Beating a video game is kind of easy these days. Mostly it just takes time. In the old days of video games it took time, blood, sweat, and tears. Ok actually it required you to play the game so much that you could perfectly execute each movement or action to complete the level. In a poorly designed game, there was only one perfect way to progress beyond certain points and if you could do that, you could win. If you couldn’t, you threatened to write a letter to the developers and switched to Tetris.
Game 1: Ninja Gaiden
I recently downloaded this NES game for my Wii to re-live the glory days of ninja-ing in only 8 bits. I, for some odd reason, have fond memories of playing this game. When I fired it up and started playing it, my nostalgia quickly turned into frustration. Frustration turned to anger. Anger into pure hatred. I don’t know what I was thinking… I distinctly remember crushing enemies with my blade, climbing walls, and jumping platforms to victory but after some time I realized I had never seen past the 3rd or 4th stage.
The game is riddled with poor design, cheap NPC respawn, and completely unfair game play mechanics. I played until my thumbs hurt and I couldn’t even step foot into the final level (6). Since that evening I haven’t turned it on again. Not only did I never beat this game, I never really got close, AND somehow I liked it!
Game 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This game is an abomination to both gaming and the TMNT franchise. Again, there is such poor design it makes the game nearly impossible to play. Except when we were kids we played the brains out of it…how is that possible? I remember getting to a certain point in the game where you had to drive the Turtle Van around in an over-world map and I could never really understand what to do there. Also there’s this level where you have to swim and despite being a turtle, you really suck at it (because the controls are awful) and pretty much everything under the water wants to kill you.
The final straw is the fact that the turtles themselves were completely unbalanced. If you wanted to win you picked Donatello because his weapon was the longest. If he died…game over. Despite the issues I managed to get to the final boss (Shredder) one time and one time only. I died within seconds and probably cried, threw the controller, and got out the pen and paper to write that nasty letter to the people who made it in the first place.
Game 3: Mike Tyson’s Punchout
Everyone loves this game. It truly was a great game aside from the fact that Mike Tyson was so unbelievably difficult compared to the rest of the game. I could get to Tyson no problem. I never got out of the first round with him, and mostly I’d get killed within 3 of his punches.
Who decided that Mike Tyson should be able to knock you down in one punch? That’s just dumb. It’s like the designers made a great game and then just for fun decided to put in the most soul-crushing character just to remind little children that they’ll never be good enough.
Game 4: Battletoads
Again, I relish the memory of this game. I actually recall how unbelievably difficult it was. In fact, if you’d asked me a year ago if I ever beat the game Battletoads, I would tell you that I had because though I don’t really remember beating it, I also don’t remember the bitterness and hatred or the 1/2 written letters to the makers of the game that usually accompany games of this difficulty level.
But recently I watched a video of the game; it was a walk through (someone beating the game start to finish). Shortly after watching what was a very difficult level where you ride these speeder bikes and jump over hurdles (which I proudly remember beating a number of times) I was watching footage of the game that I realized I’d never seen before…aka – I never beat the game! Ugh.
Game 5: Top Gun
Actually I DID beat this game and I count that as one of my greatest achievements of all time. If you ever played this game you totally understand. You can be my wingman anytime!