The Ryan Lambie column: 7 top frustration-busting games

When you've got some rage to work through, here are seven classic videogames to come to your rescue...

Mr Ryan Lambie's amazing joypad.

Whichever line of work you’re in, regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant it may be – whether you’re a taste tester in a cake factory or a trainee inseminator at a turkey farm – it’s pretty much guaranteed that every now and then you’ll have One Of Those Days. The kind of day where fortune sticks two fingers in your face and everything seems to go dreadfully wrong. Today was One Of Those Days. I won’t bore you with the details (because they’re very, very boring indeed) but I came very close to wheeling a well-known brand of printer into the car park and battering it into oblivion with a baseball bat.

Thankfully, rather than run screaming into the night, we have video games to take out all our work-a-day anguish and negative emotion out on; and while some games are quite likely to wind you up into a seething frenzy themselves, there are some that are so empowering and satisfying that within a few minutes you’re laughing and jeering at the screen maniacally like Tony Montana at the end of Scarface – or at least, that’s what I end up doing. Sometimes.

Anyway, here are a few games I would recommend for venting all your pent-up frustration:


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Proof that games were just as violent twenty years ago as they are today, the ZX Spectrum’s port of Taito’s arcade beat-em-up featured one of the most majestic strike combinations in video game history. With a bit of practice it was possible to back-kick a player in the stomach, turn around and knee them in the nethers, then grab them and fling them over your shoulder. With the correct timing and positioning, you could chuck enemies off the edge of a pier or train platform, to unseen but presumably grizzly deaths. Nice!

Musha Aleste

Most old-school 2D shooters were spectacularly difficult, requiring a keen memory, solid reactions and patience to complete – virtues often in short supply after a nightmarish day at work. The Sega Megadrive’s Musha Aleste bucked the trend, with some of the most outrageously over-the-top weaponry you’re likely to see in a shoot-em-up; for once, it was the aliens who were outgunned, as your ship lit up the screen with omni-directional laser death.

Gears of War

What better way to unwind after a stressful day than to step into the shoes of Marcus Fenix, a man seemingly hewn out of two tonnes of granite? He may have the grunting demeanor of a caveman, but Fenix sure has some nifty weapons – witness the bloody carnage of the Lancer chainsaw bayonet-type thing, the hearty thwack as a shotgun blast meets hapless locust, or the Sodom and Gomorrah-style devastation that the Hammer of Dawn creates.

Just make sure you turn off your console before you get to the exploding Wretches – they’re pretty much guaranteed to raise your blood pressure…

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Burnout 2

This particular instalment in Criterion’s reckless driving simulator makes the list thanks to its pile-up mini-game. The goal is to create the most epic road accident possible by getting your chosen car up to warp speed and then ploughing into another vehicle. The ensuing chaos as cars rear-end each other, lorries jack-knife and vans careen through barriers is one of gaming’s greatest guilty pleasures.


Part cerebral tactics/management, part free-roaming futuristic-dystopian-cyborg gun-death action, Bullfrog’s complete and utter classic is one of the most gratifying real-time strategy games yet programmed. Its lo-def, isometric graphics don’t impress in quite the way they once did, but there’s something timeless about the core gameplay – and letting rip with mini-guns or launching missiles at trains never gets old.


Up there with F-Zero and the Burnout series as the genre’s fastest arcade racer, Trackmania also makes for the perfect after-work game. Its absence of direct competition (other players, either CPU controlled or human, appear on-screen but can’t be collided with) makes it one of the least frustrating virtual driving experiences possible. While getting the fastest lap times is still the key to victory, it’s equally challenging just staying on the course – Trackmania is a genuine white-knuckle ride through some of the most elaborate, twisty roads since the days of Stunt Car Racer.

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Final Fight

Rather like Musha Aleste, this early nineties beat-em-up gave players far more power than 90 per cent of its enemies. The best of the three selectable characters was Haggar, a skulking great brute of a man who divided his time between the twin vocations of mayor and a pro-wrestler. He was a foot taller than virtually every opponent in the game and could, with a little help from his trusty lead pipe, smash skulls like sparrow’s eggs. The poor old Mad Gear gang didn’t stand a chance.


Ryan writes his gaming column every week at Den Of Geek. Last week’s is here.