With hundreds of game sites and magazines at our disposal, and with more amateur reviewers banging away at keyboards than ever before, making an uninformed purchase is now, thankfully, an extremely rare occurrence for any gamer. Gone are the days when we stood in the store nursing our pocket-money, studying the backs of Commodore 64 cassette cases and basing purchasing decisions entirely on cover art and postage stamp-sized screenshots; we have more information at our disposal than ever, and have only ourselves to blame if we slip up.

Even so, there are times when even the most informed gamer picks up a title that just isn’t their cup of tea. Be it the pacing of the game, an unorthodox control scheme or a steep learning curve, there are some games that we simply give up on and either trade in or shove in a drawer. Of course, Japanese gamers are no exception, with more than 15 percent of those asked in a recent survey admitting that they had unceremoniously dumped a game despite barely starting it. More than just a list of shame, though, the results of the survey turned up some great video game blasts from the past, not to mention a few titles so obscure that we’d almost forgotten they existed…

In the recent My Navi News survey, 780 people were asked “Have you ever given up on a game you only just bought?” to which 84.9 percent said ‘no’. The remaining 118, however, responded that they’d ditched a game barely out of its shrink-wrapping for a multitude of reasons, naming and shaming as well as getting a few feelings of guilt off their chests.

Let’s take a look and see which titles Japanese gamers just couldn’t get into.

  • Biohazard (Resident Evil)

games biohazard

Our first entry may come as no surprise to those of you who owned an original PlayStation in the mid 90s. Arguably the title that brought the survival horror genre to the masses, Biohazard quite literally scared some players so much that they could not bring themselves to load it up when home alone. Although many gamers today would positively guffaw at the game’s awkward character models and cringeworthy voice acting, when it launched back in 1996, few had ever seen anything like it, and with its pre-rendered backgrounds and the use of fixed cameras looking down long, dimly-lit corridors reminiscent of the film adaptation of The Shining, there was much more to be scared of than just bad dialogue in Biohazard. Zombies, mutant beasts and bioweapons had many gamers so on edge that they abandoned the game almost immediately, with one 25-year-old respondent remarking that, “Even looking at the disc scared the pants off me.”

  • Dragon Quest VII

game dragon quest

Famed for its incredibly long play-time, the seventh iteration of the popular role-playing game series is no exception, taking a good hundred hours to complete. For some, though, that enormous game world stretching out before them, with items like the stone ‘lithograph’ tablets unlocking even more hidden areas, was all too much to take on. Sure, to many gamers’ minds, more lithographs meant more adventuring, but for others finding them all seemed like little more than a chore, and this gem of an RPG ended up being named by one female gamer from Tokyo as a title she promptly put back in the box, explaining that the thought of all that collecting and questing was just too much to handle.

  • Nou wo Kitaeru Otona no DS Toreningu (Brain Training)

game brain training

There was a time when everyone and their mother was playing a Brain Training (Brain Age in North America) title on their newly acquired Nintendo DS, with bespectacled Dr. Kawashima (who really exists, by the way) frowning and shaking his head as they struggled with simple arithmetic and tried in vain to draw a mongoose on the console’s awkward touchscreen. Heralded as one of the titles that helped Nintendo break into the casual gamer market, Brain Training was followed by a number of sequels and sold millions of copies worldwide. For one DS owner in Gifu Prefecture, though, there was nothing worse than being told by the good doctor that her brain was aging well before its time, stating simply that “my ‘brain age’ was older than my actual age,” when explaining why she threw the game out there and then. But surely that was the point of the game??

  • Pikachu Genki Dechu (Hey You, Pikachu!)

game pikachu

One of the best parts about the results of this survey is that a number of older, more obscure video game gems cropped up, at once taking us on a stroll down memory lane while making us wonder why on earth people bought them.

Always forging ahead and creating new ways for players to interact with their games, in 1998 (2000 in the West) Nintendo launched Pikachu Genki Dechu (lit. ‘Pikachu is fine’ with ‘dechu‘ being a cutesy way of pronouncing the auxiliary verb ‘desu‘) alongside the short-lived Voice Recognition Unit–a microphone accessory that plugged into the Nintendo 64 controller. Sadly, chatting to Pikachu as he frolicked in the great outdoors wasn’t quite as much fun as we’d imagined, with a 24-year-old from Chiba recalling how “I thought that being able to talk directly to Pikachu was a really novel idea, but when I tried it for myself it was just embarrassing.” Reminds me of the day I decided to wear my home-made ghostbusters proton pack to school…

  • Gyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney)

ace attorney

Despite its humble beginnings as a Gameboy Advance title, this detective-cum-courtroom drama series is now a multi-platform smash and has even been turned into a live action movie, with Ace Attorney 5 scheduled to arrive in the West this autumn. Famous for its twisting plots and penchant for melodrama, the series has legions of fans at home and abroad who just can’t get enough of the games’ wild stories and yelling ‘objection!’ at their screens. Just don’t fall asleep during your adventure, though, or you’ll find yourself completely out of your depth. “I stopped playing part-way through and completely forgot what was going on in the story,” said one give-up gamer from Tokyo. Sleeping during a trial, sir!? For shame!

  • Machi e Ikouyo: Doubutsu no Mori (Animal Crossing: City Folk) 

game animal crossing

Nintendo’s Animal Crossing series, too, has garnered quite the fan base since its first outing on the Nintendo 64 in 2001. Going on to be re-released on the GameCube in 2004 and spawning DS, Wii and 3DS versions, the series isn’t showing any signs of settling down yet.

A town simulation of sorts, players take control of a customizable avatar, and are not so much tasked as offered the chance to interact with anthropomorphic animal villagers, explore, collect items and beautify their home. For one female gamer though, the world of Animal Crossing was so sedate and lovely that she had to pull the plug, remarking: “The game’s relaxed, easy-going pace just didn’t fit with my own.” For others, though, that same sedate virtual world is all too attractive, and late last year one man found himself turning to the internet for advice after his wife became “addicted” to the new 3DS version of the game. Welcome to Animal Crossing — you’ll never leave!

  • Saru Gecchu (Ape Escape)

game sarugecchu

Ape Escape, one of Sony’s many forays into the 3-D platformer genre, arrived just a couple of years after Nintendo blew gamers’ minds with Super Mario 64. Launched alongside Sony’s very first twin-sticked DualShock controller, Ape Escape quickly became a big hit on the 32-bit console and is still well known today, with the monkey character Spike playable in Sony’s recent PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale title. The game was released to positive reviews and spawned multiple sequels, but for some gamers in Japan Ape Escape proved just that bit too tricky. “From the very opening scene, the game was way too hard;” said one 24-year-old from Kanagawa Prefecture, “I just couldn’t play it.” And thus the world was doomed to fall at the hands of monkeys.

  • Roommania #203

gamames roomaniaThe reason the 33-year-old gamer from Tokyo gave for abandoning Dreamcast oddity Roommania #203 was that “all you do it mess around with objects in a room,” but we’re still glad they brought the title up. Never receiving an official Western release, the game focuses entirely on home life of a Tokyo student, Neji, and gives players the task of influencing the young man’s behaviour in subtle ways, ultimately helping to create a happier existence for him. The player is able to move objects in Neji’s room, encourage him to engage in various activities (smoking, sending email, watching TV…), and can read the young man’s diary while he’s out as a way of gauging his mood. Roommania #203 was ported to PlayStation 2 a year after its initial release, and although it never received a great deal of attention on the opposite side of the world, the game has something of a cult following here in Japan even today, and its original soundtrack is frequently shared and listened to online.

  • Chou Makai Mura (Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts)

game super ghouls

The third of Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins frantic platformer series, going under the far simpler title of ‘Demon Village’ here in Japan, appeared on Nintendo’s 16-bit Super Nintendo (or Super Famicom in Japan) platform way back in 1991. Sticking to its arcade roots, the SNES title, too, was mercilessly difficult, and few gamers can claim to have ever finished it without the use of cheat codes. In fact, one gamer from Hokkaido decided that “no matter how much” he played it he’d never be able to clear the game, so promptly abandoned his quest to save the fair maiden and stuffed the game in a box at the back of a cupboard.

  • Kyasarin (Catherine)

game catherineThe last entry in our list of video game shame is actually one of our own staff picks. It’s been playing on our minds for a long time, so we have to come out and say it: we quit on Atlus’ psychological horror-cum-puzzler Catherine just two days after buying it.

Told through puzzle-based gameplay and a series of superbly drawn original anime shorts, Catherine is the story of Vincent, a young man terrified of commitment and plagued by nightmares of climbing enormous, crumbling block towers while being questioned about his love life and pursued by giant babies and a pair of giant, demonic breasts.

Challenging players to think about love and fidelity, and asking questions such as “How far does one have to go before it could be defined as ‘cheating’?” the game is quite unlike any we’ve ever played. The only problem? It was way too hard for us! We’ll likely be inundated with messages questioning our gaming prowess for saying this, but after a couple of days of falling to our doom and failing again and again to clear the same one level, we switched off the console and went online to see how the story panned out. Catherine, we love you, but we never finished you and probably never will..

What about you, dear reader? Are there any video games that you’ve never been able to get through? Let us know in the comments section below. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with a little sample of the aforementioned horror puzzler. We’re sure that once you’ve watched the video you’ll want to see more, but be warned: Catherine is not a creature to be trifled with!

Survey results via: Niconico News
Images via Genki VideogamesSurugayabutumoriNerdTitangamedi,