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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

That One Level Part 1

You're trucking along in a game just fine and then, IT happens. What is IT, you ask? Why, it's the level that trips you up over and over again and makes you wanna crack your controller in two. TV Tropes likes to call these areas That One Level because despite all the colors these levels may or may not have, the stage has you seeing only one color: red.

Marsh Cave - Final Fantasy (Multiplatform)

The Marsh Cave is the first big dungeon of Final Fantasy but don't think it's gonna pull any punches because of that. This underground cavern consists of three enormous, maze-like floors. Some floors house duplicate chests, meaning that if you opened up a certain chest on floor 2, a chest on floor 3 will be empty and you'll have wasted valuable steps going to open a chest that had jack in it. Did I mention that the original Final Fantasy, regardless of which version you're playing has an astronomically high random encounter rate? The monsters in the Marsh Cave don't screw around. A few of them are heavy hitters but the big threats come from the ones that love to use paralyzing and poisonous attacks. Needles to say, antidotes, softs and your White Mage are going to be your best friends in the Marsh Cave. A few treasure chests have fixed encounters that you cannot run away from. The music that plays in the Marsh Cave, Dungeon is a perfect auditory example of what your experience is going to be like in this place.

Plant Man Stage - Mega Man 6 (NES)

One of my least favorite Robot Masters has the level that I despise the most in Mega Man 6. Plant Man's stage begins perfectly fine at first. There are some mechanical grasshoppers attempting to hide in the grass but are easily seen and disposed off, but once you pass the mini boss that resembles Guts Man, the stage takes a turn for the annoying. Shortly after this mini boss is a lengthy platforming section over a long bottomless pit. The only thing keeping Mega Man from plummeting to his death are closed platforms that you have to shoot to open up. Unfortunately, the restless natives, robot beetles and robot fish, do their best to make you lose your footing and send you into the drink. From time to time, this area mixes things up by making you cross the gaps with springs. Combine these bouncing things with the fish and beetles over a bottomless pit and you've got one of the most irksome sections in the entire classic Mega Man series. Oh and if you die during this portion of Plant Man's stage, you have to do it all over again because the's level's check point is right after the first gorilla-looking Guts Man robot.

Rainbow Road - Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

Seven Mario Kart games and seven Rainbow Roads. Mario Kart Wii's iteration of the course is the only one I loath with a fiery passion. Now a Rainbow Road without much in the way of barriers to keep you from falling off isn't anything new. In fact the very first Rainbow Road from Super Mario Kart was the hardest course in the game because it had zero barriers. However, in Mario Kart Wii's Rainbow Road, it's so much easier to fall off the course than any other version of Rainbow Road. There are multiple paths you can take and lots of places to catch some air and perform tricks, but gaining too much speed and prove disastrous due to all the sharp turns, holes in the course and of course, the main sections where there is absolutely nothing to keep you from falling off into Earth's atmosphere and suffering what looks to be a pretty morbid death. Since this is the last course of Mario Kart Wii, I suppose it should be the hardest, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Turbo Tunnel - Battletoads (NES)

By now it isn't really a secret that Battetoads is one of the most punishing games in the history of the medium. But what may come as a surprise to some is that, unlike Ghosts 'n Goblins, Battletoads doesn't smack the player in the head with it's difficulty right off the bat. Now, the true pain doesn't commence until you reach, the third level, Turbo Tunnel, which is also the first of many racing sections. After some standard beat 'em up fare, you reach some hover bikes and herein lies the true horrors of the Turbo Tunnel. As you move along you have to dodge walls on a high and low plane as well as make quick jumps over to the next platform. It may not seem all that maddening at first but things speed up as you go on to the point where I don't even think Sonic the Hedgehog would be able to keep pace. The only thing worse than trying to do this solo is trying to complete this stage with a friend. You've seriously got a better chance at achieving world peace than you do finishing this stage with a pal. If you even blink when it reaches max speed, you're dead. Lots of gamers have actually stopped playing the game once they've reached Turbo Tunnel. The level is that freaking hard.

Metropolis Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GEN)

The last of the full fledged multi-act Zones in Sonic 2, Metropolis Zone is by far the most aggravating, frustrating, smash-you-controller-through-your TV zone in all of Sonic 2. It wouldn't feel right to list a single act of this zone for this feature because the truth is, all three acts of Metropolis Zone will make your blood boil. You read right, three acts. Unlike all the previous zones, Metropolis Zone has three acts and each one of them will test your sanity. Each act is long, complex and even some portions of the levels can loop around, making it easy to get lost. There's also a wide assortment of ways for you to die here. Lava pits, crushers, spears that extract from the ground, running on a giant nut into a ceiling of spikes, this zone has it all. But the real death bringers are Slicers, Shellcrakers and Asterons, the three mooks of Metropolis Zone and most diabolical selection of Badniks Robotnik has ever created. Asterons, are little star-like robots that love to hang out in the walls and explode into five pieces when you get close enough to them. Shellcrakers are bigger Crabmeats with a huge extendable claw and a super tiny hit box if you're going for a head stomp and he's frequently found in narrow hallways, making him that much harder to dispose off. Slicers are praying mantis robots that throw their blades upon seeing you and said blades can circle around for another shot. All three of these guys are positioned in the worst places you can imagine and even if you've collected all the Chaos Emeralds, these Badniks make it near impossible to keep any set of rings for long.

Part 2


Chalgyr Vokel said...

All 'worthy' picks, but of them? Battle Toads for the frustration! That game was one of the hardest NES games I ever played.

Reggie White Jr. said...

Turbo Tunnel is without question the toughest level on this list. It's one of the many reasons I refuse to play the game again.