Over the three decades I’ve been playing video games, I have played through a great variety of levels of varying difficulty. Some levels have been so easy I wondered what the point of them was, a vast proportion got them just right and a few were difficult. Now, these difficult video game levels were not just difficult they were so frustratingly difficult that many a pad ended up being smashed into a wall in frustration.
Specifically, these are my top ten most annoyingly difficult video game levels.
10. Can’t Wait to be King (The Lion King)
Surely there can’t be anything annoyingly difficult about a Disney move spin-off game. Surely not? Everything has to be all happy songs, and cute cuddly adorable characters, right? Well yes and no, despite all of those being throughout the 16Bit Sega Genesis Lion King there was one level in particular that stressed even the most relaxed ten year old. The second Level ‘Just Can’t Wait to Be King’ has you being thrown by monkeys, jumping on moving giraffes, and swinging on Hippo tails. Most of the level you’re either moving fast or being thrown about. Choose the wrong monkey and you’re thrown in the wrong place and you fall and die. In short you have to memorise the whole level and do it quickly. No small feat for a ten year old.
9. Jumping the Hawk (Fantasy World Dizzy)
Way back when you were lucky to have more than 16 colours on the screen at once there was a puzzle game series by Codemasters, about a plucky young egg called Dizzy and all the Yolkfolk. In one particular adventure, Fantasy World Dizzy there was a bird pathing from side to side, and you had to time it just right to jump passed him, otherwise he would swoop down and kill you. The timing was insanely difficult to master, plus you only had three lives and no save function. Screw it up three times and you’re starting the game from the beginning again.
8. Chasing Elmyra (Tiny Toons: Busters Hidden Treasure)
In one of the many 8 and 16bit games that featured the Tiny Toons, it was Busters Hidden Treasure on the Sega Genesis that took me way too many tries to get right. The level starts off with Elmyra (A young girl that tends to be rather violent with her bunny hugs and kisses) starting to chase you as Buster Bunny. You have to keep your speed up, and avoid the obstacles to ensure that Elmyra doesn’t get her hands on you. Slip up and you face plant the obstacles and Elmyra “hugs you and squeezes you”. The music that accompanies the level made the whole thing even better, good level but infuriatingly easy to slip up on.
7. Nefarian (World of Warcraft)
Nefarion is the first of two World of Warcraft bosses who have made it into this ‘most difficult video game’ list. Nefarion is a black dragon who sits at the far reaches of Blackwing Lair. As far as bosses go, he is fairly standard. He has a number of phases and special abilities that take skill, timing and practice to get right. However, the thing that puts him in this list are his class call-outs. Periodically, during Phase 2 he will call out classes, and that class will then suffer some penalty for several seconds. Unless, you just happen to play a Hunter, which I do.
The Hunter’s class call instantly breaks your currently equipped ranged weapon. So, when the call goes out you’ve got to un-equip your weapon or lose it. There are various macros you can set up to ensure you equip and re-equip quickly, but with so many other things going on it’s easy to miss your class call and then lose your epic weaponry till you get to repair it, leaving you running around trying to sucker-punch the legendary dragon boss into submission. By the way, this never ends well.
6. Labyrinth Level (Sonic the Hedgehog)
If you look at pretty much any ‘Most Difficult Video Game Levels’ list you’re going to see the watery Labyrinth level from Sonic the Hedgehog. Pretty much any other sonic level is filled with speedy ramps, and places for you to really feel the spiky blue speed. The labyrinth level is underwater for most of it, so it’s slow and considering hedgehogs aren’t water mammals they have to breath which means ensuring you get between breathing spots as quickly as possible. Start to run out of breath and you hear the ‘duh-duh duh-duh duh-duh’ music. Leave it long enough and Sonic gasps for air and drowns.
5. Dam Level (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Another very popular choice for an annoyingly difficult video game level is the Dam Level (Otherwise known as the ‘Dam-It’s-Hard Level’) in the 8-Bit version of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Like the underwater level of Sonic the Hedgehog, you have to deal with traveling underwater, electrified seaweed, plant life that drains your energy, a maze like level to swim around in and task of disarming 8 bombs. We can only assume that Konami hated us all for some great wrong and were punishing us accordingly.
4. Through the Fire and the Flames (Guitar Hero 3)
For those who’ve played any of the very popular Guitar Hero or Rockband games, most tracks are fairly do-able on hard given enough practice. That is until you try Through the Fire and the Flames in Guitar Hero 3. A track released by Dragonforce is packed full of hand-cramping rifts, and an insanely quick tempo. There is no slow beginning, a soon as the song starts both of your hands start to cramp up into gnarled claws. Getting through the round without simply being booed off stage is achievement enough, though there a few dextrous guitar gods out there that can do it. Many of us embarrassingly bash away at this song on moderate or easy.
3. All of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
The text adventure The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has gone down in history as one of the most infuriatingly diabolically difficult video game text adventure games ever devised. With a combination of text semantics, infuriatingly bizarre puzzles and instant deaths popping up all over the place, it earns its title well. Fairly early on in the whole game, you leave your house and see junk mail. You can pick it up but if you try and read it there and then a digger drops its claw on you and kills you. So as you can imagine, there aren’t many people who can say they’ve completed this game and even fewer of those that aren’t under psychological counseling.
2. M Bison (Streetfighter II)
M Bison or “That Go**amn F***ing! Aaaaaaaagh!” as I often rather colorfully referred to him as, was the cause of many broken joypads. When played on higher difficulty levels, the last boss of the famous Beat-em Up Street Fighter II could attack and keep you bouncing in the air, with absolutely nothing you could do about it, except scream and smash your controller into the nearest wall when your unconscious body finally hit the ground.
1. C’Thun (World of Warcraft)
The top space for this list goes to someone, or should I say something that was actually and literally un-killable. The Final Boss of the 40 man World of Warcraft raid Temple of Ahn’Qiraj the god C’Thun was so difficult that at first that he was actually set at a level too high for even the most geared players to kill. Needless to say that C’Thun was eventually hit with the nerf stick and dropped to a more manageable level. There is nothing in a better position for most annoyingly difficult video game level than a boss that is actually godlike and can’t be killed. Think of all those wasted repair bills.