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.
World 6-5 - Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
|Super Mario All-Stars ver.|
Whenever I play through Super Mario Bros. 3, I usually play through nearly every stage in the game. I say "nearly" because there are a handful of levels that leave me sighing in frustration. Of course one such level would have to be in the token ice world. Ironically, very little of the stage has to do with the cumbersome ice physics and more to do with the nature of reaching the exit.
You've encountered Buster Beetles before but their presents here is especially annoying because they are everywhere. You need these guys out of the way so they won't rob you of your Raccoon powers or interfere with your flight path to reach the top of the stage where the exit pipe lies. If you lose your Raccoon powers, you can take one of the two warp pipes over and over again for infinite power-ups. Keep in mind that this means you'll have to deal with those Buster Beetles all over again. You may have already tried flying to the top to reach the warp pipe that leads to the exit, only to find that there's a pair of Nipper Plants blocking your path. You obviously can't use a Fire Flower to kill them because it's already been established that the only way off this rock is Raccoon Mario. There's a lone Koopa Troopa at the bottom where the Buster Beetles are roaming around and you'll need to fly up to the Nipper Plants with the shell to take them out. Sweet, sweet freedom! This stage is aggravating because you have to jump through so many hoops just to finish it. Levels like World 6-5 are the very reason Lakitu's Cloud was invented.
Snow Barrel Blast - Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Ice and snow themed levels aren't favored all that much among gamers mainly due to the slip-sliding controls that accompany theme. But like World 6-5 in Super Mario Bros. 3, the slippery terrain isn't really an issue in Snow Barrel Blast. Oh sure, you slide around, but I can assure you as well as anyone else that's played Snow Barrel Blast, some slippery slopes are the least of your concerns here. Snow Barrel Blast is the very first level in the Gorilla Glacier area and it's one dozy of starting level.
Things start out deceptively simple. You've got some easily disposable mooks to get ride of. Nothing too complicated. That snow-covered background is quite beautiful to look upon, isn't it? As you travel onward, it begins to snow. The further long you go, the snow gets heavier and heavier until it becomes a full on blizzard, which hampers your visibility. Since the words "Barrel Blast" were used in the title, you know what that means, right? If you thought working with those Blast Barrels was tricky before, just wait until you use them in Snow Barrel Blast. Some of these barrels spin so fast that aiming them correctly seems like an impossible task and again, that blizzard isn't doing you any favors. As if things couldn't possibly get any worse, you've got some unkillable Zingers to contend with as you try to blast your way through the storm.
Unruly Blast Barrels, Zingers and one nasty blizzard combine to make Snow Barrel Blast one of the most frustrating levels I've ever encountered in a video game, winter themed or otherwise. Even the sadistic level designers took some pity on players because there's a shortcut near the end that allows you to completely bypass the final barrel blasting section, which is a section that even Satan himself shudders to think about.
The Dam - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
It isn't a perfect game, but I do feel some of the hatedom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gets is unwarranted. That said, one of the earliest levels in the game, while passable, more than deserves the negativity that it gets.
Shredder placed some bombs under the Manhattan waters and if they blow, the dam goes to pieces and New York is going to get a lot wetter. An underwater mission? This should be a cakewalk. I mean, the heroes of this games are turtles! Unfortunately being turtles doesn't prevent the green machines from being immune to the curse that plagues just about every single video game that has water: crappy swimming controls. The swimming controls for this game are stiff and this is a large part of what makes The Dam such a difficult level. What makes things even worse are the loads of electrical jolts that the turtles can get hit with and the plethora of electrical seaweed that will surly cost you a few turtles. The turtles have no mercy invincibility when they take damage so the longer they staff in the seaweed, the quicker their life is going to plummet. Worse still is the type of seaweed that can reach of and swallow the turtles whole. You know, letting that dam explode doesn't seem like the worse thing that could befall New York.
Clock Tower - Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
Clockwork levels have been a staple in the Castlevania franchise but I don't think they've ever induced rage quit like the one in Castlevania III. This was the first game in the series to allow you to play as multiple characters as well as offer branching level paths. Upon completing the first level, you're offered a choice between going underground or journeying through a massive clock tower. If you picked the Clock Tower, you've got one nasty pill to swallow.
As to be expected, the Clock Tower is filled with moving pendulums and spinning gears. I'm guessing those stiff jumping controls are hereditary because Trevor Belmont's jumping sucks just as bad as his descendant, Simon. Your jumps have to be incredibly precise in this level because if you're off by even a pixel, you're not going to make it. Often times you'll have to make jumps while standing on moving gears and pendulums and the vast majority of your deaths are going to come from attempting these leaps. The Medusa Heads littered about these stage don't make things any easier and they just love to attack while Trevor is on the stairs, which are just about as much of a headache as the freaking Medusa Heads. It isn't uncommon to get stuck on a set of stairs and miss a jump just by walking off a cliff.
Event 51: The Showdown - Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN)
By finishing all 50 events, you'll unlock Event 51, which is by far one of the the most arduous things Super Smash Bros. Melee will throw at you. This event pits you against Giga Bowser, Mewtwo and Gannondorf with a stock of three lives for everyone, yourself included. All three of these guys have a high AI setting and there are no stage gimmicks to assist you. It's quite easy to become overwhelmed since you have three opponents to deal with, and one of them is a gigantic version of Bowser. You do no't want to get surrounded by these guys as they will make absolute mincemeat out of you if they do. Stay on either the left or right side of the stage and attack from there, taking out Giga Bowser first if you can. A lot of people like to use Jigglypuff but I found success in Marth, finishing this challenge with two lives to spare after many attempts.