Online gaming in general. Very few games that offer a tutorial do more than simply explain the control scheme and a few other things such as what a stat may do or what a class role is. They are rarely updated for the ever-changing Metagame. And sure enough, players expect you to know all of the metagame rules if you don't want to find yourself kicked or repeatedly cussed out by “Stop Having Fun” Guys and arrogant players.
The MOBA genre is especially prone to this. The practice modes don't tell you anything of what you can expect players to do. The players claim this is a "steep learning curve", but really, we can call this more of "Denial of crucial information". And if you're new to the genre in general, you probably don't wanna play unless you like getting cussed out, kicked, or suffering a leaver while losing a lot - the tutorials that are available on third-party sites are often full of jargon that is never defined. Combined with the players' tendencies to chase newbies out of the game, this is very very frustrating.
The finished but still-current Neopets 'plot' quest called Altador is absolutely impossible without using a guide: Some of the requirements make you click A SINGLE PIXEL in an image which it was never specified to do so, and go to locations in a certain order which seemingly had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. Some of the 'puzzle' varieties in the games consisted of pressing switches in the right combination— for the second-last combination puzzle, there were over 1,000 possible combinations and you had to try every single one. All this for some measly items per day while the plot is still relevant, which don't even amount to much cash right now (but will in, say, 10 years) so it's useless to most players of the game.
Not to mention when you had to take care of the sick petpet you found, which requires pressing a certain action for according facial expressions of the pet at the exact time the clock changes on a correct clock— ten times. If you made a mistake and didn't know, you would never know you made one and could've possibly been trying for hours. The fact that you must only press an action at the exact time the clock is :00 minutes was never specified, let alone which actions correspond to which facial expressions. A true example of this trope indeed.
Online Games by Motion Twin tend to fall into this territory more than often, mainly because they're not-so-perfectly translated from French, and all the official guides stop at the basics and a couple FA Qs. Good luck finding out what class build to use in Minitroopers or which way to build a town in Die 2 Nite without a player-made guide...
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games falls very mildly to this trope, but it's susceptible all the same. One of Peach's missions requires her to perform a shout in the hammer throw three consecutive times, which nothing in the game or the guide tells you how to do even once. On the plus side, learning how to do it tends to give you extra distance.
One of the tips in the Dream Spacewalk event tells you that when your group is flying toward Dino Piranha, you can press the Spin to Deflect Stuff button when you hit him to do additional damage. It makes sense given the other events, but doing this still keeps the player well below the game's other competitors, let alone online records. The correct solution is to mash the spin button for the duration of your approach.
The Angry Video Game Nerd points out that having the manual is essential to playing the games in the Magnavox Odyssey console. Otherwise it would be near impossible to figure out what to do with two player-controlled squares and the plastic overlays (and sometimes, real pieces and tokens) used for each game.
The Winter section of the Woods in Mickey Mousecapade. The hidden door to the final section is in the tree right at the start, but won't open until you go all the way through and loop back to the start, so many players would think there is no door there at all and eventually admit defeat and consult the helpline after shooting every other tree to no avail.
Undercoverfilmer00v covered this in his review before taking it down, mocking the logic behind it:
UCF00v: *gasp* There's that start sign! I guess I better shoot that same tree again that I know didn't do anything the first time. Maybe something has changed for no reason whatsoever. (shoots the tree in question to open the door) *gasp* Oh my God! It's a glitch in the matrix!
In The Guardian Legend for the NES, the gates to several of the Corridors (the space-shooter areas) are Guide Dang Its to open. One such message says a corridor is sealed permanently; to open it, you have to visit a certain Blue Lander three times in a row(god knows who could figure this out).
For another corridor, the message was to "ask the round creature for help several times." This was, as stated above, the blue lander. You had to enter and exit its room several times in a row (through the same door and without going through any other rooms) before it would unlock the cooridor. But prior to the last time (when you get a message saying the door is open) there is no message given to suggest that what you're doing is right.
For one corridor, the hint is to shoot continuously at the door. It won't work if you happened to be using a controller with "turbo" turned on.
Rune Factory 2 has a few, the biggest one being what to do after getting every last stone tablet fragment in the second generation. The only hint as to what you're supposed to do comes from Barrett, who first tells you not to get any ideas to seal the dragon and then proceeds to make a small, seemingly insignificant remark about how there's no way to get under the town. Freebie hint: your barn doesn't expand above ground.
The Flash Game PSAI is an extreme example of Guide Dang It.
The C64 had some painfully Guide Dang It titles; among them the BC series, Quest for Tires and Grog's Revenge. To this day I still don't understand "Use keys A and B in the first cave you See", just that it means a lot of dying.
Bemani managed to avoid this for 14 PS2 iterations of beatmania IIDX. Then DJ TROOPERS came along with their Unknown Targets secretly hidden in the extra stage system. There is no way you would figure out that in order to unlock all of the Unknown Target songs (which, unless you knew exactly what was going on, seemed to appear randomly inside the Military Splash extra stage system) you'd need to fulfill any 5 of 6 criteria:
Clear a song with a MAX COMBO of 573 (which itself is a reference lost to anyone outside Japan)
To be fair, there are enough references to "573" (in IIDX, other Konami games, and even Konami's offices' phone numbers) to make you suspect that is, in some sense, a "special" number to Konami. In case you're wondering about the significance of 573, basically, one possible pronunciation of "five-seven-three" in Japanese is "Konami". Not exactly that simple, but if you want the full story, learn Japanese.
Clear a song with an exact multiple of 1/9 of the song's maximum possible "EX SCORE" (with fractions rounded up on songs with a note count that isn't a multiple of 9), but not 1/9. This means there were 8 possible scores on each song to fulfill this requirement, and you had to hit one of them on the nose, with most songs having a maximum possible EX Score of well over 1,000.
Clear a song with a Border Bonus (i.e. finish with exactly 80% on your gauge, without HARD or HAZARD turned on)
Clear 40 songs
Full Combo 10 songs
Hit a total of at least 1,000 notes with a GREAT judgment or better in the Scratch column.
And then there's one song that requires you to know to spell FOREVER using the first letters of songs' titles to unlock, and doing so dumps you into the song without even highlighting it. What? You're missing a letter? Back to the Unknown Target songs for you!
Another song can only be unlocked by playing the 2-kyu course in Dan'inintei mode
Thankfully, Konami posted the requirements on their official web site, 5 weeks after the game was released.
The arcade version of beatmania IIDX 19: Lincle has the Lincle Kingdom unlock system/minigame, which managed to make the aforementioned DJ TROOPERS CS look downright straightforward, at least until an update was rolled out to loosen the requirements. Prior to the update, players had to earn Extra Stage while fulfilling a certain condition, then repeat this for a total of 5 games to unlock one boss song on one difficulty. The condition depended on the area selected by the player at the start of each game, with each area corresponding to a different boss song to unlock and the only feedback the game gave was whether or not you fulfilled the criteria at the end of the game. The aforementioned update changed the requirement to just getting Extra Stage, no additional condition needed. The requirements for each area were:
All songs played must be from the same Version category folder.
All songs played must be by the same artist.
All songs played must have the same listed genre.note To further complicate things, this one is particularly odd in its detection. The genres "BIG BEAT" and "BIGBEAT" count as identical, yet "HARD CORE" and "HARDCORE" count as different genres. Additionally, the songs 532nm and Snake Stick can't be used for this condition due to a glitch in the game.
All songs played must have the same number of characters (including spaces and punctuation) in their titles.
All songs played must have the same note count when rounded down to the nearest 100.
The title of each song picked after the first one must start with the last character of the previous song's title. Additionally, your Extra Stage song must also end with the same character as the first character of your first song's title.
Additionally, no repeats. You must use a different folder/artist/genre/title length/note count each time for it to count. For the final one, no making more than one chain starting with the same letter for the first song title.
Then the sequel to Lincle, IIDX 20 tricoro has the Astran Lights, certain pairs of which are necessary to unlock certain boss songs.
To unlock the song Sync-Anthem:
Clear the first year of Step Up Mode, and:
Clear a song with an EX Score of 573
To unlock EΛΠIΣ note ELPIS:
Get 1000 DJ Points for a song on Normal, 2000 for a song on Hyper, and 3000 for a song on Another, and:
Clear a song on 5.73x speed
To unlock rumrum triplets:
Clear 5 sets of "Today's choices" (a themed set of songs that changes each day), and:
Set your Pacemaker percentage (target score) as 573% (which is particularly confusing because you can't actually do this, it will give a message and you'll have to pick a different value)
Use Hidden+, Sudden+, Hid-Sud+ or Lift and cover the playing field to the value 573
To unlock CONCEPTUAL:
Play on 20 different difficulties across different versions, and:
On your first stage, select a song with a 5 remaining in the time; on the second stage, select with a 7 remaining, and on the final, with a 3 remaining
There is a rather baroque puzzle built into a scenario in the tabletop RPG Call of Cthulhu Sourcebook Secrets of Japan. Basically, the PCs need to find a secret door in a maze. The only real hint of the door's location the player characters can get requires them to 1) be able to understand Japanese writing (not a big obstacle, seeing as how at least one of the PCs or NPCs within the party are expected to Japanese), 2) pick up one of the cultists' prayer books earlier (not as big a snag, it is loot after all), 3) explore enough of the maze to map out its layout without hitting any traps or monsters (thankfully, there's only one or two of each in the entire maze) and 4) compare the map and the first letter of each line in the prayer book for some random reason, thus learning the right directions for getting to the secret door from the entrance. Mercifully, despitethe game'sreputation, the scenario outline nevertheless offers alternate ways for the PCs to find the secret door, such as pure luck, the guidance of NPCs or successful Idea and Spot Hidden rolls.
In the MSX version of Salamander, if you want the good ending you have to have a number of secret items PLUS a copy of Nemesis II (another game in the series) in the second cartridge slot...God help you if the MSX you're playing on doesn't HAVE a second cartridge slot. also, you have to go through a secret level that's...well, Temperamental on anything but a MSX 1.
Any game by Cactus that involves puzzles or multiple endings. the Mondo series (which is approaching a third game) are large offenders, Mondo Medicals being the most egregious of the two released games.
Another notable offender is Stench Mechanics, which can lock you out of two endings if you get the suit before inhaling the purple stench. That combined with some counter-intuitive moments ( turning on EVERY LIGHT despite captain's orders, for instance) makes for some headaches.
And then there's Solaris. It was a fun little shooter for the Atari 2600, had amazing graphics for it's day, a couple of you might remember it: you flew a little triangle in levels that looked to be psuedo 3d, in a 3rd person view. Considering that virtually all other home shooters at the time were top down or side on, this was amazing. Anyway, this game actually had an ending. Yes, someone actually BEAT this game, and it IS beatable. They had to hack the ROM to do it, and then write down all of the grids they went to and the time they did, but they did beat the game. Guide is here.
Looking to score high in the Raiden Fighters series? Then you'll need to know where all the hidden Micluses are, as they release medals that can make or break your score. Uncovering some are as simple (to put it very nicely) as hovering in a particular spot, and uncovering others requires destroying enemies in a particular order or way. There's no in-game hints pointing towards where to find any of them.
Revolution X is guilty of this. There's special items you can get called "Wings", which you get when you find a member of Aerosmith. You want to get these because not only do you get a score multiplier at the end of every stage after you find Wings, but you also need to collect all five to get the game's best ending. And typically, the way you find them is you need to destroy parts of the stage to trigger a sequence to get them. Herein though lies the problem: due to the fact that nearly ANYTHING can be destroyed and also the fact that other actions NOT connected to destroying parts of the stage must be undertaken to find a member of Aerosmith (noting which way the screen scrolled so you can go the right direction, destroying something AND collecting the power-up), almost no one would get lucky and figure it out. The order of destroying certain parts of the stage also has to be done in a specific manner, or else you won't get to retrieve those Wings. It's especially frustrating because the FIRST STAGE has TWO Wings in it, and a first-time player would have no clue of their existence until they completed it.
The NES version of Section Z, an early CapcomShoot 'em Up originally released for the arcade, consists of three stages with 20 "sections" each. The game requires you to memorize the layout of each stage and know which teleporter will take you to which section in order to find the two power generators in each stage and destroy them in order to reach the stage boss. This isn't a hard task to do, since you have to manually map the game if you have trouble remembering the correct path. However, the paths to the final two generators are hidden in warp gates which you can only find by shooting at the exact spot where they're located. If you don't know where the warp gates are located, you will spent an eternity flying through various sections in circle finding nothing.
You'd think that if Wii Fit was intended for people who are looking to get more exercise (i.e., aren't already working out), it'd do a better job of explaining which muscles are your "core muscles" (the abdominals, side abdominals, and lower back), instead of just telling people to "use" them in keeping their balance during certain exercises.
The infamous song "Memories" in Dance Dance Revolution Extreme US. The unlocking method was so cryptic that even hackers were unable to figure it out, and Konami didn't release the code until 2 years after the game's release.
The tie-in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa game has achievements requiring you to use specific teams, but unless you were a master of World Cup trivia, there's no way to figure it out which ones from the information in game. For example the achievement "Second Trip, First Goal" requires you to qualify with a team that has made it to the World Cup in the past without scoring once, and then score. Give up? Trinidad & Tobago, China, Canada, Greece, Congo, and Indonesia.
Shivers had quite a few. Fortunately, the earlier puzzles were in the manual, but others, such as the red door and Egyptian door puzzles, were almost impossible.
Action 52's guide wasn't just vague—it was flat-out wrong about the kinds of games on the cartridge. Meong needed a guide just to describe how to PLAY the game. Said information was lacking.
Every song in Dance Central has its own "finishing move," which the game neglects to teach you in the Break Down. Because of this, it is impossible to get 100% on a song your first time unless you look up said move on youtube or are really good at guessing what exactly the move will be based on the flashcards.
If a Wide Open Sandbox or Metroidvania game doesn't give the player a stable idea of where to go, then it'll certainly feel like this after the player dinks around enough and happens to find where they were supposed to go.
Yume Nikki is the definition of this trope. No explanations, no plot, no storyline, no interactions with npc's (unless you stab them- that does nothing), nothing. Many a person will wander around the Wide Open Sandbox of the game's maps, looking for that one thing they need. Then, when you get all your effects, there is no hint as to what you need to do to complete your game. It's actually counter intuitive. You drop ALL your effects in the main room, wake up, there will be a set of stairs on the balcony, and jump off the set of stairs.
Panic has some of this. Every area has at least one button that warps you to another scene, and the ones that have more than that often have one to send you backwards. So unless you have a photographic memory pertaining to which button does what, be prepared to spend a long time repeating scenarios. Also, some buttons instantly end the game.
Spoofed in thisAdventurers! strip, which explains what the clue "GNWG" is supposed to mean. And also see this one, where the Ultimate Blacksmith complains that the party hasn't paid visit to his out-of-the-way place despite being mentioned in the Player's Guide.
Good luck getting through Knightmare without divining what you were supposed to do, the game was easily made unwinnable with the no backtracking rule.
City of Heroes originally gave very little information about the combat mechanics: power strengths were rated with adjectives such as "moderate" or "extreme", and none of the underlying math of the combat system was known. The lead developer did this because he felt that players would have a better experience if they developed an "intuitive" feel for the mechanics, rather than number-crunching. However, the underlying mechanics were severely counter-intuitive, with nonlinearities and threshold effects all over the place: for example, adding the "increased defense to all attacks" from Weave to the "almost completely invulnerable" from Granite Armor doubles a Stone Armor tank's survivability, but if you then add the "increase defense of yourself and all nearby teammates" from Maneuvers, you gain nothing; at the same time, adding Weave to a Fiery Aura tank produces almost no benefit. A great deal of effort by the playerbase went into reverse-engineering the combat mechanics and quantifying power strengths: for example, the reason why intuition says that Maneuvers is useless is that enemies always have a 5% chance of hitting you, and since Granite + Weave drops the odds to 5%, Maneuvers adds nothing; the reason why Weave is highly variable in strength is that it reduces your chance of being hit by 8%: for a Granite tank, this drops the odds of being hit from 13% to 5%, a 2.5x increase in the number of attacks that miss, while a Fiery Aura tank only sees an almost-imperceptible drop from 50% to 42%. Several years and one new lead developer later, City of Heroes provides more numerical data than almost any other MMO, but until then, a good build guide was considered essential to creating a strong character.
In the process, the players found some developer oversights that made particular powersets much stronger or weaker than others. For example, damage done by attacks is balanced by recharge time (any attack, considered in isolation, provides the same DPS as any other attack). However, once you've got enough attacks that you've always got one ready to use, the cast time of the attack determines how much overall DPS you're doing, but cast times were picked for "what makes a good-looking animation", rather than for game-balance reasons. Without a build guide that lists damage-per-animation-time numbers, you'd never figure out why your flashy Martial Arts attacks are taking much longer to defeat enemies than the quick strikes of the other guy's Claws attacks.
In the City of Villains, some of the mission arcs are unlocked by doing various things. Some of them are obvious (at least in hindsight), such as the Television contact being unlocked by the Master of the Airwaves exploration badge; some are inevitable (for example, it's almost impossible to reach Ambassador Kuhr'Rekt's level range without earning 25 badges). But some will never be found without a guide: who would ever think to lure ten ghost pirates to a certain unobtrusive piece of machinery before defeating them?
In Masters of the Unverse: The Movie on C64, when you confront Skeletor he gives you the choice to surrender or continue fighting. You have to have seen the movie to know that surrendering is the correct option. Choosing to fight results in a Nonstandard Game Over. And if you failed to collect every chord for the Cosmic Key, you're screwed no matter which option you pick. If you surrender without all the chords, He-Man's friends are trapped on Earth and they can't go to Castle Greyskull to help him, resulting in another Nonstandard Game Over.
Brain Dead 13 is another example of this. If you go into one of the rooms belonging to some foes, you can't seem to know the correct moves or timing of the moves without dying a few times over and over (good thing you have unlimited lives). And sometimes if you accidentally run away from any one of the bosses, you won't see the ending without restarting the game, rendering it Unwinnable by Design. Guide Dang It, indeed!
If you follow the directions you're given in the final mission of Solar Winds, the game becomes unwinnable (which is to be expected if you've been paying attention to the story). If you violate your instructions in the obvious way, your spaceship spontaneously blows up. Turns out you've been silently handed a MacGuffin that you need to get rid of, and to make matters worse, there's no "get rid of MacGuffin" command — you need to use the "transport" command (normally used to move cargo to another ship or a planet) to eject it into space.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition actually has this in an adventure. Normally, Hags are creatures that PCs should immediately kill, however in this particular adventure the Hag is the only one who can inform the PCs of where to find their goal. The problems with this: DnD 4E tends to breed trigger happy gamers, the hag goes down with ANY attack against her, and the adventure IMMEDIATELY ends when she dies. The DM is specifically forbidden from letting the PCs try searching for the goal themselves.
Toy Story 2 started out with Rex playing a Buzz Lightyear game, which ended with the upper half of Buzz being blown off by Emperor Zurg. When the toys infiltrate a toy store later on, Rex runs across a Strategy Guide for the game, discovers there's another way into the facility than through the front door, and starts complaining that it's a Guide Dang It. "They make it so you can't defeat Zurg unless you buy this book. It's extortion, that's what it is!"
Homestuck has an in-universe example with Sburb. Much of the initial story is simply the protagonists- a group of new players- trying to make sense of its interface and figure out what the hell is going on. And the only reasons said protagonists survive for any length of time is that 1,) they have help from a previous group of experienced players, and 2,) they were very, very lucky.
For example: ascending to God Tier. Nothing in the game tells you it can even be done, and the method is extremely unintuitive: you have to die. But not just anywhere, no! On your Quest Bed. Bear in mind that Sburb generates enormous worlds, and that one's Quest Bed is the comparative size of a dust mote in a swimming pool. And that one's Quest Bed is not given any particular importance in the game. It's an ornate, personally designed spawn point for your avatar, and that's about it.
Learning to use a weapon system completely unrelated to the one you've been trained on is this for most people who've only ever used one system predominantly. It's like the worst case of Damn You, Muscle Memory ever.
The people hit especially hard by this tend to be, surprisingly, American police and Military personnel whose only interactions with firearms stem from their jobs. This is because the U.S.A. has a shooting culture centered 100% around the AR 15, and it has been that way for nigh on 50 years. No other rifle is in main frontline usage with anybody in the U.S. Chances are that these people haven't been taught to use anything else. Now imagine A SWAT guy who has been shooting ARs during his entire shooting career suddenly tries to use an AK.
He probably first flubs loading and doesn't realize that you load an AK by rotating the magazine into place instead of jamming it up a well. The second Guide Dang It comes to the safety. He could have kept his middle finger on the trigger and used his pointer to index the thing instead of taking his whole hand off the grip. The next Guide Dang It comes when it's time to reload and the bolt doesn't stay locked back and he has to hit the mag release located beneath the trigger guard.
Switching from familiar to unfamiliar platforms in general is a huge case of Guide Dang It if nobody's showing you how it's done, and the controls on the platforms are very very different.
The airline industry has learned that not training its pilots on new systems can end in disaster.
Failure to explain metric conversions to pilots (who were used to Imperial measurements) resulted in The Gimli Glider taking off with only half the fuel it needed to reach its destination, and its tanks went dry in mid-flight.
Scandinavian Airlines Flight 751 was brought down when a system its pilots didn't know about counteracted their attempt to clear the engines of ice.
In Real Life, socializing can be this. Taking the wrong Flaw/Disadvantage at character creation (or being given a particular backstory by the Random Number God) can result in one character taking ages to learn what other players know by instinct.
Life's alchemy system (called 'science') is also this. The outcome of synthesizing materials varies depending on climate, surroundings, and tool quality. If other players don't feel like helping you, you'll never get anywhere! (Though some have built in-game libraries to store alchemy information, and the Teacher profession can also be very helpful.)
Even more confusingly, some alchemical ideas and methods could, in fact, be completely wrong, and if your profession is Scientist, it's your job to work out which ones are right and which ones aren't. Good luck!
Action Park showed the ramifications of this trope in Real Life. For one, many of the Waterworld areas had really cold water, causing people to freak out when they hit the water.note This caused a death in the Tarzan Swing area, since the person in question had a heart attack from shock. The only way to know this was to find out for yourself.