"I realise it's the endgame, but it still feels like too much. Just because it's 'endgame' doesn't mean it should turn into Russian roulette."So, let's say you're playing a great game. Things are building up to the climax, and you can only imagine how amazing it's going to be with how great everything was beforehand. What you're thinking of seems too good to be true... And good God, it is. The game's quality suddenly dips to hell and beyond, so much so that it feels as though the game was outsourced to another, less-competent group of developers for the endgame. The difficulty becomes largely inconsistent and unable to make up its mind about whether to spike or drop. The pacing is slow-paced and boring, filled with blatant padding in a generally fast-paced game world. The gameplay is suddenly full of awkward stealth, Trial-and-Error Gameplay, and terribly-placed checkpoints. The end boss? Dies with about as much effort as it took to beat the first level's Warm-Up Boss. This climax should be as good as what lay beforehand and then some, yet it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth after an otherwise enjoyable game. Essentially A Winner Is You from a game design standpoint. Many developers have admitted to paying far less attention to their climaxes than they probably should, as most players don't get that far. Even some professional reviewers admit they don't play enough of the game and many reviews are based off of the early-mid parts of the game. This initiates an obvious vicious cycle of players who would otherwise finish being put off by terrible ending levels, with the expectation that no really great gameplay surprises (with positive impact) will happen after the first half or so of a game is completed. Even if individual developers don't want to be a part of this problem, Executive Meddling will often enforce this trope, especially if the game is Christmas Rushed and the ending is the first thing that's sacrificed. Author Existence Failure is another possibility, if the ending wasn't sorted out ahead of time. A lot of the time, this also stems from a desire to make the ending very dramatic and different from the rest of the game, in order to make the emotional impact stronger. When it works, it's not an example of this trope, but it fails hard when it doesn't. In the worst situations, you'll get a combination of the above where the game designers put far less effort than they should into the later parts while the writers and artists put in a great deal of work into the same areas, and the designers are obliged to have the player go through long, uneventful levels so such work doesn't go to waste, resulting in Ending Fatigue as the player is forced to make their way through levels that were completed in some aspects but not others. As with Cosmic Deadline, the reason for this trope is partially because developers know full well that reviewers often won't be able to play the full game, and even normal players often won't finish it. As a result, they often focus most of their development, playtesting, content, and other efforts on the early parts of the game (which more people will see and which the game is more likely to be critically judged by); while the final level or two, which fewer people will reach, gets correspondingly less attention. If you really want people throwing their discs into a fire, then it can be combined with an A Winner Is You or No Ending as a "reward" for the player's perseverance. In a lot of cases (namely story-focused games) this can lead to a Cosmic Deadline situation. The opposite of Slow-Paced Beginning, but there's nothing stopping a game suffering from both. As this is on the verge of being an Ending Trope, beware that there may be things you consider unmarked spoilers up ahead.
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- Shenmue II: After being worn down to the limits of boredom and tedium by an interminable mountain climb coupled with an inane conversation, people put down the game, only to discover later that was right at the game's ending.
- Monkey Island:
- Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is this immediately after you find Big Whoop on Dinky Island. Elaine turns up, somewhat undercutting the whole quest by the reveal that she already knew where to look without the rest of the map. And then you fall into an underground tunnel for the last section of the game involves a time based puzzle in a grim corridor with LeChuck randomly popping up on you and sending you to another area. Once you've done this bit, then there is the notorious ending. This area is livened up a little by Guybrush's helium voiced interpretations of disco songs (something he can also do in Curse, though not with music), LeChuck's girly underpants and Guybrush finding his parent's bodies. However it definitely didn't need to be in the game especially as it breaks the Suspension of Disbelief a little too much (it even has a door open onto an unused door from Melee Island in the first game).
- Whilst the majority of The Curse of Monkey Island is of the highest quality, the final two acts see a noticeable drop in plot and characterisation, and a sudden sparsity of cut-scene animations. Most of your interaction with the villain LeChuck is limited to a very long, drawn-out conversation in which he explains away plotholes from the last two games, and the ending is very abrupt. And those last two chapters have absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the rest of the game. Earlier chapters focus on a quest to travel to Blood Island to find a diamond ring to lift the curse Guybrush has accidentally placed on Elaine. This ring, along with Blood Island itself, turns out to have a rich history behind it, involving a jilted lover, a line of soup chefs and a band of smugglers. But then as soon as you find the ring you're whisked away to Monkey Island, and suddenly the game turns into a half-arsed parody of Disneyland (which had been foreshadowed by precisely two very short cutscenes earlier in the game), and the writers decide they're more interested in tying up Monkey Island 2's plot than bothering to finish off the plot of the game itself! Mood Dissonance much?
- Escape from Monkey Island is even worse about this — the final segment of the game features "Monkey Kombat", essentially Rock-Paper-Scissors with the appearance of a fighting game. The kicker? You have to learn how each of the five "monkey stances" interact with each other through trial and error, on top of having to fight enough "battles" in order to gain more bananas (Hit Points). After this segment you fight the final battle of this game which is really a Trick Boss since you can't hurt each other — you have to emulate your opponent's "stance" three times. Keep in mind that this is a item-collecting point-and-click style adventure (well, minus the click), and that the rest of the game has nothing to do with this. No wonder this game falls under Fanon Discontinuity...
- Ace Attorney:
- The final case of Ace Attorney Investigations. The pacing becomes very slow, and it starts to drag out after Shih-na's reveal; unfortunately, you'll still have several more confrontations to go. The main problem is that the game's length isn't balanced by the emotional tension, as unlike the previous antagonists Edgeworth had no personal connection to the Big Bad, only an ideological one, and can make it hard to care at times.
- Some fans consider the final case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney to suffer from this, mostly due to the confusing and illogical MASON System, as well as the hero being sidelined and the series' original protagonist taking over temporarily.
- The secret treasure from Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. After the main game is finished, finding treasure shifts from solving elaborate, thought-provoking puzzles to doing arbitrary things such as walking around the same area 5 times to make a chest magically appear. In addition, you have to repeatedly send a crewmate off to find more for 100% Completion, which can take hundreds of trips.
- In Fable 1996, the last couple parts of the game are relatively dull, and they add such a nice backstory right beforehand...however the ending is the true slap in the face.
- The second disc in Toonstruck is a bit of a drop in quality from the first disc. The first disc is a lot more open-ended and not as straightforward, whereas the second disc is a lot more linear (But Darker and Edgier) than the first half. The ending also just...well, seems to be there to give a Sequel Hook.
- Space Quest 6 takes a very sharp turn after Roger Wilco returns from hyperspace. The last stretch of the game takes place within the digestive system and brain of Stellar Santiago. Not only would that physically disgust several fans, the final takedown of Sharpei is done using the last item you'd expect, and the result is quite a Gainax ending.
- Pokepark 2 has you going to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon... and then suddenly your pals lose their memories, forcing you to leave and wander around the park (the fast travel system gets disabled during this) for no reason than to extend the playtime for about 15 extra minutes with loading screens.
- "Polarized", the appropriately-titled fifth and final episode of Life Is Strange. A huge chunk of the episode is composed of a long Nightmare Sequence that was divisive for the fandom, with some viewing it as pure Nightmare Fuel with a good dose of Player Punch and others viewing it as a tedious series of long walks with an annoying Stealth-Based Mission thrown in that doesn't really mesh with the plot. And then you get into the actual conclusion to the story, with regards to whether or not the endings available negate all the decisions you made over the course of the game — and if so, whether or not that was the entire point.
Card Battle Game
- Metal Gear Ac!d! The Powerhouse and the meaningless sidequests in FAR! FAR is irritating but at least changes the pace. The Powerhouse, however, is just terrible level design and very, very long. The final battle is strong, but mostly down to the excellent music — it's also very slow, awkward, and hardly challenging.
- The raft ride on the Columbia River in The Oregon Trail II. Fortunately, you can avoid it if you have cash on hand and aren't a greenhorn. Also, if you're going to California or the Rogue River Valley, you must cross a large, unskippable desert.
- Zig-zagged in The Cluefinders games - usually the last "world" of the games are a constant race to the end, but they are usually are quite climactic and don't drag on for too long. A few examples stand out though:
- Reading: The last "level" of the game is simply repeating the same Mastermind/Password style challenge several times. Given that this is intentional Trial-and-Error Gameplay, this can come off as a little more frustrating.
- Search and Solve: If you get lost, then the final world will turn into this.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl's "Subspace Emissary": The Great Maze. It's pieced together out of rooms already seen during the adventure, and most players will have to re-tread parts of the maze to find and destroy all 40+ bad guys, and can take upwards of two hours to get through even on the easiest difficulty.
- The final level of King of the Monsters 2. You face all of the bosses you defeated previously which, considering the boss fight vs actual levels ratio, essentially makes you replay through the whole game all over again, and that with barely any health recovery items or the throwable objects found in the earlier levels. And after you're done with the Boss Rush, you have to face a ridiculously long and overpowered SNK Boss.
- In Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, the bonus gameplay mode Labyrinth is set up as a series of interconnected rooms grouped into "cloisters", and each group has a gimmick on what types of treasures and enemies you encounter and what you need to do to unlock the door to the next room. However, once you hit Floor 50 the cloisters become longer, the enemies more difficult, and the final stretch to the boss from Floor 71 to Floor 96 is just one long string of powerful enemies. And, by the rules of the Labyrinth, if you die you lose all the equipment and items you won up to that point and have to start over from scratch. You're allowed to enter at checkpoints on deeper floors, and hypothetically can go right back to Floor 71, but will be deprived of all the equipment you will need to combat the high level enemies.
Hack and Slash
- Diablo II has Act 4. Whilst having the final chapter in the pits of Hell is pretty cool, there are far fewer areas in Hell than in any other chapter, only a handful of NPCs in the 'town' of the Pandemonium Fortress, and only three quests, two of which are needed to win the game anyway. Your blacksmith and healer in that town have noticeably been given fewer lines to say and have no discernible personality. "Hail to you, champion" will be stuck in your head after a while.
- Diablo III didn't exactly do any better with its finale. Act 4's Heaven level suffers from most of the same problems regarding II's Hell finale. Heaven however has no town so you're forced to return to Bastion's Keep from the act beforehand... and the dialogue you hear throughout the Heaven act isn't exactly award winning.
- Divine Divinity's final area, the desert of Yuthul Gor and its Black Lake dungeon fit this trope. The developers didn't have time to finish the area and were intending on cutting it from the game, but their publisher wanted an orange area for the back of the box, so it went in unfinished. You have to wade through hundreds upon hundreds of mobs of imps, spiders, and gargoyles to get to the final dungeon. Attempting to clear the map is an exercise in futility even for high level characters. Even when you do get to the dungeon, you then have to travel through dozens of copy-pasted winding corridors to fight the five evil wizards you fought earlier in the game again. Following that, you get a disappointingly easy final battle and a short and confusing cutscene to end the game. A shameful way to end an otherwise excellent hack-and-slash RPG.
- God of War:
- The first game's ending loses steam with the spike pillars of Hades, that require you to climb two pillars of spinning spikes with one hit sending you right back down to the bottom (and each of these takes about a minute to climb if you're going fast). The entire Hades section has several jumping puzzles, dull scenery and very little of the action or puzzles from the best sections of the game. The developers themselves have said this section was thrown together in a hurry with little time to properly test it. For many, the pseudo-escort mission in the middle of the final boss falls under this too.
- Most of God of War III is a fast-paced, heart-pounding thrill ride from brutal boss fight to awesome boss fight. Then, after the death of Hera, you're put into a big cavern to solve a bunch of puzzles and fight a bunch of standard enemies (and a jackal Elite Mook) that manage to be more difficult than the gods due to cramped spaces and a fussy grab mechanic.
As a general rule, this is typically the most common problem that a newly-launched MMO faces, with the early game more often than not being more fleshed-out than the endgame. This is because, in the early months of the game especially, it must attract and hook a wide audience, which means giving them a lot to do early on. If the dev team knows what they're doing, the ensuing months will see the delivery of more content, much of it focused on the endgame so as to keep those already playing coming back for more.
- City of Heroes:
- The Sewer Trial and The Eden Trial, as well as the first few versions of the Hamidon raid, were slapped together from half-completed ideas to fill the high-level content checkmark. The Sewer Trial in particular remained an afterthought for the entire life of the game — it was hidden from all but the most cautious explorer, it was timed, it was filled with multiple copies of That One Boss, and until an update, it could be completely outleveled. The rewards of both are really worthless. The Shadow Shard looked beautiful, but it was filled with Scrappy Level after Demonic Spider after Scrappy Level, had significant bugs fester for years, and lacked a lot of content that other zones had.
- On the City of Villains side, Grandville was known for being a pain for superspeedsters and causing computer slowdown. Thankfully, these issues were at least toned down over time, if not fixed.
- The "Task Forces" (a chain of missions that, once started, you can't do any other missions without abandoning) quite often turn into tests of endurance. Positron's task force was one of the first ones made, and is notoriously long and tedious. The later ones are notably shorter and more varied. The "old" task forces were designed with the mindset that a group of people would be willing to spend multiple play sessions together to accomplish the task. This wasn't a bad idea per se, but just one that proved to be flat-out wrong in predicting player behavior and expectations. The Positron TF was originally designed ans two separate task forces that got merged into one, hence its length. In the Issue 17 update, it was split into two separate task forces, although you have to do both in order to get the badge that completing the old single TF would grant.
- Almost all of the original 'Vanilla' content for World of Warcraft was revamped with the release of the Cataclysm expansion, providing fun and engaging quests from levels 1-58.
- Players are then subjected to old, tired Burning Crusade content from 58-68, which features muddled quest design, inconsistent enemy difficulty, and lots of backtracking. Things improve a bit from 68-80 in the Wrath of the Lich King content, and then the game is back to form from 80-90 with the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria content.
- Warlords of Draenor expansion is widely berated for having almost no interesting endgame content outside of raids. So whenever your guild isn't forming one, you have to mostly resign to sitting in your private majestic base goofing around in trade chat.
- The Secret World suffered from this early on. Kingsmouth is full of NPCs, quests, and particularly investigation quests, which are the hardest to design (and the best in the game). The first dungeon, Polaris, is the most polished and gives the best advice as you progress through the dungeon, though the second does a good job as well, averting Trial and Error gameplay. Later areas, however, grew increasingly unpolished, with lazier design, fewer and fewer NPCs, and more standard MMO missions as opposed to the clever ones that avert typical MMO design in the starting area, and by the time the player reached Transylvania, they'd find that there was one investigation mission in the entirety of the final three areas. The end of the main story left players hanging, with no apparent consequence to their final choice, and Lilith, the Big Bad that gets mentioned throughout the third and final area, is never seen, let alone faced. Over time, however, new issues (booster packs of several missions) came out, starting with adding more investigation missions to the higher-level zones, continuing with the addition of a new area (Tokyo), and ending with actually meeting Lilith in person.
- Star Trek Online gets hit with this, as well. The game's early stages for the three factions (Federations, Klingon Empire and Romulan Republic) are inviting, exciting and capturing. However, everyone has the same last levels, which send you to Nimbus III, fight the Devidians, stomp the Tal Shiar, deal with the remains of the Dominion, fight the Breen, and deal with the Borg and the Undine before you're caught up and dealing with the current stuff with the Voth. What makes this this trope, though, is that Nimbus III requires lots of walking to get from point A to point B, and the Borg and Undine missions are just boring. Thankfully, Cryptic is addressing the Borg and Breen issues.
- Book XV in Pirate 101 due to the ironic situation of having been severely rushed due to being in Development Hell for three years. Since the time of the last story expansion, Kingsisle had shifted towards mobile game development at the expense of its MMOs, more so Pirate 101 than the more popular Wizard 101. At some point in early 2016, they decided to shift their focus back to the MMOs. The result was a very rushed ending to the first arc, with not enough main quests to level you if you had finished the game beforehand, an array of plot holes, and a rather anticlimactic confrontation with the main villain.
- On launch, the widely-acknowledged worst part of Guild Wars 2 was the three zones of the endgame area, the undead land of Orr. There were no more renown hearts, the landscape was mostly bleak and covered with Demonic Spiders that made even traversing it a pain, and while there were some a couple of not-bad large-scale meta events, there were no actual interesting world bosses. It didn't help that the personal story taking place there was pretty dull too, with the final clash against the elder dragon Zhaitan being a somewhat anticlimactic encounter where you man the gun of an airship and shoot at him him until he dies. The game was severely lacking in endgame content for quite some time after launch, putting off a lot of players whose attention would not be held long-term by the PvP or WvW. Fortunately the devs adjusted Orr to make it less-frustrating to traverse and eventually added a whole new raft of high-level content with the Living World, Fractals of the Mists, expansions and Raids.
- The Meat Circus from Psychonauts, while it does do its job in terms of wrapping up its story, suffers an absolutely tremendous Difficulty Spike involving a time-based escort mission and numerous leaps of faith in an otherwise easy game. The development team was in a time crunch near the end of production, so it's understandable, if still disappointing. One of the developers claimed to have dreamed of being trapped in the Meat Circus near the end of the development cycle.
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando zig-zags this to hell and back. After you've finally freed the "love interest" of the game for Ratchet, you are forced to deal with another larger, tougher, frozen wasteland that is mainly white and blue, Planet Grelbin. Some players just go "eeeh" and force themselves through. And there is still 20% more plot to get through in the form of going to other planets in the middle of beating Grelbin and then getting to the final planet, Yeedil. The first half of Planet Yeedil consists mostly of a long, tedious Hypnotizer puzzle that effectively makes you waste 10 minutes in a long maze of electric fences and Protopets in order to move about 100 feet forward. Then you raid Mega Corp. HQ, in what is largely considered to be one of the most fun and climactic levels in the series while Awesome Music blares in the background. And then, after The Reveal, you're treated to the final boss, who is one of the most laughably pathetic bosses in franchise history, going down in about 10 seconds to the Heavy Bouncer and not much longer than that with your other weapons. It's as easy as the first two bosses of the game, made worse since the planet where the love interest was rescued, Snivelak, is home to That One Boss.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- End of the World in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) takes this to new extremes. The level is a horribly broken mess where you have to play as every single character in the game...except for Sonic himself (the main character!) and Blaze, who are considered the only two bearable characters in the game to play as. As if that weren't enough, the level is a full-blown Marathon Level separated into seven different sections...which the game has to spend time loading each and every one. As if that weren't enough, the level's main gimmick are time holes that instantly kill you even if you have rings, which pop up out of nowhere and can often lead to a cheap death. AND you only get five lives to do this incredibly long level, even if you collected a bunch throughout the game. pokecapn's LP of the game has five videos of about 30 minutes each for what should have been 12 minutes of gameplay, largely due to just how broken and unplayable this sequence is.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The end levels were as follows: three Metropolis Acts, Sky Chase, Wing Fortress, and the Death Egg.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I ends with a throwback to Metropolis Zone, a Boss Rush, and a rehash of Sonic 2's final boss.
- Sonic Generations received flak for this. The final boss is definitely a bit of a mess compared to the other bosses in the game and awkward to play. The final level, Planet Wisp, also has some awkward level design. This is particularly so in Act 1, where you must use the Spike wisp from Sonic Colors only it doesn't control as well as it did in that game. It is also a Marathon Level. Some reviewers go even further back than that, citing the difficulty spike that happens at the start of the Modern era (last 1/3 of the game).
- Sonic Chronicles was a good game all in all, but most critics and fans found the mid and late game boring. Apparently, this is due to BioWare rushing production halfway through when they were forced to divert more attention to the Dragon Age: Origins production crew. Up until the Disc-One Final Boss, you're still likely to learn how the game works due to the excessive uses of Action Commands, yet the game chucks tons of high defense or high-evasion enemies at you. While you certainly do have a Crutch Character with you, he doesn't help much. This changes once you reach the Twilight Cage - where it's obvious that BioWare really put a bit of heart and soul into the game. The difficulty is reduced significantly if you recruit Cream into the party. Unfortunately, it is very easy to permanently miss her during the early game.
- In Pulseman, the final level is basically nothing but awkwardly realistic platforming over several bottomless pits and the occasional room throwing Goddamned Bats into the mix.
- Super Mario Bros.
- Super Mario Bros. was so Nintendo Hard on World 8 that many players would simply consider it beat because they would get so frustrated. The Unstable Equilibrium also gets much more intense as nothing is too hard with a fire flower; but if it's lost, it's very hard to get back, and impossible to get back in the labyrinthine level 8-4.
- Some of the later levels of Super Mario 64 have similar concepts to things that were already seen earlier in the game (e.g. Tall, Tall Mountain feels like Cool, Cool Mountain without snow). The last two full stages, Tick Tock Clock and Rainbow Ride, are fun and iconic levels, but bring out the worst in the game's aged camera. The final confrontation with Bowser more-or-less boils down to "same as before, but now you have to hit him three times instead of once."
- Corona Mountain in Super Mario Sunshine was essentially a trek through a volcano filled with deathtraps that was not as effectively designed as the Bowser levels in Super Mario 64 or Galaxy; that kind of dangerous platforming was rare apart from the parts where Shadow Mario steals your FLUDD. And the final boss is very easy.
- The extra 120 green comet stars in Super Mario Galaxy 2 trigger this, since the focus of the game shifts from finding exciting and interesting new areas to scouring old maps searching every nook and cranny or performing insane acrobatics to acquire stars that are visible but seemingly JUST out of reach. And after getting all Green Stars, you're treated to a brand new straightforward level, which is good. But what follows that up is the requirement to amass 9999 star bits in the star bit bank, which is bad. Do that, you get a daredevil version of the secret level, and completing that doesn't do much aside from send a message to your Wii mailbox.
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii's final level is nothing but a couple of short rooms leading up to the final battle with Bowser. Compare this to the final level of the original New Super Mario Bros., which was a Gimmick Level through and through (containing switches that flip the entire level upside down and a throwback area to the maze castle levels from the first game).
- In The Adventures Of Rad Gravity, the final planet is a long Death Course riddled with Spikes of Doom, Conveyor Belts of Doom, and a maze, then the True Final Boss fight takes place in zero gravity where you have to propel yourself with your gun and trick his homing missiles into hitting him, easier said than done.
- While many the later levels in Jet Set Radio Future may be cool-looking, they sure can be frustrating due to a combination of bottomless pits, confusing design, and the map layout doesn't help things, either.
- Croc 2 has two quite detailed worlds being the Home world and the Ice world. It then has Caveman world which has a drop in quality, followed by the abysmal Inca world, which has only two levels, one of which revolves entirely around collecting 30 gobbos from a huge, dull pyramid. Possible reasons for this might be that the company was running out of budget at the time, but it ended up delivering far little than it promised.
- Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc: The last level is far from terrible, but it does feature a certain amount of recycled elements (partly made up for with the flying sections). Additionally, it's never explained how Globox escaped from the Hoodlum HQ and found the flying vehicle. The best example of this, however, is the final part of the final boss, which quickly starts feeling long and dull (not made any better by the mediocre music and awful background).
- Rayman Legends is truly spectacular up until Living Dead Party. The world has one new level - Grannies World Tour, which is really cool and awesome, but much easier and shorter than the other music levels. Afterwards, the rest of the world is just 8-bit rehashes of the previous music levels, except with horrific visual distortions that do nothing but add on Fake Difficulty, and no checkpoints. And at the end of the world is "Grannies World Tour, 8-Bit Edition", which is yet another 8-bit rehash... with all of the distortions combined!
- Epic Mickey. It starts with having to go back to all the worlds and get rid of some Bloticles, a very easy task that feels like padding, especially since it means more trips through the side-scrolling levels to get to the worlds. Then you get to Dark Beauty Castle, which is fine and exciting. The final area, though, inside the Shadow Blot completely falls apart. It's very hard-to-see, there's tentacles that require memorizing where they pop out if you don't want to die, swarms of enemies that either aren't fun to fight or are invincible...and you don't even end up fighting the Blot!. The whole thing feels rushed.
- Limbo suffers from this too, the earlier parts feature a Lost Woods environment, Giant Spiders, and other children that try to kill you, all which contributes to the dark foreboding emotions of the game; then it switches to an urban and industrial settings devoid of life, the puzzle mechanics almost (but not quite) make up for it. According to the developer they originally had planned to feature the spiders in the last parts of the game, to serve as much more affecting boss encounters.
- Mega Man:
- Mega Man 2, as legendary a game as it is, suffers from this near the end. After clearing the Wily Castle's exciting and challenging first few stages, the 4th stage is where things start to falter. A puzzle stage outfitted with fall-through floors and line-guided platforms that, once you figure out how to master it, becomes very tedious. To top it all off, you must fight the Boobeam Trap, which requires ALL the Crash Bomber's weapon energy to defeat with (a fact made worse as the only nearby enemies to item-farm from are Tellies and Sniper Armors). After that comes the series' very first Boss Rush teleport room in the next stage, which doesn't even have a segment giving you the chance to restock your weapon energy beforehand. Meaning that you'll have to fight a battle of attrition with Dr. Wily once the Robot Masters are dealt with. Luckily, the last stage and its boss are far less brutal.
- Contrarily, Mega Man 3 had probably the easiest castle in the series. It especially shows considering it follows the Doc Robot stages. The castle stages are very void of enemies for the most part, there is very little dangerous platforming to be found, and the bosses leave a lot to be desired. This is saying a lot, considering one of them is the Yellow Devil, who was notorious for being That One Boss in the first game. The place is also littered with tons of E-tanks to give you easy health refills, which you probably won't need because they also throw health and weapon refills while you're at it, plus loads and loads of extra lives. Top it off with the final Anti-Climax Boss whose second form is killed in one hit with the Top Spin, the most useless weapon in the game and you have one of the weakest castles in all the series.
- Players of Mega Man ZX Advent may find themselves just giving up when they get to the last level. Instead of the challenge arising from puzzles requiring to make clever use of all your upgrades throughout the game, Inticreates decided to fill the level with loads of awkwardly placed bottomless pits, instant death spikes, and blocks that disappear when you hit them, only to reappear a few seconds later and kill you if you happen to be standing in their way. And you have to deal with the boss rush and what is quite possibly the hardest final boss in the series. The best part? If you lose all your lives, you have to do it all again from the beginning.
- Donkey Kong Country
- In the first Donkey Kong Country game, Chimp Caverns. It doesn't feature much that you haven't already seen before, and the levels seem more like palette swaps of previous ones. It's really not much new, the boss is even another rehash of the second one.
- Apparently some levels from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and some comments from Rare themselves indicate lava levels may have once been planned, like in Returns but cut from the game for whatever reason. See this DK Vine topic for possible evidence of this.
- In Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, the final level is a very rudimentary "underwater" stagenote with one obvious difference... your play control is reversed the whole time, doubling this as an example of That One Level.
- Super Meat Boy's bonus world, the Cotton Alley, is predictably insane, given the rest of the game. It uses all the gimmicks seen in previous worlds, it could be considered a level version of a Final-Exam Boss, and unlike the rest of the game, the Dark World versions don't seem like they tinkered with the normal levels to make them harder. They're actually very different from their counterparts. But the final level (appropriately entitled "4 Letter Word") is just plain boring. The "gimmick" is corridors filled with the games favorite trap, spinning sawblades. Each corridor is harder than the last. That's it. Nothing exciting. The Dark World version (just as appropriately entitled "Brag Rights") is just plain lazy: it's the exact same thing, but backwards. Oh, and there's an Advancing Ceiling Of Doom, but it's kinda slow.
- In Wardner, the final level in the basement of Wardner's castle consists mostly of two small rooms repeating over and over again, many with identical enemies. The Sega Genesis version pads this out even more with a Boss Rush and three vertical climbing shafts which are identical to each other.
- The Floor is Jelly:
I'm so sorry for this level it is a cruel and terrible shenanigan...
- The Disc-One Final Dungeon lacks the life and flora that gave life to the previous areas, and features three sections in which you jump from platform to platform in low gravity to find a key to the portal in the central area, and then backtrack through the section back to the central area, which is made harder on the way back with the addition of glitch blocks which have the same effect on your character as the game's regular Spikes of Doom. In addition, 6 of the game's 31 secret houses required for 100% Completion are gradually Permanently Missable in this area as you obtain these three keys since the hidden entrances to the rooms they're found in are permanently blocked off by said glitch blocks.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon features various glitchy jelly physics not encountered in the game's other areas, with some rooms practically requiring luck with these glitchy physics to get through. If you find the game's very last secret area, you'll find what appears to be an apology from the developer written in platforms.
- In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, you spend the first four levels platforming, detecting space mutants in disguise, solving minor puzzles, finding secrets, and playing the occasional minigame. Then comes the fifth and final level... and it's a friggin' maze. All you do is navigate the Springfield Power Plant looking for 16 plutonium rods and taking them to the basement. Oh, and to make matters worse, you know that 16th rod you can't find anywhere? It's Maggie's pacifier. The game doesn't give you a clue and it makes zero sense, but just touch her after you took the other 15 rods to the basement, and you win. Yeah, you read that right: there's no final boss either.
- The final true gameplay portion of Braid is regarded as being one of the best, if not the best, portion of the game. The portion immediately preceding it? Well...
- The final level of Trine exchanges physics-based puzzles which may involve lots of character-swapping for a thief-only, Trial-and-Error Gameplay gauntlet that forces you to sit through a loadscreen every time you fail it. The creators later admitted that they had ran out of time and the final level was tested only by a single outsider. Fortunately a patch made it less frustrating.
- In Quantum Conundrum, the Final-Exam Boss gets progressively easier as you move through the level. Then you get a pretty unique section involving an elevator shaft. Then you complete a very easy puzzle which is designed to keep you busy and let Professor Quadwrangle narrate for a bit.
- The majority of the last ten Lemmings levels are disappointing:
- Mayhem 21 ("With a twist of lemming please") and 24 ("All or nothing") are luck-based; the former requires turning 50 lemmings into Floaters as they fall out of the entrance, and both levels require turning single lemmings in huge crowds (and narrow spaces in the latter case) into Bashers and hoping they're facing the right direction.
- Mayhem 23 ("Going up.......") gives you a huge wall and no actions to take for over a minute as the lemming sent ahead to build a path to the exit must bash through the whole thing.
- Mayhem 26 ("The Steel Mines of Kessel") and 27 ("Just a Minute, Part II") can be straightforward or unfairly hard depending on which version of the game you're playing (in the Mac version, the former requires extra Bombers due to the higher resolution graphics).
- Mayhem 28 ("Mind the Step") is a nerve-wracking trudge across the screen with only a single lemming with little margin for error in the various bashing and building manoeuvres required. Mayhem 29 ("Save Me") is likewise devilishly hard, requiring (among other things) pixel-perfect timing and a race against the clock that necessitates doing multiple things at once (three lemmings must be sent ahead to build the path to the exit, and the other lemmings must be sent on their way to the exit before the path is complete - just as the steps involved in building the path require extra attention and precision).
- After enduring these two, the final level, "Rendezvous at the Mountain", is almost a let-down. The developers' rationale for saving this level for the end is somewhat justified, however; apparently it was felt that the level's setup, with two groups of lemmings meeting at the center of the playing field and exiting together, made for a satisfying note for the game to end on.
- Catherine's stages are quite good, especially if you can put up with the Nintendo Hard difficulty. But then comes Stages 7 and 8, which make heavy use of Monster Blocks—blocks that can move in random directions—and Mystery Blocks—blocks that change into a random other block—a couple of Luck-Based Missions, especially if you're playing on Hard difficulty or otherwise going for a no-Undo run. And these blocks really are random—trigger one of these blocks, then hit Undo—the direction they move or block they turn into, respectively, will change!
- While Antichamber was very well received overall, some critics noticed that the game started to tone down the Mind Screw it did so well in favor of more standard Block Puzzle mechanics as you upgraded the block gun.
- In the earlier parts of Motorstorm: Pacific Rift there is rubberbanding, but it's small enough to still be perfectly beatable with a good route and smooth racing lines, but then in the last few racing ranks it drops any fairness and becomes more about exploiting the AI than racing skill. The first game could be considered guilty of this too, but it's rather hard to tell if it is because the starting levels might be cakewalks or the AI honestly goes into overdrive cheat mode for the later courses.
- LEGO Racers 2 has a rather egregious example of this. After very tough bosses like Riegel and the Berg, which had you racing against an alien in a Humongous Mecha and an ice monster respectively who both can't get hurt by power-ups, you'd expect Rocket Racer to be very hard. You'd have even higher expectations after you see the tracks that surround this race; they are very complex compared to the others with jumps, loops, and other stunts. So what does Rocket Racer end up being? You race him on a completely circular arena with occasional jumps and walls, and he plays almost exactly like the other racers except he's faster. This way, he can actually be hurt by weapons. It does not help either that he goes up ramps, which clearly slow you down. Because of this, he becomes the easiest boss in the game, and it becomes even more of a total cakewalk if you continued to upgrade your car speed throughout the game.
- Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity zig-zags this trope: After beating Master Core ABIS at the Mobius Strip, you unlock 80s Boulevard and 90s Boulevard, which can definitely be fun in their own right. But you also get the Astral Babylon, the Heroes side of the Mobius Strip, which can be seen as a very underwhelming course in the sense that it's nothing but a straight rectangle with only a few areas to abuse gravity in.
- Mario Kart:
- Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road is by far the longest track in the game, but it has only minimal hazards, as guardrails line the track throughout. Coming immediately after the precarious unguarded ledges of Yoshi Valley and Banshee Boardwalk, it lacks presence as a final track. This track has been revamped and upgraded in 8. The most important change for this for the Lightning Cup? Reducing this course from a three-lap to a three-part course.
- The final track of the final Retro Cup in DS is merely Yoshi Circuit from Double Dash!!, which is not only anticlimatic on its own but also in comparison to the other Mario Kart games with Retro Cups that do end with more memorable tracks (SNES Rainbow Road in both Super Circuit and 7, N64 Bowser Castle in Wii, N64 Rainbow Road in 8).
- Wii U Rainbow Road in 8 is one to one side of the base, especially since the developers said it was "spectacular" before it was announced. It doesn't show anything that wasn't already seen with the anti-gravity mechanic, and is on the short side. However, it does look and sound awesome, which is why some other fans still like it.
- F-Zero GX features the final chapter of Story Mode. After winning an extremely difficult championship race to defeat and humiliate a Big Bad who then undergoes You Have Failed Me from the champion of the underworld and then defeating said underworld champion on a course with awesome scenery exclusive to Story Mode, the race against the creators of the universe not only features the epitome of the game's cheesy cutscenes, but the race is just a glorified time attack against a staff ghost. The only thing keeping it from being an outright Anti-Climax Boss is that the course is rail-less and can lead to "OFF COURSE! RETIRE" if the player is not careful, but even then the track design, that gimmick notwithstanding, is quite dull and unexciting to race on especially given the previous two chapters' courses.
- The fifth and final showcase event in Forza Horizon 3, "Big Air", is hyped up by the Horizon Festival's organizer Keira to be the craziest showcase event yet. However, fans of the game disagree that racing a Polaris RZR against a blimp is all that thrilling, especially since the previous showcase had the Horizon Festival's boss race a Lamborghini Centenario against a VTOL fighter jet through the streets of Surfers Paradise.
Real Time Strategy
- The campaign mode in Rise of Legends noticeably degrades in quality as the chapters continue. In the Vinci chapter, almost every mission has a special feature to it. The Alin chapter has a decent number of special scenarios, but the occasional skirmish map. The final chapter, where you play as the Mayincatec Coutl, consists almost entirely of simple skirmish maps.
- Starcraft II:
- The final mission in the final campaign has all the dressings of a climactic last level. Thematically it represents all protoss coming together for a last stand, but in reality it functions as a horrendous Escort Mission where you are desperately moving forces around to keep your incompetent allies alive. On the higher difficulties, you don't find this out until the end of the level, but these allies are needed in the final enemy rush as speed bumps for when the enemy throws ten or twenty times the legitimate supply cap worth of units at you. To make things worse, Blizzard has abused the Hold the Line setup beyond all reasonable limits by that point, this being its seventh occurance across the three SC 2 campaigns.
- The 3-part epilogue takes place inside the Void, so you'd expect some crazy visuals, unique gameplay mechaniques and enemies and radically buffed-up scale of action, since you are, after all, fighting gods. Nope, it's the same boring landscape as in the real world, exactly the same enemies as before, and they waste one of the three missions on yet another "Hold the Line while babysitting a couple of inept allies" turtle-fest!
- Rocky Horror, the final level of LEGO Rock Raiders, was expected to be a huge monster horde in an epic and challenging level (especially after Back to Basics. There are very few monsters, your base is pre-built, and a giant crystal cache gives you everything. Karl White (the level designer) says it would have had hundreds of monsters, but it lagged on computers back then. Of course now it wouldn't, so...
- Both single-player campaigns in Total Annihilation required you to destroy the enemy Commander as your final goal. So you'd prepare for an epic battle against a Commander much like your own, expecting it to build up his base and D-Gun your forces should they get too close. Instead, the enemy Commander would just sit atop a hill and do nothing at all. A few scout planes and a bunch of bombers could win you the level without even bothering with the rest of the enemy base.
- Dawn of War II:
- The final level of the vanilla campaign should in theory be a big dramatic climax, but the Hold the Line segments are far easier than they look, and while the Final Boss is objectively powerful it dies laughably quickly, as you have control of all your heroes at once and Gabriel Angelos. The suits of Terminator armour make the level even easier, and getting all the suits means defeating the two Bonus Bosses, both of which completely outclass the final boss in every way, making them the real climax.
- The developers listened to the complaints about the ending being easy, and so for Chaos Rising they upped the difficulty of the ending to absurd degrees. Again, it should be party central, with the entire Chapter coming to your aid in a big pitched battle, but your allies are criminally inept and every one that dies gives the final boss more health. Said boss is the nastiest thing in the whole series, with potential health in the millions that regenerates almost as fast as you can hurt it, multiple attacks that can wipe out a squad if they connect, and frequently calls in Elite Mooks. Adding insult to injury, you can't use all your heroes this time.
- DJMAX Technika's Specialist Set. To unlock it, you must clear Special 6, which consists of two doable-for-many-players charts and Son of Sun (SP). When you reach the final stage of Specialist, your boss song is either "Enemy Storm" (available on Special 5, which you don't need to unlock as long as you have Platinum Crew access) or "Son of Sun". The real boss song is "Fermion", which requires you to get less than 75% MAX judgments.
- In Rhythm Heaven, the last third of Medal rewards and final post post-game game are all based around a That One Level that involves a Scrappy Mechanic. After you unlock Rhythmove Dungeon, there's no real motivation to collect Medals other than 100% Completion.
- The final boss in Guitar Hero III is widely noted for this. In general, the game is fun enough when you're just playing songs and hoping not to fail, and the first two bosses aren't too difficult, but then you get to Lou. You now have two choices: spend 500 tries attempting to kill him through normal (read: unfair) means, or exploit a loophole to kill him in one attack at a certain point in the song using 50 tries. Here's a hint to Neversoft: making the last boss into a Luck-Based Mission isn't the best way to finish out an epic guitar game.
- The standard One More Extra Stage song of IIDX 14 GOLD is... "Fascination MAXX", which is just one of the Extra Stages from Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA, complete with annoying BPM gimmicks designed to trip up your timing and reading abilities.
- The final unlock of beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro's "Our War of the Worlds" event, which is the game's final unlock event, runs on a lifebar that is damaged every time the player plays through the game. Fortunately, the lifebar was shared by all players on the network. Unfortunately, not only was the unlock tedious, taking many days to unlock even just the Normal chart, but the unlock itself, "Kyatorare Koi wa Mo~moku", is a cartoony "denpa" song that many players consider to be highly annoying, or at the least, not fitting as the Final Boss song of tricoro.
- The 2013 Dance Dance Revolution game has the Final Boss of the Private BEMANI Academy event, "Elemental Creation". While it's par for the course for the final song in an event or unlock system to be exceptionally difficult, the developers just HAD to use BPM gimmicks (an uncommon tactic in other DDR boss songs) for this song, making the scroll speed alternate between 212, 106, and 424 BPM. All other games participating in the event just have the song scrolling at a constant 212 BPM, which just makes this version of "Elemental Creation" stand out even more. It's as though the dev team doesn't know how to make boss charts that are less than 300 BPM.
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity's final plot-related dungeon is rather underwhelming compared to the previous games, being short, not especially difficult, and lacking a boss fight. When considering the length of the post-story in the previous games, it's also easy to think that it isn't the final dungeon. Though on the plus side, you're at least rewarded with a heartwarming scene at its conclusion.
- The Binding of Isaac:
- The Dark Room in Rebirth, a dark "counterpart" to The Chest, which replaces the fun of having every gold and brown chest containing an item that can then be used to absolutely curb-stomp the early bosses with... four ordinary red chests (which often contains things ranging from "Blue Spiders/Flies mildly useful for one room before they die upon hitting the enemy" to "spawns enemies or self-destroying bombs") at the beginning, and harder enemies. It is not considered bad exactly, but players prefer going to the Chest unless they're specifically filling out the achievements related to clearing the Dark Room's boss.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon added to Afterbirth+, and as the final addition the final floor for the whole game, is the Void. It fits with the game's lore, but fans were disappointed to discover that the Void simply uses designs of the past floors in the game, with a different setting picked randomly for each room. The boss of it is effectively a harder Boss Rush in a game that already has one and with a ton of HP. Making matters worse is that the ending from beating this — the last ending of the game — doesn't really establish or change anything that wasn't already covered in a previous ending.
Shoot Em Ups
- Solar Jetman: Hunt for The Golden Warpship, an obscure title available on the NES and a few other platforms, suffers from this. The 12 planets (plus one hidden planet) all have the same gameplay style. After the 12th planet, the one with the largest level area and most oppressive gravity, you are treated to a side-scroller spin in the Golden Warpship shooting asteroids, and facing off a lame asteroid with...eyes? The level is fiendishly hard as well. Basically, consider the game beat after you get the last Warpship piece.
- RPG Shooter: Starwish is a combination shmup/visual novel that isn't terribly good on either count. The first two-thirds at least has good pacing and likeable characters. But following The Reveal, a new Big Bad shows up completely out of nowhere and... sits around doing nothing while you run pointless Filler levels trying to clear a path to him. Between levels, you get Info Dumps from The Scrappy which boil down to a lot of pointless exposition and the repeated insistence that the Big Bad can't be defeated and there's no hope. You eventually beat the Big Bad despite The Scrappy's protests by... shooting the Big Bad in the face. Really hard. And then the ending gives you a tacked-on Fantastic Aesop that the power to grant wishes is bad, which it immediately turns into a Broken Aesop by asking you to make a wish to choose your ending.
- Two of Space Invaders Extreme 2's final stages just use the same music from its predecessor's first two stages, with a few rearrangements. Seems like the folks at Zuntata were running out of ideas.
- Tyrian 2000, compared to the two previous releases of Tyrian, includes Episode 5 which wraps up the story of the game. However, the episode is very short, its new graphics are in a much different style than the rest of the game, its difficulty is bizarrely unbalanced (the first few levels feel like you're back on Episode I, and all the bosses have extremely little health), and the final level involves a rather easy battle against... an entire fleet of fruit-based spaceships that shoot food at you, which is way too silly even for a game that doesn't take itself all that seriously.
- Touhou: The general consensus is that Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom would be a much better game if Junko, the final boss, was better designed. All but a few of her attacks are variations on expanding bullet rings, which, as several big-name Touhou players have pointed out, are the easiest and quickest danmaku patterns to program. The fight is also overly reliant on extremely tight micrododgingnote , which makes playing as anyone but Reimunote painfully difficult and leads to a lot of clipping deaths.
- In the last level of Black & White, the game ground to a halt, as your Creature gets cursed and becomes almost useless (or even more so if you picked one with a low intelligence score). The real nail in the coffin here is a notorious glitch that made this curse permanent, even after going through the steps to lift it. It made an already challenging game hair-pullingly hard, and at least one FAQ/walkthrough terminates at this point—not only because of the difficulty curve, but because your Creature becomes ruined for the entire file, with the weakness, intelligence loss, and alignment change infecting all modes of gameplay, including network games. Even if you complete the game, the file remains broken.
- Freelancer starts off great, gradually revealing a vast conspiracy from the perspective of a few nobodies caught up in the action. It has all the hallmarks of an epic man-on-the-run political thriller, then the alien parasites show up and it becomes "hunt the Precursors in fast linear levels" like every other space game ever.
- The Battle of Endor scene from X-Wing Alliance doesn't really fit in with the main plot—that of the player character's family—that drove the rest of the game. In fact, the main plot itself is never completely resolved. Instead you get four missions covering the Battle of Endor. You wouldn't think it could be possible to screw this up, but the attack on the Death Star is incredibly boring and tedious, and it gets incredibly annoying listening to Wedge's invincible X-wing constantly taking fire as he follows you through the tunnel. And then you have to escape from a flashing cube of death after blowing up the reactor, rather than a proper wall of flame. Or even the chain of explosions you normally get when blowing up a large ship. Super Return of the Jedi on the SNES had a better Battle of Endor sequence!
- RollerCoaster Tycoon:
- The second-to-last scenario of the vanilla version, Rainbow Valley, is the meanest scenario in the entire game, banning you from all landscape editing and scenery removal, which makes it really difficult to build a decent roller coaster if you've gotten too used to slashing and burning forests to do it in the preceding scenarios. The final scenario, Thunder Rock, is a giant rock in the middle of the desert, but is a perfectly normal scenario otherwise without any gimmicks. It's above average difficulty since you have to cope with the long walk guests may have to take to make it to the top, but when put up against Rainbow Valley, it really can't compare.
- The expansion, Loopy Landscapes, does even worse. Most of Loopy Landscapes scenarios are unique and creative compared to the original scenarios and Corkscrew Follies (Added Attractions on UK), but Micro Park is nothing more than a 15x15 flat park. Its goal? Have the park value at $10,000, which is difficult as hell on a tiny park as this.
- The last mission of Star Wars: TIE Fighter have you find the ship where the Emperor is being imprisoned and disable it. And that's it, primary objective complete. You can mop up remaining enemies and tackle the enemies' star destroyer if you want, but there isn't anything special left to do. Luckily, the expansions add more missions.
Stealth Based Game
- Metal Gear:
- The final act of Metal Gear Solid is spoiled somewhat by an annoying double-backtrack segment (essentially recycled from Metal Gear 2), while the plot-action moves away from Snake, Meryl, the Ninja and Otacon, and towards side characters most players probably didn't care much about on their first playthrough. The Gamecube remake thankfully dodges the double-backtrack by being kind to players with good reflexes.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Thanks to a combination of budget restraints, and massive re-editing thanks to September 11th, the notorious ending was considered a let-down by fans thanks to the very long cutscenes, and a fight that felt anti-climactic and incomprehensible.
- Act 5 of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, at least when compared to Act 4. Act 4 gives us the mother of all nostalgia bombs where you revisit Shadow Moses island, which has been untouched since the first game, completely overhauled in next-gen graphics and culminates in piloting Metal Gear Rex to blast your way out complete with taking on Ocelot's Metal Gear Ray in the end. Act 5 is rife with cutscenes that go on for way too long, cases of Mood Whiplash (the microwave corridor scene juxtaposed with Johnny's marriage proposal) and tons of exposition clarifying events from MGS2. Stick with that, another half-hour to fourty minutes of cutscenes and the fake-out "suicide" scene, and you'll be treated to a post-credits stinger of [[spoiler:Big Boss attempting to explain every lingering plot hole in the series, via a massive Infodump that takes twenty-plus minutes. To call it Ending Fatigue would be putting it lightly.
- In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the fifth chapter consists of 6 missions in which you search for Zadornov in previous areas you have already been in the game. Obviously it gets very repetitive, and aside from the True Final Boss, this is the only thing you do in the entire chapter.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's narrative takes a dive in "Chapter 2", when the storyline that's been (mostly) resolved with the death of Skullface gives way to scores of remixed missions from the early game, simply with difficulty modifiers like "full stealth" and "extreme difficulty". Even the final mission on the list (Mission 50 - Sahelanthropus Extreme) is a rehash of a mission from much earlier in the game. This all culminates in Mission 46 (Truth: The Man Who Sold The World). It's actually the tutorial mission played over again, complete with button/tutorial prompts. When you complete it, you're treated to a twist (Big Boss is the Medic from Ground Zeroes) and a final cutscene that raises more questions than it answers. It doesn't help matters that a final mission clearing up the biggest unresolved plot point (what happened to Eli, the child soldiers and Sahelanthropus) was only resolved in an intended "Mission 51" that was never finished and only exists as a video on the Collector's Edition Blu-Ray disc.
- A great deal of the hype behind and appeal of Manhunt was related to the execution system, which encouraged the player to sneak up on foes with short-range weapons and then rewarded his patience by allowing the player character to slay his foes in gruesome and creative manners. Until the last few levels, that is, when the player is left with no real choice other than to shoot enemies from a distance. Plotwise, this is justified to some extent — the player character is no longer killing for the sake of the snuff film into which he has been drafted, but is out for revenge against the man who forced him into it — but it still abandons one of the game's central themes and only appeals.
- Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain becomes very frustrating around the halfway-2/3 mark, with an excess of stealth missions and Trial-and-Error Gameplay, where blowing your cover just once means the mission is FUBAR, made worse by the lack of in-level save points, the single-player mode using the same respawning system as multiplayer.
- Thief: The Dark Project, near the end, takes a bit of a dip. The level "Escape!" is considered by some to be the weakest chapter, and the game's final level, while by no means a bad level, is more a linear rush to the final confrontation with none of the stealth or exploration elements that defined the game.
- The final level in Thief (2014), "Dawn's Light", is blatantly thrown together and unpolished, a symptom of the game's fractured development cycle. The level itself feels like it's made up of pieces from three different plots haphazardly sewn together - the standard city hub, an indoor avoidance game with infected civilians, and a final confrontation on a ship that feels incredibly rushed and anticlimactic. Shopkeepers randomly appear in places they have no need to be (inside the infected stronghold, on the rocks outside the ship), and the final boss (Primal Erin) consists mainly of avoiding her and activating a device three times. Incredibly, the segue to the final cutscene goes from a rainy standoff between Garrett and Erin to her inexplicably hanging off the ship at daybreak. Even the final cutscene leaves the narrative on a vague Sequel Hook, which (to date) hasn't been addressed.
- The first half of Cold Fear is a unique gem of sixth generation consoles; an abandoned ship full of zombie gunfights, rocking like a salt shaker in an Arctic storm. But the second half is a cookie-cutter Abandoned Laboratory.
- Ghost Hunter, a PlayStation 2 game that was the closest you could get to a good Ghostbusters game before they actually made one. The story of the game feels increasingly rushed the further into the game you get. For example, in the game is your own containment unit where you can view the ghosts you've captured and read up information on them. Halfway through the game, you are prevented from taking a break in between levels to view the ghosts and just drops you off at the next level. The game also concludes without revealing who the Big Bad was working for.
- You spend the first half of Silent Hill 4 exploring four different areas, all infested with enemies you can only stun, not kill, and it's just the right level of challenging and compelling. The second act is a big Escort Mission where you have to protect the injured Eileen from the unkillable enemies and are told to explore the same four areas all over again, and you are suddenly trapped in Gamer Hell. The more she gets damaged, the less time you have to save her during the final battle. The final area and ending(s) are worth the slog, but barely. Whether it was deadline crunch or Team Silent's admitted fatigue with the series, this sequence is considered a dark, dark stain on what was otherwise an excellent game.
- For the most part, Outlast is a terrifying chase and evasion game up against unkillable enemies in the dark, so conserving resources such as batteries and making a note of spaces to hide or escape routes is very important. In the last level, however, the setting is just an Abandoned Laboratory, which is completely well-lit, and pretty much entirely devoid of enemies, except for one who is invisible and cannot be hidden from. Since the building is so linear, there's nowhere to go if you hear the Scare Chord except "run forward and he'll probably give up", which he does. Also, since the last exposition is delivered by a very soft spoken old man from far away, so it's easy to miss key dialogue, and have the end sequence be totally meaningless.
Third Person Shooter
- Contra: Legacy of War ends with a disappointing platforming section, followed by a final battle on a sphere.
- Kane and Lynch:
- The first game has this with the entire final third of the game. The first two thirds, set in America and Japan, are full of tense shootouts with cops, a couple bank heists, and gunfights with civilians caught in the crossfire. The final act is set, bizarrely, during a revolution in South America, and has the player commanding a small Redshirt Army against a huge Redshirt Army. The credibility of the plot is stretched thin, and the inability of the friendly AI to handle the vastly increased difficulty of the endlessly respawning beardless Fidel Castros does little to help.
- Dog Days has this to a lesser extent. Story-wise, having Lynch and Kane attempt to steal Glazer's private jet, and then resort to hijacking an airplane as it takes off makes less sense than simply having the two lay low for a few days or escape by boat or whatever, and having the level take place after Shangsi is killed leads to some serious Ending Fatigue.
- The end of Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is generally slammed for the introduction of Aura Beasts, more annoying was the feeling of a general drop in quality, with the gameplay feeling more unbalanced (and while the checkpoints are no worse than before, the sudden difficulty spike makes them far more annoying), some very vague puzzles and extremely annoying instant-death invisible mines that are likely to lead to at least a few "What the hell!?" deaths before you work out what is going on.
- In Jet Force Gemini, after you got to the last level, you were given a jetpack and forced to go back through all the levels again (and some new ones) and obtain each MacGuffin. It's safe to say most people quit before they got to the real ending.
- BloodRayne: The first half dozen levels are basically tutorial missions in the Louisiana bayou. Not too bad. Then you raid the Nazi complex in South America and fight Nazi zombies. Can't go wrong with that premise, right? Until you have to play level after level after level of lame-ass Resident Evil-style puzzles, fighting wave after wave of Nazi footsoldiers (dirt simple now that you have Bullet Time) in the same, endlessly repeated gray concrete industrial bunker.
- Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard falls right into this in the last two levels; the parody dries up, and you are stuck fighting the same enemies from earlier (after gradual additions in each of the earlier levels) over and over again. The little parody there is feels more like a parody of generic action movies rather than of Video Games (which there are already many examples of, and it therefore loses any of the potential of its concept). There are also Lampshading opportunities that are missed, for example, the penultimate level (the Docks) has you take a half-hour detour through a ship and then come out the other side with it having no purpose whatsoever; this would have been a perfect time to parody convoluted level designs (and the trope) in shooters, yet its not even mentioned. One of the few bits of Video Game parody there is (of MMOs) has the enemies be Palette Swaps of enemies you've been fighting throughout the game (again with seemingly no ironic invocation of it).
- Freedom Fighters has a strange sort of dual example. The climactic assault on Governors Island is extremely fun to play but vaguely unsatisfying from a story perspective, as the primary antagonist character remains The Unfought and there's no real closure over the Player Character's dead brother. Beat the game on the hardest difficulty, however, and you unlock a secret level... A completely linear, not especially challenging and very obviously unfinished level that looks like it was Dummied Out due to time constraints and then added back in as an afterthought, with a hilariously literal case of A Winner Is You on top. The worst part is, the very existence of this level suggests that there might have been a more satisfying conclusion planned at one point.
- Dark Void. The last level is an out of nowhere boss fight with a three-headed dragon and the whole thing starts so abruptly that you feel like you've accidentally skipped over a couple of levels and when you win, the game ends almost as abruptly.
Turn Based Strategy
- XCOM Terror From The Deep has this. The original X-COM capped off with an incredibly difficult two-part mission to Cydonia, full of some of the toughest aliens in the game. TFTD is overall much more difficult than the original, and has plenty of two-part missions within it... but while the final mission to T'leth is a three-part mission, it's also incredibly boring, since the level designs resemble long, twisty pipes more than any sort of maze and there clearly aren't enough aliens.
- Some people found the Temple Ship level at the end of XCOM: Enemy Unknown to be more than a bit unsatisfying. You send your team, with one psychic soldier nominated as "the Volunteer" with their powers jacked up to super levels, up to the enemy mothership to put an end to the war once and for all. Once you get there, you just proceed down a long, more or less linear corridor, killing off small groups of (almost) all the enemies in the game again in a tour through the game's bestiary while the alien leader dumps exposition on you, until you reach the end and fight the final boss... an "Uber-Etheral", who is just a normal Ethereal with more HP and the Rift power and a bunch of flunkies. Even worse, no changes were made to this scenario at all with the release of the Enemy Within expansion- not even including the new enemies which had been added, such as Mechtoids.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, simply due to the nature of how it works. Winning the game involves taking over every single last city in the country, and if that last faction consistently refuses your offers of surrender...well, there's no fun in a curb stomp that takes hours to finish up. Later games allowed the option to have the AI take over, letting the game finish itself when it's obvious you're gonna win by that point.
Wide Open Sandbox
- Grand Theft Auto:
- Grand Theft Auto III has this bad. Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale are increasingly less detailed when compared to Portland's bustling activity, varied scenery, and things to do. This is probably why Liberty City was revamped from the ground up in Grand Theft Auto IV, even if that effectively meant putting it in its own continuity.
- The first half of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was entirely dependent on story progression, since accessing real estate, decent weapons, and numerous outside areas was limited at first (and sometimes made saving games and conducting missions a huge pain). As a result, the plot progressed well with the player's increasing access to Vice City. Unfortunately, once players can start purchasing real estate, the storyline sections are much harder to follow, thanks to scatter shot mission locations, and some missions lacking availability until players buy many different buildings (which gets expensive fast, and often forces players to do tedious taxi/police/ambulance side missions repeatedly, or even street racing, to get the required cash). Even when players do find the missions, they're mostly boring, save the excellent bank robbery and mall bombing ones. The last two missions anchor the story back in focus, and concludes Vice City wonderfully, but getting there demands far too much trial-and-error and unnecessary exploration out of the player.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the worst of the lot: When the game finally wraps up to a finale, CJ returns to Los Santos and has to completely disregard all his previous success in San Fierro and Las Venturas to represent Grove Street in the local gang wars, forcing the player to finish a signifigant chunk of the turf wars sidequest before they could move to the very last mission in the game. It's not only particularly annoying thanks to, if you procrastinated on the turf wars until the very end, you'll have to complete the sidequest while all Hell is breaking loose around you as the citizens of Los Santos are rioting, but even if you completed the turf wars before leaving Los Santos at the beginning of the game, your turf war progress is reset as soon as your leave, so your efforts are meaningless. And the final mission is no cakewalk either...
- Grand Theft Auto V has three different ending missions. Ending C, which is the only one that lets you keep all of the playable characters and kill all of the remaining antagonists starts with a gunfight at a foundry which, while intense, isn't really on a bigger scale then some of the other fights in the game. Next you have to kill four different targets, all of whom only have a small group of mooks to kill, and only one of whom can be killed in a particularly interesting way. It feels like a step down given the scope of the game and how spectacular Rockstar games' final missions tend to be. And the final missions for the other two endings are even worse, as they just involve a simple little car chase against a single enemy who barely fights back, one of which ends which ends with a single bullet being fired, the other with a red herring moral choice.
- While the bosses of the three major gangs of Saints Row 2 were challenging and interesting, the final boss Dane Vogel is simply a shootout in a small area with few mooks to threaten you and Vogel himself with a pistol he isn't very accurate with. You do get an attack helicopter mid-way through the mission, but use it almost exclusively on static targets on a single building. The last few Ultor missions are also simple and easy compared to some of the final missions of the other gangs.
- Minecraft (up through version 1.8) is a brilliant sandbox of a game until the very last bit in The End realm. At this point, you've already explored the overworld (plains, mountains, oceans, caves, etc) and the Nether (lots of fire and lava in a hellish world), but The End is just very plain looking; you're on a big floating landmass of what looks like the moon, dotted with obsidian towers with a crystals on top. The only monsters are Endermen (admittedly the toughest of the usual monsters), and a huge dragon that is trying to knock you off the island into the void. Beating the dragon nets you 20,000 EXP and a long scrolling Mind Screw dialogue. Once the dragon is killed the area has no resources of value, and unlike the other two dimensions, the landmass is finite with no useful resources. This might be the first game to deliberately invoke Disappointing Last Level. However, in version 1.9, the End will gain more floating islands with new resources, becoming infinite and exploitable like the other two dimensions.
- Assassin's Creed:
- The majority of Assassin's Creed I is full of stealth, Le Parkour, and the occasional frenzy of short and violent fights frequently followed by a lot of running and hiding. Even boss fights generally fit into this standard. Then at the conclusion of the game, nearly all of it is thrown away for a long series of non-stop straight up sword fights with no chance of stealth or sneaking.
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations: The last level with any actual action is a wagon chase scene. No freerunning, no swordplay. And eventually, you don't even get to kill the Big Bad.
Non-Video Game Examples
- The Amazing Race was notorious for this during its first eleven seasons, as equalizing flights midway through the final leg would even up the teams after they had already done most of the tasks in the episode, and once in the final destination city, the winner would then generally be determined by whoever found the best cab. This took a lot of skill out of who won the race, and left a lot fan enjoyment on whether or a not a likable team could luck their way into a victory. This can really be seen in how the best team (by the stats) in the finale rarely won during these seasons, but after they started setting the entire final leg in one city in Season 12, the best team has won a majority of the races. Some examples include Season 1 (New York, a cab ride, followed by a train ride, then a long run to the Finish Line), Season 2 (San Francisco, a couple of cab rides and a long run through the city), and Season 10 (New York, two long cab rides with a long run through the city in between).
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The 2nd Edition Planescape adventure Dead Gods has about attempts to resurrect the slain demon lord Orcus. The adventure is full of mystery and exploration, crossing all over the Outer, Inner, and Prime Material Planes to uncover the secrets of strange new creatures that can manipulate everyone's perceptions and are poisoning parts of the World Tree Yggdrasil. Players ferry arms to a drow civil war, rescue a vampire, and outrace an undead god and his lone surviving priest to capture the MacGuffin in a very satisfying climax. Only for the adventure to continue as the MacGuffin is stolen from them anyway and they go to a final final confrontation on Orcus's corpse in the Astral Plane, which sounds cool but is mostly just short, confusing, and with an ambiguous ending that more serves the setting's Metaplot than anything else. (Officially, the heroes failed no matter what and Orcus was confirmed alive again as of 3rd Edition.)
- The 3.5 adventure Red Hand of Doom features a colossal pitched battle as its climax, with the P Cs fighting off a hobgoblin horde and dozens of monsters, where all the PC's prior successes help contribute to the battle's conclusion, culminating in a final Boss Rush with any surviving Quirky Miniboss Squad members and the army's general. A few bad builds or odd setpieces aside, it's pretty excellent... but's not the final part. The final part, involving confronting the high priest who rules the horde, is a depressingly bland, padded-out, and somewhat overlarge dungeon crawl, with the encounters being largely static and easy-to-bypass and the Final Boss being trapped in what amounts to a killing jar.
- In-story in Ran Van. The Nintendo Hard game makes him expect a truly monstrous Final Boss, but when he actually makes it to the end of the twelfth level, the boss sprite is barely bigger than his own.