Main Unwinnable By Design Discussion

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05:47:34 PM Dec 14th 2017
edited by ZombieAladdin
I am not sure if the example I'm thinking of is this trope or Bribing Your Way to Victory (or Allegedly Free Game or neither). Can anyone help clear it up?

Some arcade games were designed such as to create an unavoidable Game Over. That is, no matter what the player did, it would become impossible to win. However, once the "Continue?" screen would appear and the player put in at least one more credit to continue, it would then become possible to clear the scenario. These games typically had a switch, either physically on the back of the machine or in the operator settings menu, that would allow you to turn these unwinnable situations on or off. (That is, when the player reaches that point in the game, the game would create the unwinnable situation if set to "on" or the winnable situation if set to "off.")
05:44:39 AM Oct 18th 2017
Is the Kobayashi Maru from Star Trek really an example? After all, there is a solution to "win" the scenario, namely to leave the Maru and the crew to their fates. After all, the Maru's crew broke the Federation's contract with the Klingons to not enter the Neutral Zone.
10:17:11 AM Oct 18th 2017
edited by TrollBrutal
It has its place in the example list, even if it's not a straight example. It qualifies at least as a subversion, since the designers did want to make it unwinnable and for a long time it was, until Kirk's thinking outside the box came along, aka cheating, which is also considered an alteration of the design to make it winnable, so he's not playing the original, unhacked simulation.

IIRC, abandoning the ship , leaving the crew and passengers to a likely death is a "Fail" by Federation standards.

Unwinnable Training Simulation

edit : From the other wiki "Not depicted on film are the possible consequences of rejecting the rescue appeal. These are discussed at length in novels and video games and include mutiny of the crew over being asked to abandon civilians to die; violations of Starfleet policy regarding rendering of aid to distressed vessels; Klingon incursion into Federation territory responding to "provocation" by the Kobayashi Maru, or the weight on the cadet's conscience caused by refusing to render aid."
09:42:10 AM Jun 28th 2015
edited by mu695
About the old Evil and Hell categories that we seemed to have removed around August 2013, I want to ask why we did it, even if you just look at an archived version of this page, and CTRL+f hell, you'd find some examples that clearly fell into that category, but these days we've just added those examples to Cruel despite them being worse than Cruel, why don't we just put it back to the old way and add list Evil and Hell as extensions of the original?

For reference:
12:15:48 AM Oct 9th 2014
Is it possible misuse when applied to competitive games (such as most Real-Time Strategy games) where the game becomes unwinnable due to the opponent being better? This could be Unstable Equilibrium, or just being the nature of a competitive game...
01:14:31 AM Oct 9th 2014
That seems like the nature of a competitive game.
10:07:52 AM Apr 10th 2012
Is it just me, or is "a whole other kettle of fish" not a thing that people have used as a metaphor before?
07:30:47 AM Oct 7th 2011
Removed the following example

    Mass Effect 
* There is a mild case in Mass Effect 2. You can spend resources to research various upgrades for your squad, ranging from more dakka to more resistance to enemy dakka. At one point a few upgrades for your ship will appear in the list. Seeing as pretty much the entire game is played on foot, these upgrades are clearly just cosmetic or role playing related and therefore not important. And even if there is a piloting mission in the game, it hardly seems worth it to spend thousands of resources on making one mission a little easier, right? Surprise - your ship gets attacked during a cutscene before your last mission. If you don't have the upgrades, half of your crew (which you just spent the entire game recruiting) die before they even set foot on the enemy starbase. If this includes the sidekicks you painstakingly levelled up and equipped to match your character build perfectly, you are now up a creek without a paddle. And from a roleplay perspective, well, they trusted you and now they are dead because you flew a dangerously underequipped ship into combat because you spent the cash on a better gun for yourself.

Not an example. The game is still winnable. Just not getting the achievement for getting everyone back alive.
12:40:03 AM Aug 30th 2011
From what I remember of the game, the example of Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror is not an example of this trope at all. The game was not unwinnable at that point, since you CAN make it through the jungle, with it not being deadly. Jumping the boar just gives you a shortcut. But it has been ages since I played the game, and just remember finishing it without jumping the boar. So unless someone else has any evidence of the contary, shouldn't it be removed?
08:46:23 PM Dec 21st 2011
Cut it and put it here:

  • In Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror, you can only get to a certain path on an island by shooting a pig with a dart, which then charges you. If you grab a branch at just the right moment, then you can jump out of the way; the pig will charge through the undergrowth and open a new path — the one you'll need later to find your way off the island. If you don't, then he just knocks you down. You get up and dust yourself off... and eventually realise that you're lost in the jungle forever. And that particular island is arbitrarily lethal and forces you to save a lot.
    • There is no warning that this is the only such Press X to Not Die moment in the entire game. Odds are high that the player will be unaware that the branch needs to be grabbed or even has a purpose. That island has other worthless scenery manifesting as named objects. What, you didn't automatically assume that this one innocuous branch was different? That's a shame. Restart game!
03:48:49 PM Jan 14th 2012
edited by Cunny
The second part of this comment was mine and possibly the end of the first

i had no idea you could finish the game any other way

i had read a guide that said it was impossible

did some research and this is correct, you can make it through using some very specific directions - which i gave up on after a few hours of being lost and went to the guide

will add a variant of this to guide dang it, i think it applies there
06:44:40 AM Aug 20th 2011
Someone seems to have Ocarina of Time mixed up with Majora's Mask. In OOT the Bunny Hood is merely a hat, and the Inverted Song of Time outright doesn't exist. If you can confirm, please clean up the entry.
01:40:44 AM Jan 30th 2011
I'm not sure Halo Reach's example needs to be here. Technically its a post game level - by this point you've already won - Cortana's safe, the MC is safe. So matter what you do in the 'Lone Wolf' level, you win. I've kept it in for now, but its worth discussing, methinks
10:03:47 PM Jan 30th 2011
Whoa, that is a serious question. We have determined that post-game levels can be impossible to complete — but is a Bonus Level like this Unwinnable if the main objectives have already been met?

I hadn't really thought about this...
12:50:18 PM Aug 10th 2011
I tend to agree. Lone Wolf is more equivalent to an unwinnable boss fight where defeat advances the plot.
04:02:03 AM Dec 2nd 2010
In accordance with the trope 'Nintendo Hard', could we name this one 'Atari Impossible'? While the NES was known for having ridiculously difficult games, Atari games from the previous era were notorious for being unwinnable through glitches and/or poor design with key items sometimes not appearing or the final level of the game simply being endless.
07:28:19 AM Dec 3rd 2010
That would be Unwinnable by Mistake; one would think these are not difficult to get confused and yet they are
06:03:18 PM Jun 27th 2010
Removed the Punch-Out!! Wii example; that's not Unwinnable by Design, that's an Endless Game. Quite a difference between the two.

Here's the example, just for reference's sake:

  • The Punch-Out remake for Wii as a whole is an example of this trope. It doesn't matter how good you are at the game; you WILL lose eventually, resulting in the game's Downer Ending. It's possible to beat "Mac's Last Stand"; but after that, it goes into "Champion" mode, in which any fighter (including Glass Joe) can knock you down with just one punch (a reference to the NES game's "Dream Fight" mode where you fight Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream). It keeps going this way until you mess up. This isn't a technical problem, either. Next Level Games (the developers) designed it this way. There is no "good" ending. To add injury to insult, the file you were using is listed as "retired" afterwards. You can still access it, but you can only play the game's exhibition mode. The game's career mode can never be played again with that file. You have several save slots, but still...
08:08:13 PM Jun 27th 2010
Technically it is Nintendo Hard, as it IS possible to win Champion Mode without ever loosing, just so difficult it's nearly impossible.
09:10:57 PM Jun 22nd 2010
Cut this and put it here for now. I don't know whether this is truly unwinnable or just a Guide Dang It!.

If it's truly Unwinnable, then this game needs to be hunted down so it can be placed on the Horrible index...

  • There was a Rugrats game for the PC, of which the name escapes me. The point of the game was to explore the Rugrats world as Tommy, but first, you had to escape from his playpen. The only problem is, you need to find his screwdriver, which, according to the manual, is in the stuffed Kangaroo's pouch. I was never able to get the screwdriver out, Tommy would just dismiss my clicking on the darn thing.
11:13:50 PM Aug 31st 2010
I am impressed — someone did put this game on the Horrible index...
03:09:23 PM Apr 16th 2010
I think this page was better when it just listed Merciful to Cruel. The extra categories Evil, Hell and Beyond Hell don't really add much to it, essentially just being various levels of Guide Dang It!.
10:55:30 PM Apr 23rd 2010
I'll cut "Beyond Hell," since no real game goes there. (If Sierra didn't make them, then no one did.) I find the other two categories intriguing, even though they are non-canonical, but I'll try to make them fit in better. Face it, Guide Dang It! is the major cause of Unwinnable by Design in modern games...
05:25:41 AM Sep 16th 2010
I was the one who added "Beyond Hell" (technically it was Ninth Circle of Hell, but never mind). I was adding an example that would have fit that difficulty level; later discussion led me to drop the example, but I kept the level for humor value.
10:03:27 PM Nov 30th 2010
Someone added Ninth Circle. If we are to keep it, then we probably need to tone it down just a little.
01:00:52 AM May 9th 2011
I'm going to switch the names of the "merciful" and "polite" scenarios, as that would make them more in line with their descriptions.
10:44:27 PM May 12th 2011
edited by AnonymousMcCartneyfan

But the first five categories are from a classic Interactive Fiction scale. Messing with the descriptions to clarify is tolerable. Adding levels on the hard end of the scale is tolerable. But switching names? Those first five levels probably get used outside this wiki, so we may have caused translation problems with the name shift.
09:11:40 AM May 13th 2011
I don't think switching merciful and polite did anything.
11:45:13 PM Jan 9th 2012
Well it doesn't really make sense, that wording, but if you really want it to be that way then fine. Let it be just a mindless copypaste.
01:59:25 PM Apr 9th 2010
Saving in Glitch City in Pokemon cannot be by Design. That would imply that Glitch City itself is part of the design.
10:09:16 PM Nov 30th 2010
Another thing. The Magikarp scenario can't be this trope unless you recieved your Finneon through another trade. If you caught the Finneon in game, you have a Good Rod which could be used to fish for a wild Pokemon to battle. If you lose the fight you go back to the Pokemon Center you last visited or you could grind your Magikarp till its a Gyarados that can learn Surf.
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