Top 10 Cruelest Game Overs

1. Total Distortion


Total Distortion was the ultimate zeitgeist of the insane PC Gaming scene in the mid-nineties. It sets you as the heir to a 3 million dollar inheritance. Of course, since you’re a sensible young lad or lass, the obvious thing to do would be to put the money into low-risk housing investments and live off the rental money, right? Nope! Instead, you decide to spend the money on building a trans-planar rocket ship so you can travel to the dimension of rock, and follow your dreams of becoming a music video producer.

Right from the start, Total Distortion pulls no punches with the player. Even in the opening scene where you select the difficulty for your playthrough – you are taunted mercilessly. Your guide for the proceedings – the bouffant-haired gameshow host from hell “Mr. Big” – ridicules you as a coward for trying to play on one of the easy settings, and openly laughs at your arrogance if you try one of the harder difficulty levels.

There’s plentiful opportunities to die on your foolhardy quest, such as immediately after leaving your rocket ship – when you encounter a guitar warrior who bars your way past. If you challenge him to a duel, he’ll start blasting you with tasty riffs from his demonic axe, ultimately killing you with the sheer power of rock.

Once you’re defeated though; you will hear one of the greatest songs in gaming history. If nothing else, Total Distortion will always be remembered for this one blisteringly mean-spirited sonic masterwork:

No stone is left unturned as you’re lyrically destroyed. You’re laughed at for your “lousy score”. Your rotting corpse is described in excruciating detail as your powerless non-existence is lampooned. You’re referred to as a “pitiful waste of a human life”. All of this is strung together by a funky melody – the chorus continually repeating “You are dead… dead… DEAD!” – driving your death home with the pounding insistence of a jackhammer on a sidewalk.

After all of it though – after completely eviscerating you in every possible sense – the song ends on a conciliatory note. You’re still offered that one olive branch that all games offer. You’re still given that one option; that one choice that we should always always take when life is hardest, our dreams seem most distant, and the world seems most cruel and unfair.

The last lyric simply states:

“Try again!”

Jonathan is HeyPoorPlayer's token British person, so expect him to thoroughly exploit this by quoting Monty Python and saying things like "Pip, pip, toodly-whotsit!" for the delight of American readers. He likes artsy-fartsy games, RPGs and RPG-Hybrids (which means pretty much everything at this point). He used to write for He's also just realised how much fun it is to refer to himself in the third person like he's The Rock or something.

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