I’m convinced that if most of the video games we loved as a kid came out today, no one would play them. So many games were full of insanely difficult levels that would quickly be abandoned so we could go watch a monkey eat a scone on YouTube or watch one of 800,000 instant movies on Netflix.
After opening up these old wounds from my childhood that had been suppressed by years of separation, I rounded up the ten toughest video game levels from childhood.
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out: Mike Tyson
I have no idea how I defeated Tyson as a kid. I tried playing "Punch Out" again as an adult and had no problems until I reached the juggernaut known as Iron Mike. His punches are so quick that you barely have time to react, his health is nearly impossible to chip away. Oh yeah ... and if he hits you even once, your energy completely depletes and you get knocked down.
Guitar Hero 3: Through Fire and Flames
When "Guitar Hero 2" became a sensation, I was hooked. I felt like a rock star playing along with Cheap Trick and Nirvana. Then "Guitar Hero 3" made me feel like a complete idiot. There is no way it’s as difficult to play "Through Fire and Flames" on an actual guitar as it is on expert. I was good enough to beat the game on hard and I struggled to finish this song on medium.
Contra: Final Level
I’m going to make a statement that I will proudly stand by: No one can beat "Contra" without using the 30 lives cheat code. The final level of "Contra" features weird suicide mission soldiers, alien creatures and a giant heart that you have to destroy. Thank God for the Game Genie or I would still be trying to hunt down a spread gun to beat this level.
Mega Man 2: Dr. Wiley’s Level
So after working your way through all the difficult levels, you reach Dr. Wiley. It’s time for the big fight, right? Not even close. You have to battle through some ridiculous enemies, including a mechanical dragon that you have to fight while jumping between three tiny blocks the size of your feet. It’s absolutely awful.
Madden ’04: Atlanta Falcons
It may seem weird to include a football team, but the developers at EA Sports went a little overboard in 2004. Michael Vick was the cover athlete and was apparently mistaken for a cheetah. If you were playing someone and they picked Atlanta, you were finished. All they had to do was drop back to pass and as soon as your players dropped back into pass coverage, Vick would scramble and gain a huge chunk of yardage every time. He was like a walking cheat code.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Dam
Here’s a note to video game developers: No one likes water levels! "Super Mario Bros" made some tough ones, but the most difficult one ever belongs to "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" on NES. For some reason, you have to complete all of the stupidly difficult tasks on a timer. Can’t turtles breathe under water? There are bombs to diffuse and a ridiculous amount of inventory to collect. Splinter never trained us for this.
Battletoads: Turbo Tunnel
Why did the creators of "Battletoads" hate us? There was no save feature, no continues, it was impossible to even come close to winning with only one player and you only get three lives. Also, they made it to where you could accidentally attack each other with one-hit kills! Why? I still wake up in a panicked sweat thinking about those speed levels.
MarioKart: Rainbow Road
When "MarioKart" was released, most of us were too young to have used psychedelic drugs, but that’s why Rainbow Road was there. Your eyes would hate you for even attempting to navigate this track and, best of all, there were no railings so you were constantly driving off the road into the dark abyss. Not even Toad deserves a fate this dastardly.
Double Dragon: Final Level
"Double Dragon" was difficult throughout, but the final level threw the entire kitchen sink at you. After fighting what seems like an endless wave of thugs, and then a guy with a gun (how is that fair?), you had to fight your partner. That way, even if you played through the entire game and defeated the final boss, you could still end up being a loser! Thanks for the confidence booster.
Next: The Creepiest Video Game Fan Art Ever
Goldeneye 007: Aztec
"Goldeneye" may have been the greatest multiplayer game ever, but the Aztec level was absurd. It’s not even close to fair. Every nameless henchman that you face takes off a ridiculous amount of damage with a single attack, there are alarms everywhere, and, if that wasn’t bad enough, there are no save points, so if you die, you have to start all over again. I think I’ll stick to multiplayer.