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It's Short, So It Sucks!

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"Seven levels? Please, I did that almost in my sleep. It is difficult, but still beatable in a very short amount of time. And once you are done, there isn't a whole lot of incentive to play it again. Yes, you can change ships and weapons load outs, but the levels play exactly the same. So there's little to no replay value once you've beaten it."
This review of Gradius V. Gradius V is a 90-minute shmup.

Games in the 1970s and early 1980s usually had no fixed ending; if you survived, you kept going. Then came home consoles and personal computers. Suddenly you had games with a definite length, lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Sure, the ending probably wasn't much, but an arcade mentality still existed for most genres, meaning there was very little saving and a whole lot of soul-crushing difficulty. As such, unless you were very skilled, you probably aren't beating that game the same day — or in some case, the same weekend — you picked it up, meaning gamers were still more or less satisfied.

Fast-forward to the 1990s and 2000s, where more arcade-style genres began to take a backseat in popularity to adventure and role-playing games. Now games were expected to last dozens of hours, with hour-long games quickly becoming regarded as short, budget titles to be avoided at all costs. The mentality developed that a game's length must be directly proportional to its price, and it's a mindset that has only gotten stronger as we enter the present day. In other words, it's short, so it sucks: it doesn't matter what genre the game being targeted is: first person shooters, shoot 'em ups, RPGs, Action-Adventure, you name it. If you can beat the game in a day or two, or worse, in one sitting, expect review sites to, at best, cut off a whole point or letter grade.

Truth is, there is nothing (inherently) wrong with a short game. First of all, a game being short doesn't mean it's of poor quality. It literally just means that it's short. A shorter game of consistent, concentrated quality is ultimately going to be more preferable to games that were artificially stretched out with padding and other forms of fake longevity in response to this trope, but would otherwise be just as short.

Secondly, as gamers grow older and chose to continue the hobby, they find that adulthood has more time-consuming responsibilities and complications than childhood: college/university, work, family life, and paying for your own necessities of food, water, and shelter leaves you with less time to play games, to say nothing of leaving you with less money to buy them. As such, there are a good amount of people who actually prefer a shorter game that can be beaten in a few days, or even hours, so they can get on with more urgent aspects of their lives, or at least move on to the next game (or the New Game Plus, or whatever post-game content is available in the present one).

Additionally, long games tend to satiate the player after a single playthrough, leading to the mentality of “oh, I'll put this game away or sell it.” In comparison, shorter, arcade-like games, due to being designed specifically around having high replay value, are less likely to do this. You may find yourself undergoing multiple playthroughs of such a game, with the total of those hours matching or even exceeding the time you may have spent with that year's big AAA action-adventure title. Games for handheld consoles and mobile phones also fall under this idea of "short is good" since they're designed to allow for quick intermittent play while you're out on a normal day in contrast to the longer play sessions you may have on PC or console. This is further mitigated by handheld games commonly being cheaper.

Still, as the general price of games remains high, gamers may blanch at paying full price for such a game, making this perhaps a legitimate complaint for a review, though a more apt label would be “it's short, so it's too expensive.” Some reviews have forgiven shorter games that are either budget-priced or cheap downloads (Portal is a commonly cited example, lasting around 3-4 hours, but originally sold in a $50 bundle with four other AAA games). Sufficiently egregious examples come across as a Mission-Pack Sequel masquerading as actual games.

Development time of a game often plays an important role in inciting this reaction. When an hour-long game with little replay value had taken only three months to develop, then the length of the game is not usually paid attention to. However, when such a game would have taken over 10 years to develop, complaints about the game's length are more expected as the short length may not compensate for a decade of anticipation.

Note that the minimum amount of time necessary to complete a game is never actually paid attention to, as very few games remain unbeatable within the space of a single day for the dedicated and experienced; it's only the amount of time it takes on an ordinary, first-time playthrough that draws this ire.

It's Easy, So It Sucks! is a sister trope. This is not the inverse of Bigger Is Better in Bed. It is the inverse of Ending Fatigue though, which is where you feel that the story has gone on for too long.

If people are screaming this because the work happened to be awesome for how little there was, and they're upset there wasn't more of them to enjoy, then you have yourself a case of Awesomeness Withdrawal.

This page is not about complaining about video games or other works that are too short. This is when the fandom (or hatedom) and reviewers make the complaint.

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    Anime and Manga 
  • For a while, younger fans were generally introduced to anime throughout the most popular series, many of which ran (or continue to run) for hundreds of episodes (Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Naruto, Inuyasha, etc.), it isn't uncommon for such viewers to notice the vast quantity of 26-episode anime (and, later on, 12-Episode Anime) and apply this mantra.
    • Ironically, this is running full circle. Nowadays, everyone is saying that any anime that runs for more than 26 episodes, let alone 50, gets all sorts of criticisms thrown at it for simply how long they are. There are often reasons for this, especially in adaptations from manga, but results can vary.
    • In the case of adaptations, this complaint is simply bundled in with how completely it reproduces its source. Adaptation Distillation reduces this complaint while a gutted adaptation of the same length elicits more. There can also be a lot of subjective differences among fans disappointed that a scene important to themselves was left out of the adaptation.
    • At least one animator has discussed this from a creative standpoint, lamenting the downsides of working on an adaptation that only lasts for 13 or so episodes. She feels that the anime ends before the animators can really get a sense of the characters and how to use them, as well as occasionally resulting in weak endings.
  • Blood: The Last Vampire, as a film, is only 45 minutes long, including the opening and closing credits. Despite being a very well-made film, many anime fans seem to regard it as bad solely for its short length.
    • The same is true of Dead Leaves, another anime film clocking in at about 45 minutes.
  • FLCL, at only six episodes, has gotten the criticism.
  • I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying has 26 episodes... which are each about three minutes long. Unsurprisingly, it gets this reaction from people who already find a 13-episode anime too short, since it's a fraction of that length.
  • I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up is a Yuri Genre manga by Naoko Kodama that is only three chapters long and, along with an unrelated one-shot, comprises a single volume. Many people who read it were unpleasantly surprised to find out that the third chapter is the last. The fact that it ends abruptly, with little having changed between the two leads, doesn't help.
  • Persona 5: The Animation is often criticized for this. The game can easily take 100 hours to complete, but the anime only has 26 episodes that are each about 25 minutes long, plus two 50-minute OVAs, making the series about twelve and a half hours long, and resulting in numerous cuts. The pacing is significantly quickened, and important bits of exposition and Character Development are cut out. Most Confidants who aren't party members or affiliated with the Velvet Room are Demoted to Extra, with the exception of Sojiro. The party tends to clear most dungeons in a montage, despite the fact that Persona 5 featured more complex and elaborate dungeons than its predecessors. Some viewers consider this a poor adaptation, while others argue that it's a decent way to experience the story if you don't have time to play the game.
  • Puni Puni Poemy at only two episodes.
  • Yukino Plan is a 4koma Yuri Genre manga with only two chapters. The only indication that the series is over is a "THE END" at the end of the second chapter.

  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire often gets the complaint that a herd of supporting characters with strong personalities and screen presence are left battling for limited screentime (and all end up being shortchanged), and more time could have been devoted to exploring the setting as well.
  • The Golden Compass was attacked for how short it was, resulting in a very rushed pacing that hurt the story. The original director claims that a whole hour of footage was cut due to Executive Meddling.
  • Jonah Hex (2010): One of the major criticisms against the movie is its 81-minute runtime (with about nine minutes of that being credits). Probably doesn't help that all of its action movie competitors are closer to 2 hours.
  • Justice League (2017) was criticized for being too short at 120 minutes for an ensemble film. After the divisive audience reception to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. executives mandated that the film should last no more than 2 hours, allegedly to allow for more screenings per day and address the complaints that Batman v Superman was too long. The problem is that while a shorter run time would be appropriate for solo movies, this ended up hurting an ensemble film like Justice League since there is less time devoted to developing each hero. A lot of footage was cut from Zack Snyder's originally intended version and eventually made it to the Director's Cut, which is a whopping four hours long.
  • This was one of many criticisms of The Last Airbender. They somehow took 20 episodes and edited down to only 103 minutes (for rather vague reasons), meaning that whole scenes had to be either dropped, replaced with narration, or combined in ways that just made it a mess. And that's not even including the scenes that were added that ruined what the series set up.
  • The Many Saints of Newark: The biggest complaint about the film is that it tries to pack a lot into its two hour runtime and that making it longer, or even extending it into a miniseries rather than a movie, would've given it more time to explore the various characters and plot threads in more detail.
  • When The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was released, it received complaints about being notably shorter than its predecessors despite the adventure theme.note 
  • Winnie the Pooh (2011) was criticized in some circles for being only about an hour long, partly because the movie was so good that they wanted it to keep going. It got infinitely worse once people realized it was the last 2D-animated movie Disney ever made (so far).
  • Thor: Love and Thunder is one of the shortest entries into the MCU, and much of the controversy around the film stems from complications caused by that (such as cutting out subplots that had been hyped like Valkyrie's love interest, some of Gorr's Character Development, etc), and though some appreciated the breezy experience, especially those who have gotten sick of some superhero movies boasting very long runtimes, it's not uncommon to find people who cite the short length as a mark against it compared to the other MCU films.
  • A common complaint about The Super Mario Bros. Movie is its short running time of 92 minutes and its fast pacing (for the sake of comparison, Universal's previous animated film, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, was 102 minutes), with the general feeling that the film could've done with at least 10 more minutes to flesh out some of its setpieces or plot beats.

  • For decades there has been debate in literary circles as to what defines a true "novel", with some scholars/readers stating any book less than a certain length is not a true novel. Shorter books as a result often get the label "novella" attached, even if they're 150-200 pages in length. Aside from semantics, this has also stretched into quality arguments, even though there are literally thousands of examples of subversions, such as Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, to name only three.
  • While there are some acclaimed short story authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov, Jorge Luis Borges and, more recently, Noble Prize winner Alice Munro, the format in general is often regarded as "inferior" in literary circles and is much harder to be picked by publishers due to the public in general preferring novels to short story collections.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first-ever James Bond adaptation, Casino Royale (1954) from Climax!, is a whopping 54-minutes long. This is fairly forgivable as it was produced solely as a low-budget CBS 'movie of the week', performed live, and happens to be a damn good adaptation of the source novel, despite the Americanization of James Bond.
  • Doctor Who:
    • From 1963-89, the series was presented as a serial, with storylines sometimes taking a month or longer to unfold. When the series returned in 2005 it adopted a more US-style format consisting of standalone single episodes and a couple of two-parters per season (though each season to date has had a background story arc of some sort). Some die-hard fans complained (and continue to complain) that they miss the more leisurely pace that four, six, or more weekly episodes afforded the viewer.
    • In the '80s, the series actually moved to something closer to the current format with an experiment during the Colin Baker era of splitting stories into two 45-minute episodes (as is done now) and with a few Peter Davison stories clocking in at two 25-minute episodes (not much longer than a stand-alone 45-min episode from post-2005 series). Another thing worth mentioning is that, especially in the Eccleston and Tennant eras, there were complaints that some writers (often those who grew up watching the 63-89 run) were scripting stories that were more suited to 4x25mins rather than a single 45min episode meaning that sub-plots were resolved extremely quickly, there was poignant dwelling on the death of characters the viewer had only known for about 15 minutes, etc, etc.
  • A recurring complaint about the last two seasons of Game of Thrones, though particularly Season 8, was the shorter length; all the other seasons had ten episodes each, while Season 7 had seven episodes, and Season 8 just six. Many viewers felt this resulted in storylines being rushed through to wrap things up in time, leading to perceived Plot Holes, Character Derailment, Aborted Arcs, Ass Pulls and an overall unsatisfactory outcome for a long and complex story. A common belief is that the last season would've worked better if they'd taken the time to develop the plots more.
  • In The Mandalorian Season 3, it only takes two episodes for Din Djarin to reach the living waters beneath Mandalore, even though most viewers expected him to take at least half of the season. This put any more character development for him on hold for multiple weeks, as the next few episodes fleshed out supporting characters instead.

  • Fryderyk Chopin's Op. 28, Preludes, consists of 24 short pieces for solo piano, the vast majority of which could be played in under 2 minutes. His contemporary Robert Schumann called them "sketches, beginnings of études, or, so to speak, ruins, individual eagle pinions, all disorder and wild confusions."
  • Back in the vinyl era, Village Voice critic Robert Christgau opined that albums needed to be at least 30 minutes to give a listener their money's worth of music. Even when he liked the album, he would still note the exact running time of a short album in a review.
  • The song "Parachutes" off of Coldplay's debut album of the same name gets this reaction from some fans, considering it's only about 45 seconds long.
  • This was also a complaint about Devo's "Whip It", one of the first really famous songs to become a hit as an MTV video. The song is not only very short but ends very abruptly - and it is so catchy that you really, really want it to keep going.
  • Green Day's 2020 album Father of All... got flack from critics and fans due to its 26-minute runtime since most of their studio albums have a runtime of over 30 minutes with the shortest prior to this being their 31-minute debut album 39/Smooth (barring the album's expanded 56-minute version 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, which combines the album with their first two EPs Slappy and 1,000 Hours) and the longest being their 69-minute album 21st Century Breakdown.
  • Short albums are the norm in Grindcore. For example, Gridlink's first two albums are both less than thirteen minutes long, and their third and final album is less than twenty-two (though the CD version was bundled with instrumental "karaoke" mixes of the tracks which doubled the length of the album). Assück's two albums are both around fifteen minutes long (though Anticapital was bundled with some bonus material on CD that brought the album length up by around nine minutes). And so on. This is one of the reasons that grindcore is a polarizing genre. Most grindcore albums are longer than Gridlink's and Assück's, but it's still uncommon for grindcore albums to exceed thirty minutes in length, though this may simply be because many listeners would find grindcore albums that long to be exhausting.
  • Kanye West went through a distinct phase of around 2018-2020 (mostly surrounded by a hectic Creator Breakdown and wildly divided creative attention) where he produced several albums for himself and others, but never broke 30 minutes long. While the broad critical reception towards each project varied significantly — Kids See Ghosts (24 minutes) and Pusha T's Daytona (21 minutes) were acclaimed, but ye (24 minutes) and Jesus Is King (27 minutes) were heavily divisive — just about everyone noticed their short length, which didn't help for those with more negative opinions. It took until 2021's Donda for him to reach a hearty album length again (109 minutes), though that album was controversial for other reasons.
  • Keith Urban's Get Closer album received some complaints of this nature for only having eight songs on it.
  • Ne Obliviscaris' second album Citadel received this complaint, despite being nearly forty-eight minutes long. This may be because the band's first album, Portal of I, was over seventy-one minutes long. It may also be because Citadel featured only three songs.
  • Nick Drake's final album, Pink Moon, was criticized at the time of its release for being only 28 minutes long. His producer has said that, given its bleakness, it really did not need to be any longer.
  • Subverted with the Ramones' debut album, Ramones, which is a little over 29 minutes long. One reason why it's so popular with fans and critics was that the songs were short and to the point, while at the same time packing a punch, making what little time the music was playing worth it.
    Joey Ramone: They're not short songs, they're long songs played fast.
  • Likewise, They Might Be Giants' album The Spine was criticized for being less than a half-hour long. On the other hand, TMBG recorded so many songs during these sessions (the leftovers being released on two EP's, plus two spare songs released online) that fans have made their own jam-packed extended versions of the album.
    • TMBG's Factory Showroom was criticized not for total length but because it only had 13 songs, compared to their usual album lineup of 18-20 songs. This was due to the songs being a bit longer than usual.
  • Weezer's second Self-Titled Album (a.k.a. The Green Album) occasionally got this complaint by fans, since it's only 28 minutes long. That's only 4 minutes shorter than Pinkerton was, but some were still disappointed that the band's first album in five years was under a half-hour long.
  • Wintersun's Time I received a lot of complaints about its short length, despite the fact that it is explicitly labelled as being only half of an album.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In WWE this was the fate of most women's matches from roughly 2009-2014. Due to WWE's belief in the Girl-Show Ghetto, matches were rarely given much time. It was considered a good day if a ten-minute slot was given (compare this to the fifteen and sometimes twenty-minute time frames others would get). Finally averted as of 2015 and WWE attempting to take women's wrestling seriously. It once got so bad that there were 10-women tag matches that would last a grand total of a minute of actual in-ring time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Quite a few players are put off by how the Exit: The Game games cost $15 each even though they can only be played through once, which takes a few hours at most. Worse, playing it involves defacing components, so you can't even resell or give away your used copy.
  • One of the reasons people soured on T.I.M.E. Stories is that each expansion only contains one scenario that takes a few hours to play through. The only thing adding replayability is the "Groundhog Day" Loop gimmick where you're penalized for picking the wrong options and will have to remember them when you get a Game Over and have to restart the loop, which started feeling like Fake Longevity once the novelty wore off.

    Web Original 
  • Inverted by this Cracked article — one of their complaints is about developers (particularly of open-world titles) artificially padding their games with filler in order to avert this trope. They specifically cite Portal as proof that games don't have to be over fifteen hours to be fun.
  • The Sonic Fan Film suffers from this; it was in development for roughly 2 1/2 years, had Jaleel White from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), and Sonic Underground voicing the titular protagonist, yet the film lasts less than half an hour with a plot that goes all over the place.
  • Sonic for Hire is given flak sometimes for "being too short", with episodes lasting about 2-3 minutes long and being posted every Sunday during an ongoing season.
  • The eighth episode of Movie Fights only lasts for about half an hour (instead of the usual 90 minutes) due to the producers being in a rush to celebrate Thanksgiving. As a result, the gladiators were barely given the chance to defend their choices, and a lot of people were not pleased with the end result.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: This is a lot of the fans' main complaint regarding Season 4, being only 12 episodes long which are nowhere near to Season 3's 28 episodes. In general, at least for the later seasons, fans often complain that ten minutes is not enough for an episode's showtime.
  • Red vs. Blue had this for two seasons in a row. Season 17, Singularity, while well-liked got criticism for being the shortest season yet, with only 12 episodes, most of which weren't longer than usual. Season 18, Zero, was even shorter with 8, while trying to introduce a whole new cast and still dedicate most of the running time to flashy action scenes alongside the plot, and as a result, the pacing is very off, some moments feeling too slow and others moving a mile a minute, with none of the characters getting the time to properly explore their characterization.

    Western Animation 
  • The last episodes of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes sometimes had this complaint lobbied at them. The new executive producer had some planned storylines compressed into one episode each, making the show feel more rushed and less deep than before.
  • The short, four-episode first season of Castlevania (2017) is about the only real complaint about the series, already considered one of the best video game adaptations yet. The second season is longer at eight episodes but still has this as one of the few complaints.
  • A major criticism of Hazbin Hotel's first season is that it's only eight-episodes long, which many fans felt resulted in plotlines having little-to-no buildup (like the revelation that Vaggie was an angel) and rushed or nonexistent character dynamics (such as Charlie's troubled relationship with dad).
  • Each book/season of the sci-fi anthology series Infinity Train is only ten 11-minute episodes long. Some fans like the brevity of each story arc, feeling they allow the plots to be succinctly told without overstaying their welcome and that they make recommending the show much easier due to the smaller time commitment. Others believe that 110 minutes' worth of episodes for each season results in the conclusions to each arc coming across as too rushed at times, and leaves far too much story potential with any given cast of characters unrealized.
  • The first season of The Legend of Korra is accused of this, though the minuta of these complaints is less about the actual length of the season (12 episodes), and more about how the poor pacing of its events. The general thought within the fandom is that the season should have been longer in order to better devote time to both the main civil rights plot and the romance subplot, or that the romance subplot should have been cut away entirely like the tumor it was.
  • The shortest officially released Looney Tunes short, Any Bonds Today?, is only a minute and a half long and nothing more than a Patriotic Fervor propaganda short to make people buy war bonds to support the U.S. government's World War II effort. It manages to be entertaining but still leaves you with a dissatisfied feeling because of its short length and the fact that Bugs, Porky, and Elmer do nothing but sing and dance.
  • Many fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic have called out the Season 3 episodes "Keep Calm and Flutter On" and "Magical Mystery Cure" as being rushed, and feel the stories in question should have been two-parters. Unfortunately, the season was a shortened 13 episodes and had already started with one two-parter, meaning a significant chunk of content would have to be lost to make this happen. Of course, that just transfers the criticism to the whole season rather than just these episodes; if it had had the standard 26 episodes, there would have been more room to extend stories that needed it.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Some fans felt that "The Penguin Who Loved Me" would have benefitted from being an hour-long special like "The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole", given most of the special is dedicated to buildup Dr. Blowhole's return, which causes the last minutes to rush through Dr. Blowhole's kickstarting a new plan, the Penguins quickly defeating him, Parker giving up on his own after being shown to be a formidable fighter and Kowalski and Doris's Relationship Upgrade.
  • Even those who enjoyed the polarizing ending of the finale for Star vs. the Forces of Evil think that the half-hour length of the episode, despite it being twice the length of the show's usual 11-minutes, was a rushed and confusing affair. Many think that an hour-long runtime would have allowed the episode's various plot points to have more breathing room and/or have greater impact.
  • Total Drama:
    • Revenge of the Island lasted 13 episodes, as half as long as the 26 episode seasons (not counting the 27th episode specials in Island and Action, or the former season's big recap before the finale), and (besides the point that it mirrors the headcount of 13 contestants) it's often blamed for having rushed plotlines (specifically, a double elimination).
    • The All Stars title sequence is also criticized by fans, as it lasted 20 seconds and uses an abbreviated version of the theme song.
    • When Pahkitew Island aired on Cartoon Network in the United States, it was advertised as a "two-week Summer Showdown". This move did not give fans enough time to catch up on the episodes after they aired.
    • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race went back to the 26-episode format the first three seasons of the primary show used. However, this did not stop the network (even the show's native country Canada) from airing the episodes on a daily basis instead of weekly. This would end up being the only season of The Ridonculous Race to ever be produced.