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That One Level / Adventure

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Need to get past this section of an adventure game? You might be here a while.

Beware of soup cans and moon logic.

Naturally, Sierra games are full of these

  • The stupid cliff climbing section in King's Quest III — you have to inch Gwydion down a cliff with no indication as to which pixels are the very, very small minority which will not send you plummeting to your death.
  • King's Quest IV:
  • King's Quest V:
  • King's Quest VI has the Labyrinth, which comes close to V's desert in terms of sheer frustration. The maze is littered with instant-kill dead ends, has an infuriatingly annoying tile puzzle, and getting to the second floor requires you to do something that got you killed every other time you tried it. Most of this was done for the sake of Copy Protection (the manual has solutions for the tile puzzle, for example)...but then there are a couple of items you need to get, or you're locked out of the good ending. On top of that, if you enter without the right items, you can't leave to go get them. Fortunately, it's not nearly as bad as anything in King's Quest V for several reasons:
    • You're offered the option to return and search the place again, this time having an easier exit.
    • It doesn't have the perspective screw KQ5 did.
    • Although the falling thing is cruel, an observant player will notice that the floor disappeared, whereas in the instant-death chambers it's gone from the start.
    • Getting stuck because of a missing item is annoying, but because the catacombs are self-contained you don't have to go back too far (unlike in KQ2 where you can end up having to replay half the game if you crossed the bridge once too often).
    • Unlike with the KQ5 Yeti custard pie example, you can actually figure out what you're missing ( if you get stuck in the dark, obviously you need the tinderbox from the pawn shop; and although the brick and the red scarf are slightly less obvious, you can make the connection once you find those items if you've been in the catacombs before).
  • In the original version of Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter, you have to escape the Arcadia before it explodes. Yet you are not told ANYTHING about this other than "the Arcadia was boarded by unknown assailants". You can go to the main bridge, which is actually not too far away from the starting point, and read the console, which says the ship set to self destruct and has a timer counting down...but you also don't have to enter the bridge at all to continue, and you could easily bypass it completely without realizing it was even an option, and the timer is pretty lenient. The VGA remake displays a clear timer.
  • In Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, there's a maze that is a non-cursor version of a pixel hunt. If you touch the (pixel thick) walls with your (pixel sized) foot, that's it. Boom, dead, game over. Back in the day of playing on 512k floppies, this maze represented one of the most tedious things in the world. The maze isn't difficult — you can see the whole thing from the outside the whole time — but navigating it is incredibly tedious and frustrating. And then, having achieved this herculean task... you have to do it all over again. Backwards.
  • A number of arcade sequences in the Space Quest series are rather hair-pulling, even by adventure game standards:

  • 7 Days a Skeptic is particularly painful when the player is being chased about the space station and dies if the enemy gets within a few pixels of him (in a small windowed game). While the chasing is not too bad if you play things safe, the worst parts are the puzzles to defeat said assailant, usually involving doing things that are much more elaborate than would realistically be necessary. If that's not bad enough: during the chase, your assailant can pop out of any door in the ship. Including a locked door. A locked door that you have to stand next to and unlock manually. While it's still locked.
  • Anyone who has ever played Amnesia: The Dark Descent remembers and utterly loathes the Cellar Archives (also known as the Water Part). Not because it's a particularly difficult puzzle compared to others in the game (though it's certainly not easy), but because it's INSANELY, PANTS-CRAPPINGLY TERRIFYING. In a game known for possibly being the most terrifying ever made, this section is the one most often singled out for being the scariest part. [just being scary doesn't count]
    • Ditto for the Storage and Prison, both of which are dark and have monsters spawning around to chase you around the mazelike area. Some people gave up on one of these parts because they just couldn't bring themselves to carry on.
    • Ditto for the Dungeon level in the free expansion pack, Justine, which also happens to be filled with water. This part is often regarded as one of the scariest chase sequences in the entire game, since you have to rush through the item puzzles as fast as possible to get away from the monster behind you while (possibly) trying to save a helpless prisoner near the end (all while said monster is only seconds away from breaking down the doors you've shut to slow him down). Additionally, since Justine has no save points whatsoever, if you die here you have to restart all the way from the beginning!
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  • The parlor in Dream Chronicles, where you have to find seven pictures, some of which are ridiculously well-hidden. Then you have to put each of them in the correct spot on the wall, causing the piano to play a melody of varying length, during which you can't do anything. THEN you have to click on each picture and play back the melody on the piano. Oh, and did we mention that after you successfully play back the melody, it plays it back AGAIN and you can't do anything?
  • Late in the duration of Escape from Monkey Island, there is a puzzle based around rolling rocks down a series of tunnels to make them eventually end up in a specific spot on the eponymous island. The tunnels themselves are Scooby-Dooby Doors, which means a lot of tedious trial and error is required to figure out where the rocks end up based on which tunnel you roll them down. On top of that, in order to get the rocks down the tunnel path you want them to go, you need to roll additional rocks down the other tunnels so they will collide and bounce off each other, which requires very precise timing. You're given very brief cues when to toss another rock so it's timed to bounce off another one, but if you haven't figured out which tunnel leads where, it won't help you at all.
    • The only saving grace in this puzzle is that you have unlimited rocks in which to solve it.
  • Full Throttle:
    • Any of the bike fights. They weren't well programmed to begin with, but they're actually unwinnable using ScummVM if you don't just cheat and use the instant win code. Made worse by the fact that the instant win code, in DOS, has this knack for not working properly and screwing you out of an item. Oh, and there's only 3 of one specific type of enemy which holds an item required to progress. And if you use the cheat, you'll not only fail to get the item but be unable to cross a destroyed bridge.
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    • The segment where you have to kick the wall to sneak into the Corley Motors factory. There is literally no indication of where to kick beyond an extremely vague clue that the kicking spot would have been short enough to be reached by a child. (Pro tip: You don't have to wait until the meters go black to test the spot. The spot will make a different sound when kicking it, even if the meters aren't black.)
  • Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures: Any location where you have to find your way through dense trees, with no indication whatsoever which tiles are pass-through and which are not. It's dull, unfun, and tends to take a lot of time.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, you have to navigate the submarine and enter a cave. Sounds easy? Think again. In order to properly align the sub in the cave, you have to navigate in 3D while your view of the screen remains in 2D.
  • Myst's Selenitic Age deserves a special mention. First off, just to get there, you have to solve a tone-matching puzzle. Basically, one of Atrus's journals in the library shows a sequence of notes to be played on piano. You have to play these notes and adjust sliding switches in a ship so they match each note. The problem is that it not only takes an extreme level of precision, but this is nearly Unwinnable by Mistake if you are tone deaf. And if you have any switch just a pixel off, you don't know which one you got wrong. So, is this all worth it just to see the plot unravel more? Heck no. The Selenitic Age is the most lifeless looking age in the game, and it's the only one where Sirrus and Achenar have no rooms for you to learn more about them. Also, everything looks the same, making it very easy to get disoriented with the wonky movement control (alleviated if you're playing realMYST). The one puzzle to solve here is at least an interesting one, but that all goes downhill when you need to exit this age. You have to pilot a subway car through a tedious underground maze puzzle, which has needlessly long transition scenes and takes nearly ten minutes to do even if you know how it works. Oh, and since it's required to leave the age, you have to do the maze twice to pick up both pages. Luckily the tone matching puzzle only has to be done once, but still.
  • Myst III: Exile has the Age of Edanna. Puzzles that offer only the slightest connection to sanity, biology, or each other, paths that in the worst of cases are indistinguishable from the walls that surround them, and a conclusion that is more terrifying than exhilarating. Also, cruelty to animals is never a plus.
  • The stone room puzzle in Riven is one of the hardest puzzles in the game. You have to deduce the order in which to choose five symbols, from about thirty in total. This is accomplished by 1. learning the D'ni numbers in the school; 2. noticing the five wooden spheres on the island with the village, one of which isn't reachable in its proper location and can only be found in a completely unrelated place; 3a. notice the sound they make (one of them doesn't make a sound, however) and find the relevant animals or 3b. notice that when observed from a certain angle, they form the "eye" in the symbol you're looking for (one of them doesn't have this, though). Although most players will get the sound-based clues, the shapes are hard to notice, so if you didn't, good luck solving the one that doesn't make a sound — especially since that's the one you can't reach, so its shape can only be observed through a telescope viewer in yet another unrelated location. And you can't really see the sphere through the telescope either.
  • Runaway: A Road Adventure. Chapter One, Scene One. "Hmm, I should write over this board so that the killer after Gina mistakes her for someone else and leaves. Hey, I have a marker, but it's dry! Hey, I have some alcohol! But I'd need something pointy to refill it... a pointy container... in a hospital..." Well, good luck finding the 2-pixel-wide zone holding the freaking syringe now. Perfectly logical and sensible puzzle killed by Pixel Hunt again.
  • The microscope puzzle in The 7th Guest. Probably 90% of the people who will tell you that they didn't have to skip this puzzle with the hint book are filthy liars. And for good reason. As an unfortunate side note, the AI isn't random in the least — if you do the exact same movements every time, the computer will do the same moves every time, depending on your PC specifications. Even attempting to mimic a YouTube solution video will cause you to lose if your PC is faster or slower. (Fortunately, most people that play DOS-Era games today do so with DOSBox, which allows you to specify a CPU speed. How people did it on the old machines is probably a bigger guide-dang-it than the puzzle itself.)
  • In Sam and Max Hit the Road, there's a magnifying glass hidden very well in one of the tents at the carnival. In fact, it's hidden so well that you will mistake it as part of the background. Then when you have all of the equipment to modify the binoculars at the World's Largest Ball of Twine except for the magnifying glass, and try everything in your inventory, you will no doubt rage.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People has a few toughies. The Maps and Minions minigame at the end of Strong Badia the Free can be tough, even if you figure out you can hide the King of Town in the Poopsmith's "fog of war", Homestar tends to prioritize going after Coach Z, and Strong Sad and Strong Mad can be neutralized with Homsar and The Cheat respectively. The final puzzle of Baddest of the Bands, where you have to mess around with both the stage fixtures and Strong Bad's band-mates in order to reveal Strong Bad's much-vaunted "ultimate stage prop", is also annoyingly obscure at times.
  • Torin's Passage has the Slippery Slope: a steep slope with few viable handholds, which are totally invisible and only detectable when you mouse over it and the talking grass gives an affirmative. A variant of the Pixel Hunt.
  • The Walking Dead Episode 2: Near the end, when Brenda is holding Katjaa hostage, you have to advance on her very slowly and stop immediately when she points her gun at you, then talk to her. However, you must stop on a dime when she does, or she shoots you on the spot. And you have to do this three times.
  • Yume Nikki:
    • The "Hell" maze. Not only does it glow red, giving it a very unsettling look and feel, it's also the largest area in the game, is extremely difficult to navigate, and there's a toriningen or two to avoid. But navigation of it is necessary to obtain a few effects.
    • The teleport maze. Without a map, you will get lost.
  • Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure:
    • Barbosa's Island starts by making you pull a trap door that will kill you unless you grab a grate in a split-second (after getting the pointer on screen which was hidden during the previous sequence of course), and goes downhill from there. Especially frustrating is fighting the skeletons with a sword, and the controls are terrible. And the level ends with a minigame where you need to pull a rope just before Barbaros reaches you... and yes, failing this minigame does count as death.
    • The Frost Breath level, which is a very frustrating mirror puzzle where three incorrect fires of the cannon result in losing a life, or the Dragon Scales level, a long and intricate level with a lot of steps that requires a LOT of forethought or else the player renders the level Unwinnable. To complete it, you must climb into the dragon statue at the start, pull the lever inside the head twice, (once to drop the bridge into place, the second to move the statue's claw into place), cross the bridge and remove the claw from the dragon statue, put it into the flamethrower statue at the centre, use it to kill the two spiders on the other side, turn the sleeping pirate and one of the aforementioned spiders into a totem and tennis racket respectively, stand on a certain podium, use the tennis racket to hit one of the statue's fireballs back to hit a third spider, (a challenge in itself, and you lose points for every miss), and turn another sleeping pirate into a second totem, before rolling one of these totems and the bridge down a ramp to form a see-saw at the bottom, put the other totem on the see-saw and jump on the other end to throw it across. Take a spider-racket, set the fire statue to push a nearby boulder onto one end of your see-saw while you go on the other end, then plug the nearby lava-drain thing with the totem when you're flung over, hop on the other podium, hit a fireball across with your racket to free the treasure chest and have it land on the see-saw, dislodge a second boulder to have the chest flung to you. Sound difficult and intricate already? Well, if you are to mistime just one step here, you will be unable to finish the stage. ...Yeah.


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