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Some Dexterity Required

OK, hold down the bottom-left shoulder button and upper-right shoulder button, make a circle with the analog stick to select a grenade, then double-tap, press forward and release the lower-left shoulder button to pull the pin, then press down-right-down-left and O to release the grenade, press X and O together to return to normal stance and press both left shoulder buttons to remain in grenade mode...

The control system is critical to any video game. No one is going to put up with a game where a bizarre magical rite is required on the player's part just to get the hero to attack.

Sometimes though, the control system takes a while to get the hang of. While some games like to keep things simple—"hit B to attack, hit A to jump" for example—most will have a more complex method for combination attacks, high powered attacks and short cuts that bypass the Menu screen. Usually this involves hitting a combination of buttons in sequence or at the same time, which takes a while to master. On the odd occasion, the game appears to be asking you to perform a feat of dexterity that might land you in the hospital. It's generally accepted that this system suits experienced gamers rather than casual gamers, although even experienced gamers can occasionally find themselves hurling the controller against the wall in frustration.

Other games may require a certain level of experience or skill because the input isn't as straightforward as hitting a button. Some systems may call for drawing shapes, shaking the controller at exactly the right time, or even yelling into a microphone, which can be a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. It might take a while to be able to draw exactly the right shape, and meanwhile you find your character doing everything other than what you wanted them to do. Or you might find yourself adopting a number of silly accents in an attempt to get the microphone to register your voice. An unintended consequence is that sometimes clumsy players end up blaming the control scheme over their own coordination/stability problems.

Usually, all cases are only a pain in the neck while you're still getting used to the game. By the the time you're familiar with the system, the game misinterprets your instructions less frequently and the rage headaches you've been suffering ("I said jump you stupid hero, not walk off the cliff!") will subside.

Of course, if the controls are near nigh impossible, the game could simply be said to have a "bad" control system, but where the line is drawn is highly subjective.

Related to, and often crosses over with, Damn You, Muscle Memory, where remembering how other games are played adds to the headache of trying to control the current one.

Can sometimes be an aspect of Waggle.

No, this is not about the "dexterity" stat in games with stat points.

See also: Fighting Game

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Video Games in General 
  • Hardcore vehicle simulations have this trope as a rule — if you hamfist the controls and don't handle them with finesse, you will lose control, resulting in stalls/spins/vortex ring states in flight simulators or total loss of traction making your car plow into a wall or some trees or even hurtle off a hill in racing simulators. In addition, early combat flight simulators were based on historical periods where the Old-School Dogfight was the norm, necessitating a steady stick to consistently land hits with guns.
  • Mechwarrior games. A standard keyboard has 104 buttons, and Mechwarrior 4 maps all of them. With shift/ctrl/alt modifiers, too.
  • Arcade games ported over to consoles often receive control enhancements thanks to a gamepad's ergonomics and higher button count, making some of the originals feel afflicted by this trope in comparison. For example, the Super Nintendo version of Knights of the Round had a dedicated block button, whereas in the original arcade you had to hold backwards right after tapping the attack button.
  • In contrast, playing a Light Gun Game console port without a gun accessory or similar pointing device (such as the PlayStation Move on the PlayStation 3 or the Wii Remote) can be a massive pain in the ass. The on-screen cursor will often move too fast or too slow, and it gets worse if you aren't using an analog controller since you can only move the cursor in eight directions.
  • Sometimes a specific problem for left-handers. For example any DS game which required simultaneous use of the d-pad and the stylus (such as the port of Geometry Wars) is extremely difficult.
    • For this reason, some Nintendo 3DS games support the Circle Pad Pro, an accessory that grants a second Circle Pad on the rightnote , not to provide additional functionality but to allow Circle Pad functions to be carried out with the right thumb so that the left hand can use the touchscreen instead of the right hand. Two examples of games that use the Circle Pad Pro for this purpose include Kid Icarus: Uprising and 3D Galaxy Force II.
  • Fighting games that take after Street Fighternote —where each move is tied to a specific controller input or series of inputs—are often this, especially for players new to fighting games. Memorizing all the various combinations and performing the right one in the middle of combat can be very tricky, especially for the lengthier motions. Some games try to alleviate this by making the same sorts of inputs (circles, quarter circles, etc.) appear in every characters movelist, but it still requires learning those motions in the first place. See below for more specific examples.

    Specific Video Games 
  • As shown in the trope image, the Alone In The Dark 2008 remake. The game allows for players to switch between first and third person and use a variety of improvised weapons, set items on fire to permanently kill enemies, and mix items together in the inventory to make things like fire bullets, an improvised flamethrower, or a bomb that you shoot out of the air. Problem is, the inventory tends to be extremely finicky (requiring you to use a thumbstick to scroll through Carnby's jacket pouches and stop the stick precisely at the right spot to get what you want), and virtually every button had a specific use that may or may not change depending on what you're doing at the time; even putting away your flashlight and gun can be a pain for newcomers. Melee combat tried to be flexible by allowing for several different swings and precise movements of held objects for pushing items or holding them against a flame, but Carnby moves like a tank and doesn't swing much faster than he turns. And the inventory screen doesn't pause the game, meaning that rapidly building a bomb or fire bullets that will actually kill an enemy or grabbing a healing spray or bandages to avoid death involves fighting the imprecise and complex interface while you try and avoid getting smacked in the face.
  • Ōkami can be tricky to get to grips with on both the original PS2 version and the Wii remake. Drawing symbols on the screen is a critical part of the game, so by its very nature the process can be rather hit and miss. Especially when your scribbles can be grouped into "circle type things" and "line type things" that the game can get mixed up. This can get frustrating when, for example, you end up making the wind blow (a spiral shape) instead of reviving a tree (a circle), or worse, making the sun rise when reviving a tree, which use the same symbol. The game helps you out as much as it can (all action/battle is suspended when you draw, and the "holy smoke" effect helps you guide some abilities), but players might still end up resorting to the "scribble and pray" technique with the more complicated symbols like Inferno and Thunderbolt.
    • Many players of the original PS2 version found then "swing the remote" method on executing combo attacks on the Wii remake to be awkward, partly because of Damn You, Muscle Memory, but mainly because the timing of the swing for many combos had to be exact, rather than just hitting a button the required number of times. Glaives and Reflectors have had their effectiveness called into question since, no matter how powerful the weapon, the unpredictability of their combo attacks made them less useful than the Rosary weapons, which were more forgiving and therefore more reliable.
    • This is made at least somewhat better in Ōkamiden. You can draw the symbol, and if you're not sure the game will recognize it, you can press B to erase everything you've drawn. While they do put a time limit on how long you can be on the celestial brush screen, it's very generous even when halved. Also, the "connect two points with a line" techniques now change the color of the ink, so it's a lot more certain when they will register. The final boss, however, is capable of cancelling what you've drawn with its own brush, so "scribble and pray" is the most reliable method of dealing with it, even with simpler brush techniques. Still manages to be the Best Boss Ever, not despite, but because of this.
  • Trauma Center in all its incarnations takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you're aiming for a high score. Stitching a wound neatly but slowly will generally get you less points than drawing a quick, random zigzag that would leave a heck of a scar if any doctor did it in real life. It also occasionally suffers from the "not enough room on the screen" variant, where the item you could have sworn you placed directly on the tray somehow misses it, or you injure a patient while trying to fill a syringe from the bottle that appears on the screen, damaging your score.
    • The Wii versions of the title allow you to use the nunchuk to switch between tools, rather than having to stop and select them on the menu as you do on the DS. This normally makes things move along a little more quickly — provided you manage to hit the tool you were aiming for, and not the one slightly to the left or right of it.
      • A popular method to speed up times on the DS versions is to use two styluses. Doubt the level of dexterity required? Try making precise movements with undersized pens on a 3 inch screen, against the clock.
    • The first DS game has an egregious example in the magnification tool, which requires the player to draw a circle around the area they want to magnify. Having this go wrong even a few times during the first operation in which it crops up means a game over, never mind frustratedly scribbling what you think is a perfect circle maybe eight or nine times before the game zooms in on the wrong area.
      • The real trick to that is to draw a quick backwards "c"... but, of course, that's not really a circle and the game gives no indication that this is the correct way to do it. This is the result of the designers violating the Stock Control Settings on a programming level: most games register any closed, reasonably round shape as a circle and ignore the "tails" where the line crosses over. Trauma Center expects a near-complete circle with no crossing, so a circle with a small gap works, but closing it will make an unrecognized shape unless your tails perfectly overlap the line.
  • Darwinia can use gestures for spawning units and selecting weapons. It has a rather odd habit of mistaking "Rocket Launcher" for "Armor". Which could prove rather problematic... later versions switched to a menu-based control scheme by default.
  • In the Ruins of Alph in Pokemon Heart Gold And Soul Silver, you have to rearrange puzzle pieces to form pictures of fossil Pokemon to enter the Unown chambers. The puzzles aren't hard, but rotating the individual pieces requires putting your stylus in exactly the right place and holding it there for long enough for the piece to rotate but not so long that it does it twice.
  • The "press", "tap", and especially "scratch" controls in Nintendo DS game The World Ends with You. And while we're on the subject, some advice: never have "tap rapidly" pins in the same deck as "touch" pins. Evernote .
    • And you have to do all those crazy touch screen motions while simultaneously commanding your partner on the upper screen through combo-based button presses. Those are easier to pull off, but doing it while keeping track of Neku's (asymmetrical) battle on the bottom screen can be quite the feat.
  • Black & White can fall victim to this trope, as spell casting is done by drawing runes on the screen with the mouse.
    • As is throwing rocks or villagers or trees. It's not difficult to accidentally throw a villager a few hundred feet instead of just setting them down.
    • Black & White II manages to be worse, largely by adding a second layer of complexity when building or maintaining towns.
  • Players of Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble can run into problems when the game demands you use both touch screen and buttons within a short time frame.
  • There's a general consensus among many gamers that when someone is surprised by an enemy, any FPS interface may as well be controlled by hopping on one foot while spinning a hula hoop at exactly the right speed. FEAR and Doom 3 are frequent offenders due to their emphasis on horror. This has less to do with the interface being difficult than the player panicking. If you're playing on a PC with a mouse, a quick flick of the wrist can bring a target directly behind you right into your sights.
  • Many first-person games focused on melee weapons.
  • Red Steel for the Wii had poorly polished controls, controller latency, and no clear way to distinguish where your own hitboxes are.
  • Every PS2 Mobile Suit Gundam game.
    • With the possible exception of the Gundam Vs Series, which uses a four-button control scheme but takes advantage of the PS2 controller to assign buttons to the simultaneous-press commands (for example the Sub-Weapon command, which is Shoot and Melee combined, is mapped to R1 by default).
  • Earlier Armored Core games were plagued by laggy and complicated controls. They were mostly polished down by the Armored Core 3 series. And then frustratingly changed completely for the last few ps2. Interestingly, probably due to the different gameplay, AC 4 onward was much more playable even while using the same, previously frustrating controls.
  • This was hardly a major flaw for the Ace Attorney games, since use of the microphone was purely optional, but it's not unusual to hear someone screaming "Objection" into the DS in an accent/voice that is nothing like the one they normally use. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get a pitch that Mr. Wright will recognize.
  • On a similar note, there's the Stroop test in Brain Age (or, for the Europeans out there, Brain Training), for which voice input is not optional— and which seems to have difficulty understanding many people's pronunciation of "blue", as this comic demonstrates. It was a large enough problem that the Stroop test was removed from the sequel.
  • For most of the game, Sonic Rush's controls were a treat, but right at the penultimate boss fight, when you're one hit short of victory, the game abruptly degenerates into an insane dual button-tapping fest that can't possibly lie within the dexterous abilities of the target audience.
  • SNK is the mother and father of all impossible Fighting Game motions. Back in the days of Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters '94, characters always had impossible controller motions for their Super Moves - the crowned king of which was Geese Howard's Raging Storm, executed as follows: Down-Back, Half-Circle Back, Down-Forward + Punch. They call it The Pretzel for a reason. In addition, super moves were activated by hitting two attack buttons, which is reasonable in an arcade but ludicrous at home. As of later KOF installments, SNK has gotten much better at this (by KOF '96, most characters have less insane motions for their attacks), but it lapses sometimes - try using Duck King in KOF XI. (Geese Howard's Raging Storm has never changed its motion, primarily due to nostalgia.)
    • Adding to this is the modern method of performing his Deadly Rave DM. Especially when it can only be used once per round in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom. The input needed to pull off the move in that game is the following: Roll the stick from forward to downward to back, bring it forward and hit buttons B, C, and D at the same time, wait for Geese to start performing the move, then timing each of the following button presses just as Geese does each attack in the sequence: A, A, B, B, C, C, D, D, and then roll the stick from down to backward and hit C and D at the same time to get a big blast of energy. And no, you can't just mash the "A, A, B, B..." part, because performing it too slowly or too quickly will ruin the move. Oh, and if you screw up at any point after the first B + C + D attack (assuming you don't get attacked or fail to pull off the move in the first place), the move does extremely little damage. Even if you only fail the "QCB + C + D" part at the end. And in the case of SVC Chaos, if you begin executing this move and fail it, even if it's because your opponent attacked you and ended the move prematurely, you don't get to use it for the rest of the round. At least other King of Fighters and Fatal Fury games are nice enough to let you use the move infinitely while a certain meter lasts, or at least grant you the ability to refill said meter. Some even have an easier variation of the move. It's still hard even without requiring a QCB + simultaneous button press at the end, though. If there's anything worthwhile about the move, however, it's that it does extremely high damage if pulled off correctly. Then again, a good number of other characters have moves of roughly equivalent power while not requiring such insane input. Or at least a better damage-to-move-difficulty ratio. This wasn't a problem in it first appearence in Art of Fighting 2 or KOF 98 Ultimate Match, where it was an automatic ranbu-type DM.
    • Not as ludicrous as the Deadly Rave, but more complex than the Raging Storm, was Lawrence Blood's super move - Down-Forward, Half Circle Forward, Down-Back, Forward + Buttons. He's not as well known as Geese so his super usually gets overlooked in these discussions.
    • Samurai Shodown 2 had its share of difficult motions, most of them being for the "Super Deformed Transformation" and certain secret special moves that only a few characters had. Of all those motions, Haohmaru's Tempa Fuujin Zan deserves special mention, being: Down-forward, half circle forward, back, down, down-back plus medium slash and weak kick buttons together.
    • Parodied in a FoxTrot strip. Jason, upon starting to play a new fighting game he just bought, discovers that there is a complex button series needed to throw a basic punch. ...And a fold-out chart showing you how to kick.
  • Street Fighter and other fighting games have an issue with grappler characters. Namely, the biggest problem is what's called a "720" motion. Basically, you have to perform two full circles of the joystick in about a second to pull off the move, faster to do it without jumping. Zangief is the main culprit here, but the reason no one complains about it with Zangief is because it's completely worth the difficulty to finish off a full health opponent in three or four moves, and if you're playing on the defensive, the fact that less than master players telegraph their strategies by hopping around all the time puts them at a tactical disadvantage. Of course, in games that are picky about the diagonals, if you don't have a $70+ arcade stick and are stuck with the keyboard (especially without macros), you will cry trying to pull a move like this off. Some games are pickier than others, BlazBlue being to the point where simply pulling off a half circle forward is near-impossible without a macro.
    • The In Name Only Street Fighter 2010 has difficult controls to master. For instance, you push down + B to shoot diagonally up.
    • Playing fighting games meant for arcade sticks using normal system controllers can often lead to bizarre hand positions on the controller. For instance, most current-generation systems have four main buttons on the right in roughly a diamond shape. One of the finishing moves in BlazBlue involves holding down three of these buttons and tapping the fourth. This requires you rest your controller on a flat surface, then use three of your right hand's fingers to hold down those three buttons and your left hand (or a fourth right finger) to mash the fourth one.
  • How do you do Jax's multihit throw in Mortal Kombat 4? Throw,then(hold)RN+BL+HK > HP+LP+LK > HP+BL+LK > HP+LP+HK+LK of course.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (sans Knuckles) level select code. In theory, you enter Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Up, Up during just the right time interval on the title screen. In practice, it's more like: Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Up, Up, Oops, Reset, Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Up, Up, Crap, Reset, Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Up, Up, Argh, Reset, Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Up, Up, Freaking Hell, Reset, Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Up, Up, Aaaaaaaargh, Give Up, Use The Sonic 2 Cartridge Swap Trick Instead.
  • The cheat code system in the Nintendo 64 titles of the Rush racing game series tended to have complicated inputs based around quick combinations of holding down and tapping the four C buttons. This was tricky but merely inconvenient in San Francisco Rush, where the most you could do with it was repeat it to change the tire size and body height of your car. Rush 2049, however, involved combinations for every unlock under the sun, some of them fiendishly difficult and which had to be input fast, but not so fast that the game couldn't recognize it. Unlocking all the car bodies-not the cars and parts, just the bodies-involved hammering out a C-button combo that took more than 12 presses and more than a few tries to nail down.
  • Die By The Sword had an amazingly simple control scheme that allowed one to perform complex sword movements using your mouse. Except... most people could never get the hang of the mechanics of it and either relied on the "constantly swipe left and right" attack, or used one of the preloaded macro commands.
  • Phantom Crash and sequel SLAI both require using as many buttons as possible to control your mech. Thumbsticks control look and movement, shoulder buttons control one of each of the 4 weapons (which is nice as you can actually fire all of them at the same time), and each of the face buttons (the Xbox ABYX or PS2 symbols) are each used, often in the middle of battle: jump, dodge left/right, toggle optical camo (Predator camo). The end result is "The Claw", where your right hand index finger curls up and over the face buttons so you can hit them, use your thumb on the thumbstick, and leave your middle and ring finger for the shoulder buttons- at the same time.
    • That sounds quite a lot like the "claw grip" Monster Hunter Freedom players use. Left index finger controls the D-Pad while the left thumb controls the analog nub.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass states that in order to do a roll, you need to draw a circle near the edge of the screen. Most players were rarely able to pull this off, and discovered that merely doing a quick stroke towards you and then back away would do the roll quite well.
    • The game's indirect sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, fixed the rolling complaint by assigning it to a double-tap on the screen, and is fairly good at keeping things simple for most of the game, but there are a few boss fights in which you must guide both Link and Zelda with your stylus in order to expose the boss's weak point. These can be...rather hard on the stylus-hand.
      • Also, playing the Spirit Flute can be a real pain in the ass as it plays a note whenever you blow into the mic (which note depends on which tube you moved to the center with the stylus), meaning breath control is a major factor, especially when you have to go to two notes not next to each other without hitting the one in between.
      • Trying to control Zelda and Link when they're particularly close to one another (as in the fight with Malladus and Cole, where they kind of have to be close to shield one and protect the other) is a pain in the neck, all too easy to switch control or attack by mistake if you're too hasty. Loved the stylus-only controls otherwise, but parts like that made it far trickier than it perhaps could have been were there alternative controls.
    • The Legend Of Zelda CDI Games are far worse, especially Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon. You have to hit rupees to collect them, you need to duck to bring down the inventory screen etc. which cause problems of their own.
    • The targeting system in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask can be quite the pain in the ass when you're trying to target the boss and not these pesky little things around him.
  • Jet Force Gemini included a highly intrincated control scheme that takes a while to get used to. Push the stick to move around, Z to shoot, C-Left and C-Right make you strafe, C-Up and C-Down to cycle weapons, A for jump and B for crouch. Did you get all that? OK, now we are going to shoot something flying over your horizontal line of sight, so forget EVERYTHING I just said for the next 5 seconds. Hold R to enter a precision over-the-shoulder mode, aim and turn around with the stick, move and strafe with all 4 C buttons, and switch weapons with A and B. Yeah that's the perfect control scheme. To be fair you can select Expert control mode to swap the normal functions of A/B and C-Up/C-Down, as well as setting up weapon shortcuts for each direction on the D-Pad. Still you'll probably need a couple missions to get used to all the scheme switching.
  • The regular controls of Super Smash Bros. are notably an aversion, being much simpler than most fighting games (pretty much everything comes down to at most a direction and one of two buttons), but played straight in the more advanced techniques (like waveshining and doubleshining).
    • "Quit match" command in Brawl when you're using the Wii Remote + Nunchuck controls - pause and hit Z, B, 1, and plus at the same time. This generally requires either the participation of your pinkie and ring finger or the use of the Nunchuck hand to push buttons on the Wiimote, and it's rather uncomfortable to accomplish. And you have to hold it for about a second before it registers, because apparently it's entirely possible you might hit those buttons by accident.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots completely revamped the Close Quarters Combat system, giving the player a myriad of options and abilities to utilize during any given fight. The system is described in the manual with two flow charts, several paragraphs of text, and lots of icons. Most players stick to ranged combat.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater had this so much. Every button on the joypad seemed to be pressure sensitive in some way or another and pressing too hard was the difference between grabbing an enemy and slashing his throat. Not to mention holding down this button for first person, this to pull out the gun, then this one to lean/tiptoe into view, then if want to force him to surrender his supplies you had to go out of first-person to circle around him, then back into first person to threaten him and then a slow release of the button to then perform a close quarters takedownnote . Not to mention that some enemies need you to hold them up with something bigger than your pistols, meaning pressing the weapon button too hard (which must be held throughout this ritual) will result in you just blasting the enemy in the face, and pressing it too lightly will result in you lowering your weapon, at which point the guy you're trying to hold up will instantly attack you.
  • Devil May Cry 4. EVERYTHING is a combination of several button taps and leaning the stick in a sequence of directions that makes more sense in a 2D fighting game than in a 3D game where even facing the right target is tough. The four fighting styles are assigned to four different directions on the famously inaccurate Xbox direction pad, a fifth style requires pressing the same direction twice, two buttons cycle through 8 different kinds of ranged and melee weaponry, one ranged weapon requires multiple spins of the direction stick to change attack type.. the list goes on and on. Surprisingly, all the complexity is really rewarding when it works. Also, the freaking trigger pressing on Nero's sword to power it up on EVERY SINGLE ATTACK SWING is not. That. Easy.
    • While still complex to pull off the more crazy combos, the PS3 version was a heap more user-friendly.
  • While most controls for Rhythm and Music games are relatively straightforward (hit a button or two in time to the music), trying to play these games on expert difficulties requires an insane amount of coordination. Some examples:
    • Guitar Hero: [1]
      • Especially the first game, with its unreliable hammer-on/pull-off system. "Bark At the Moon", the hardest song for the first game, took nearly two years to full-combo because players were forced to strum most of the solos to consistently hit the notes.
    • Rock Band: These are difficult songs, but not the hardest in the game.
      • Guitar.
      • Bass.
      • Drums.
      • Keyboard, introduced in Rock Band 3.
      • Pro Guitar. Oh Pro Guitar. It's pretty much the straightest example of this trope in a rhythm game; over 100 positions note , and some chords require four fingers. And God help you if it's a song with fancy strumming patterns. A little derailment is possible though.
    • Dance Dance Revolution: [2]
    • beatmania: [3]
    • EZ2DJ's hardest Space Mix charts often require crossing the player's hands or hitting effector notes with the fingers and key notes with the wrist to hit certain patterns.
    • Sound Voltex requires the player to spin knobs while hitting notes simultaneously. Sometimes this, again, leads to hand-crossing in order to hit notes.
  • Doodle Hex, despite being a "casual" game, should not be attempted by anyone with high blood pressure. It suffers from "Ōkami Syndrome", regularly mistaking one rune for another (generally the most useless one it can get away with), and the fact that your opponents never mess up, and somehow seem to be able to repower much more quickly than you can means that you have to be fast. Which means either you have on-the-money dexterity (and even that is no guarantee) or you spend a lot of time swearing at your DS.
  • Somewhat like the above example, playing Lost Magic on the DS will have many people screaming in rage due to the games tendency of confusing (or outright rejecting) the players drawn runes. Considering the difficulty of the game and the amount of runes you have to draw with very little time, this gets old really quickly.
    • Arx Fatalis has a similar problem, but it's more likely to reject a rune than substitute the closest thing available. One gets the feeling it was designed for a joystick that could only draw at 45 and 90 degree angles, rather than a computer mouse that can do 46, 44, and so on.
  • The first three Commander Keen games use the combination Ctrl + Alt to fire Keen's raygun. That's not so bad... except that Ctrl and Alt are used separately to jump and to use Keen's pogo stick, respectively. This results in a lot of jumping/pogoing around like an idiot when one intended to shoot, and almost as much accidental shooting when one was trying to pull off a tricky pogo/jump maneuver.
    • It gets worse. To get some extra height while pogoing, hold down Ctrl. So you need to tap Alt to pull out the pogo stick, release Alt, then press Ctrl. If you ever hit Ctrl and Alt at the same time, you fire and un-pogo. No wonder they reassigned fire to Spacebar from Keen 4 onwards.
    • In early versions of Windows, hitting Alt + Space was the command to switch to a windowed mode. Doing this to a DOS program while running in Windows was essentially a kiss of death, locking up most of windows (like the shutdown command) and giving you messages about PIF settings. With Commander Keen, there would always be that one time a finger accidentally strayed to that crevice between the Alt and Spacebar, both heavily used keys, usually forcing the user to cut power to the computer to restart. Tech savvy users quickly learned to run it in DOS instead of Windows (and users less so continued to suffer without knowing any alternative).
  • Fahrenheit: Many Quick Time Events required you to press both control sticks in different directions, or a lot of consistent Button Mashing for long stretches of time in order to survive various challenges. It's easy to lose coordination during the control prompts and wear out your trigger fingers while mashing. Prepare to hear "And that's the end of my story" A LOT.
  • Anybody remembers the controls of Pac-Land on the NES? In this game, it overlaps with Damn You, Muscle Memory.
  • Action52 has 4 games where, in order to jump, player has to move and then tap B very lightly (since player can't move horizontally when holding the jump button). This makes making precision jumps very hard. And in most of the games, you use B rather than A to jump.
  • La-Mulana, in addition to the stiff jumping, has the grapple claw, which takes some getting used to. Ideally, you release the up button, then hit the button pointing away from the wall, which sends Lemeza sailing over large gaps and right into wherever you want him. In reality, you're going to spend a lot of time sending Lemeza into spikes, lava, water, fireballs, and every other obstacle in the game until you get used to the timing.
    • Even the game's double jump item requires an inordinate amount of skill to use, because you cannot activate it after the peak of your jump. Muscle memory from most other games tells you your window for activating it when you need to make a long jump is much wider than it is.
  • Steel Battalion came with a controller that was bigger than most desks and was, basically, a "vertical tank" (mech) simulator.
    • The actual act of piloting a VT is straightforward, though...unless you want to exploit clip dumping. You have to hold down the main weapon button the whole time and then hit Magazine Change to cancel the reload time at the cost of a spare clip. The problem is that the main weapon switch button is toward the bottom-left of the center block, the magazine change button is toward the bottom-right of the same center block, and the right joystick controls weapon aiming and firing. This means that you will likely use your left hand to hold down the main weapon button...which is also the hand you use for the steering lever and the gear shift on the left block, which any VT pilot worth his salt would be working constantly to avoid being a sitting duck. Hope you have three hands!
    • Even without exploiting bugs, the sheer number of buttons can be intimidating and confusing to first-time pilots. Sure, those 13 switches and buttons on the right are there ONLY for powering up the mech, whoop-de-do. How many of us were losing clip after clip because we didn't know "reload" meant loading the next CASE OF CLIPS, not individual one? Then there's the windshield washers, grapple, etc. etc. Easily a dozen buttons that are either cosmetically interesting but functionally useless, or only used in about 3 out of dozens of missions. Even once you figured out that 95% of the time your hands were just going to be on the joysticks, and thus almost avoiding this trope, then you work in the foot pedals...
    • The sequel "Heavy Armor" which used the Kinnect controller, had similar problems and took a lot of getting used to for many. Some reviewers like Angry Joe claimed that it was broken, though other people on sites like Gamefaqs claim that that's not the case. The controls just happen to be EXTREMELY sensitive and require VERY precise movements in order to perform certain functions(I.E. venting smoke from the mech when it takes too many hits) and moving even slightly too much can result in doing certain things by accident which can cause frustration.
  • While it's technically not dexterity so much as timing, the shield in Ferazel's Wand can be extremely irritating. In order to block you must duck, then press the arrow key opposite the direction you're facing. Ducking takes about a second, and if you press the opposing arrow while you're in the process of ducking you will turn around as you duck. Attempting to turn around after having finished ducking will simply make you shield in the opposite direction from the one you intended to, so unless you waited to finish ducking and risked that throwing knife reaching you, you must stand up again, turn towards the knife again, and attempt to duck again, almost guaranteeing it will reach you before you can block it. Good thing you can usually jump out of the way.
  • The famous Hurricane Kick in Double Dragon II, which required mashing both the A and B buttons twice(technically, you only needed to hit one the second time, but the move was hard enough as it was), with absolute perfect timing. This move was invaluable when surrounded by enemies, but if not done just right, it would result in a plain old jump kick, which would knock one Mook down, leaving the others to beat on your ass, as you tried to get up.
  • GunZ: The Duel had programming gaps that allowed players to do move cancels unintended by the developers, introducing a whole new complex metagame, with the simpler moves like "slashshot" requiring 6 keypresses in less than a secondnote . Then you've got moves with about 20 keypresses in them, most of which need to be precisely timed, a d-style move that require you to dash and lungenote at the exact same time, and some others that need to be timed precisely against the lag between you and your opponent. Even just getting a hit in when your opponent is doing this qualifies as you'll be shooting at someone who's bouncing all over the place changing directions and blocking half the time. Most inexperienced players just spam their guns hoping to get at least some hits in, needless to say this rarely works.
  • Instant Kills in the original Guilty Gear. Press punch and kick simultaneously to launch the attack. Then the screen flashes red for a brief moment while your character poses. During this time (roughly a quarter second), all of the following things may or may not happen:
    • If you press quarter-circle-forward plus punch, slash, and kick, you successfully launch the instant kill.
    • If your opponent presses quarter-circle-backward plus punch, slash, and kick, they successfully block the instant kill (if it happens).
    • If your opponent presses quarter-circle-forward plus punch, slash, and kick, and finishes it before you do, the instant kill is reversed.
    • Did I mention that the initial launching attack has no warning and cannot be blocked? And that the game is incredibly snooty about pressing punch, slash, and kick at exactly the same time? And that higher-level AI opponents can pull this off with consistency? And that, if successful, an instant kill ends the entire match? Needless to say, the "reduce entire matches to a single Quick Time Event" concept was scrapped in subsequent Guilty Gears.
  • The video iPod version of Tetris has controls that are easy to learn but maddeningly touchy. The click wheel moves the piece from left to right and down will drop it. However, the slightest of left/right movements while pressing down will shift the piece just as it's dropped. This gets more frustrating the faster you play, as mistakes become more likely.
  • Mr Gimmick and its star riding mechanic takes a while to get used to.
  • Silent Scope often requires Improbable Aiming Skills, for example, levels on a moving vehicle. However, on cabinets where the gun is poorly-maintained, the gun may jerk unnecessarily, resulting in less precise aiming.
  • Cursed Mountain for the Wii requires you to perform Mudras by waving the Wii Remote, otherwise the angry ghosts would regenerate health instead of being banished. In theory, these were simple slashes performed in sequence, but while diagonals were easy, horizontal and especially vertical required you to have nearly architectural precision, in the middle of frantic combat, however it is generally accepted that holding the wii-mote like the pickaxe (upside up) while doing the rituals improves the detection a lot.
    • Dragon Quest Swords has the same issues, but apparently the developers noticed - the tutorial makes a point of telling you how to hold the Wii Remote for best results.
  • Done deliberately in Heavy Rain, where things that are tricky to do in real life require you to hold a bunch of buttons at the same time.
    • Perhaps the worst comes when Norman Jayden suffers another Triptocaine attack while shaking down Mad Jack. Hold down 7-button-combination to not die. This sequence is extremely difficult, because the game asks you to push and hold the buttons in a non-standard sequence (R1, X, L2, Triangle, R2, Square, etc), which means that by the time you reach the seventh button, you're probably out of fingers unless you knew in advance what buttons to push. However, the sequence is entirely justified, as Jayden is trying to give himself a drug injection, while holding a gun on a dangerous criminal with hands that are shaking like a leaf in a hurricane. It would be more surprising if he succeeded (failure does not result in death).
    • Also the second half of the Butterfly trial. Hold down every button on the controller and mash X to not die.
  • The Soul Series games have plenty of this. Especially when you're playing as Ivy.
    • Rage as the computer uses Summon Suffering on you multiple times in a match, when doing it with human controls takes several hours of practice and generally needs to be worked into a combo to keep opponents from just running away from it.
  • In the early days of Runescape, things like mining and doing other things required numerous clicks to execute and were painful to fingers. Over the years, this has been gradually reduced.
  • Entering the debug mode in the N64 version of Shadows of the Empire requires the entry of a specific name on the entry screen. Then, pause the game and hold down the L, R, Z, all four C buttons, and Left on the N64 control pad. Got all that? Now move the analog stick left until a confirm tone is heard, then right, and repeat until the menu pops up. If you have managed to pull this off without resorting to doing the analog stick moves with your nose or having someone else do it, we salute you.
  • The first Warcraft game, when it came out, had a complex control system. Moving and commanding units took more than twice as much clicks or button presses than they do in recent times.
    • Dune II did not allow selecting multiple units, nor did the units have much AI beyond "shoot random enemy in range", so attacks required a lot of micromanagement. On the defensive side, factories had a separate full-screen menu for building units.
  • QWOP is a deliberate example where, in order to move forward, you have to press 4 buttons at appropriate times.
  • Sin and Punishment's control scheme definitely took some getting used to, both for the N64 and Gamecube controls. The left control stick/D-pad was actually used to aim, while pushing buttons on the right side made you strafe back and forth, and the shoulder buttons made you fire and jump. On top of the wacky control scheme, the game made you pull off some crazy acrobatics in some parts that would be difficult even with a normal control scheme. Fortunately, the sequel switched over to the Wii Remote and nunchuck setup, making the controls much, MUCH more intuitive.
    • Any game utilizing something other than a mouse, trackball or stylus to emulate a light gun will take some getting used to.
  • Cheat codes in Star Soldier on the NES. For an example, a powerup cheat is the following: "At the title screen, press Select 10 times on Controller #1. Then, hold Down + Right on Controller #2. Then, hold Up, Left, A, B on Controller #1, finally press Start 2x on Controller #1.".
  • Shopping in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars and Heroes of Newerth. You can obtain a courier that allows you to buy items on the field, but requires a fair amount of micro especially if you want to buy items at shops that aren't in your base. If only you could tell your chicken to go get item X at shop Y and deliver it to you.
    • The reason for this is that the amount of clicks required to shop takes your attention away from your character and therefore increases the skill cap of the game, an important characteristic of a high profile competitive game. One has to wonder though whether the developers couldn't come up with more meaningful ways to make the game harder.
  • The controls of the Wii version of Tony Hawks Proving Ground are rather unintuitive and require uncommonly precise timing.
  • This is pretty much the point of Octodad—simple household tasks become a lot more difficult when you're trying to do them with an octopus's tentacles. Notably, the first game's difficult final challenge is climbing an ordinary stepladder.
  • Why the Rollerball-in-a-satellite-dish game Pararena didn't catch on: getting anywhere meant mastering diagonal mouse movement while controlling an onscreen sprite that moved like a swinging pendulum. According to the author, fan mail about Glider always seemed to include the aside, "Oh, and I tried Pararena too, but I couldn't score a goal so I trashed it." (Along with the occasional "Pararena was the best game ever written.")
  • The arcade version of the first Virtual-ON, with its complex dual joystick controls.
  • Adventure Island II. There is a long stage select code which performing can be like pulling teeth. It could only be put in during a specific portion of the opening sequence, meaning you had to restart if you missed it. It didn't help that game magazines actually printed an incorrect version of the code. And your reward for inputting it correctly? The ability to skip to any level... with absolutely no weapons, and therefore being virtually Unwinnable.
  • In World of Warcraft, the battle against Magmaw requires the DPSers to jump onto Magmaw's head when he Mangles the tank, then target the spike and press 1 to throw their chains at it, not only having to hit it, but also time it so that they hit about the same time, before the tank dies. This part of the fight is arguably the one that results in the most wipes.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the NES has jumping and weapon selection abilities unique to this version. But the latter requires pressing Select at the same time as the directional key corresponding to the weapon, and holding a directional key along with the B button is also required to jump any way but down, which is often the worst direction to jump.
  • The SNES adaptation of Batman Forever. Combine already unresponsive controls with confusing button combos (example: Select+Up in certain situations activates the grappling hook, though sometimes it causes Batman or Robin to jump.) and you have a bad combination. The Angry Video Game Nerd didn't let this go unnoticed. It's even worse in the Game Boy port of the game, where its controls are even less responsive and button combos were found by button mashing. Good luck trying to do a 100% Completion run in all four of the levels!
    • This is also true in the Genesis version, due to the game using Mortal Kombat-like controls (i.e., fighting game controls) for a platforming/beat-em-up game.
  • Cyborg Justice has a decidedly complicated and unorthodox control scheme due to the game trying to emulate the Fighting Game sensibilities in a Beat 'em Up. For example, jumping requires pressing Up+C and kicking while crouched is done by holding C, moving the D-pad down left/right and pressing A.
  • The less than stellar PSX version of Armorines: Project Swarm has one of the strangest and most uncomfortable control scheme in any FPS ever. For example, moving backward and foward is done by pressing R1 and R2 (whereas almost every other Playstation FPS more logically used the shoulder buttons for strafing) and the strafe buttons are mapped to square and circle, making using any other functions while moving diagonally uncomfortable. It's slightly better with the analog controls, but even then, it inverts the "left stick moves, right aims" convention used in other dual stick FP Ss.
  • The original Starcraft and its expansion had an artificially elevated skill cap due to the large Action Per Minute requirements of certain basic functions (such as queuing mutiple build orders on more than one building). Bad pathfinding also meant that players had to babysit units on the opposite side of the map while managing their economy back home. While the sequel streamlined many of these mechanics, there are now specific micromanagement-heavy new ones that can turn a defeat into a victory (or vice versa if used badly).
  • Weaponlord is an extreme example, with many unconventional methods for certain moves, many attacks requiring that the player hold a button and then perform a motion, and the general pickiness of the Super NES/Genesis control pads on understanding diagonals.
  • That sound you hear is the cruel laughter of the Virtual World BattleTech pods set to veteran mode, ie., every function in the cockpit is activated and will eventually need to be used, especially in emergencies. While screen and control layouts varied somewhat, this is considered an average pod layout. Good luck keeping your hands on the throttle and joystick in the middle of a pitched fight when your systems are going haywire and need to be fixed.
  • Attempting to play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on PS3 is already highly inadvisable, but there is extra frustration in store for anyone who tries to make use of stealth archery (which can be a very powerful way to play the game, so there's good incentive to do so). In the PS3 version, controls are fixed and cannot be changed by the player. Toggling between stealth mode and 'regular walking around very not stealthy mode' is done by pressing L3. Toggling between first person view and third person view is done by pressing L3 and R3 in unison. In practice, it is nigh on impossible (and functionally impossible to do reliably) to switch between 3rd person and 1st person without breaking or activating stealth. In Skyrim, aiming the archery crosshairs is worlds easier in 1st person mode, while stealth is worlds easier in 3rd person mode as you get a much better sense of your character's relation to their environment, vital for proper positioning to remain undetected (plus some gamers simply cannot play for long in a 1st person POV without nausea or headaches or both). So if you want to use archery from stealth, your choices are trying to slip into 1P to line up a shot and praying you don't stand up from your crouch in the process and break your stealth (this prayer will not be answered), or to contend with the increased difficulty and precision required to land a shot from 3P, including the tendency of the shots to just fly off wherever they please or collide with the ground in front of you for no discernible reason, or to play the whole segment in 1P and pray that your more limited range of vision and camera control doesn't come back to bite you in the ass. Argh.
  • The level select code for the NES port of Ikari Warriors is as follows: Up, Down, A, A, B, Left, Right, A, B, Up, A, Down, Right, Right, Left, B, Up, Left, A, Right, B, Left, Right, A, Left, Up, A, Down, A, Right, Left, B, Start at the title screen, before the demo starts. It was erroneously stated in the book, "How to Win at Nintendo (Games)", that the code has to be done while Ralf and Clark are firing.
  • Certain stages in Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure require drawing circles on the touch screen. As it's a rhythm game, timing is extremely important, and the game only registers the circles as having been drawn when the loop is complete and closed. Not only does this mean you must draw precise circles on the bottom screen while the watching for signals on the top screen, but you must also know exactly how quickly you draw your circles so they close at the correct instant.
  • Stellavanity on Type-S requires six buttons at minimum: Shot/Laser, Slow, Bomb, Delayed Shift / Ethereal Shift, Assault, and Blade. Shot and Laser can be split off to separate buttons, as do DS and ES, allowing you to use up to EIGHT buttons to play the game. Even Capcom fighting games use six buttons at most, to put it in perspective.
  • Some of the special move inputs in Aquapazza are pretty ridiculous in terms of charging and direction, particularly Touka's Splash Art.
  • The major selling point of the game Receiver is the complexity of the controls involved with manipulating your firearm. For example, to reload the magazine of either of the two semiautomatic pistols, rather than simply pressing "R", you tap E (ejecting the magazine), ~ (holstering the gun, to free your other hand), Z repeatedly (once for each loose bullet being inserted), ~ again (to draw the gun), and Z (to insert the magazine) ... and, if the slide is locked open because you fired the last bullet, T to release the slide and chamber a bullet.
  • Shinobi 3DS suffers from this. Wall jumping in particular can turn into a virtual luck based affair, due to the fact that the game explains it poorly. The game states that you wall jump by jumping when next to a wall. That isn't quite the case, and is a borderline Guide Dang It: There's two ways to wall jump, only one of which works in any situation: a) press jump next to a wall as you start to descend from a previous jump or fall, b) press jump and away from the wall you want to jump off of. What makes this so confusing is that this game requires a lot of wall jumping, probably more wall jumping than any two games in the series before hand. Also, if done incorrectly, a failed wall jump turns into a double jump spin, which doesn't carry a lot of momentum in the direction you want to go if you're already moving in the opposite direction. Now if you just came off of Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master (which this game pays a lot of homage to), you would think that the correct answer is to press TOWARD the wall you're jumping against, since that is how wall jumping is done in S3. If you aren't paying attention, you might think that it works the same way in Shinobi 3DS, since nothing different happens if you jump next to a wall, and press toward the wall as you are imperceptibly starting to descend. This can easily lead to a situation where one thinks that the wall jumping randomly works, as if you press toward the wall at the peak of your jump, you'll double jump and fail, but one-tenth of a second later, you will get the wall jump. However if you press away from the wall (which the game never tells you), you can wall jump immediately after leaving the ground.
  • While they're not nearly as bad as some of the other examples here, the Mario and Luigi games have some fairly complex Bros. Attacks/Special Attacks. Most of them aren't too bad aside from the ridiculous timing required, but a couple involve pressing A or B at the right time with no way knowing which one to press unless you pay close attention at the start of the attack and have good memory.
  • Attempting to Rocket Jump can sometimes feel like this. Some games will make it relatively simple understand; the fluid strafe controls of later Quake games or the purpose-made explosive jumping classes of Team Fortress 2 are fairly easy to grasp. It's when you start introducing it for classes that don't provide their own explosive that things get tricky, such as the airblast Pyros of Team Fortress 2. To rocket jump as a Pyro, an enemy Soldier or Demoman (or more rarely, an enemy Sentry Gun) must fire an explosive towards the ground at you. You must, in exact order:
    • Evade the rocket so it doesn't kill you outright.
    • Turn in the opposite direction of the direction you wish to propel yourself.
    • Airblast the rocket into the ground or wall behind you.
    • Jump.
    • Crouch.
    • Turn back in the direction you wish to travel before the rocket explodes.
    • Use the left and right keys (not the forward and back keys) to steer yourself and gain or lose distance in the air.

      All told, this is a sequence of between 8-10 keypresses, mouse movements, and clicks that must all be accomplished in under a second to send you where you wish to go, with no assistance in terms of damage reduction or enemy action. Pyros that can pull this off regularly and accurately are to be feared.
  • Operation Flashpoint and its successor Video Game/ARMA has controls for just about anything you can think of that could be used for a military sim. While many common actions are done via the middle mouse button menus, you can do things like whip out your compass and map, bail out of a car, and adjust the zero or optics to your gun.

    Text Editors 
  • Yes, a text editor. The vi text editor allows for almost magical feats of editing in a text document with only a few strokes on a keyboard. Too bad the learning curve for vi is akin to a ten-story brick wall. For example,
    • gg=G will apply proper indenting to a source code file.
    • :v/./,/./-j will compress multiple blank lines into one.
    • vi detractors love to say that it can do only two things: to beep and to destroy everything.note 
    • The one thing the more complicated commands do have going for them is that they're not at all time-sensitive, they're generally made of much simpler and easier to remember "primitives", and in many cases (for example, any command you start by pressing the colon key) you can even use the backspace key to back up and correct a mistake you made entering the command. Or maybe it's the delete key. But that's a separate issue.
  • On the other hand, vi's rival editor Emacs has equally opaque keyboard interface that requires sequences while holding down modifier keys. Often multiple ones at the same time, or ones that don't exist on a PC like 'meta' (use alt to emulate). Sometimes followed by writing out an actual command name.
    • Indent lines: control-meta-<backslash>
    • Compress multiple blank lines: control-x control-o
  • The space-cadet keyboard had seven shift keys, allowing for 8000 characters. For reference, there are as many possible combinations of shift keys on that keyboard as there are outputs on a normal keyboard (including capitals, function keys, etc.)
    • Quoted from the above link, for 'Quadruple bucky':
    One accepted technique was to press the left-control and left-meta keys with your left hand, the right-control and right-meta keys with your right hand, and the fifth key with your nose.
    • Speaking of keyboards, try a chorded keyboard, where upon mastery can type up to an insane 200-300WPM with just eight actual keys.

     Non-Video Game Examples 
  • The Roald Dahl short story "The Great Automatic Grammatizator" has an inventor build a (kind of) computer which can write stories. At first, you set the general parameters, like Settings, Genre and the main characters, during the writing process (which takes about fifteen minutes), you can pull registers for details, and have two foot pedals to add passion. The narrator compares using the machine to driving a car or flying plane and playing an organ at the same time.
  • Speaking of organs (requiring both hands and both feet to play): pick a musical instrument, any musical instrument (yes, including drums). The first few years of learning to play involves extremely tedious, repetitive tasks just to build up the muscle memory it takes to make notes happen.
  • Any child safety device/tamper proof seal invokes this trope. Since children are still developing their motor skills, making something very complicated to operate is the surest way to prevent them from opening or using it.
  • One of the few items of humour in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. After extended sequences depicting the reduction of space travel to mundane actions and everyday situations, Dr. Heywood Floyd encounters an enormously long set of instructions for operation of the "Space Toilet".

Separate, But IdenticalStrategy Game TropesSplash Damage Abuse
Pixel HuntFake DifficultyJump Physics
SNK BossFighting GameStage Fatality

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