Your Best (And Worst) Video Game Stories

Your Best (And Worst) Video Game Stories

Some of our most memorable times with video games have little to do with the game itself, and everything to do with who we were, who we were with and what we were doing at the time. Here are some Kotaku reader's tales of triumph, despair, friendships lost, puking, battles with cancer, broken saves...

For reference, not that a few weeks ago I pulled up a chair and told some of my favourite video game stories. I also asked for readers to chime in with theirs, and what follows are the best of them.


After being diagnosed with cancer in late 2005, I needed radiation treatments for a month, every Mon-Fri at 12:30. I'd get home around 1:30, puke, smoke a bowl, and pop in MG3, which somehow had been sitting in my "to play" pile for way too long. I wouldn't play on the weekends; I'd save it for my post-treatment reward and got absolutely lost in that world for a solid month. I always thought it was so perfect that I defeated The Boss after my final treatment, like the game was perfect tailored for that time in my life. Ten years later I'm still cancer-free and will love that game like I love no other. Sometimes I think it was easier to beat cancer than it was to beat The End...


The year was 1998. The game was Pokemon Red. I literally had no idea what to do and was clueless as to why I was trapped in a bedroom. Then by chance, my character walked over the magical thing called stairs. The *step step step* noise echoed through the bad speaker and freedom was mine. This took longer than you would expect.


My grandfather had come to visit at some point after Mario Kart 64 had come out, either a January or February. That would have made me 10. He was watching me play it, and thought it looked like some fun, so I hooked a controller up for him. We had a blast, and that summer when I flew to visit him in the state where he lived he had bought both a Nintendo 64 and Mario Kart. That's all he bought.

Being a retired man with nothing better to do, he got good at the game. Very good. That jump in Wario Stadium at the beginning? He nailed it every time. He could make the jump across rainbow road. He could even do that crazy thing in Mario Raceway that let you beat the course in a matter of seconds. And he relished, every year, beating my arse at Mario Kart. The worst one was one summer when I was 16 or 17 maybe he purposefully gave me a head start in Wario Stadium just so he could save up a lightning bolt and bolt me during that jump during our last lap, beating me yet again. I don't think it broke, but I did throw his controller.

After he died in 2012, I had my mum and grandma send me his copy of Mario Kart 64, and occasionally I'll pop it in to race one of his ghosts. All these years later, and I still can't beat him.


Myself and three friends were having a Dark Souls two-players-one-controller race. Myself and my partner had a massive lead, but as you might expect, that was whittled down slowly by Ornstein and Smough until both teams were fighting the duo at the same time.

Their team killed him first and stopped to watch the action as we attempted to finish them off. We had killed Ornstein and were fighting lightning Smough... one hit to go... My friend goes in for the hit being on the left side of the controller as Smough begins his lightning sit move... there's no time to back away as I frantically mash Circle.

We died. With one hit remaining. We never finished the race.


Playing the original Diablo Co-Op. Me and a friend were on different parts of the map. I found myself all of sudden in a room surrounded by what felt like Woodstock for Skeletons. I hacked through hundreds of them while quaffing down healing potions and emerged victorious with a sliver of heath left. As I cheered to my buddy, he let loose an arrow of victory, far off screen.

Of course by a miracle, it hit me and I died.

Couldn't stop laughing for days.

Your Best (And Worst) Video Game Stories


The game: Shinobi, on the PS2. This was an already particularly difficult game, but for whatever reason, maybe there was a personal drought in games available, it's a game I played and replayed.

The game allowed you to string together kills if you were quick enough under the "tate" system, if you kill a sufficient number in a small enough area you'll get a mini-cutscene of them exploding, so the key to the game was stringing together enough tate kills in a fast enough time. Time is another key factor because it's constantly eating away at your health, and you can't plan or move slowly without dying. Besides that, there's a really weird platforming system in the game where for long stretches you'll have to use walls and enemies in conjunction not to fall to your death. More than anything it was like a super fast paced puzzle game.

But not only was it a game that was intensely difficult, it was a game with a ranking system, so naturally I wanted an S-Rank on every stage. Which didn't actually prove that time consuming, after all, even though it's a game many people who've played have copped to never beating.

Anyway, you beat the game on Normal, which is difficult enough, then on Hard, which obviously requires more practice and patience, before attempting S-Ranks on Super (which was US-only, for some reason) which really taxed me. I was using the default character, Hotsuma to try this (other characters make it easier but I wasn't using them for some reason I can't remember now) and was playing level 6-B trying to ace it. I tried countless times, probably like 16 hours in total. I finally beat it and was ecstatic. It saved, I turned off the PS2. When I came back, it was saved before the fight. I was so defeated, I never played the game again.


I grew up with the NES, and always loved RPGs. But one I could never beat was the original final fantasy. Everything was just so agonizingly slow. I couldnt deal with it. I'd tried to so many times over the years.

About six years ago I decided to give it yet another try. While on the main screen I accidentally pressed Right. A little box at the bottom of the screen that said "Respond Rate 1" now said "Respond Rate 8"

I know I yelled something along the lines of "God damnit!" loud enough to startle my room mate as I realised I'd been trying to play the game with the slowest possible text speed for all these years. Turning it to 8 made text appear instantly.

I beat it two days later.


My friend and I in college were playing Resident Evil at 3am during a storm. We were doing pretty good, had the lights off, were laughing and joking. Then the dog happened. I had the controls, walking down this normal hallway when a giant zombie dog crashed through a window and attacked. I screamed. My friend screamed. Then the power went out. We were trying to be cool but we were freaked out. Then we heard a banging on the window and we both LOST IT. Turns out it was my friend's idiot roommate. He had gotten locked out and would often just come in through the ground floor window but we had closed it and locked it because of the rain. God, I have never been so terrified. It was hilarious.


I remember once at a party, a bunch of people were playing SSX Tricky when they insisted I give it a shot, as I normally had a slight edge but this time I was hammered and high as a kite. They sat me down on the couch and placed the controller in my hand. I could barely focus and remember swaying a lot. I grabbed Mac and the Alaska map and went to town.

What started off as cheering as I hit the first few ×5 multipliers quieted down as I proceeded having the greatest run ever, hitting every big jump and ×5 multiplier as I went. When I crossed the finish line, the entire party had migrated to the TV room and a huge cheer erupted. My score was north of 1.3 million which annihilated my best ever performance.

I responded by running to the bathroom and throwing up.

That's about as fitting a note to end this on as I can think of. If you've got any tales that didn't make the cut, leave them below and I'll see about adding them!


    Did the AU readers even get to participate in this one?

    EDIT: Ah, so the original story was also cross-posted here, but it seems only responses from the US version were used in the followup.

    Last edited 06/04/16 10:11 am

      That's pretty much what happens with every single one of these type of articles. Would be nice if Kotaku au actually ran these more often. I've seen one aussie one in the last year.

    there used to be a time that a friend and i started playing Xmen VS Streetfighter on the PS1 at the same time. and we both played it and played it and played it and played it to death against each other. it got to the point where we got so used to playing each other, our matches would literally come down to the point where we would win only by inflicting block damage or in the slight chance a combo or super didnt get pulled off at the right time and the other person capitalised. none of this 60 second timer business, we would spend between 5 and 10 minutes playing one round, trying to get the best of each other. and then because of how tense we would be trying to defend and counter, the loser would always have a mini rage fit, followed by fits of laughter.
    some of my fondest memories of gaming are with that game.

      You pretty much just explained a friend and I playing Soul Calibur 4. Me as Cervantes, he as Mitsurugi. Matches could last forever.

    Goldeneye 007 deathmatches after school at whomevers' place. It was great because I nearly always dominated. Stack with Rockets was especially good. I knew all the sercret passages and as someone tried entering the main room, a rocket would shoot under the door as it was opening before they ever saw me.

    Great achievements and unlocks were invincibility cheat in 007 (plus beating the whole game on hardest setting), battles on foot in Lylat Wars 64 (Star Fox 64), 101% completing DK64, getting top rank in Rogue Squadron. I'm sure a few others which I will think of at some point.

    Oh yeah, got the surfing Pikachu in Pokemon Yellow.

      Slappers only, no Oddjob.

        A lot of people mention that. I played slappers once or twice but we never found it to be much fun.

          i was the same, rockets and proximity mines were the funniest/funnest

    Operation Flashpoint in 2001. A friend and I were playing a coop mission. Captured a town and the next mission was to defend the town. In a matter of minutes the town was overrun with tanks and troops and here we were with a few rounds and a few satchel charges. After about 10 minutes of sneaking around I found out that the supply cache had an unlimited supply of satchel charges. So I spent the next hour sneaking around the town avoiding being spotted while placing literally hundreds of satchel charges. While I did this my friend snuck out of the town and headed to the extraction point where he found an Apache Chopper waiting to extract us after the mission. The pilot refused to leave without me so my friend shot the pilot, took the Chopper and preceded to strafe the town with hellfire missiles while I snuck into the mountains. After the forces were scattered throughout the town I engaged the satchel charges. There was a brief amazing fireworks show before the game crashed under the weight of the hell we brought down on the town.

    The night was still young, we had only started playing 4 hours ago so we loaded another mission. Destroy the tanks in several facilities. All we have is a couple of AK74SU's (silenced rifles) and a few satchel charges. After roughly 4 hours of sneaking around placing charges a patrol comes passed with tanks. We hide in the bushes. As the patrol is moving less than 2 feet from us I'm whispering "Ok, after they pass we make a run for those tanks. I'll cover while you place the charges". My friend shouts "Why the hell are your whispering?!"

    We were both laughing so hard that we didn't see the approaching tank that squished both of us. Even though we failed after many hours we were both still laughing hard until we turned to the TV we had on in the background and wondered why one of the WTC towers was burning.

    Eventful night on one of the greatest games ever made.

      Flashpoint was pretty damn good. Bit bullshit on how far the NPCs would engage at, but still... really great. First time using ironsights only, no crosshair.

      But man, that day... that day, man.
      Flashback: I had an online game scheduled and got up to log in and saw a mail in my box saying that it was canceled 'in light of the circumstances.'

      I'm all confused and jumping onto ICQ (an ancient chat program) to find out what 'the circumstances are' and these Americans are incredulously asking if I'm living in a cave, so I turn on the TV and yeah. There's the tower, burning. The first one.

      I've got the volume up and people are walking sleepily into the common room to hear what's so serious on the news and why it isn't like... video hits or something. We're all just sort of watching, stunned, when the second plane hits. Couldn't believe it. The Iranian exchange student - normally a really chill dude - just jaw-drops from cleaning his teeth and is like, "Ohhhh shiiiiit. Oh fuck I really, really hope no-one from my country is responsible for this. This is going to turn to shit."

      Headed to the uni to check in with everyone there, picked up a copy of all the different newspapers with their various 'WAR' headlines for posterity, answer a call from Mum asking me not to enlist (she knew I had loads of US friends online and had been dating an American girl). Get to the refec at Uni, and the news is all over the TVs there. The towers go down...

      And some fuck-head exchange students at a corner table actually started cheering. Cheering.
      They considerably misjudged the cultural attitude of where they were. They left on stretchers.

    Best - First time beating marvel vs capcom at the arcade and whipping everyone who challenged me on the way there.
    Worst - First time snapping someone's neck in condemned. The sound of the spine breaking made me feel ill.

    The main memory of note (having finished many games in my time) would be the time finishing the original Syndicate.

    I first bought it when i was a kid, only progressing to the 3rd or 4th mission, getting stuck so proceeding to systematically wipe out the city and being totally clueless as to how to progress.

    Fast forward about 20 years and i bought it up on GOG, played it gradually over a week and finished it. I must say that was one of the most satisfying games i've ever completed, up there with the original X-Com =)

    Recently if would be, Far Cry Primal.

    Playing with Urki's (the 'dumb-American' dude) body when you first 'kill' him..... that rag-doll and those noises he made kept me laughing as I tracked up mountains caring his moaning body and the inevitable throw off the top. Also feeding him to a leopard was nice too.

    So many memories flooding back. Weekends of Doom 2 deathmatch. Coming around a corner in dead simple with a shotgun and only milliseconds to react, or firing a rocket down the hallway in the first stage hoping someone would come around the corner just as the rocket arrived, then hearing screams of laughter when it works.

    Or playing the motoracer demo while playing My Sharona in the background 'cause it went perfectly in time with the demo stage, and taking turns to see who could get the best time. Each time breaking the record by less than a second. Must have played that stage over 2000 times and still can't remember who had the best time in the end. Probably me though.

    Many years ago, playing Counterstrike over the university network. Many fast and furious games.

    From your dorm room, you could call any other dorm room for free. I remember killing a mate and then the phone rings. I answer and immediately hear "YOU F*ING CAMPER". Once I stop laughing I called him back and yelled "IT'S A LEGITIMATE STRATEGY".

      Man, that was one of the best things about playing on the College dorm LAN. High speed, no lag, plenty of fellow nerds to play with.

      ...And yes, I knew one guy who fancied himself a bit of a pro (and he was pretty decent, just nowhere near as good as he thought he was - too much reliance on AWP). We didn't have the room to room dialling, though. So this fella... well. He wore thongs everywhere, so every now and then if you killed him early enough in a match and he was facing a lengthy respawn, you'd hear from the hallway the sound of thongs furiously slapping on the concrete stairs as this guy practically sprinted up three floors to burst into your room and accuse, "THAT WAS BULLSHIT. NO WAY YOU SAW ME," or similar.

      It was almost as if he was expecting to catch you wall-hacking or something similarly shit (which would never happen - I used to play for an audience; a decade ago before streaming, it was just a couple guys sitting on the edge of the bed), instead of realizing that it doesn't matter if you crouch, it still makes a noise when you're in a vent. (Also that it's sometimes fun to shoot vents even if you can't tell if someone's in there, because they MIGHT be. Sixth sense and all that, yo.)

        It was awesome. Max Payne, StarCraft, Counterstrike, Ghost Warrior, Diablo, Rainbow 6. Just sharing and playing games over the Uni network. Lots of friendly competition and much boasting.

        I think the only time we could ever work together was in StarCraft against one guy. He had a crappy computer and whenever he entered combat it would just make the entire game slow down. So we would all try to kill him off just to make the game faster lol.

    Best - When I became so competent at guitar hero that nobody in my circle of friends or their circle of friends would challenge me
    Worst - When I became so competent at guitar hero that nobody in my circle of friends or their circle of friends would challenge me

      Hah. I remember visiting a mate's place, and one of his other guests had brought Guitar Hero. None of us had tried it before, so it was going to be a very newb-friendly experience. I hadn't played it before, but my roomies played it all the time, so I was kind of looking forward to trying it first-hand... but I dunno, I guess because I'd seen it played enough, I did really well on my first run. So the person who brought it complained that I was lying about never having played it before, and packed it all away, because it wasn't going to be a fair competition anymore.

        Initially I was completely disinterested in the game as well. One of my friends bought it, I was around at their place thinking "That's stupid, you're stupid" but I didn't like not being good at a particular game that my friends played (because I am an asshole like that) I then bought it myself and a few months down the track I was forced out of friendly competitions because I didn't like playing on easy or medium. thankfully when world tour and 5 were released, you could play on 2 different difficulties in multiplayer.

      When we first picked up guitar hero we didn't sleep for 2 days. It was like "Man this is terrible and I'm really tired.... but one more song won't hurt"

    High school sleep-over playing a newly-released dungeon-crawler: 'Diablo'.
    No guides, no previews or walkthroughs, no idea what we were getting into. Sitting with a mate taking turns to play, well into the witching hour... we were under-geared for what we were getting into, but were determined to press on, down through the levels. And there it was: a new tile-set. Hell itself. Fire and brimstone and fear. Cautiously we crept to uncover the fog of war amidst these terrifying new sounds and dangerous, hard-to-fight enemies...

    ...And the bloody cat attacked our ankles in a fit of midnight hyperactivity. We nearly fell out of our damn chairs.

    My brother and I were playing Donkey Kong Country 2 on the SNES. He was pretty good and I wasn't (I was the older brother but preferred puzzle games over platformers) and this set the scene for what can only be described as a skit for the Two Stooges.

    We were in a lava level when suddenly he pressed select and said, 'Your turn.'

    Now I had seen him play that section many times before and it required good timed jumps from one hot air filled balloon to the next.

    Needless to say I immediately pressed select and, 'Oh noitisn't.'

    He did the same and mimicked my rushed speech with, 'Oh, yesitis!'

    This went back and forth five times before I just threw my character in the lava and said, 'Not so smart now, eh?'

    Two balloons later he found a DK barrel, opened it and as soon as he got control back threw his character into the lava and said 'Your turn now!'.

    Needless to say I got owned in that segment but I just didn't have the heart to throw my character in and waste a life.

    Last edited 06/04/16 12:40 pm

    That story by Carlsama is awesome

    Last edited 06/04/16 2:08 pm

    Super Metroid. I knew I'd love it if only I could get my young teenage mitts on it. One day I did. And I did indeed love the shit out of it.

    But there was a problem, after the first couple of bosses I would get stuck. I'd checked everywhere. Tried everything. Over the next few months I'd just constantly restart the game. This was in the Era before gamefaqs and everyone being online, I was at the mercy of the game design.

    Crestfallen, I didn't play for a while and lent my friend the game. He played it, also getting stuck where I did. Time passed.

    And then one day, my friends much older brother was playing, just to kill some time. He had shot down in a cavern and lo and behold destroyed some blocks we had no idea could be destroyed, thereby gaining us access to the next area! Having no investment in the game he simply remarked in an arrogant manner : " here you go ya little turd I found the way forward" and promptly walked away from it, throwing the pad to my mate.

    Being a Saturday, my friend rushed to the phone, rang me up, and a sleepover was organised. What followed was one of my most prized all night gaming sessions, as we marched onward, through Meridia and all the other areas I can't remember the names of, until we defeated mother brain.

    Sometimes you just need to know a single mechanic of a game, just that some unambiguous parts of the environment can indeed be destroyed without being told so, and that's all it takes.

    That Super Metroid. It's alright.

    Street fighter alpha on ps1 had a mode where you could play three player (ryu and ken , players ) vs m bison (CPU) it's was brutally hard. Landing duel super moves or co-op combos on that bastard was like magic. We once played for 10 hours straight: I never understood why this feature was omitted from every street fighter game since! Sacrilege!!!

    I may have mentioned this one here before sometime.

    Anyways. Raid time in WoW, I think it was a 40 man (Remember those?) in one of the tier 2 raid dungeons. Playing my warlock, boss coming up that drops my warlock shoulders ( the tier 2 ones).
    For some reason my pc keeps restarting, to the annoyance of myself and my team mates. I stay in the raid long enough for my shoulders to drop and get them as the other locks in the group already have them. Then again for the final time my PC screen starts going a bit funny, streaky lines etc.
    Nek minnit, "what's that electric burning smell?" ...." Is that a campfire inside my pc?" ....."OH COOL!!!!11!! MY GRAPHICS CARD IS ON FIRE!!!!!!! Always wanted to see what that looked like!!!"

    I do not lie about this story, it happened. Once the fire went out, I rang the shop, booked it in and they sent it away to be fixed. "Nah mate, I'm really not sure why it happened....."

    Don't overclock your graphics card if you don't know what you're doing kids, or at least ask for help.

    I can't believe I didn't get the chance to tell the story of how I became the #1 spartan in the world of a particular Halo game with a certain weapon on a particular playlist. Yes, I'm that awesome.

    Here is a story of my own.
    So my friend and I we were playing at her house. I brought my game of Skyrim on the 360 over for her to play because she didn't have that many games. She had me make her character for her and when I had spent 15 minutes making this perfect Redguard goddess she changed her mind and wanted a Nord. So I got a lil annoyed. Just a lil. So I put it on the hardest difficulty when she went to the bathroom then let her play. She got all the way to that little farm outside Whiterun where the Companions are fighting that giant. She was a mage and accidentally set Farkas on fire so he turned hostile. So he is killing her and I am screaming B! PRESS B WOMAN! B! B! BBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! her head got chopped off and she was just looking at me. And you know what. That whole time it wasn't even saving because her memory card was full. Also I think the neighbors heard me.
    So now whenever I go pass her house. I shout BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
    So yeah that was a little over an hour of my life wasted.

    I can't believe nobody is posting this.

      *recognizes first two panels*
      *close all windows ever*

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