at time specific periods in the storyline, in addition to 2) making certain unintuitive decisions and 3) actually getting rid of a plot-important character before a certain chapter of the game. In fact, if you know that there is a Golden Ending but nothing about how to reach it, getting rid of said character would be the exact opposite of what you would think should be done to reach that ending. Upon examining the exact mechanisms, however, the phenomenon is a little exaggerated by players, as all the hassles (aside of banishing the character mentioned) are but a mathematical effort to reduce some variables to desireable levels, which is the second requirement. It doesn't excuse it for being a Guide Dang It though, as (aside of pure chance) one must be first informed that the ending exists and the requirements are such and such, before trial-and-error-ing their way.
This still is in effect somewhat in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. While the ending is based solely off of how many times you used the plume, not everyone would think to not use it period if they wanted to get the "A" ending...and it's really not advisable to try to get the "A" ending on your first playthrough. You could wind up with an unwinnable boss battle.
Also, the game branches into three paths very early on. One is relatively easy, the other is average and one leads to a difficult Escort Mission where you have to save a character with low defense. Unless you looked up Gamefaqs, you will not know that picking the village will lead you to the hard version of chapter 2, whereas the keep (leading to three characters instead of the usual two) is the easier option.
In the Suikoden series of video games, the only way to get the best ending is to collect all members of the hero's army (108 fighters and support characters.) Some characters are only recruitable during or after certain plot events, and others can only be recruited when the hero performs certain tasks in a certain order. Some characters will outright reject the hero if you happen to say the wrong thing to them, (or, in at least one case, if you press the "advance text" button while they're talking to you.) If that wasn't bad enough, some characters can be killed during major battles, if you're not careful with them. You can't revive any characters who have fallen in major battles, so once they're gone, they're gone forever. As such, getting the best ending the first time out is all but impossible with these games unless you have a walkthrough handy.
Suikoden has one particular event, where the General Teo's army attacks. One character, Pahn, stays behind to stall him in a duel. One could easily assume this is meant to be a Heroic Sacrifice for Pahn's earlier betrayal, because should he lose, General Teo will send him off to be executed and that's the last we ever see of him. In actuality if he's been leveled and geared well enough, Pahn can easily win the duel and return to the hero's side. But you would have to actually be using him up till them and given he's a generic and not particularly useful character and there are literally dozens of better characters to make up your party of 6, he most likely will have sat on the sidelines up to this point. Oh, and he's one of the 108 stars and absolutely needed alive to get the best ending.
Suikoden II was even worse in this regard; you had to have all 108 characters before you launch the invasion of Rockaxe castle. If you did then during the cutscene when Gorudo orders his crossbowmen to open fire on your party and Jowy you're given an extra choice. You have to choose to shout "Nanami!" rather than "Look out!" causing you to step forward to protect Nanami from the arrows. Not only are you offered this conversation choice for less than a second in which time you have to read both options and choose the second, this does not actually affect the outcome of the scene and you get no clues that anything has changed. Then at the very end of the game after beating the final boss you have to choose to leave the new city state you founded and go to Tenzan Pass to meet Jowy, only unlike the normal version of this ending you have to persistently refuse to fight him until Jowy collapses and Leknaat shows up and tells you what's going on. Trying to work that out without a FAQ is enough to break your mind.
Not quite as bad as all that, but still pretty terrible: getting all 108 characters, for example, is usually the hardest part. You're not required to say "Nanami!" instead of "Look out!", you just have to choose one before the window disappears, and then, after the battle, there's is a one-line variation in one of the scenes that lets you know you succeeded. And then, at the end of the game, if you don't go to the specific place, you'll be reminded during the ending you get, and if you don't take the above-mentioned specific action, you weren't paying attention to what was said/have no soul.
Even worse in Suikoden II was Clive's subquest. This was timed from the start of the game and ran on an absurdly fast timer, requiring you start by meeting Clive in Muse City less than 2 hours, 6 minutes and 28 seconds into the game, recruiting him less than 4 hours, 48 minutes and 38 seconds in and then catching another 6 cutscenes each triggered by going to a specific place within a specific time with Clive in your party. The entire sequence has to be done within 15 hours, 42 minutes and 11 seconds of starting the game.
Clive seems to have a knack for "Guide Dang it." Getting him in the first Suikoden game required you to be completely lucky enough to see him in a town's inn. If he is not in the inn, recruiting him requires the player to exit the town, re-enter, and try the inn again. Several times. The odds of seeing him are very low. There was no detective-like character in this game to give you any hints on where to recruit him, so without a guide, there's a very good chance you can search the entire game screen-by-screen and never see him once.
He is mentioned once in the game. In a rare book that you'll probably never find. Then if you do find it, you'll probably never read it. And you need to have recruited Hugo the librarian to be able to read it. But before you can recruit Hugo, you need to find another well-hidden item that can be easily overlooked if you go the wrong way in one of the game's most annoying dungeons.
Unlocking the ???? skill for a level 3 Fusion Soul in Shadow Hearts is an egregious Guide Dang It, as although there is a clue in-game, it's at best so vague as to be useless, and at worst misleading. Compounding matters, what is actually required to unlock it - letting Yuri berserk - is something you want to try your hardest to avoid in all other circumstances, making it unlikely that the player would discover it on their own.
However, there's an even worse one earlier, combined with a Lost Forever. At one point, there's a series of conversation choices. To unlock a sidequest and bonus dungeon, you need to pick the first option three times in a row—however, there's no indication that which one you pick actually matters at the time... or, indeed, at any other point in the game.
Worse still is getting the good ending, which requires you to defeat four optional boss enemies before you reach a certain point in the story. The problem here being that if you want them to start appearing you have to let your Malice Gauge hit red, something you're generally trying to avoid. To make matters worse, the only indication the game gives you that you actually need to do this is an incredibly vague hint in one of item descriptions about what order the enemies should be beaten in. As if that wasn't enough, these bosses produce status effects that make them much more difficult to defeat except in one specific order and appear as random encounters, forcing you to do a lot of running away should the one of them arrive out of order. To add insult to injury, the game gives no indication whatsoever that this all must be done before a certain event is reached nor that defeating the enemies beforehand will affect the event.
Hell, getting the good ending to Covenant and From The New World counts as well. In Covenant, you have to give a certain answer to a certain question asked by Yuri's Spirit Advisor, when none of her previous questions had any impact on the plot. And in From The New World, you have to get Shania's Tirawa form and max out all the statues. Neither game gives any hints to either of these.
on the subject of the conversation, in its sequels Covenant and From the New world, you are placed in a conversational scene (Be it torture or interrogation) where your character is either shocked or stabbed with knives. Now obviously, do you want to pick all the "wrong" options that result in getting your character stabbed in From the New world or shocked in Covenant? You sick bastard. ...oh wait a sec you did it because it gives you a more powerful weapon for torturing the character afterward? Guide, Dang it!
The Trading Chain in Convenant is a guide dang it. It's quite easy to accidentally end the chain in Petrograd for a worthless heal item, instead of moving on to either get A) Lucia's best weapon, or b) a good chunk of money.
In the first game, most of the questing required to get Yuri's ultimate fusion doesn't count. You probably would get all the Fusion monsters on your own, and likely tried to solve the puzzle in the Monastery which leads to getting Amon. Hell, even turning the Erotic Book from Kuihai Tower into the Pulse Tract and getting the Stone of Rebirth from the Ancient Ruins is at least will hinted at in the game. However, what to do from there (returning to the tree in the graveyard, examining it to see the sunset and then attempting to leave, which spawns the boss) isn't alluded to at all.
Any SaGa game is virtually unplayable without some kind of guide.
Terranigma's final boss hits you with an unavoidable beam that cuts your life in half twice every second for about 8 seconds. If you block, however, it will only cause ten damage or so every few seconds. Problem: you haven't needed to use the block move the entire game. In fact, you haven't used it since the first area... of the previous game!
Skies of Arcadia sometimes gave you options of what dialogue to use during conversations. Choosing the right option would be heralded by a cheerful sound and would advance your "pirate title" a little bit. The correct options are usually courageous, loyal, and all around hero-like, and you get a little tune when you get it right, so you know to reload if you don't. More ambiguous is the fact that running from battles lowers your 'pirate title'. This is only alluded too in that it's one of the stats that a hermit tells you. This hermit can only be reached after you've made it about 2/3rds of the way into the game. Did we mention that you have to have the highest rating possible to get to the game's best weapons and secret boss?
What's courageous about "fighting" an enemy 80 levels below you rather than sparing their life?
Sparing their life is not cowardly, but just like Regal's title from To S, you never hold back, and that is a heroic trait. In other words, you're not going easy on them.
Many of the Discoveries peppered throughout the game also qualify, as many are hidden in out of the way portions of the map. Some even move around, or require you to have completed certain sidequests.
The Prima guide for the Updated Re-releaseLegends wasn't very helpful. Granted, it did have lists of where to find the bounty Bonus Boss fights, the Moonfish, and the Chams. In completely random places scattered throughout the main story walkthrough instead of, say, in the "optional stuff" appendix at the end. They didn't even provide strategies for any Bonus Boss fight that wasn't Piastol, and even then acted as though her stats were fixed, apparently not figuring out that the Bonus Boss fights made use of Dynamic Difficulty and scaled their stats based on your level, and never touched on the fact that you can fight her multiple times. Even the main story walkthrough wasn't all that great, frequently recommending strategies or items that were grossly inefficient (they never seemed to figure out that magic is heavily outclassed by special moves and items in this game) and got some facts straight-out wrong (such as spamming Gilder's Aura of Denial against Galcian to avoid instant-death attacks, claiming that Aika's 2 SP-cost Delta Shield was more expensive than Gilder's 3 SP-cost Aura of Denial [?!]). Finally, they called the final bossRamirezThing. Granted, they provided boss HP numbers and their Discovery map was okay.
Xenogears had a few of these, with hidden items in odd places that you'd essentially have to be climbing over every bit of game scenery hitting the "examine" button repeatedly to find, with little to no clue that you should actually be looking for these things.
Trader's Card. This item greatly increases the chance of rare items being dropped. The only way to get it is to beat a certain boss before he can self-destruct, and the only way to do THAT is to know the fight is coming and get all your characters' up to maximum Limit Break level. Even then, defeating the boss is a feat in and of itself.
Learning the Deathblows for the characters might count for a bit of this. It's not clued at much at all early in the game, so you'll likely only learn one or two randomly. Once you figure out the pattern, you might think just doing the combos will learn them...but it's more complex than that. The game actually counts the animations for each move of the combos you perform, and each deathblow requires each animation to be used a certain number of times. And the animations could be in different orders depending on how you input your combos, and some moves didn't require the same animations that led up to them...and while you could brute-force your way through most of the game if you didn't figure any of this out, it will be ridiculously difficult and practically every boss fight will end up being near-impossible...suffice to say: Guide Dang It!
Near the end of the game you can obtain a great item (the Hercules Ring) by talking to Midori, but she won't give it to you unless you trade her her own ring, which you get by digging thru the bushes outside her house at the very beginning of the game.
Xenosaga Episode I also did, with the e-mails. These were random e-mails - sometimes plot-relevant, sometimes just fluff, and sometimes shameless plugs for other Namco games - that could be collected, usually by being at exactly the right spot at exactly the right time. Often, there was no reason the player would ever suspect they should be in that spot, like, say, running between two aisles of chairs in the dock clinic after hearing the Commander Cherenkov was being attacked in an alley but before actually running the fifty feet to go to his aid. Of course, to add to it, many of the e-mails were chained, and if you missed one, you could never get the later ones. Miss the wrong ones, and you miss several items and a ton of money.
At the beginning of Kingdom Hearts, the character is asked a few questions by some of his friends during a dream sequence. The game doesn't tell you that your answers to these questions affect the rate at which you level up during the game. Pick the bottom answers to each question? Congratulations, you now level up slowly. Fortunately, it actually makes the game easier in the long run, because after around level 40 you start levelling up faster.
Also, you can answer the questions to make you do the OPPOSITE or so that you level up at an even pace throughout the game.
And before that, you are shown three pedestals holding a sword, a shield, and a staff. You are told to chose one and give up another. However, which one you choose has an effect on your maximum stats, how many items Sora can carry into battle with him, and WHAT LEVELS YOU LEARN CERTAIN ABILITIES AND POWER-UPS AT! It does however at least follow a logical theme. If you pick the sword and give up the wand, you'll learn offensive attacks more than spells so it's not a random shot out of the blue.
After finding all of the 99 Dalmatian puppies and then visiting their house in Traverse Town, you will receive a complete gummi set, which is great if you've opened all the treasure chests in the game. However, if you haven't, you're screwed because Cid will only buy the common gummis and not the rarer ones like Holy-G and Ultima-G, meaning that the game won't allow you to open any of the chests that have unsellable gummies in them because you already have the maximum amount of them and thus you won't be able to mark them as opened in Jiminy's diary. Running out of gummies by building a ton of ships with them isn't an option either, since they're not actually removed from your inventory when you build them, only serving as a total selection of gummies you have available for every ship. For 100% completionists, this can totally wreck your game.
Like the Lost Forever Trinity Mark below, this was fixed in Final Mix — both the Dalmatian reward and chest contents are altered so that it's not possible to lock yourself out of opening every chest... but as mentioned below, it wasn't released outside Japan until much, much later.
What about a certain Trinity mark in Halloween Town that is Lost Forever unless you read up on it before hand?
This is only an issue because most people will be using Jack Skellington instead of their other default party member, both of which are needed to do the trinity move. Many people would see the Trinity spot and make a mental note to get it later...but the mansion explodes and it's lost forever. This was fixed in the Updated Re-release. That only Japan got, but the US got it...almost a decade later on a PS3 compilation.
One of the special blueprints for the Gummi Ship in the first game is the Chocobo blueprint. How do you get this? Enter and exit Geppetto's house 30 times or more and then talk to Pinocchio. Chances are, if you didn't have a guide, you probably missed this.
And then there's the Ultima Weapon in both games. Some may find easy, others find it in the least, infuriating.
Unlocking Final Form, which is a random event after a certain point in the game. But you have to try to go into another form and pray you get lucky.
Also, there's the Anti Form. It's existence is only hinted at by looking at a mirror in Yen-Sid's Tower. There's no explanation of what causes it to appear, or, since most people will not want to fight as Anti Form, how to decrease the chance of it happening. However, if you know how to use it, Anti Form can be surprisingly powerful because of it's speed, but for people who like it, the game never explains what situations cause the form to end faster than expected.
In StarTropics on the NES, the game comes with an in-character letter addressed to the player. It contains a code (which doesn't appear anywhere in the game itself) that becomes visible when you submerge it in water. You will be required to enter this. Of course, the problem is that a majority of the people that played this game either lost the letter or didn't get it with the game. The Wii Virtual Console release of the game included the letter as part of the instruction screens, making the game always beatable at the expense of making it quite obvious that the letter is part of a puzzle.
There was also an obtuse dungeon early on in a graveyard. You would enter a dungeon by examining one of the gravestones, then go through a couple screens to find an exit. This would lead you back into the graveyard, where nothing has changed. You were supposed to find a very well hidden secret passageway (ignoring several more false exits along the way) before those stairs to continue that dungeon.
In Persona 3, fulfilling Elizabeth's requests for certain Personae with certain moves is nigh-on impossible for some of the later ones unless you either have a guide or are willing to spend hours experimenting.
Also, most, if not all, personae have "inheritance types". Physical personae cannot learn magic, death/darkness personae cannot learn healing spells, Status Buff, or Light-based skills such as Hama, and so on. Granted, Igor mentions inheritance types as one of his help topics, but would it have been really hard to display the persona's inheritance type in its status menu? Guide Dang It. While some are easy to figure out (persona that start with mostly ice magic are usually ice inheritance type), some are just bizarre (there is at least one persona that starts with healing, ice, and wind skills, and you would think it's more aligned to magic, when in actuality its inheritance type is Pierce (which is physical).
Persona 3: FES brings us "Orpheus Telos", a super-powered version of the protagonist's default persona. It's pretty much tailor-made for fighting the Bonus Boss, as it resists everything, has absurdly high stats and can be outfitted with any skill you want. The problem? You need to max every single Social Link in ONE playthrough. Every single one. Which pretty much screams "You DID print out that guide from GameFAQs, right?"
Even though you have no reward if you do this in the original, it's still an insane Guide Dang It for one reason. You cannot miss a single day in the entire game. Didn't get enough in Charm to match the schedule? Reset! Get sick on a study day? Reset! Don't have enough money to begin the Devil link? Reset! FES reduces these by a day or two, but just see above.
The entire process is made much easier on a New Game+ as your stats carry over. Having max (or even progress toward it) Charm/Academics/Courage means every mandatory step raising them becomes free time to work on social links instead, meaning the schedule for obtaining Orpheus Telos is much less restrictive.
Let's not forget the Shadow Shard and Shadow Crystal requests in the original P3. Not only is there only a ~10% of a treasure chest containing one appearing - and then only on certain floors - Elizabeth gives you false information on which floors they appear on. And of course she doesn't tell you any of this. So if you're planning on finding these items without a guide, well...have fun.
Fortunately, this one was yanked in FES. Its replacements? The Elizabeth Dates. Can be Lost Forever if you put one off too long, but otherwise, this is a positive change in all respects.
The Fortune Social Link for the female protagonist in Persona 3 Portable is given a ridiculously rigid schedule — you can only meet the character in question on specific days, and if you even miss one, you aren't maxing shit. Good luck figuring out exactly when those days are without GameFAQs at your disposal!
This one's not that bad, actually. If he invites you out, say yes; on days where you have to ask him out, he'll always have the little exclamation point over his head, like all Social Links do when they're available, and he waits right inside your classroom where you start each afternoon, so it's hard to miss that he's available unless you're really trying to. The only nasty part is realizing that you can't afford to skip a single day with him in the first place. Same for the Moon link, which has slightly more wiggle room in terms of missed dates but has the same strict one-month window; in both cases, repeat players will know that they're on a swiftly-approaching deadline, but first-time players are likely to be in for nasty surprises.
Akihiko's Lovers route is also frustrating. You have to answer three of his S.Link questions in a specific way. One's really obvious, but the other two aren't - especially the first one, back in Rank 4, where you have to pick the wrong answer ("Don't misunderstand", an option that doesn't give you the three little music notes.) Unlike the Fortune and Moon links, his link takes a very long time (you can only meet with him once you get Charm rank 4, and only twice a week, and his Rank 8 is delayed until after October 4th). It's also impossible to tell if you've screwed it up until Rank 9 or 10, which, even if you're meeting him every time you get the chance, won't occur until November. So if you missed that one dialog option in Rank 4 you'll likely have to go back several months to fix it - or just restart.
The best Persona in the game are generally considered to be Thanatos, Messiah, Satan, Helel, and a few others. The problem? All of the best fusions require special fusions as their material. Still doesn't seem like such a big deal, right? Well here's hoping that you managed to do Elizabeth's 29th request then, because without that you can't fuse Nata Taishi. And without Nata Taishi you can't fuse Alice, without whom you can't fuse Thanatos without whom you can't fuse Messiah. Like a box of evil dominoes, if you miss one innocuous-looking sidequest, you miss out on the best fusion in the game short of Orpheus Telos.
The questions you're asked at school are generally questions a Japanese high school student would know... and they were left unchanged for the English release! Good luck answering some of them without either a knowledge of Japanese history or a guide. On the other hand, there are several questions on English grammar that would probably stump Japanese players, so it goes both ways.
Persona 4: You did know that you can press the Triangle button to immediately make all text in a text box appear, so you can skip through quicker, right? Even though the manual says nothing about it? And then when you make it to the ending of the game, you probably won't figure out how to get the True ending unless you've maxed the majority of your Social Links. After you've talked to everyone on the last day, the game...strongly suggests that you to go home and watch the ending sequence. Instead, you're supposed to fight the game at every turn in its attempt to end itself and go back to the food court at Junes, which will trigger the scenes to unlock the Bonus Dungeon and the game's real final boss. Of course, if you do all this, you get the ability to fuse the Protagonist's Eleventh Hour Superpower next playthrough...
In order to even get Persona 4's Normal ending, you have to correctly guess several unintuitive choices during the "Adachi is the Killer" conversation. Also, during the scene at the hospital TV, you have to continuously refuse The Party's attempts to get you to push Namatame into the TV, and give the correct responses in doing so. The exact response chain is so specific that not everyone would figure this one out.
The worst part of this is that you actually have to give the most vague, indecisive wuss-ass answers, instead of telling them no. There's a no option, but if you push that, bad end. You have to sit there stalling for time, with choices like "uh..." "Something's up..." "We don't know everything." Even Yosuke gets pissed and calls you out for it. Even then, You have to take the vague route, instead of the simple yes or no.
That conversation is an unforgiving minefield, but it's not totally unintuitive. They're angry and (understandably) irrational and you have to reason them out of it carefully. Above all you have to stick to the pursuit of the truth, which is not an uncommon theme in the game. Besides, even though no previous conversation has such a major impact on the story, the high stakes in that particular exchange are palpable.
The worst part about the game's attempts to herd you towards the normal ending is that even if you doggedly chase the loose ends and attempt to call the elevator to the food court, it tells you to leave, using the same message as the locations in which you really can't do anything. You have to try the elevator twice despite this. In a game that has, to that point, gently and intuitively led you along the correct path and rewarded your attempts to get to the truth, suddenly you're meant to anticipate it fighting you every step of the way. So even if you have the right idea and the right intentions you can still easily miss the true ending.
The first Persona game, for the PlayStation, had one (if not a couple) of these, too. on top of the whole contacting thing. Good luck doing all that without a guide, but at least you can probably experiment. However, the next example is just a very blatant example of Guide Dang It at its worst. In this game, you had a set party of 4 characters, and could take a different 5th member. You could only have one, however. There were three other characters to choose from (normally, but see later) , but the game didn't tell you to get the others you had to refuse the character before them; you couldn't take them, meet the other character, and then DITCH them to take the other one. This was only the start, however, and was actually minor and eventually understandable by a prudent gamer, unlike the next instance. There was yet another character who redefines 'hidden.' You see this character at a few points in the story, and there's even a point (if you have five characters by a certain point), where he helps you in a battle, and the game drops a SMALL hint that 'maybe this guy is playable.' However, the hints VERY MUCH stop there. To get this character, one had to first do several steps, involving some that were pretty out there in even GUESSING what they were(go here, do this, meet with character once, go back here, meet him again). One step involved meeting with the characters mother, answering a question, and then NOT TALKING TO HER AGAIN after this, because it would ruin your chances to get said character. Then, you have to refuse all three of the other characters (after even more steps), and THEN proceed with the game as normal, actually being a rather difficult dungeon with only 4 characters. THEN, after one particular plot point, said hidden character joins your party.
Accessing the Snow Queen quest also requires you to follow a fairly odd sequence of events at a time when you have no particular reason to follow them, but at least the chain of events is hinted at and generally makes logical sense.
The Ultimate Persona choices can be like this. While three of them are pretty obvious, one defies standard RPG logic and is only just obvious, the other two require you to go out of character and listen to the idealistic Mark rather than make an informed decision between Mark and the logical Nanjo.
In Breath of Fire II, avoiding the Bittersweet Ending requires picking out a certain NPC to live in your new village, saving the old man strapped to the Eye Machine boss, and finding the hidden control room under the village. Miss the first, you'll never see the third. Miss the second, you'll never get the third to work. You'll not get a single hint as to what it does until you've already got it working.
The Township's potential inhabitants themselves are a large Guide Dang It on top of that. To the uninitiated: from an early point in the game, you're tasked with turning a single run-down building into a bustling town. The first step is to find a carpenter to build a few houses; the choice of carpenter decides the layout and style of the residential buildings, as well as the function he and his wife serve in their own building. (Hint: the one you want will eventually allow you to cook items, which is a huge Game Breaker when you consider that you can buy two cheap items and turn them into one item that permanently raises one's stats.) Pick a carpenter you don't like, and you can't change them. More to the point, your town has a rather paltry maximum of six houses, so if you're too generous early in the game, you're stuck with losers like Poo (who sits around thanking you and eventually sells an item...ONCE) or El (who literally does nothing). Inviting some of these losers leaves you unable to give houses to people like Yozo (who offers the unique deal of raising one's max AP) or the Lost Forever Barose (who offers the equally-unique deal of granting spells to any party member you want). The real problem comes into play when you realize that each tenant will only occupy a "certain" house in the township; if you invite El, you can never invite Yozo. A real Guide Dang It for people wondering why a prospective tenant suddenly lost all interest in moving into your town.
Let's not forget finding the Elemental Dragon upgrade. Miss your first chance, and Wildcat, a boss who would be a total pushover with said upgrade, instead becomes That One Boss and you have no way of going back for the upgrade. Your second chance lasts pretty much the whole game after a certain point, but it's still quite well hidden. And you don't get the Gold Dragon upgrade, which surpasses it, until very late in the game. Up to that point pretty much every boss is That One Boss because they are all designed expecting you to be using the Elemental Dragons and therefore dealing far more damage than you're capable of with your pathetic Elemental Puppies.
Another Breath of Fire II example involves a secret character: Deis, a recurring character from the first game. Sure, finding this character isn't as hard as some of the others on the page, but it's still a Guide Dang It in its own right. The search involves two simple steps: first, you have to walk into a random (albeit marked) spot in the middle of a desert to find an empty abode, containing little more than two unhelpful spirits that simply proclaim that "[their] master is away". Then, you're expected to visit a building in the first town—one that you've had no business in for pretty much the whole game—and talk to a random NPC within, who inexplicably transforms into Deis. Considering that the character is met at a high level (relative to the level you're expected to be when you first enter the aforementioned desert) and knows a ton of powerful magic, pulling this off makes things considerably easier.
Yet another Breath of Fire II example: finding all six of the elemental shamans. Using these can power up your characters drastically, but only two of them are encountered in the course of normal play, and of the remaining four, only one (Shin) fails to qualify for this trope, and you get her right before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Seso is at least possible to run into by chance...except that when you do, she's Taken for Granite, and good luck remembering to go back for her after you lift the curse on everyone in the tower. Solo requires you to donate 2000Z to Namanda, when the game only lets you donate 100Z at a time - the only hint you're given is a wise tree telling you to "be generous with your donations!" and it's entirely probable for a player to miss this tree altogether. The worst part is that Solo won't even show up until after you level the St. Eva Church, in a place the player is less than likely to return to, and if you didn't donate 2000Z by this point, Solo is Lost Forever. And the last shaman, Seny, somehow manages to be even worse - randomly showing up in a dungeon the player beat three hours ago, with no indication whatsoever that anything is different there. This, by the way, is the second method of finding Seny - the first method is such utter Guide Dang It that it took the playerbase fifteen years after the game's release to find it. If this isn't indicative of II taking Guide Dang ItUp to Eleven, nothing is.
In Breath of Fire III you use a gene blending system, combining up to three genes to determine the form and properties of your dragon. Among these is the Failure gene which eliminates all properties and elements from the other genes used in a fusion, resulting in an element-less whelp form, which lives up to the name "failure". Most players will ignore this gene once they figure out what it does. Late in the game you can obtain the Infinity gene which gives you a powerful Kaiser form, but is berserk and will likely end up killing your allies after a while, lessening the usefulness of it. Adding Failure to the mix is one of only two ways to keep control of a Kaiser dragon. Not many people found this out on their own, given the adverse affect Failure has in other combinations, and the danger of using a berserk Kaiser.
There's also the "ultimate" Kaiser form, which further increases the Kaiser dragon's stats in addition to making it controllable; nothing actually indicates how to unlock it. It's by using the Infinity, Trance, and Radiance genes, leading to the Fan Nickname of IRT Kaiser.
Chrono Cross has a particularly infamous one. In order to defeat the final boss correctly, you have to use your elements in a specific order against the Time Devourer, the Final Boss. Each element has a color, and each color of spell emits a different tone when cast. During the final battle with the Time Devourer, you have to play a song with these tones in order to rescue Schala from within the boss. The final dungeon and the Criosphinx both hint rather heavily at this, but it's still a hellish leap of logic to put those pieces together. And it's mentioned very vaguely by a couple of characters if (and only if) you have the titular Chrono Cross with you when you meet them, and that's it.
The Chrono Cross itself is a fair example of this, as the location where it is acquired is mentioned once, not marked on the world map, completely useless in one dimension, and can only be activated past a certain point in the storyline. And without the Cross, all you get for an ending is 'Fin'. And the Cross itself comes up as a subject of conversation once, by the same couple of characters, only if you don't have it the one time you meet them. So if you use that hint to go and get it, you'll never get any in-game indication of what it does.
All of the level 7 Summon elements fall into this, being that you have to set a trap specifically for that particular spell in order to steal it. Exactly one out of the six is held by an enemy that makes any sense having the spell, and for several you have to set the stage specifically for that summon.
In fact, getting decent use out of any of your Traps tends to take a Walkthrough, since they mostly require foreknowledge of boss patterns and there's a sizeable part of the game where you're cut off from the trap shop in Marbule, during which several good elements are available to be trapped. If you don't know this is coming ahead of time, you'll miss out on HolyLight, BlackHole, and several others.
The level seven techs for the majority of the characters aren't unlocked with stars; they have to do a sidequest to find them. These range from the simple to the completely unintuitive. The only good way to reliably find them is to put characters in your party, then roam the world aimlessly interacting with everything. Not helping is how many can be Lost Forever. Leena's is lost unless you picked the right answers to her questions on Opassa Beach, at the very beginning of the game. Razzly's (when recruiting her is already easy to miss) requires you to kill the Hydra, refuse to release its offspring, and let her sister die when the dwarves attack.
Several of the characters can be tricky to recruit. Leena, a blue-innate magical powerhouse, can only be recruited if you turn down Kid three times at Cape Howl. Most irritatingly, recruiting Glenn, who is almost as powerful as Serge, requires you to leave Kid to die after Lynx poisons her.
See all those Rainbow Shells you've been picking up all through the game? Wouldn't it be nice to use those to craft things? Well, go right ahead and try. No luck? First, you have to do a sidequest for Zappa to get him his ultimate hammer. Then, you have to get 'shiny' materials, which are found by killing regular monsters with the summon elements.
Ephemeral Fantasia. Half of the game. The game had a "Groundhog Day" Loop format where you had a limited amount of time per game "week" to figure out how to progress the story before everything gets reset to the "starting point". You had to prove to many people that the world is constantly repeating, thus "awakening" them. Some were relatively simple, but others were just obtuse. An egregious solution was that a character would smash his quill pen during a cutscene, thus you have to prove that you know this by making a duplicate of it (an arcane multi-step process by itself). There is almost no indication that is what you have to do and even the actual process of making the pen itself doesn't suggest this until you're finished.
Wild ARMs. In order to get to the Bonus Dungeon, The Abyss, to fight the Bonus Boss Ragu Ragola and obtain the obscenely powerful Sheriff Star as well as other top level accessories, you must have progressed up to a certain level in the game in order to get a necessary tool for a character to trigger the event. Then go to an Elw pyramid, use the tool to hit the ground near the green teleport pad, and walk onto the pad. Instead of beaming up to the satellite and ricocheting off, there's a good chance of getting stuck inside the satellite (so be prepared to try this several times). This is actually hinted in dialogue with some town characters but never explained in detail.
In any of the games with Puzzle Boxs, finding all of them is a Guide Dang It moment. This is taken to extremes in Wild ARMs 3 and Wild ARMs 5, where not only puzzle boxes but items are hidden all over the world map. Apparently, you're just supposed to seach evrery square inch of the planet.
Or conversly you could just get the item that exposes everything on the map for you. More to the point is the Telepath Tower quest which has such strict timing it is very missable.
And in Wild ARMs XF during the final boss battle, you'll suddenly stop doing any damage whatsoever to the final boss. If she took a turn before this happened, the game will tell you she's entering "defensive mode," but if not you'll just be baffled. The only way to start dealing damage again is to hit her with 7 combination attacks. The only way to figure this out is trial and error. What's worse is that combination attacks aren't particularly useful and many players hadn't even used them before this battle and so wouldn't think of them.
Uh, not very useful? Combination attacks are among the best ways to deal damage to enemies. Try the one enemy where you have to strip her MP away instead of hurting her HP. The skill to do so isn't very useful and it's on a class that's rather under-whelming over-all.
In Wild ARMs 2 the last dungeon started off with a puzzle that outright confounded so many players entire sections of the game boards were dedicated to figuring it out, most people for some reason did not have the necessary semi-obscure knowledge of how the days of the week got their names.
This was a result of the game's "Blind Idiot" Translation. In Japanese, the origins of the day names are clearly spelled out in the kanji making up said names, making the puzzle easy. They just directly converted the puzzle to English without realizing that the origins of the names of the days is less well-known and obvious.
Baten Kaitos. That's really all that needs to be said, but if you insist... 100% Completion in Eternal Wings refers to collecting all 1000+ of the magnus, a task designed only for the truly dedicated/insane player. Ideally, such a player carries a camera everywhere, in everyone's deck, and references the internet frequently, so as not to miss that one card dropped by that one enemy in the Trail of Souls, which you visit once. Add this to the fact that magnus actually change over time (one in particular taking three hundred and thirty six hours to do so), and you have a challenging task. The prequel even adds in the lovely option of combining magnus, which makes the task all the more fun.
Let's talk about the pictures. You have to take a snapshot of every enemy and boss in the game. But that's not too hard, you say? How about the infamous Trail of Souls, an Unexpected Shmup Level where you have to shoot down enemies to get certain magnus that are otherwise Lost Forever, but also have to fight them to get special magnus they drop and their pictures? Or the various character shots? Each character has two pictures; a regular one that sells for virtually nothing, and a 'rare' portrait, which only has a small chance of appearing for every picture you take. Yeah, you can go fight Shawras in Moonguile Forest with everyone's deck filled with cameras until you get the 'rare' shots. But remember that fight with Malpercio in Algorab Village, the one where Mizuti's mask breaks off? Maskless Mizuti is considered a special shot, and it only happens in that battle. Still feeling good about that 100% Magnus list? Maskless Mizuti has its own 'rare' shot. So, you have to drag out a boss battle to take as many pictures of Mizuti as possible, and just pray that you get that coveted 'rare' shot. Didn't get it? Reset the game and try again, because both shots are Lost Forever after that fight.
Want more pain? How about the magnus dropped by enemies? They're all Randomly Drops, some of them have extremely low chances of dropping, and enemies can have over ten different drops. Break out that strategy guide, you're gonna need it. Or, just give up and accept you'll never 100% Eternal Wings.
The Item Crafting. You might get the idea that there's a crafting system after stumbling across the secret recipes. How does it work? What's the best way to do it? What are some of the combinations? All questions you've gotta look up.
In Origins, the basic EX Combos aren't that hard to figure out, but if you want to unlock the advanced combos, you've gotta do some trial and error that usually involves fiddling around with the various basic attack magnus. And some of them require counterintuitive thinking (Guillo's Yin and Yang-based combos, for instance) or are so obscure you'd never think of them (one of Milly's most devastating combos requires using only Rabbit Dash + Swallowtail on a knocked-down enemy). It doesn't help that your options for late game bosses boil down to either EX Combos or a painful amount of Level Grinding (one boss in particular is almost impossible without Blackest Yang).
A particularly annoying Pig Noise from The World Ends with You starts off asleep, and runs away as soon as you hit it. No matter how hard you hit it, it never dies. The only way to kill this Noise is to close over the DS and open it up again. It dies instantly. The only clue is that this action puts the DS into "Sleep Mode".
At least this can be discovered on accident. Not entirely impossible to get without a guide, but pretty damn frustrating. Chances are high that most people don't discover it on their own.
Concerning the evolving of pins: Shutdown and mingle experience are actually more 'potent' than battle experience i.e. getting one point of battle experience counts less towards the pin evolving than getting that point from shutdown or mingle. THIS isn't mentioned anywhere in the game.
Speaking of pin evolution, the three types of PP determine whether your pin evolves, and what it evolves into. Say a pin requires Shutdown PP to evolve. If it isn't the dominant PP type when it the pin maxes out its levels, the pin won't evolve, so you have to be extremely careful as to what types of PP you give which pin. The problem? The game never even gives you so much as a hint as to which PP a pin needs. And you really do need a guide to get the most out of your pins; evolution paths can get pretty complex.
A guide is really needed in order to find the hard to get pins, like the Black Planet set. Not only do you have to beat the game all the way through in order to get back and go through chapters but also you have to fight a special boss, in a special area on a certain difficulty level.
The same is for quest items. Not only are they required for the Secret Reports (of which the game gives no hints of) but the hints for the special items in the game are somewhat vague.
An obscure Game Boy RPG called Lil Monster.: Many of the game's puzzles were extreme Guide Dang Its, as they generally involved either A) using items in almost completely arbitrary places, B) or giving equally arbitrary items to monsters in certain areas. One part involved using the largely useless Paper Airplane item in a completely unremarkable area to find four pieces of fruit, one of which had about a 30% chance of being an item that would permanently increase your monster's HP. No guide for this game seems to exist (due to the extreme obscurity of the title).
In Phantasy Star Online, there was a very rare random drop called the Sealed J-Sword. The thing is, under a certain circumstance, the sword can become unsealed to become the Infinity+1 Sword Tsumikiri J-Sword. NO-ONE knew how you unlocked it. In addition, because item-duping was very common, the Tsumikiri J-Sword was actually quite common, resulting in the occasion where all four randomly selected players in a game were all equiped with a sword that was so rare, no-one actually knew how to get it.
Ironically, the sword couldn't be changed until eps. 1 & 2, which is when Sonic Team actually added a way to change it (you have to kill 23,000 enemies with it).
The Sega Ages remake of Phantasy Star II has a severe Guide Dang It in the form of an added 'Easter Egg': it is possible to permanently and in a non-glitch manner resurrect Nei after her Killed Off for RealHopeless Boss Fight / Heroic Sacrifice versus her dark half NeiFirst. However, in order to do this, the player needs to have a save from the remake of Phantasy Star I on their memory card, start a new game of PS II with it, beat PS II, start a new game (NOT a New Game+), see EVERY SINGLE LINE of dialog to include random NPCs and party members after anything happens until you reach the fight with NeiFirst (and one thing the remake did was add a good deal of additional dialog), and engage in a series of unspecified fetch quests.(as described here) After all that, the reward was the Clone Lab attendant, rather than stating that Nei cannot be cloned as usual due to being part-biomonster/losing part of her soul, just charged the party the regular rate and sent you on your merry way. No happy reuniting cutscene (especially after the one associated with her death), no extra dialog, NOTHING. On the plus side, she did get added to the ending and she is a bit of a Game Breaker, but still ...
The Golden Sun games. Try to find all djinn/summons without a guide.
Most enemies, including bosses, have a colorful "explosion" dissolvence effect when the finishing blow is dealt to them with a Djinni they're weak to.What isn't hinted anywhere in the game is that finishing them this way makes them drop 33% more Experience and Coins, making it way easier to grind for the bonus bosses.
Crossbone Island can only be reached near the end of the game, right? It would be cool to go there before reaching Tolbi and take all the good loot from the few floors you can clear by that point, right? During the voyage to Tolbi, four oarsmen are knocked out by monsters, and it's up to you to choose four out of eight passengers to replace them.Who would have ever guessed that picking certain passengers, in a certain order, would make the ship hit Crossbone Island and let you explore it hours before you were supposed to? The other way to reach Crossbone Island involves the player not casting Douse on a certain tucked-away pink tornado (normally 'inhabited' by a Tempest Lizard) in Suhalla Desert. However, since tornadoes in Suhalla Desert typically carry the player back to the nearby town of Suhalla (resulting in Backtracking through the Suhalla Desert from the beginning), players are usually inclined to Douse any tornado they come across for fear of getting whisked away — which could mean missing Crossbone Island entirely if one Douses the aforementioned pink tornado as well.
Among the most obscure Djinn in the first game is for sure Bane, which lives in the aforementioned Crossbone Island... over halfway into the dungeon. Then, in order to catch the Djinni, you must possess a Psynergy that is obtained by backtracking to Vale Village halfway through the game and completing another optional dungeon (to be fair, the Vale dungeon also contains the Djinni Kite).
The tunnel leading to Venus Lighthouse in the first game. You are given a puzzle room with five different-colored statues and five slots on the ground. One of the first Psynergy you could try on them is Move, which sure enough moves them. But only by placing them in a specific pattern the door will open, and to get the only hints at what that pattern is you have to probe the statues with Mind Read, a Psynergy which is only crucial at a couple points in the game, and even then can only be used on people (and the occasional dog).
Djinn in The Lost Age appear everywhere around the world - not only on isolated isles or "obvious secrets". Also, the world is much bigger. The Guide Dang It part is also enhanced by the fact that you need all Djinn from BOTH games for a special location with special boss guarding special summon.
The entire sequence from obtaining Piers' ship to entering Lemuria in The Lost Age. Once Piers formally joins the group and you power up his ship, the objective is hinted to be: find and enter Lemuria. So, you sail along and you find a foggy area on the world map. You enter, and you come across a sub-area while still in your ship. You try to proceed, but a water current prevents you from proceeding. What you have to do is follow a very specific path around the rocks in the area, for multiple rooms, mind you, and the only hint to this solution is a children's folk song in a completely unrelated village halfway across the map. But it doesn't stop there. After you miraculously figure out how to get past the water currents, you are faced with Poseidon, the guardian of Lemuria, who is invincible to everything you throw at it. In order to beat him, you have to trudge across THREE SEPARATE DUNGEONS scattered throughout the world, with no direction whatsoever, obtain three pieces of a trident, head back to a completely different village (the home village of a former boss, so at least there's some form of a hint) and get it reforged. Ugh.
The first Golden Sun has a blatant translation-induced Guide Dang It; in Kolima, a man speaks about a treasure but refuses to give the location. Read his mind and the Japanese version of the game says "It's hidden deep in the forest all the way west of the village, but I can't tell him that!", which fits into one text window in Japanese, but was too long for the English version, so it was replaced with "It's hidden deep in the forest, but I can't tell him that!". The forest west of the village is a patch of forest terrain with the man's treasure in it. Directly north of the village is a full-blown story-relevant forest dungeon and to the south is another forest dungeon. Confusion ensues. Luckily the Turtle Boots you find there, while the only footware for 3/4 the game, are pretty pathetic thanks to the percentage speed penalty they have outweighing the few extra points of defence. So if you miss them, you haven't really missed much.
Air's Rock from Golden Sun: The Lost Age is infamous for being That One Level, but Aqua Rock is far worse in one way. If you try to enter, you get blocked by water-spewing statues. You can try pushing them, freezing them, dousing them, trying to grow plants with them, and anything else you can think of, and they won't move. The answer? Go to the nearby village, find a rock shaped like a drop of water, and use Douse on it.
Just finding to Air's Rock fulfills this trope, since it's actually a detour on your way to Alhafra - the story itself doesn't give you any reason to randomly go exploring, as you are chasing down a notorious pirate at the very moment. This should not be confused with optional content - the circles indicating the use of the Reveal spell you learn on Air's Rock will become frequent, and the enemy difficulty will suddenly rise since you basically skipped a chunk of content and level ups. Also the dialogue when doing this part will make no sense if you do it later.
Once you get your own boat, the game's goal becomes finding Lemuria - except it isn't all that apparent at all. There is no real reason to go there as the Lemurians can't really help you in any logical way (they conveniently give you the spell to destroy the single rock blocking your way to the western seas though). You have to find a way through the waters surrounding Lemuria, which is only possible by circling certain volcanoes in a certain fashion a certain amount of times to temporarily disable the streams preventing you from progressing. The only hint at how to do that is a children's dance in a village that was taught to them by a deceased explorer. Of course the dance is in no way mentioned in relation to Lemuria, and could be misinterpreted by the unknowing player. It is also quite a stretch to relate the circling of stumps on foot with circling volcanoes with a ship. The song's duration is a whopping two minutes, and you have to memorize 'all' of that to get through - meaning you need to take notes to get it all (reminder this is a game for children, on a mobile handheld). Once you do it, you will face a boss with an impenetrable shield, that will kill you instantly. To destroy his shield, you have to find the pieces of a magical trident and let someone reforge it. This is never explicitly mentioned - only a few NPCs will casually mention it. These pieces are found in ruins that can only be done with certain spells that have to be acquired from certain places - sometimes in a special order since one of those places needs one of the spells to complete as well. Yet the player, without even knowing what the spells do, will just see a bunch of sand, or a crack in a mirror, having no idea where to go next.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has "points of no return", beyond which you cannot backtrack to get things you miss. And, as usual, the Djinn and summons are in such weird locations that you'd expect to go back later with some new Psynergy to get them... only to find that in this installment, that doesn't work. If you're a 100% completionist, you're S.O.L.
The guides don't even help: the official Nintendo guide for Dark Dawn says that you should go back and collect any missing Djinn before heading to the final boss. I repeat, the official guide lies to you about the Points of No Return.
Or you think the areas are on the wrong side of a Point of No Return. Did you know you can go back to southern Ei-Jei after the Grave Eclipse? Despite the game itself harping on about how you won't be able to return to Ayuthay and Passaj? You can even go back to Harapa after the east gate is sealed, by using the ship to go around to the west gate.
Worse is a Djinni in Harapa that can only be gotten in the window between obtaining the Cold Snap Psynergy and heading off to Craggy Peak. Once you return, the way is blocked off. No other Djinni in the game works this way.
Dark Dawn also has the issue of having come out eight years after the other installments of the series, and consequently frequently ends up in the hands of players who don't know many of the series traditions, like hiding Djinn and summons off the beaten path. As a result, these new players breeze along the storyline instead of taking the time to explore every nook and cranny in every area before moving on, and never realize that they're short about half the Djinn and all but one or two of the multi-elemental summons.
Try to find all the following in Dark Dawn without a guide:
The Haures summon tablet. note You get a few hints in-game for this one: You can see the cave where it's hidden from the accessible part of Border Town, and the Border Town innkeeper says people often use Dream Leaf there so they can dream of a time when the town wasn't closed off. Buy some Dream Leaf in Kolima and tell the innkeeper at Border Town that you want to take it, and you can dream of Border Town and navigate to the cave in the dream to find the summon tablet.
The Eclipse summon tablet. note Instead of leaving Luna Tower when it's activating, like you are repeatedly told to do, follow the staircase all the way up to its end.
The Ghost Ship Bonus Dungeon. note Find the rock formation that looks like a hand sticking out of the ocean, place the ship in the "hand", then sail directly west from there, into the fog bank.
You can find instructions in-game to find the Ghost Ship if you use Spirit Sense on the bodies of the Kaocho Generals at Ayuthay after the Grave Eclipse begins; they tell you where they left a note. Can't find them? That's because nobody told you they were on top of the palace by the strange tree. The note itself is embedded in a crack in the wall of Kaocho Palace, but you can only find it if you first found the Generals... Really, it's probably easier to find the Ghost Ship by blundering around than to find this.
Ivy the Djinni. note Requires talking to a very specific series of NPCs in Passaj after the Grave Eclipse hits, for seemingly no reason, and guiding the last of these into the mine to an insignificant-looking chunk of Zol sticking out of the wall. Ivy is stuck in the wall behind it, and that guy is the only person who can dig it out.
With the recent release of a new Episode 3 story mission in Phantasy Star Universe, it has become possible to obtain two particular NPC partner cards that a lot of people have been waiting for. Unfortunately, one of them requires you to go back and fulfill utterly ridiculous tasks in missions you've already cleared, just to see a few little changes to cutscenes, which will then somehow qualify you to obtain this card. Oh, and if you haven't played all twelve chapters of the Episode 2 story missions, forget it...
"Party RPG" Dokapon Kingdom has the "Acrobat" class, which can only be obtained by bringing a special item to the king. While it isn't the only such class to be obtained this way, it is possibly the most difficult to find—to get it, you need to go to the Casino (a place you're never required to go at story point, and which it may be downright dangerous to go to if you're playing more competitively with your friends and everyone wants to move forward) and get both all cherries on a "great" or "excellent" bonus.
Graffiti Kingdom. The bosses are a HUGE problem in this game, because after the first three, every single boss except Acryla [and, arguably, Deskel] becomes That One Boss; Telepin is virtually impossible no matter what you do, Palette absolutely requires you have wings and the very hidden Fly ability, Medium, the assumed final boss, has two forms, the latter of which is almost three times as hard as the first and Tablet, the REAL final boss, has FIVE, all harder than the last and with their own HP bars. You must learn this all through trial and error, or by doing things you normally wouldn't do, like hitting a certain tree in a certain stage so a certain enemy pops out that may or may not die before you get a chance to swipe it for the Fly ability.
Unlocking all the characters in Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors. The game oftentimes requires you to beat a chapter with a certain character?or in the case of team matches, characters. Sometimes, you have to lose the first match, before winning it on your second try. And two characters have to be unlocked by repeatedly pressing the Start button while the credits are rolling. At no point in the game is any of this so much hinted to you. And you're supposed to figure all this out without a strategy guide?
Perhaps Magi-Nation should be included. The only way to get some of the most powerful dream creatures in the game were extremely hidden and required Guides. Some examples to get these creatures included running through a mountain on the world map or swimming past a dude's house you meet early on and never have to return to since.
One example of the hidden creatures is the Orathan F. In order to find it, you have to wander around between two mountains on the world map in the final overworld map.
Also, don't forget the Shadow Hold. Good luck getting through that dungeon without a guide. And good luck trying to get through the 5th Shadow Geyser with a key leftover for the New Game+.
The Ormagon. Reading a guide for it would make you think they're making it up as they go along!
Midway through Phantasy Star III: Generations Of Doom, one of the Sages tells you you need to take care of a certain task, but he refers to the wrong place, leading the player off to nowhere. The manual attempts to hide the mistake by pleading that he's senile and offers you the right direction. Again: lose the manual and things come to a grinding halt.
The US localization of Dragon Warrior II does the same thing: while chasing down The Prince, the King of Middenhall may refer to the wrong city, sending you off in the entirely wrong direction.
Live A Live is basically one giant Guide Dang It. You've got doors that only open if you stand in a specific spot and press 'A' exactly one hundred times, Bonus Bosses and special items that only appear if you backtrack and/or walk in a very specific way, and a whole host of other counter-intuitive things that are never hinted that and are sometimes needed to either advance the plot or not get completely screwed over for the rest of the game.
Ys Book I and II for the Turbografx-16 CD was full of these(of course nearly all RPGs had them back in the day). Some examples: You find a Roda Tree Seed in the Mine in Book 1, it is used to talk to the big trees in the field to obtain the Silver Sword (in the ''Eternal'' remake you have to eat the seed first). Near the end of Book I, the door to Dark Fact is sealed, and even the Evil Ring(also a Guide Dang It to figure out how to use without it draining your health, or worse, in other versions, killing you instantly) won't open it. In the book of Gemma, a Blue Amulet is mentioned, vaguely hinting that you're supposed to go all the way back down to where Luta was to get it, and then you can go in the boss room.
Halfway up Darm tower, you encounter a corridor where scary Source Music is played that drains your health. In the room halfway down, Raba/Rasta tells you that you need to break one of the pillars "on this floor" to stop the "Devil's Wind", as it is sometimes called (the name of the music piece on the soundtrack). It turns out that you're supposed to break one of the pillars on the outside of the floor where Luta Gemma resides. In the TGCD version, the hint is that the gallery on that floor is purple instead of blue, as well as having gargoyle faces on the pillars. In all variants of Eternal, the pillars look like pipes with holes in them.
However, in the case of the Chronicles PSP release, if you bought the UMD (manual and all), you have an exact walkthrough for the first game in the back pages.
In Book II, in the lava village, if you talk to the mayor, he tells you that the bridge is broken. If you talk to him while in beast form, he says he promised not to let Adol through. Then you have to change back and talk to him a third time , only then does he tell you where his kidnapped son is and give you the Whisper Earings. Worse, the path to Tarf's cell is blocked by a Gas Chamber. To figure out how to get through, you have to use the Evil Bell at the entrance to the dungeon(one of the villagers tells you that Quays, the gremlin-like species the Transform magic turns you into, used to be seen there), then the Quays tell you to use a Roda Leaf, which is lying on the ground, barely visible just inside the entrance(In the PC remake, the leaf is hidden in the Quay's hideout, which you also have to use the Evil Bell to access)
In Rance Village, Jira tells you that he hears noises coming from his basement. When you go down there, there's apparently nothing there. A villager also says that he hears a bell when the goons are called to a meeting. This somewhat vaguely hints that you need use the Evil Bell(obtained in the Mine) in the basement to call the demons, which then break down the wall, allowing you to access the final priest's shrine.
Later, after the wizard Dalles turns you into a green ghoul monster(a blue or black Quay in other versions), you come upon the refugee's hideout. They block your way in, but at least in the TG-CD version they give you the hint that a room with a different wall contains the sacred cup of Dabbie who also held the Magic of Light(in the Eternal remake they give you no hints whatsoever, guide dang it).
Also a statue holding a sword is found in the canals. Hardly do you know that when you use the Dreaming Stone Idol to change the refugees back, he changes back too. And that sword he has is the Infinity+1 Sword critical to the Final Boss fight!
Ys IV: Mask Of The Sun for the Super Famicom: When you first return to Minea, Pim tells you he has lost his gold pedestal. Towards the end of the game, you are told to drive the Hero's Sword into the gold pedestal at the top of the mountain after obtaining it from the "Information Booth", which doesn't actually exist in the game. You have to go back to Pim, and it turns out he didn't lose it after all.
In Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, the main quest had almost none, but many of the secret items, including the Emelas gear, were guide-dang-its to find, many of which involved going back and fighting respawned(and suped-up) mini-bosses. Biggest Guide Dang Its were the Black Tabulas and Eldian Orb in the Ruins of Amnesia, where, to see the invisible platforms, you need the Rainbow Fragment, which isn't obtained until after you complete the dungeon, and there are almost no in-game hints about its use.
Many achievements in the Steam version of Ys I and II:
Hey Baby, What's Your Width?, I Can't See You, But I Can Feel You and Police Are On Their Way: During both games' Escort Mission, there is a single narrow passage which you must push your escorted character into.
No Reservations: In Ys II, there are four NPCs who will give you food if you give them enough gifts. Some are somewhat hinted at because they raise meat animals, but one of them runs an armor and weapon shop and is never hinted to give you anything.
Bill the Duck: You must give gifts to an NPC (once again, there is absolutely no hints as to which NPC this is) until he tells you that sometimes the ducks eat gold coins. Now you can examine the ducks outside and one of them will give you gold and the achievement.
Where's Aldow: You must use the Alter spell and return to the first dungeon, in the area where you found the Evil Bell. One monster will give you the achievement if you talk to him.
The H3LLO KITTY door. Requires three apples. First of all, the apples already have another use in the game. Second, you have no way to know that you need three, making it pretty much impossible to solve just by trying everything. Third, you don't even know that you need apples unless you happen to know that Hello Kitty likes apple pie.
Actually, three apples is her weight, according to official bios.
Several quest items that are lying on the ground with no message whatsoever (short of searching every square in the game): the Sun Jewel and the Dragon Drops.
Several quests which just claim that an unspecified NPC wants an unspecified item. In one case it's made to sound like a quest item, but the item is actually a random drop (a ring).
The true ending requires a nearly maxed charisma, which means grinding unless you know in advance and saved up the experience to buy it, and having a character with Balanced alignment wield Tyrung. There are no clues about this. Not to mention that even getting the Tyrung means finding a mysterious woman in an otherwise meaningless location on all other levels, in order.
The necromancy puzzle requires, among other things, a candle. There's another candle with a completely different use (and if you use it first, no way to know you didn't just lose the one you needed), and the correct one requires using an item, which aside from its obvious effect also puts the needed candle in your inventory without telling you.
Some steps in solving quests only have a percentage chance of working, such as the getting the golden axe and some of the ????? level skill-based quests.
The Mist Giant quest, which only appears if you enter a particular room without happening to trigger a random encounter at the door—which is pretty likely to happen.
The level, stat, and skill requirements for obtaining advanced classes are not documented. One stat needed for one class is not even available for raising during most of the game.
The game also rolls hit points using the original Wizardry method: reroll your entire hit points whenever you go up a level, so reloading to gain more hit points will be fruitless in the long run. How to figure this out? Umm, read guides for Wizardry and recognize that the hit point gain looks similar?
Infinite Undiscovery has several Guide Dang It moments, but the worst in is Castle Prevant, where four of your allied soldiers are being held in jail cells. One is executed every 4 minutes unless you acquire the cell keys and let them out. One key is dropped by an enemy, one found in a treasure chest, one you have to talk to a freaking rat (in near absolute darkness no less) and the final one has to be crafted. What makes an already frustrating task worse is that the game gives you no hint that the task is even there. No dialogue. No timer. Nobody even says anything if you fail.
More than a few achievements from the game fall into this category. You may never guess that you need to have every single one of your characters avoid being hit by the tsunami at the Cerulean Chain battle in order to earn the Tide of Battle Achievement.
In Super Mario RPG You have to be pretty darn lucky to find Grate Guy's casino on your own, because there are no hints about its location and you have to jump at a seemingly randomly chosen, unmarked spot to find the exit that leads to the casino. You'll also need to find the ID card to get into the casino, which can only be obtained by revisiting a place that you likely have no other particular reason to revisit, though this is considerably easier to discover than the casino itself.
The game does give you a hint about jumping at the spot occupied by a golden chain chomp, but they don't tell you where to find the said enemy nor where to obtain the membership card needed to access the casino once you find it.
There's the married couple (Raz and Raini) who can make an appearance on Yo'ster Isle on their honeymoon. With the Bright Card in inventory, Raz hints the whereabouts of the casino being near Bean Valley.
Don't forget about the hidden treasure chest in the Mushroom Kingdom Castle, which can only be accessed by jumping on Toad's head while he's walking, and then jumping off his head to the top of the door frame he's passing through. Oh, and you can only do this the very first time you enter the castle, with no hints what so ever about it and, depending on if you went out of your way to speak to a certain NPC in someone's basement, before you even know hidden treasure chests existed! Fortunately, you don't receive any rewards from finding them all (besides the contents in the chest themselves) and the only reason to complete this quest is for bragging rights.
Don't forget that even if you knew about it beforehand, Toad goes by so fast that you have one chance to make it and the jump definitely isn't easy, even worse, there's actually a character who will continously tell you that you have one more hidden chest left, meaning that 100% Completionists will be forced to reset the game. Don't forget the Star Egg, an Item that you win by winning a luck based Mini-Game in the aforementioned Grate Guy's Casino 100 Times! By the way, to get the Bright Card in the first place, in addition to speaking to a character in a dungeon you have no buisness going back to, you have to play and win his Mini-Game 12 times. How about the Mystery Egg? Use it ten times and it becomes a Lamb's Lure and use that 48 times to get a Sheep Attack. Obviously!
In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, about half of the bosses in the game have missable equipment drops, which range from useless to game-breaking. One boss in particular, the Piranha Bean, has an item which can only be gotten via a certain piece of equipment, which in turn requires you to have found thirty-five of a specific variety of bean, around twenty of which are in invisible blocks, the locations of which are only vaguely hinted at by their surroundings.
In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, you can press Y in conjunction with X to increase the power of Bowser's Vacuum Block (something which is practically required for the final boss). The kicker? Not even the official guide mentions this. You could only find out about it from the Mario Wiki, which doesn't have it anymore. Oh, and the guide also doesn't mention the Bonus Boss of the Gauntlet (Bowser X) either.
Free MMORPG Mabinogi has a few of these. Most of them are the result of bad translations, and there are usually people around who can give you the correct info. Some, however, are almost game-breaking. The worst are two specific skills. Since the game is skill-based and not class-based, the only restriction on how your character functions is based entirely on the skills you choose to learn. Skills are divided into Combat, Magic, and Life. Skill paths are not exclusive in any way, and it is technically possible to learn any and all available skills, given enough time and effort. However, the Guide Dang It part is that two of the most important skills can only be learned, or learned easily, if you work on them very early on:
The most frustrating one is "Windmill"; probably the most powerful combat skill in the game. Training to advance this skill is highly dependent on the comparison between the character's and monsters' "Combat Power", the overall combat ability rating. If your CP is too high, then you won't be able to train the skill effectively. The Guide Dang It moment comes in when you realize that the game does not display your CP, only a vague "comparison" to monsters, nor is it even remotely clear how CP works. Worse yet, if you increase the level of certain other skills too high, mainly Combat Mastery (your primary combat skill) training the higher levels of Windmill becomes nearly impossible. There are client-side mods which give more useful CP information; but these are prohibited, and are removed every time the client undergoes a major update.
The second is the crafting skill Refine, which affects your Dexterity stat. This is arguable the most useful "Life" skill since Dex has a huge effect on the amount of damage you inflict in combat, especially ranged combat; and this skill has the largest effect on Dex. However, in order to train the skill, you need "failures" when attempting to use it as well as "successes". If your Dex stat and main Life skill — "Production Mastery" — are too high, it will be nearly impossible to fail; and you need at least as many failures as successes to effectively train the skills, if not more.
Except that if you're someone who levels "with the flow", it means you level as you train it for another cause, like Blacksmithing or Money.
There are ways to compensate, but they're limited. There are enchanted equips that will reduce your CP or Dex; but the effects are fairly small (although cumulative); and they are typically extremely expensive and hard to get. Rebirthing will help, but again, only to a limited degree. Finally, there are items available, known as "skill reset capsules" that will enable you to reduce any skill by one level, but they're only available to those using certain paid services, at a rate of one a week, and cannot be traded.
Did you know that usage of Demigod skills deducts EXP?
Knights in the Nightmare pulls this, and it's even worse considering that you need it to recruit characters. So, you destroyed all the objects in the stage, and you should've gotten all the key items? Well, did you destroy the objects after you force them to respawn AGAIN? This is annoying, considering you have extremely limited movement, and Warriors can only face 2 directions.
Even worse, just try to find the Ancardia on your first playthrough.
In Ace Combat games, the methods for unlocking the superfighters are never spelt out clearly. For example, in Shattered Skies the X-02 Wyvern is unlocked only after beating all missions with a S rank, then beat the game again via SP. New Game, but you wouldn't guess unless you've played games with similar unlock systems. In Unsung War getting the ADF-01F Falken requires finding and destroying hangars in out of the way areas. Various optional enemy aces also don't appear on radar unless you fly close enough to their turf. Fortunately, most of these you can get by deliberately exploring the mission areas or trying every possible obvious option.
Speaking of aces, some have very strange spawn requirements. Some are obvious (appear after mission update, get close enough, etc.), some may require knowledge of another game (Grabacr only appears if, on Ace, you ignore Huckbein the Raven as he flees from Schwarze, keeping the timeline intact), others are just odd (Schakal only appears if you do not down any jammer aircraft, and at least 3 minutes have passed from mission start; Riese only appears on the Mercenary path by scoring 10000 points and going through the exact spawn point of four planes that, if any have been destroyed, will cause Riese to not spawn).
Not to mention the Wyvern in in Unsung War is only unlockable by buying one of every airplane except for the Falken (which, if you're going for 100% you'll only ever have money for one of anyway). Any casual player will probably pick out their favorite planes early and not really care about the rest.
Skies of Deception takes ace-finding to a new level, as some of them don't appear unless you carry out counterintuitive actions, like speeding through an area littered with Instant Death Radius radar coverage circles or ignoring a bunch of Xbox hueg Frickin' Laser Beams in order to shoot down enemy planes.
The romhack of Earthbound known as Radiation's Halloween Hack has a bizarre subversion easily described as a Title Dang It. At one point in the game you are presented with a choice that appears to only have one option, and at that point you have to remember the actual title of the hack: Press The B Button.
In the Hello Kitty Online preview game Island of Fun, an optional quest requires you to clean all the statues on the island. One of them is of "Jed", who isn't an established Sanrio character, and there isn't a statue that matches with him. Turns out the "statue" is a glowing pile of rocks. Even worse, the only part of it that's actually clickable is the captain's hat on top of the pile of rocks.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. The game has multiple endings, determined by scenes seen and conversation choices. At the end you can pick between the endings you qualified for. This is all well and good, except that one of the endings requires you to pick one of two almost identical responses in a scene halfway through the game. Making a mistake during another event also locks you into the worst ending.
Devil Survivor 2 is much more lenient as far as unlocking endings go, but introduces another Guide Dang It mechanic in the Fate System. The Fate System works much like Social Links from the Persona games, and maxing them out for certain characters can be very difficult, again screaming "you did print out that guide from GameFAQs, right?" Getting the Golden Ending is nigh-impossible otherwise.
Shining the Holy Ark had the only extra character hiding as a tree in the first town you come across. No way you could know he was there unless you checked every tree in the town, you might have done that at the start of the game to find treasure but Doyle will only appear after you?ve visited his village on the other-side of the map.
Shining the Holy Ark also had pixies hidden throughout the game, which could be used for extra attacks on enemies at the start of a battle. Finding a pixie is done by searching a space on a wall. Without a guide, there are no clues to where the pixies are. Moreover, there can be hidden areas behind pushable walls which contains pixies. Therefore, you must either both search and push every wall in the game, or use a guide.
There's also the Mirage Village puzzle. You have tablets which say "Face the illusion, hold ___ hand aloft, enter from the ___, and offer it to me." The solution? You must not face the illusion. Instead, you have to face such that ___ hand would be in the direction of the illusion. Then approach the tablet from the specified direction. No offer is involved. One wonders if this was a translation error.
Ever played Final Fantasy Legend II? Good luck being able to figure the game's leveling-up system without having a strategy guide or a fansite handy. The DS remake may potentially improve some of these.
The first Digimon World was absolutely chock full of this trope. There were no clues on how to get several Digivolutions. This could also fit in the Double Guide Dang It because the Official Guide didn't even have knowledge of how to get some of the monsters. Also an example of Trial-and-Error Gameplay as you have no clue what you will get when your partner Digimon will turn into near the start of the game. The player eventually manages to guess their way to more powerful Digimon, but every so often there is the occasional Centarumon, Numemon (and if you are particularly messy, Sukamon). Devimon was the worst case of this (Although much later in the game you discover Items which Digivolve rookies into certain Champions). First you had to get an Angemon... Which was extremely difficult in itself, then get his disipline below 50% and THEN you have to lose a battle. Almost ALL of the Ultimate level Digimon were discovered just by random chance.
Digimon World 3 as well. To fight the final group of bosses, you need five special weapons. The only confirmed way to get these items is to do lengthy quests before the Point of No Return which immediately precedes this part of the game. So walkthrough authors would make sure this was mentioned, wouldn't they? Not exactly. That part of the game was cut from the North American release, and of course the majority of English-language walkthrough authors use that version, therefore the items are either not mentioned or simply get a brief spot as a side quest.
First, DNA Digivolution. Several digimon are only unlocked by fusions, a few of which aren't mentioned in the game. They also have an extra requirement, which might be HP, levels or something similar. Few of these are mentioned.
Second, several normal digivolutions. In order to be able to evolve some digimon, you have to first find how to get that digimon via an alternative route (often involving DNA digivolution) which, again, are often mentioned anywhere in the game. Tsukaimon's line is the grand champion, with all of his mega forms and most ultimate forms requiring you to train Digimon which seem completely random unless you're a Digimon veteran (and even then, figuring out the combination for one of his final forms could stump even those).
It's really hard to understate the sheer madness that is trying to complete Tsukaimon's digivolutionary lines. Depending on what starter pack you chose when you started the game, it can take three or four individual Tsukaimon, to get everything (the longest route and 'final' form involves DNA digivolving both one Mega-level digivolved from Tsukaimon, and a branched evolution also digivolved from Tsukaimon). It's... convoluted, and figuring it out without a guide makes one's head spin.
Third, extra missions. They are unlocked if you have a specific digimon with a specific nature (which doesn't have any purpose other than that) in your farm. Most of them are hinted at, but even so, you need to create and delete the needed digimon until it comes with the required nature.
Want an example?The Homunculus Quest requires you to equip two rather useless pieces of equipment found in a town you probably skipped to infiltrate a hidden zone of a palace you otherwise get kicked out of, finding several unmarked NPCs, answering a quiz, have a certain conversation with a certain NPC with no clue or confirmation that it advanced the quest, and finally go back to the quest-giving NPC.And this is just a Sidequest.
Parasite Eve has a Bonus Boss that is tough to take down, but even tougher to kill quickly due being able to heal a large amount of health. The trick that is never mentioned is when the boss summons a helper on screen; you're supposed to stop attacking her until the helper goes away. Attacking the boss prematurely in this manner will have her summon a 2nd helper that heals the boss for 1000 HP and it keeps rising up every 1000 points if you keep making this mistakenote it's even possible to have the healing counter read 0000, since the game can't display more than 4 digits for damage/healing, which can make the battle Unwinnable if you are not strong and fast enough to kill the boss.
In the original four .hack games, you could raise pets named grunties by feeding them. The food changed attributes that, when the grunty "grew up", would decide what kind it was. However, for 8 of the 9 grunties, you had to have an exact set of attributes. If even one was off, you got the generic Noble Grunty. And, of course, the game never tells you the attributes you need for the unique grunties. Good luck figuring that out on your own...
In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there's a boss battle in the final chapter against Gloomtail. After he's defeated, most players would simply leave the room; however, they likely wouldn't have noticed the crack in the wall behind Gloomtail, which can be blown up to get into another part of the room, housing some rare items. If you leave the area before getting this, the floor will drop out in the hallways leading to it, making the room inaccessible afterward.
Earlier in the game, during Chapter 3, you find an egg that follows you around for a while before hatching into a yoshi that becomes your partner. The yoshi can be one of 7 colors and seems to be randomly chosen. However, the color is actually based on the amount of time it took you to get from the point where the egg joins you to the time the yoshi shows up (with the counter reseting to 0 every 20 minutes). If you want a certain color (like the rare black or white one, both of which have a margin of 1 minute each) you pretty much need a guide or insane luck.
In Super Paper Mario, there's the chapter 5 Moon Logic Puzzle involving a set of floating blocks that need to be hit in a specific order. That's just the first one; the second chain is at least 20 hits long and the combination can only be gotten from an NPC in the first area, where you probably wouldn't go back to after seeing other Cragnons getting kidnapped. When you go back to talk to him, he'll only give you this information if you manually type out "please" five times and is case sensitive. Even when he's giving this information, he does so in a way that implies that it's not the short chain and then a very long chain, he does so in a way that implies that it's the short chain, then a longer chain, then an even longer chain.
And just to twist the knife in, even AFTER solving that puzzle and getting where the pipe you unlock takes you, you STILL have no idea that the only way forward is BEHIND THE BACKGROUND. Whoever designed that level had to be a sadist.
There's one you're not required to figure out back in the first Paper Mario. The Star Beam gets rid of Bowser's Star Rod power, yes... but it also gets rid of EVERY STATUS IN THE GAME. Fighting a Magikoopa that made an enemy invisible? The Star Beam WILL get rid of that. The game only tells you it cancels the Star Rod's power. The game expects YOU to figure out it gets rid of every other status, as well.
Sticker Star has become infamous for this. Throughout the adventure, you find various objects the game refers to as Things that you use to clear obstacles in the field. But when you come to a part of the game that requires a Thing to get by, you are not told that you need to use one, which one you need, or where the Thing is in case you don't have it. To top it off, a good chunk of these things can be hidden extremely well in the levels, requiring unintuitive levels of exploration to find them.
Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel. How bad is it? For example, the game never mentions how to save. Folowing story is even worst. At one point of the game you must return to early visited village and sleep in the inn. Not only there is no hints about it, resting in inns is absolutely unnessesary in terms of restoring health - you can just use heallers, and then walk around the village to restore mp.
The PSP version requires you to be well liked amongst the Galgastani people to get a certain character. Problem? Most of the enemies in the game, especially before that character can join you are Galgastans.
Many of the optional characters.
Recruiting Sherri. You're at least told not to kill her, but she doesn't immediately join you. For no apparent reason, you must then make it stormy and go to Balmamusa before one of the very next anchor points and then you will see a scene where you will recruit her.
Ravness in the PSP version. If you want to recruit her, you'll have to play in a specific way. The final battle of chapter one puts her in the enemies against you. It's a "Kill all" stage, and if you want to recruit Ravness...you have to NOT KILL HER. In a "Kill all" stage? Especially when she's right in front of you, the temptation's too great. (That and enemies attack her, too.) Then in chapter two, you have to listen to the news after a certain part and then save her in an optional battle. Then in chapter three, you have to recruit Jenuan, a character who has no visible ties to her, then deploy him in the next battle. Note he may also be level one. In the next battle, don't kill the boss until Jenuan and the boss's dialogues are complete. Then you have to save her in another optional battle which is not alluded to, especially since the story hints you should go forward, and you have to go to the previous point on the map.
Ozma in the PSP version. Players of the original were surprised when the game gives you a very strong hint that she's playable, when she is seen harassing Hobyrim, but appears to be hesitant to strike, and survives the events of Chapter 3. (In the original, she dies in Rhime in that very battle.) however, the window for recruiting her not only requires Hobyrim to be at around 50 loyalty (Which is not shown as a number, by the way.) and requires you to use the Warren Talk. then, you are given a battle with Ozma and Volaq where you must force Volaq to retreat, and then reduce Ozma to low health. (Thankfully, the game gives you shots which can be thrown by anyone with a lobber so you can simply Cherry-tap Ozma with them, but she and the other templars are very dangerous foes.) While you are given a very strong hint that you can recruit her, the number of hoops to jump through are pretty surprising. And she's well worth it.
A rare justified example - The Fireseal. The way to obtain it is very long and arduous, and there's almost no hint on how to obtain it, or even mentions that it's even in the game until you're rather far into Hell Gate. This is justified in that Quest (The original developers) were holding a contest to see who could obtain it first.
Its Gaiden GameKnight of Lodis gives you a choice early on and doesn't actually tell you that this is the major game-changing choice that will lead to either Alphonse killing his commander and Eleanor sacrificing herself to save Shaher or Alphonse's commander instead joining him and Cybil being possessed by Shaher.
Tons of them in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment about how to get specific Personae. The first one is Maia Custom. To get her, you need to tell Ulala's ex that he's wrong and that Joker Ulala is a nice person. Pick the other choice and she's Lost Forever. Then you need to equip Maia and wait for her to mutate. Wait, you released Maia already? Tough shit.
Then there's Hastur. To get him, go to the Wang Long-obsessed girl in 2x Slash and give your birth month as HASTURCOMEFORTH in all caps. Doing this triggers The King in Yellow to appear in your mailbox at Kismet (no, really) which you use to create Hastur along with 258 Tower cards.
Mot, Pallas Athena, Shokuin and Michael all are obtained through mutating specific Personae which normally mutate into Minor Arcana Personae (two of which actually mutate into the same Persona). However, there's a 1/8 chance that Seth, Scathach, Wong Long, and Amurdad respectively will mutate into the listed Personae.
Cross Edge may beat the rest of the entries combined for the sole reason that you need a guide to even understand how the battle system even works! That's not even getting towards the True End requirements like you cannot kill someone in this X battle, or that you should see Y event before proceeding to fight out against another person.
Being developed by Compile Heart, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk II has the Multiple Endings of course. One particular ending, other than the Golden Ending, is called the "Ruling Ending". You are required to have a 55%+ share on the world share of Planeptune only, 80% Planeptune share on each major city, seen all the demon sword events, recruited all goddesses, and must be before your 2nd fight with Magic The Hard (no need for spoilers since it was confirmed, and it's in the trophy names anyway). What do you get from all of this? The worstendingin a Compile Heart game, surpassingAgarest Senki 2's Bad Ending.
The original Mega Man Battle Network had the Undernet memos. The first one is easy enough to find, but the only hint you're given on the other two is that you need to find "a young beautiful lady and an old man". Never mind how vague this is, the lady is in a school in Dentown that you probably didn't know existed until this quest. To rub salt in the wounds, once you've found her, she won't give you the memo unless you've filled out enough of the Library. Hope you've been diligent on S-ranking battles! These memos are needed to progress in the story, too.
Lost Odyssey, if you want the Treasure Trove Achievement, it requires you to find every single item in the game. There is no indication in game of which items you have and which you don't and the areas the remaining items are found in. Take into account a very large map as well.
In Beyond the Beyond there's no way of knowing that to get Percy you have to not harm him in battle for about a dozen turns or so.
The optional puzzle sidequest in Sailor Moon: Another Story. You start getting pieces from encounters right away, and there's a "Puzzle" option in the main menu which allows you to view the picture. What the game never tells you outright is that there exist eight "secret" pieces: one given by a character whom you can only reach by following a secret path through the forestnote this one, admittedly, has a hint much later in the game, but only after the piece becomes unobtainable, and the rest hidden in specific barrels, vases and potsnote which you might not realize you can search at all, given that most of them don't do anything. These pieces can only be collected during chapters 2 and 4, and you need at least four of them in order to complete the picture. Even if you do finish the picture, you're still not told what it does, and have to realize that you're supposed to find a merchant inside the Crystal Palace (which you can only access way after losing your last chance to collect the hidden pieces), who gives you something in exchange for the puzzle.
Another point that is known for getting players stuck is Sailor Jupiter's quest in Canada, where entering the castle in Mishii Village (which is needed to advance the plot) requires talking to three NPCs in specific order, one of those NPCs being minor, meaning that there's a chance you won't meet her the first time around, let alone realize she can be important.
Langrisser 2 has four different ending branches, two of which give you a choice of party members and all of which depend on things like who you kill or what answers you give to certain questions. It's so bad that the GameFAQs scenario chart for the fan translation Der Langrisser is a tangled mess.
NieR. Going for 100% Completion? Well, you're about to hit the Point of No Return, so you'll get all your sidequesting done now. You're at 50% sidequest completion, Devola tells you there's no sidequests left, checking the towns and talking to people has yielded nothing, so you're good, right? Nope. There's one left. Visit an out of the way corner of Seafront, talk to a NPC there, then leave town and come talk to him again. Repeat, and then he'll send you on a Fetch Quest. Cavia, you are evil!
Life in the Sands. You have to get 10 Pink Moonflower Seeds. The Dark Id sums it up nicely here. None of these mechanics are hinted at anywhere in the game, ever.
There's an interesting case of this in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team with a certain piece of gear (called the 1-Up Gloves). You see, for literally 99% of bosses, any unique gear they drop is guaranteed to be gotten as a prize once they're defeated, or is available to buy somewhere else in the world later on. Not this one. Nope, it only has a 50% chance of being dropped, and the game never actually tells you or hints that this is the case. So it's quite possible to end up screwed out of all the gear simply because of luck and something the game never bothers to tell you.
Another possible example is thanks to Popple's poorly worded quote in Wakeport during the Ultibed Quest. You see, if you speak to him without getting all the parts, he says you need 'more experience', which refers to getting the other parts. Unfortunately, this is in a game with an EXP/level up system, so quite a few people have wasted a ton of time levelling up and talking to him under the misguided impression this was a Beef Gate type scenario.
In the second game, discovering the battery combinations for some Robopon may necessitate a guide, either because you miss the person that tells you what batteries you need, or the Robopon is not available via sparking and has to be obtained some other way, like giving random and unrevealed passwords to Jasper the dog. What makes this really bad is that some of his passwords are one character long despite there being 5 spaces.
The Pharo Ruins. To save a lot of mindless wandering, you can walk through certain walls, including in the leftmost ruin in the past. Moreover, specific switches need to be hit in the order of center, east, west, or nothing will happen. Aside from Maskman using the word 'correctly' this isn't even hinted at.
Figuring out how to play the Playland minigames in Robopon 2.
When you get the running time machine, it can make things more confusing if you're not sure what time era to be in.
The first game has the Brownie sidequest, regarding where/when to move the rocks around.
In Seiken Densetsu 3, right in the beginning of the game, the player has to sleep in Astoria's inn to trigger a light waking up the player characters and leading to the next story step. The only hint in the game is a villager saying he's seen a strange light last night, which may return the next night - something that can be easily overlooked as NP Cs in this game, and indeed the entire genre, love to bombard the player with useless trivia. The game also has a day/night cycle, so the player might get the idea of waiting until nightfall, only to get... nothing. In any case, if he has no reason to sleep in the inn, he may wander around aimlessly forever, trying to find a hidden way, until either giving up or consulting a guide.
To add to the trickery, the player's goal is to reach Wendel, which is protected by a magical shield. Nothing at all hints at any way to bypass this shield, least of all finding it in a backwater town like Astoria. Instead, between Wendel and Astoria, there's another path with a golden mana statue leading to a dead end. Statues like that are usually placed at important points like boss fights, so the player may take this as an extra hint and run around forever in that forest, with no hope to actually progress any further - until he gives up or consults a guide.
This is a very strong theme in the game's team composition and class mechanics. As balance is almost nonexistent, there are certain characters synergizing extremely well with each other, making the game a piece of cake, while other compositions make it nearly unbeatable. As a player, you have no way to know, and will end up having luck by having picked a good group, or suffer through the rest of the game with an extremely lackluster one. The same goes for classes: you can rank up twice to a higher class, each time having the choice between two higher classes. These aren't comparable or balanced at all, and there is always a best and a worst one. You as the player get absolutely no hints or clues at the classes' capabilities, and will likely end up picking the class that sounds cooler.
The class composition issue also goes story-wise. Every two characters out of the six available ones have a shared background (mostly A's nation attacking B's), they share their ultimate enemies and their final bosses. Only picking two fitting characters for your group will actually reveal the most dialogue for the main character, but you have no way of knowing that during creation.
Pretty much all of MOTHER 1 is this. 99.99% of the game is so enigmatic, help from a strategy guide is pretty much the only way anyone can beat it the first several times around.