Eight of the Most Frustrating Unlockables in Video Games


Finishing a game can sometimes elicit a twinge of remorse. You had all this fun challenging yourself, but now it’s over. Sure, you can just start from the beginning again. However, repeatedly replaying a game the exact same way can get… uh, repetitive.

To combat this major downer, game developers started including new fun things to unlock as you progress. They serve as a reward for players who stick it out to the end, and they also give curious players a treat for exploring every nook and cranny of the game.

Or, they could drive you to the point of insanity. With regards to that last category, here are the video game unlockables that gave us all aneurysms…


Ice Arrows — The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The Zelda games have a bold history of giving players a little something extra for their efforts. The Second Quest in 1987’s The Legend of Zelda was one of the first times players were invited to continue with harder challenges once they had beaten the normal mode.

While The Ocarina of Time’s Master Quest mode was sadly cut from the initial release, Nintendo was still keen to include a couple of in-game treats for players who strayed beyond the main quest. One of these side quests was to complete the Gerudo Training Grounds. This mini-dungeon threw together as many crafty puzzles as possible. Every puzzle unlocked a key that could be used to progress farther or to enter the “treasure maze” in the center of the dungeon.

This challenge quickly became frustrating during your first couple of playthroughs. Forgetting which locked doors were useful and which ones gave out crappy prizes was easy to do. Even if you did succeed in reaching the main treasure, your reward was kind of pointless. Yes, the ice arrows looked cool and were fun to use, but one can’t help but wish that the unlockable item was something more substantially useful to the player, like Biggoron’s Sword. The ice arrows by comparison felt like the should have been part of the main game, not an extensive side quest.

Subsequent Zelda games sadly kept this letdown train going. In Wind Waker and Twilight Princess you were made to endure endless button mashing to reach the bottom of a fifty-floor dungeon to unlock a healing potion or — worst of all — a millionth lousy heart piece. However, because achieving the ice arrows was significantly more involved than mashing buttons, I hate them all the more than the endless combat dungeons. At least the Fierce Deity Mask made up for Nintendo’s sins.


Infinity Face Paint — Metal Gear Solid 3

Like Zelda, the Metal Gear series has a time-honored tradition of hooking in players long after they finish their first campaign. Some of the coolest items and rewards are yours for the keeping as long as you go through great lengths to find them.

Many of the challenges required are maddeningly difficult, like unlocking the Big Boss face camo in Metal Gear Solid 4. Collecting dog tags in MGS2 is particularly annoying, as is shooting all the frogs in MGS3.

For pure claws-on-the-chalkboard tedium, though, the infinity face paint in MGS3 takes the cake. Getting it involves trapping a wild tsuchinoko — which is apparently a legendary Japanese cryptid that looks like a fat snake with eyebrows and moves like an inchworm.

Searching every square inch of the entire game map for the tsuchinoko will yield no results. Instead, you have to catch it with a mouse trap in one particular area close to the beginning of the game. Since mouse traps capture pretty much any animal it damn well pleases, your best bet is to murder every animal in the vicinity to increase the odds of randomly catching a tsuchinoko.

After cruising around the forest in infrared goggles popping bullets into birds, bunnies and frogs, you finally get a small chance at nabbing your legendary prey. Even then, you have to cart back with you until the end of the game. Are we getting paid for this?

Castle AoS_18

V.I.P. Soul — Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

The Game Boy Advance breathed new life into the stagnant Castlevania franchise. Symphony of the Night clones gave way to creative ideas and new twists on the classic formula.

Aria of Sorrow had a particularly clever version of a magic system. Instead of finding spells through items or random drops, your character Soma absorbed the souls of enemies to unlock special abilities.

The sheer diversity of these abilities was mind-boggling, ranging from mundane to ultra-cool. You could unlock lightning spells, helpful familiars, defense buffs, and even full-screen attacks. However, the most desirable soul was one that made the game a breeze. The V.I.P. soul knocked down the price of the most expensive and powerful items in the in-game store to almost nothing. How did you unlock this soul? Why, by finding a tsuchinoko, of course!

I swear I don’t plan this. It seems that the elusive cryptid snake was designed to piss off people in multiple Konami games. Just like MGS3, the tsuchinoko only appears in one area of the map. This time, though, rather than having a random chance to capture it outright, you had a small chance of it appearing instead of instantly running away.

Until I looked up what the damn thing was, I thought its burrowing animation was just a pile of turds disappearing. Now, I realize that was the game’s equivalent of giving you the middle finger.

You were expected to run back and forth between screens until the snake appeared. Then, you had to attack it and pray that it actually dropped the soul — a very rare chance. God help you if you were so used to running back and forth that you ran off the screen before the soul could reach you. There are not enough swears invented in the English language yet to express the emotion that causes.


Knights of the Round — Final Fantasy VII

F*** this thing. I don’t even want to talk about it.

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  1. The most frustrating part about the Ice Arrows, is you could get all the keys and finish the mini-dungeon, but open too many useless doors and you it was all for naught. Though personally I found the sinking lure to be more frustrating. Even knowing where and how to find it, it took me many painless hours to get it, and once finding it, it took patience (that by then was wearing thin) to catch the big fish on the bottom with out scaring it, and not much of a reward if you succeed.

  2. Zelda is my favorite series in the world, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to understand the need for a reward to match the effort put into obtaining it.

  3. The fifteen minute melee in Super Smash Bros Melee to unlock Kongo Jungle stage. You spend 14 minutes and 55 seconds crushin’ suckers only to have some wayward bob-omb blow up and cause you to start over

    1. Ugh true story. I would use DK’s ground pound and pray, hammering the D button as much as I could. It was usually the last five seconds when it went to pot, as you said.

      1. I had a friend who swore Mewtwo on the edge, charging his B move was the way to go….But you’re right, DK ground pound was the only way. That and event 151 were epic feats to accomplish in that game..

  4. At least FF7’s “Knight of the Round” Spell was useful. Of course it was so over the top (3 min animation of giants Robot Knights slashing at your opponents) that you could finish the game without using it, but it was useful to defeat the Ultima Weapons optional bosses.

    But yeah, it was a pain to get, since you had to run an intensive Chocobo breading program : capture wild chocobo, keep only the one with high potential, train them so they become race champion, then breed them until you get a Blue Chocobo and a Black Chocobo, train them then breed these two : Voilà Golden Chocobo.
    You can know use the Golden Chocobo to reach the island with the KotR Materia… 🙂

  5. Monster and Item Trophy in FF13/13-2…..that FEZ one, took me long enough, Knights of the round…that damn golden chocobo…..the Sigils on FFX are hard/long enough…….overall, most of the ones ive gotten are just about bragging rights, you become so strong in the game that the final/secret boss just doesnt put up a fight….

  6. How about attempting to get Excalibur 2 for Steiner in FFIX by reaching the tower in the Crystal world in 12hrs from the moment you select “new game”

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