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Classic Video Game "Screw You"s

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"It just occurred to me
That I've been through this place again and again
And in the same spot, every time, I repeatedly die.
I never will give up, as I attempt to cross the disappearing tiles on the wall
But again, I'm falling off of them."
I Can't Defeat Air Man (unofficial English version)

When a developer wants to up the difficulty level of their game, they have quite a few options.

This is a list of a few classic methods of making a game Nintendo Hard. We'll call them Classic Video Game Screw Yous, or, to avoid unnecessary swearing, "Fun Units", hereafter FUs (Geddit? Geddit?).


Differs from Fake Difficulty in that these can be fair. By definition, Fake Difficulty is completely unfair in some way; it requires good luck, it expects you to know things it didn't tell you, etc. Screw Yous are designed to frustrate, but aren't always unreasonably out of the player's control.

Note that "Fun Units" is only partly sarcastic, by the way: a game that's too easy can sometimes be less fun to play than one that's Nintendo Hard. In a way, they apply the Rule of Drama to gameplay.

To keep this from degenerating into complaining about examples of Video Game Difficulty Tropes you don't like, examples should be phrased as generically as possible, or explain exactly why this game is a well known example of this particular FU, or this FU is particularly unusual.

See also: Scrappy Mechanic; Trial-and-Error Gameplay. If it belongs, there is no need to put it here too unless it's shared by many games. I Wanna Be the Guy and other examples of Platform Hell are loaded with FUs. The antithesis to Anti-Frustration Features. See Unwinnable by Design for when there's a way to make the game literally unbeatable.


Classic Fun Units

  • Malevolent Architecture where it doesn't make sense, including:
  • Inescapable Death areas, which you can fall into and get hurt, but can't get back out of and have to wait until either your health or the timer runs out.
  • Enemy types:
    • Goddamned Bats and Demonic Spiders are among the most common FUs
    • Ledge Bats that make knockback during jumps a true frustration.
    • Ambushing Enemies don't typically fall into this, since there will usually be some recognizable form of portal that shows where these things tend to leap out at you... except for that one place where there isn't.
  • Enemy behavior:
    • Any variation of Pissy Boss Mode where the boss becomes invincible, or enemies who do the same, is a favorite FU.
    • The ability of an enemy to One-Hit Kill you when the game itself doesn't make you a One-Hit-Point Wonder is a well known FU.
    • Invisible Monsters.
    • Enemies that can move and shoot through walls when you can't do either.
    • In some old Platform Games, the player lacks a useful Goomba Stomp or other kind of downward attack, but enemies can fall or be pushed into small nooks in the floor, and then trying to climb into the nook would obviously be suicide by Collision Damage or unblockable melee attack.
    • Enemies, especially in shmups, that teleport after firing. More sadistic shmups make them fire faster the longer you take to kill them, so even a marginally laid back shmup can have a twinge of bullet hell. While they usually only take one or two hits to kill, a lot of the time they will be shielded, or have a tendency to pop up behind a sturdier foe and vanish before you can hit them. This may also often appear in 2D action-platformers, to similar results.
    • Enemies whose shifting movement patterns box the player into corners, requiring the player to predict which way they will move next.
    • Computer "players" full-on breaking the rules.
    • Enemies that lack any tells they're about to attack, especially in games that rely on melee combat. The point of fighting an enemy shouldn't be to arbitrarily guess when it's going to attack, but to figure out how to counter or work around tells the enemy gives you. A general rule of thumb is this; if an enemy hits you but has a consistent pattern regarding how it hits you (it runs at you first, it makes a series of jumps followed by its attack, it has a short animation it plays prior to the attack, etc.) then it is fully your fault when you fail to dodge. If an enemy simply attacks you without rhyme or reason (one moment the enemy is in its normal neutral position, the next frame you're getting decked, for example) then it is solidly this trope. This is depressingly common in old 8-bit games.
  • Enemy placement:
    • Allowing enemies to respawn right on top of you for massive Collision Damage. Where the respawn points are invisible but fixed, you can probably spot them if you have a keen eye, but in other cases you can only pray for the Random Number God not to smite you.
    • Enemies that spawn near the end of a level exit just to kill you right before you can finish the level.
    • Enemies in strategy games that camp directly on the Level Goal square, forcing you to kill them.
    • Enemies that spawn from behind you (in particular, in Shoot 'em ups that only allow you to fire in a forward facing direction; note that, in that particular case, this only qualifies as an FU, rather than Fake Difficulty, if the appearance of enemies from behind is well telegraphed).
  • Idiosyncratic scrolling:
    • The Auto-Scrolling Level can easily be made into part of an FU, especially when mixed with Instant Death Areas, vanishing or moving platforms, Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belts, and/or Goddamned Bats. (Forcing you to choose between two paths, one of which is a dead end, is more Fake Difficulty than a true FU.)
    • Deliberate use of Ratchet Scrolling that limits you from going back, causing you to miss pickups and giving less room to avoid attacks.
    • Use of Ratchet, Auto, or Flip Screen scrolling on a climbing vertical level, which each have their own way of illogically killing you with bottomless pits.
  • Video Game Settings:
    • The Ice Level is another classic FU, where your character, and only your character, skids like crazy, causing the Spikes of Doom and Goddamned Bats to be much more difficult to avoid. Even worse if the level is full of tiny, icy platforms.
    • Similarly, underwater areas that hamper your character's mobility but leave enemies and traps (including fire-based traps) unhindered. Better yet, an underwater ice world that ignores how cold such water would be in the interest of combining these FUs.
  • Videogame Objectives:
    • Timed Missions can easily be used to make an FU. Especially when combined with obstacles or enemies who you have to wait for to get out of your way and/or Elite Mooks who can soak lots of damage and have to be fought.
    • Escort Missions, especially when the person you're escorting has Artificial Stupidity.
  • In games with power-ups (e.g. most space shooters), losing them all when you die is a nearly universal FU, and also an example of Unstable Equilibrium. AKA Gradius Syndrome.
  • Gravity.
  • "Power-ups":
  • Complete absence of Mercy Invincibility, forcing you to instantly take action or allow one hit to become several (can lead to being juggled to death when combined with knockback).
  • Ceiling Bumper Moments when a simple jump is made much more difficult for having to jump out from a low passage and chances are that you either hit the ceiling and bounce into the Bottomless Pit or jump too late and fall into it anyway. Happens when Jump Physics aren't made for those kinds of jumps.
    • Passages where both the ceiling and floor are lined with Instant Death such as Spikes of Doom. Bonus points if said passage is really narrow and you can easily bonk your head on the killer ceiling if you aren't extremely careful.
    • A popular ceiling bumper moment is a tunnel where the end of the ground and ceiling line up with each other, and the only way to progress is to jump out of the tunnel, turn around in mid-air, and land on top of the ceiling.
  • Reversal of progress:
    • Warps that throw you many levels backwards; in linear games, these can wipe out a lot of progress.
    • On games without bottomless pitfalls, this is usually what replaces them. And then, of course, there will come a few points where you have to choose the right one to fall through to continue...Usually with no hints whatsoever. Some other examples might include pitfalls in roguelikes (moving you up or down a level), gaps in adventure-y platformers whether they be 2D or top-down, colour-coded teleporters, be they visible or not, door/pipe/etc choices with no obvious hints such as the entire purpose behind the game Section Z (one notable choice near the 60% mark sending you back to the fourth room of the game!), or enemies such as wallmasters that serve a similar purpose. In this case, they aren't killable and the effect is immediate. (ie unlock a caged bird and he nabs you) The difference between the mentions here and in other categories being: Unavoidable once triggered and progress is always negative/similar to backtracking.
  • Unidentified items in roguelikes. Take a wild guess why. Taken to the point of absurd comedy in Alphaman, a parodical post-apocalyptic roguelike with numerous pieces of crazy-lethal 'old world tech' lying around. Especially fun are potions after the start of a new game. (On the other hand, you don't have to use them, and most roguelikes with item randomization also give you ways to narrow down the range of possibilities for what an unknown item might be, at least to the point where you can be confident of whether or not it's safe to use unidentified.)
  • Extremely finite resources in Real-Time Strategy games. While this is normally part of a 'stealth infiltration/probing' mission, some such as Earth 2150 and War Wind make it a bonafide consistent element, resulting in your final push failing because you upgraded too much or lost too many units early on, giving the game a minor touch of a puzzle element as well. (that is, you must max out the damage you do with the cheapest possible units at your disposal with the right upgrade tree)
  • Wind physics:
    • Unless the game is about flying a glider, wind is always going to screw with you. If it IS about flying a glider, wind is only against you 70% of the time. If it's an Artillery Game, wind will only ever benefit the CPU, because only the CPU has time to calculate the precise trajectory of every shot while the player has to make a more or less educated guess, especially if the wind changes between shots.
    • In platforming games, wind can also screw with you. In stages with wind, the wind tends to push you around, but doesn't push enemies around. Wind can also be blowing so fast, you can only stay in spot by moving towards it, majorly hampering your ability to dodge attacks. The wind may also change direction; moving against the wind to avoid the spikes behind you may result in moving with the wind into the spikes in front of you.
  • Forcing the sacrifice of Video-Game Lives to progress, especially combined with abuse of Respawn on the Spot mechanics where you need to die within a room or sub-area to reach a position from which you can get through it.
    Gabriel: (playing Smash TV) ...Okay, did you see that? It walked me in, and then activated me on an enemy.
    Yahtzee: Fuck you, player, give us some money!
  • A default party/equipment configuration so far from optimal that you aren't likely to survive for long if you don't immediately change it to something more sensible.
  • In games with Scoring Points, game-ending traps that arbitrarily deprive players of high score achievements they would otherwise be eligible for, either by Non Standard Game Over or by an Unwinnable by Design situation that makes simply ending the game impossible without resetting.
  • Penalizing the player for shooting noncombatants that blithely stroll through the line of fire or run around like headless chickens rather than head for cover.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory is one that pops up in most multiplayer (and some singleplayer) games. If it's in game money, it's exempt from this since all you usually need to do is grind the money, but if it uses real money...especially so if the game is heavily based in competitive play, high score contests included.
  • Veering into Fake Difficulty:

Examples of unusual "Fun Units" (See also: Scrappy Mechanic)

  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals has a Bonus Dungeon with a number of standard features (Randomly Generated Levels, Restart at Level One, and resetting pet levels), but also removal of all items not from blue chests. Since levels are random and blue chest items are usually needed equipment, you can run into an annoying amount of blue mimics.
  • Mega Man & Bass is notable for having nearly every one of the listed above. Ammo does not regenerate on death, enemies have massive amounts of Recovery Time, two consecutive Marathon Levels with bosses who are willing to use nigh-unavoidable attacks at the drop of a hat... oh yeah. This is not a game for pansies.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy has one almost every screen, and this is what actually makes it fun. For example, one screen has a falling ceiling of spikes, and one spot in the floor that is lower than the rest. Upon finally managing to reach that spot, you discover that the spike just grows longer to kill you. Other examples include the Delicious Fruit which can fall up and the evil save point which chases and kills you. And spring-loaded background couches underneath spiked ceilings. And clouds that spontaneously drop lightning bolts. And spike pits of doom that chase you. And the invisible wall maze. And that clusterchucking moon.
  • And that's nothing compared to I Wanna Be The Fangame. More spikes, more Invisible Blocks, Telefrag portals, an Auto-Scrolling Level, Pac-Man and the ghosts making common cause against you, and a room where you have to navigate several cascades of Goddamned Bats.
  • The Wizardry games at least up to V were more than happy to allow you to teleport into solid rock. This resulted in the total loss of your party, no resurrection attempts allowed. Oh, and if you play the games the way they're intended, there's no "reload game" upon this happening. You can also emerge high above the city and crash to the ground, or drown in the castle moat, but these "merely" kill your party as opposed to your losing them forever; you have a shot at resurrecting them in the latter two instances. Basically, be very careful when teleporting in Wizardry.
  • Pretty much every inch of every Distorted Travesty game. In fact the trailer for the second game is made entirely out of player deaths.
    • The third game gives us Sigma, who pulls a few 'interesting' tricks, including covering the walls in instant death spikes and sending flurries of force walls to push you into them.
  • Might and Magic: World of Xeen similarly allowed you to accidentally teleport off the edge of the world — potentially before you realized the world had an edge.
  • In Dwarf Fortress. Thanks to the line "Losing is fun" in the instructions for the game, "Fun Units" is a very accurate term. No sarcasm needed. One of the main draws of the game.
    • There are things referred to as Hidden Fun Stuff, or just HFS. In previous versions, if you Dug Too Deep, you could release a Balrog. Now, Balrogs are out, and instead it's hordes of demons. These are killable, but it's really hard, especially when they're Spirits of Killing It With Fire (considering how dwarves react to being on fire). In the new version, the horde of demons is infinite. Basically, when you hit HFS, your fortress is dead. How fun.
    • The [TRAPAVOID] tag. It's a delicate way of saying "You see these Orcs? They're immune to your lovingly crafted wall of traps. Have a nice doom."
    • The [NOFEAR] tag that they also happen to have turns most enemies into Demonic Spiders.
    • Forgotten Beasts, Titans, and demons are procedurally generated Kaiju that can come in a multitude of shapes and materials and toting any one of a number of possible special weapons, including fire, webs, and various kinds of deadly poison vapor. While many of these turn out to be pushovers like giant snowmen that crumble in one hit, you might also find yourself faced with, say, a web-spitting T-Rex made out of solid iron. And if the Random Number God happens to be particularly vengeful that day, it might throw a Blob Monster at you with no weak points to attack. A blob made of steel, or even worse, Adamantine, leaves you with no options short of trapping it in a cave-in, which kills everything.
    • This being DF, one must remember that winning is impossible. There are lots and lots of ways for !!Fun!! to happen, though. For example, doomsday devices and magma floods are a major source of !!Fun!!, as are tantrum spirals, carp, and elephants.
    • Fortunately, this being DF, there is almost nothing that a well-prepared fortress cannot fight off. With enough skill and planning, even The Legions of Hell can be held off indefinitely by your legendary dwarven warriors or layers upon layers of minecart-based traps. Most mods are built with the aim of adding even more challenge to the game.
  • Kaizo Mario World:
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels had the same idea, only they were too cheap to actually give you a coin for your trouble. Invisible Poison Mushroom.
  • Kid Kool also had invisible blocks to mess up jumps.
  • Descent:
    • When you die, all of your equipment is scattered around the place. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for losing them all forever if you die between blowing the reactor and getting the hell out of Dodge. (Some levels, which involve things like invisible death mechs with insanely powerful cannons, are even more charming).
    • Level 6 has a fairly memorable FU where you pick up the red key and the walls open to reveal an ambush of six Class 1 Driller Demonic Spiders with instant-hit cannons. Most players, on their first try, will die before they even figure out what happened. It's even worse in the later levels.
    • Level 9 has a Monster Closet right at the start of the level that opens after you proceed forward a ways. Also bad are Teleporting Keycard Squad ambushes from multiple directions, spawning Demonic Spiders such as the aformentioned Drillers and Super Hulks. One level in Descent Maximum for the PlayStation has the yellow key placed between two Diamond Claw-generating Mook Makers.
    • The whole first game becomes a big Fun Unit on Insane difficulty after level 7. Between the random "roaming" of the enemies, the brutal AI, and your weakness vs their strength, it's for all practical purposes impossible.
  • Bastet has the piece generator designed so that the worst possible block for your situation is the one you get every time.note  However, this is the entire point of the game.
  • In almost every 2D Metroid game, there are fake walls, floors, and ceiling tiles. Some of these can be shot through, and others appear solid but aren't. The best Fun Unit is in the original Nintendo version, where the player enters a hallway with an Energy Tank near the end. Shortly before the tank is an invisible hole in the floor. Falling down through the hole doesn't kill you but forces you to go through tedious backtracking to reach the tank. Zero Mission does the same thing, but at least is nice enough to have an enemy travel up around the edges of the gap if you wait long enough, making it obvious there is a hole. Super Metroid did it in between the two, as well. However, Metroid Fusion threw that out the window before fighting Nightmare—there is a way to reach an Energy Tank you find just before the boss, but it's not the obvious Morph Ball tunnel that you see—that leads to a drop straight to the boss just before you can pick it up. You instead have to shoot the wall to find a tunnel just above it that drops you right on the tank. Granted, you can always backtrack to find the right way after Nightmare is defeated but by the time you get to do so you may as well be doing the last-minute powerup roundup.
  • Some levels in Lemmings have the lemmings enter over a lethal drop, forcing the player to act fast by making them Floaters. And some of those don't allow enough Floaters. There's a very fine line between a fall that will kill any Lemming and a fall that will do no harm. Specifically, Lemmings will die if they hit solid ground after falling 64 pixels; a 63-pixel fall is perfectly harmless. "We All Fall Down" is a lesson in this: you need to make every lemming into a Digger which is enough to make the long fall surviveable, but there's only so much ground that can be dug through and harder versions of this level can have up to 80 lemmings and require you to save all of them, forcing you to space them out wide enough that every lemming actually has enough ground under the their feet to dig through, but not so widely that the time runs out when you're only halfway through saving them.
    "Remember, the difference between a Lemming going splat and a Lemming walking away from a fall can be a single pixel!"
    Lemmings Instruction Manual
  • Glider PRO:
    • There's a variation of the Ceiling Bumper scenario: though the game doesn't have jumping, the lift of an upward vent (normally the player's best friend) can extend right into a shelf or table above. At least Glider 4.0 had a visible air option which would show this subterfuge.
    • The paper shredder hidden behind a mirror or a picture was another common cruel joke.
    • The room "Oh no... no way!" in Glider 4.0 introduced the uniquely cruel trick of a basketball bouncing over a vital floor vent.
  • The end of Mission 4 in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, where mooks that can see you through the foliage (while you can't see them) are shooting at you from the front, and endless waves of mooks and Demonic Guard Dogs are spawning behind you.
  • TIE Fighter:
    • There's the eponymous spacecraft. No shields, only two laser cannons for weapons, and no hyperdrive, which makes any long-term combat difficult but not unfair. At least you get better craft later in the game.
    • TIE Fighter was a pretty challenging game in places. It was also a LOT more forgiving than its predecessor X-Wing. In the predecessor, while you did have shields and a generally better fighter, it made your mission completions pointlessly hard, repetitive and very long training courses before you could earn any medals (you could play the missions, but not earn medals *facepalm*) and a lot of the time if you got shot down, you either were captured or killed with your character locked unless you sacrifice score for a revive or restore a backup. The missions were exceptionally hard in places, either putting you against vast numbers or against capital ships you couldn't hope to kill (X-Wing had no interest in locational damage or heavy missiles/bombs). Basically it was crazy tough, with TIE Fighter being fair in comparison.
      • To add to the "amusement" of X-Wing, mission objectives were typically hidden from the player until completed, meaning you could do everything specified in the briefing and still not complete the mission. This was rectified in TIE Fighter both by providing a complete list of all but the bonus objectives to the player from the start of the missionnote  and by simplifying objectives to conform more closely to the mission briefings, with many objectives that would have been mission-critical in X-Wing now listed as secondary or bonus objectives.
    • On a related note, TIEs DO function as your superiors and in-universe lore tell you they should. Only the A-wing and Assault Gunboat/Shuttle (slow as molasses but its turning radius can give you hell) can outmaneuver you until you get to the Imperial Rebellion arc. By contrast to the TIEs, shielded or non, you were basically expected to have to take hits in non-A-wing craft, especially the slovenly B-wing and Y-wing. The only truly !!FUN!! ship in Tie Fighter is the Tie Bomber, which is as much of a useless deathtrap as the B-wing, but without even any shields. Thankfully you only have to use it on battles that center around actual bombings and lightly defended stations, while in X-Wing you were expected to treat the B-wing as a main combat ship like the X-Wing.
  • Don't Shoot the Puppy is barely a video game at all as you will trigger a sentry gun shooting a puppy if you so much as move the mouse, regardless of distractions like messages that it's okay to move the mouse and the puppy seemingly stopping. As an extra middle finger to the player, not moving the mouse after one level can cause the game to time out.
  • The NES Dirty Harry video game randomly has a "trap room" that shows up when you enter a room; in place of a door, it has "HA HA HA" written on a blank wall. The only way out is to reset the game. The developers admitted that it was a joke they were playing on the players.
  • Final Fantasy VI:
    • Escaping from battles, which is irritating at the best of times while irritating and next to impossible at the worst of times. Not only does it take quite a long time before you can manage to escape, but party members will each escape at different times all dictated at random and influenced by hidden "escape success" values that each character has. Characters who have yet to escape will be left to be ganged up on by the enemy, and since taking any action will prevent you from running until it completes it leaves them completely helpless while they're pummeled often to death by monsters. Since fleeing is what players do when they're weak and trying to survive, being overwhelmed by powerful enemies, or are simply trying to get through an area without being inconvenienced by battles, making this mechanic unreliable and for all intents and purposes worthless certainly puts the "F" in "Final Fantasy".
    • In a late section, players spend a section with one party member until they're able to reach another town. On the most direct path though, many enemies have an attack with 100% accuracy that causes the Zombie status, best thought of as "instant death meets confusion". If you didn't save the moment your feet hit the overworld, dying means you're kicked back to the start of half an hour of boss fights, cutscenes and fish catching. It's certainly not helped by the run mechanic being so unfeasible that the enemies will act at least once before you manage to escape.
  • La-Mulana:
    • Disappearing ladders.
    • Bats are the same blue color as water and most background walls making already-annoying enemies near-impossible to spot.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The original game did not make you immune to the Spikes of Doom when you were flashing after taking damage. That means that, while the spikes were not technically an instant kill, if you fall in the middle of a large group, you'll lose your shield, then bounce over to more spikes and lose all of your rings, then bounce over onto another patch and die, without a chance to realize your mistake and get off of them. This was entirely intentional; the developers intentionally coded spikes to ignore Mercy Invincibility.
    • Don't try to be clever and use Debug Mode either unless you want to see Sonic bounce around on the spikes forever because he can't die while Debug mode is active, can't activate Debug movement while Sonic's in the process of getting hurt and the timer is disabled for other uses in the mode. You can only hope that the bounces randomly has Sonic fall in the same direction three times so he can fall off of the spikes, but more often than not Sonic will only make it to the row of spikes JUUUST before he would fall off and then decide to bounce back in the other direction.
    • Also in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, if you fall to the left or right of the spikes in Green Hill Zone, you will fall into a Bottomless Pit that only exists because the grassy pillars are not solid, but work more like platforms.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has a rather infamous example. In Mystic Cave Act 2, there's a drawbridge operated by a pulley. Miss the pulley and you'll fall into a pit with nothing but spikes for company. There's no way out of the pit and you just have to wait for the inevitable. If you're Super Sonic, you can at least jump just high enough to escape. Annoyingly even if you reach the pulley, you can still fall through the drawbridge if you let go too soon. If this happens, even Super Sonic will be trapped due to the bridge now acting as a lid on the pit.
      • The Master System version has something similar in the Scrambled Egg Zone Act 2. Choose badly when moving through the tubes, and one of them will carry you to a platform that unless you jump again fast into the tube will fall into a spike-filled pit where you can only wait for death.
      • In the 2013 mobile remaster, the pit is still there but rather than giving the player the Screw You, instead you fall into the long-lost Hidden Palace Zone. This only occurs in the main game, as doing the same in Time Attack or Multiplayer mode will result in death (although the spikes have been removed and it now acts as a regular bottomless pit).
    • While we're on the topic of this series, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 has the infamous Carnival Night Zone barrel: as soon as you approach it, a wall locks you in the room, and you must press up and down repeatedly without jumping to move it out of the way. If you can't figure it out due to being so used to having to jump a bit to dispel obstacles like these, you have to wait for the timer to kill you... and then try again.
    • Also, in Sonic 3's Ice Cap Zone, Act 1, there are a few places where you have to build up momentum to make a jump, but if you go back too far, a well-hidden spring will bounce you away, forcing you to spend the next minute getting back up there. Correctly positioning yourself to make the jumps requires incredible precision.
  • The first Mega Man game had the spikes ignore Mercy Invincibility, which means instant death no matter what. In later games you could walk on spikes during Mercy Invincibility.
  • Mario Kart is full of these.
    • Get hit by someone's item and it's guaranteed that one or two other people that are passing you as you wipe out will use their items on you just to torment you further. Then there are those times where you fall off the track and are being towed back on, only to get shoved off by someone as they run you over and get knocked off again. And woe for any player that hears a Spiny Shell coming at them in the final lap.
    • Then there's the ultimate AI cooperation attack, the rainbow shell assault: Green shell first, then red shell while you spin, and the final insult of a blue shell finishing you off before you can recover from either of the first two. Welcome to last place!
    • Or, in one of the many highway/city courses, getting beaned by a Spiny Shell right before a line of traffic comes barreling your way. Have fun being roadkill!
  • In the first game of the original Bard's Tale trilogy, standing in front of one door leading to one room in the catacombs yielded the message that the escaping air smelled very stale. Entering this room froze the game.
  • Carmageddon TDR2000 had a trick jump leading to what looked like a bonus tunnel entrance which was only accessible by using the jump on command power-up. The tunnel was empty, and when you attempted to get back out, you'd run into an impenetrable barrier that said "Now you're stuck, SUCKER!". You could get out by respawning a number of times... spending money each time.
  • In Bleach: Soul Carnival 2, just about every other treasure chest in the entire game has a bomb inside, which explodes when you open it, dealing damage and knocking you back. Stage 27 turns this up a notch; the chests are on platforms with raised sides, meaning that they're basically invisible. It is entirely possible to kill enemies with a treasure bomb, and is extremely satisfying when you do so, but you can still die in the middle of a combo because you accidentally opened a fake chest.
  • Unusually early example: The Bat in the Atari 2600 Adventure. It could not only grab the holy grail (the way you win) and fly off getting itself occasionally trapped in an area of the game you can't reach but it can ALSO take items right out of your hands and carry live dragons.
  • The Slippy-Slidey Ice World in Snake Rattle 'n' Roll, a game which already had very loose controls.
  • Deadly Towers has a lot of these:
    • The hidden entrances to dungeons and Parallel Zones will frustrate players who are searching for them without a clue and frustrate players who aren't looking for them but stumble into them by accident. The reward for discovering a "secret room" in any of the towers is being immediately mobbed by a huge swarm of enemies, some of which cause unavoidable Collision Damage by spawning directly on top of you.
    • The game also has a caged enemy which takes all your money if you shoot it.
  • Saturn Bomberman has a few of these spread around:
    • The one that jumps to mind most is in the Samurai World where the butterfly enemies can fly over pretty much anything. This makes getting trapped in the corner by one extremely common, to a frustrating degree.
    • Another example, again from Samurai World, is the enemies who transform into invincible rocks, however more often than not they transform into harmless trees so it isn't so bad.
    • The "Slow Down" power-up mixed in with normal power-up's is another.
  • Battle Toads still stands today as one of the most infamous examples of developer cruelty, with the infamous Speeder Section requiring a level of reflex possessed by few gamers. Of course, this just prevented players from seeing the literally Game-Breaking Bug that popped up in later levels.
  • Jak 3: Wastelander has two sections that resemble Battle Toads, but in 3D, with even more pitfalls, and shooting enemies to contend with as well. You can shoot back, but it's possible the explosions will cover some of the holes...
  • The NES version of Ikari Warriors has a particularly frustrating one of these. In the final level, there are pipes which cannot be crossed, forcing the player to walk around them in a sort of maze. When the player dies, he respawns at the bottom of the screen. If you happen to die at one of the times where there is a loop of pipe at the bottom of the screen, it will be impossible to move after respawning. Note that this is the final level, after you have played for over an hour and have only a few more minutes before reaching the final boss...
  • Toe Jam And Earl:
    • The Randomizer present fits nicely as an FU. Similar to a roguelike, the game has presents that won't identify themselves until you've opened one of that kind (i.e. all presents with the same wrapping have the same contents), or paid an NPC to identify them. So if you open a present and it kills you, it kind of sucks, but at least you'll know the next time you see a present with the same wrapping. The randomizer is a very good one to identify without opening, as opening it will randomize the contents of every present including the randomizer. Time to start figuring out those present contents again! Even more fun: if all your presents are negative and you desperately need something to keep yourself alive, you can use the randomizer to your "advantage" and open completely random presents in the hope they'll do more good than harm.
    • The lack of Mercy Invincibility is dangerous enough, but further to that, when Toe Jam or Earl fall off the edge of a level, they may fall right next to a powerful enemy. You might even harmlessly bounce off the enemy once or twice before landing.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has the NCR Ranger and Legionary Assassin hit squads, which show up within two days of gaining a negative reputation with the respective faction. They are ridiculously overpowered, being armed with the game's best weapons and having damage resistance much higher than the normal mooks. At least the NCR gives you a chance to improve your rep, while the Legionaries shoot first and ask questions later. They also tend to kill off important NPCs, causing you to fail their quests.
  • Aside from having some of the classic Screw Yous, most notably exits that would send you a few levels backwards, Kid Chameleon featured an auto-scrolling level with an Advancing Wall of Doom. Near the end, you need to choose between an upper and lower route with no indication as to which one is better. Then at the end, one route leads to the exit while the other leads to a dead-end (and certain death) and a large billboard that reads "TOO BAD".
  • Antichamber: Some of the most difficult, hair-pulling puzzles in the game in the end don't advance you towards the exit, but reward you with an Easter Egg room or plop you somewhere you've been before. This is fine when you've already beaten the game, but annoying when you're still trying to figure out where to concentrate your work to finish the game for the first time (especially when you still think there's a time limit, and therefore every second is gold: this poor guy found one of those rooms with only 8 minutes left on the timer).
  • A couple of Super Mario World hacks have an odd (but infuriating) example. Namely, sections where if you stop moving, you die on the spot, kind of like the bus from Speed in human form. this Mario End Game level and a level called 'TAS' (aka Tool Assisted Speedrun) in a Japanese hack called OTL [something] has it too.
  • Takeshi's Challenge is deliberately crammed with FUs, including a hang glider stage where you can accidentally shoot down the gusts of wind that help you fly.
  • Altered Beast is easy for the first couple of levels, albeit annoying when the power-up mook blithely dashes past you whilst you're laid out from Knockback and Collision Damage. Then comes two levels where the enemies are not only numerous but have greater attack reach, speed and power, and take two blocks of your fragile health each time. If you do manage to stay on your feet long enough to morph into your beast form, you find it has reduced range and damage compared to your buff human form and exists only to unlock the boss. Level five at least gives you the original Wolf form back, but you'll be too busy dancing a Cycle of Hurting due to a lack of Mercy Invincibility and stupidly fast enemies who have attack priority, punch you out of the air for 2/3rds of your health each time and flood the screen with them to even be able to stay alive for more than twenty seconds, let along try to power up.
  • In Kid Gloves, the total lack of warning regarding when and where enemies will spontaneously spawn does nothing to prevent you from dying horribly on contact with any of them.
  • Invoked in Valkyria Chronicles 4. During mock battle between squads, the enemy commander hints she's not going to be playing fair, and she's absolutely right. The biggest example is her 2IC, who appears on a rooftop to act as an artillery spotter. Said rooftop is improbably tall (your artillery peaks too low to hit it), has no apparent access point in gameplay or story, has sandbags for her to hide behind, and is behind your starting lines. The game offers no explanation for this chicanery beyond "Squad F is fighting dirty".
    • A traditional example appears in the map that introduces fire on the terrain. The game makes it very clear that infantry will die if they go anywhere near it... and the general who ambushes you in the second half of the mission has an order that allows his side to merrily ignore this. The game also forgets to mention that fire patches also count as hiding places for vehicles, which is not only something you'll probably only find out when your units can't target That One Boss, but makes no sense in the lore (since waste heat management is the reason for the giant, exposed, incredibly vulnerable radiators every vehicle has).
  • The Nintendo DS port of Resident Evil has Rebirth Mode, which rearranges most of the item locations as well as mixing up the types of enemies you will face. Some rooms can have both zombies and crows and aiming for one or the other can be very finicky because the aiming system generally auto targets whoever is closer to you. The developers very likely did this intentionally to increase the difficulty. Another example of such a thing is in the area of the courtyard next to the waterfall where there are three zombie dogs and a lone shark that's flopping on the ground. The shark can't do anything to you since it's not in a body of water, but because it's alive, it can be targeted. The shark serves no purpose other than to screw up your aim when you're trying to target the dogs instead.
  • The Sega Master System version of Alf allows you to waste your money on an item called the "Alf Book", which when used, mocks the player and sends you back to the title screen.

Alternative Title(s): Classic Video Game Screw You, The Dev Team Are Sadists, Fun Unit, Fun Units