Ten Awesome Games You Probably Didn't Finish
We pour hours upon hours into our favorite games. We scour open worlds for every last trinket and quest giver, eager to see everything these interactive spaces have to offer. We hold onto fond childhood memories parked in front of classic titles for marathon sessions. But sometimes despite the huge chunks of our lives we pump into these awesome games, we don't always finish the task. Princesses remain unsaved, and doomed lands remain in a state of strife. We're not calling your gaming prowess into question here, but we've bundled up a selection of fantastic games you likely didn't finish for one reason or another.
That said, we're sure there are an elite few out there in the Game Informer community who have completed a chunk of the games on this list. Because we all like bragging about our gaming exploits, we encourage you to sound off in the comments below to share which of these commendable tasks you've checked off your bucket list.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Gamers have been questing throughout the realm of Tamriel for years, but the fifth chapter of the Elder Scrolls series offers up an unprecedented amount of cool stuff to do. You could easily spend a hundred hours burgling your way through the Thieves' Guild, snuffing out targets in the Dark Brotherhood, or any number of super fun optional quest lines. Hell, more than one of you reading this probably spent an ample amount of time churning out iron daggers to level up your blacksmithing skills. All this is to say that there is a lot to do in Skyrim, a game that makes wandering the sprawling landscapes arguably more engaging than its core storyline. The next time you talk to a self-professed Skyrim addict, ask them "Did you beat Alduin?" and see how they respond. [Editor's note: we originally mistakenly referred to Alduin as Paarthurnax]
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
Many gamers who grew up with an NES have mixed emotions regarding this arcadey boxing classic. Punching Glass Joe's lights out and finally countering Bald Bull's charging uppercut are memorable video game milestones, but there's a strong chance many who grew up with this game didn't make it past the titular antagonist. Mike Tyson was a tenacious, ear-biting force of nature in the real-life boxing ring, and he's equally unstoppable on the NES. Prerequisites for taking him down include rote pattern memorization and unwavering twitch reflexes. Kid Dynamite can K.O. players in no time with his flurry of rapid-fire punches, something that prevented countless fans of the game from ever seeing the end credits. Former GI editor Dan Ryckert tried many times and failed to beat Tyson.
Dark Souls II
From Software's "Souls" games are renowned for their difficulty. Roadblocks like sinister traps and bosses that can one-shot hardily armored warriors are understandable reasons for not completing a game, but the game pits itself against you in far subtler ways. One late-game passageway that bars your progress requires either one million souls or four Grand Souls to pass through. The problem is, the game doesn't clearly communicate either of these prerequisites. Even further along in the game, players may want to take on the undead King Vendrick, only to find the zombie ruler can squash players unlike few other bosses in the series. You'd be forgiven for not understanding that in order to effectively fight Vendrick you need to collect a handful of Giants' Souls by diving into the memories of these petrified behemoths. From Software's cryptic game design is part of why we love them, and a big reason why many gamers likely haven't completed a single Souls game.
JRPG fans had to wait a while before Monolith Soft's epic Wii adventure made it over to the United States. Once it arrived, they were greeted with a deluge of content, including copious side missions that flesh out character relationships and build up reputations to unlock new items. Even if you blaze through the game with the finish line in sight, you're still looking at an 80-plus hour commitment. If you're the type of gamer who likes to stop and smell the roses while grinding through optional missions, the time investment increases dramatically.
X-COM: Enemy Within
Firaxis' return to the beloved, notoriously difficult alien-extermination strategy game is one of the most challenging of last generation. Commanding your team of extraterrestrial-busting badasses on the field can be tricky, thanks to Muton ambushes and the fragility of even the most veteran X-Com units. The permanence of death and unyielding series of UFO landings across the globe keep the punishing game moving at a stressful pace. Enemy Within takes the tense action a step further with alien assaults on your hidden ant farm. It's not uncommon for fans of the series to end up with an unsalvageable game where their best soldiers are dead and the aliens are arriving too fast and hard.
Keep reading to see where some more classic NES games and huge open-world adventures fit on our list
The 8-bit era is home to plenty of ridiculously difficult platformers and action games, but the best of the breed remained fun even while punishing players. Battletoads is the first that comes to mind, thanks to the notoriously difficult hover-bike sequence. Your tough amphibian of choice rockets across the screen as you attempt to dodge obstacles that pop up an increasing rate. This task is a beast playing alone, but trying to coordinate with a second player destroys any hope of success. Battletoads belongs up there with other brutal NES games few have likely finished, including Ninja Gaiden (watch GI's Jeff M manage to do the improbable), Contra (without the 30 lives cheat), and Ghosts 'n' Goblins.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Almost any of Rockstar's excellent 3D GTA games could belong on this list due to the sheer wealth of sandbox fun and distractions available out of the gate. Grand Theft Auto V raises the stakes with GTA Online, a never-ending experience that allows players to rob liquor stores and rampage across Los Santos together. The reason San Andreas makes the list is thanks to Zero, the snarky nerd that tasks CJ with using his remote-controlled toys to raise hell in the faux-California town. You may have beaten the bulk of what San Andreas has to offer, but there's a good chance you never completed Zero's infuriatingly hard Air Raid mission, with its multiple waves of attacking RC aircraft.
World of Warcraft
Okay, WoW can't be "finished" by conventional standards. However, there are likely a grizzled few out there who have raided every dungeon, conquered every expansion, and level-capped multiple characters on both the Horde and Alliance factions. These people have likely shelved every other game in existence to meet these goals with a discipline usually reserved for Azeroth's Pandarin monks. You should feel accomplished if you've managed to hit level cap (before you could pay for it) and participated in end-game raids. For the rest of us who poured literal days of our lives into WoW without seemingly scratching the surface, we can only dream.
Super Meat Boy
Team Meat's retro throwback lulls in players with cutesy characters and a green, wooded starting world reminiscent of less punishing platformers. Gradually trees begin to disappear as more deadly buzzsaws are introduced and the game gets harder. Eventually Meat Boy is fleeing from a giant mechanical forest destroyer with chainsaw hands as the flora burns all around. It's around death number 50 that most players realize that Super Meat Boy, fun as it is, may remain unbeaten on their pile of shame. For the few that managed to conquer Dr. Fetus, the even harder dark world levels await to laugh in their faces.
Super Mario Bros.
Before you cry foul, you need to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you've ever completed the original Super Mario Bros. without using the warp-pipe tricks in World 1-2 and 4-2. Many folks have a thick pair of rose-tinted glasses superglued to their head for this classic, which can obscure the fact that it's a long, difficult platformer with a limited amount of 1-ups. Many of us have cranked through the first few worlds in a sitting or exploited various shortcuts for a hasty victory, but completing Super Mario Bros. from beginning to end is no trivial task. If you've managed this feat, consider yourself one of gaming's best.