"Here's an example of a typical scene: Trees full of apples. Unassuming, you stride under one, and an apple falls from the tree and crushes you, sending you back to the start of the screen. You approach again, this time cautiously poking your nose out under the tree in an attempt to goad the apple into falling before you pass. ...About halfway across, you notice an apple low enough you can jump over it. ...You jump over the apple, and the apple falls up and kills you. The apple falls up and kills you."note
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a plumber jumping into an invisible coin block, and falling to his death... repeatedly... forever
Video game protagonists often have bad days. It's not uncommon to have to Double Jump
between Floating Platforms
over spiked pits
, dash between three sets of synchronized fire vents
, then bounce off a flying enemy to hit an item block, all while dodging those Goddamned Bats
and Demonic Spiders
. It may be fiendishly difficult
, but it's still par for the course.
But not like this. Not like this.
The first item block? Falls and crushes you when you hit it!
The pit spikes? Shoot freaking lasers
when you jump over them! The safe platform at the other end? Suddenly tilts sideways
for no reason at all! The harmless bush you just walked past? Grows teeth and bites your head off
! The tiny white cloud that you thought
was part of the background? Just blasted you with lightning
! The secret Warp Zone
you found? Sends you back to the first level
of the game!
And when you finally, finally get that precious Super Mushroom? Makes you grow so monstrously huge
that the floor cracks in half and you plunge into the center of the Earth.
Might we be the first to say...welcome to Hell.
This isn't Nintendo Hard
; it's murder. Every platform has booby-trapped spikes
. Every empty hallway has a wall of cannons waiting just offscreen. Most of the power-ups
will kill you
or impede your progress
, but every power-up that doesn't is absolutely necessary for survival. And when you think you've figured out the twisted mind of the game designer, something incomparably worse gets thrown at you
. The entire experience is a humongous, hilariously sadistic Kafkaesque Parody
of a Nintendo Hard
As a rule of thumb, a Platform Hell game should meet several of the following criteria:
Typical "traps" in these games include:
- Difficulty as slapstick comedy: these games try to make their sudden and completely unfair deaths so ridiculous as to be hilarious. The player engages in self-aimed schadenfreude.
- Difficulty as Running Gag: The difficulty never, ever lets up, and after a while it becomes ludicrous in its persistence.
- Self-awareness: The aforementioned comedy often comes from the game knowing exactly what the player is going to do, and catching them when they least expect it.
- Difficulty as parody: These games deconstruct well-known videogame challenges, such as Mega Man's disappearing blocks, taking them to completely unreasonable conclusions.
- Twisted familiarity: The game levels generally fit the classic settings of the game they're based on, and theme their deathtraps and challenges appropriately. This also saves time in level editing. Even original games such as IWBTG are generally one big Nostalgia Level From Hell.
- Invisible blocks: Some of them will just be there to trip you up (as in the picture above), some need to be hit in order to pass a seemingly impassable obstacle, and some will leave you trapped between a rock and a hard place.
- Background elements (such as seemingly distant mountains) actually being treated as foreground elements (e.g. Spikes Of Doom).
- Traps at the end of the stage which result in your death unless you've prepared something from the beginning of the stage, such as the famous "Kaizo Trap" in Super Mario World romhacks: if you don't turn the coins into blocks, the auto-scroll as part of the victory fanfare will cause Mario to die.
- Traps at the beginning of the stage that will kill you a couple of seconds after entering unless you act immediately.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay, typically in the form of paths that appear to lead somewhere interesting but instead drop you into an inescapable Death Trap. (Of course, Platform Hell games also have areas that merely look like inescapable death traps.)
- Killing you in the intro cut scene before the game actually begins, especially in Super Mario World hack examples.
- Pit Traps and Fake Platforms that look exactly the same as solid ground and real platforms, respectively.
- Requiring the player to play as a One-Hit-Point Wonder. Furthermore, in the rare cases you are given a power-up, you will need it to pass some obstacle that would otherwise kill the player.
- Classic Video Game Screw Yous, turned Up to Eleven.
They will also usually go by names
that outright suggest the cruel difficulty and trickery contained within, usually with names based on 'hard', 'impossible', 'difficult' and 'unfair'
For obvious reasons, very few commercial companies would dare release a game like this. Hence, this variety of videogame is almost entirely the domain of ROM Hacks
and homebrew. Romhacks especially are made for game emulators, fully expecting and taking advantage of the fact that players will
be Save Scumming
Also known as "Masocore", after this blog postnote
. This should not be confused with very Nintendo Hard
games like Jumper
, and Battletoads
, which, while being immensely difficult, play (mostly) fair and straight. A Platform Hell
game is intentionally un
fair by design, and plays that unfair Fake Difficulty
as a sort of slapstick humor in which the audience, or rather, the player, is the comedic victim.
It should also not be confused with masochism-themed games like Mighty Jill Off
, which are more homage than parody.
The Trope Maker
is Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
(the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2
), which intentionally screwed with all the tropes of the previous entries: Warp Zones that returned you to already completed worlds, land-based enemies now appearing in the water and underwater enemies floating in the air, springs that bounce Mario far beyond the top of the screen, winds that play hell with your momentum, invisible power-up blocks to be hit as you attempt to make a jump and, of course, the Poison Mushroom
, often dispensed by hitting a block only reached by a crazy difficult series of jumps. Its trolling elements would be taken Up to Eleven
by other developers, but its frustrating aspects went so far beyond Nintendo Hard
that its original NES version was never released in America.
See also Classic Video Game Screw Yous
, which these games generally take Up to Eleven
. Compare/Contrast Bullet Hell
games, which are Shoot 'em Up
games with projectile volume taken Up to Eleven
, but generally play more fair, and what you see is what you get.
Mega Man inspired:
Super Mario Bros. inspired:
- Jinsei Owata no Daibouken (also known as The Life Ending Adventure) - an ASCII art flash game starring various Japanese Image Board memes. It's also murderously hard.
- In one of the current versions, right from the start the game pulls two traps almost back to back in the first screen, the boss at the bottom path is pretty much as Bullet Hell in a platform game as you can get (and it's mandatory if you ever want to take the right path or take the left without fighting the clones), the top path boss is a Boss Rush of three clones that get harder, the last one having an attack leaving it invincible and dashing around the stage (and it can use it after another bullet spammy attack — just jumped because of a wave of bullets? Then you can't reach the ground fast enough to jump again and avoid this attack), said boss even heals its health mid fight, and, if that wasn't enough, the left path becomes a Homage to I Wanna Be the Guy itself.
- I Wanna Be the Guy: The Movie: The Game - confirmed to be directly inspired by the above. In this game, everything really is Trying To Kill You. Even apples. And at one point? The moon gets dropped on you. Several times. At another, a save point tries to eat you. Find it in all its horrible, hair-tearing glory here.
- One of the traps in the game occurs during a pre-boss cutscene with Dracula. Near the end of the cutscene, in the middle of a line, he throws his wineglass at you, and unless you move while Dracula is still talking to you, you will die. Incidentally, you also cannot move until he throws the glass.
- Only a handful of people in the entire world have been confirmed to beat the game on Impossible (meaning no save points). The official comment to the first time this happened was "holy crap you're not serious are you".
- The official list on the forums has only 509 unique people to clear it, including the creator (who is not anywhere near first on the list). The best-known impossible-clearer created a separate fangame and game engine.
- The sequel, I Wanna Save The Kids, is an Escort Mission from hell. As if that wasn't redundant enough.
- One notable fangame is the aptly named I Wanna See You Suffer, by UltraJMan, which was created as revenge on the people who recommended his maddening, rage-inducing run through I Wanna Be The Fangame, and it shows. The first thing that'll happen when you spawn is that you die, and it will take you approximately 10-30 minutes to get past that first obstacle and reach a breather point. That's 1/3rd of the first game screen. After that, the game will stop treating you nicely; there are numerous routes you can go, and most of them lead to dead ends after 2-4 soul crushingly difficult screens... the game's official key features are that it is "unfair, precise, and unfun".
- While Rockman No Constancy's Normal Mode is much harder than the standard Mega Man game, it's still at least somewhat reasonable. The Hard Mode on the other hand removes Mercy Invincibility, turning an already hard game into pure Hell. Even the weakest enemies turn into massive threats that can single-handedly kill you.
- Rockman 2 Neta, a mock-upnote of Mega Man 2 with a... twist. An easy way to sum it up is, if you have trouble fighting the robot masters individually...
- The Impossible DLC Pack in New Super Mario Bros. 2, seriously. The pack includes three levels that have various enemies thrown at you at slow screen speeds, wall jumps needed to be done while avoiding fire bars in a narrow area, and traversing a large hallway full of Fire Bros., chainsaws, and flamethrowers with a poison pond that rises rapidly at certain points, in that order. Buy it now for $2.50.
- Super Mario Forever - this video was phenomenally popular in April of 2007, mostly due to the surprising amount of visible emotion and frustration in the anonymous player's actions. An English Gag Dub of that same video exists here (NSFW). And now you can try it yourself!
- 1 Kaizo Mario World — colloquially known as "Asshole Mario". While Super Mario Forever had only fire bars, blocks and moving platforms, the many traps and devices of Super Mario World make their appearance here. One particularly notable trap occurs in Special World 2. If you don't grab a pound switch right at the end of the level, then after you hit the end gate, Mario gleefully walks along, right off a ledge, and dies. After finishing the level. And what's even worse is that the entire level has to be completed in less than two minutes, so the player is already in a frenzy, trying to get to the end before the timer runs out.
- Kaizo Mario World 2 goes one step further into Platform Hell within the first few seconds of the game by attempting to kill you in the opening cutscene.
- Shobon no Action (sometimes called Cat Mario or dongs.exe, but most commonly known as Syobon Action) - seemingly inspired by the two directly above. As it isn't a ROM hack, the designers were able to add even more preposterous traps and setpieces. It also makes very clever use of the Invisible Block trick; most players would be genre savvy enough to check for invisible blocks, sometimes even being able to get an advantage in clearing the pit by standing on the block. The game knows this, and has a block that once you stand on, it falls.
- The Unfair Platformer - Exactly What It Says on the Tin, though more like a homage as many sections are rather easy once you've figured out where the traps are.
- Super Kusottare World - That's just a video of the very end of one level, and a hack that's seemingly so badly designed it took said video maker about 5 hours to get past one jump. It's all but unplayable even with save-states. The maker gave the game to someone to review on YouTube. The reviewer became so incensed at the game that he abandoned the project halfway through and told the maker never to contact him again unless the hack was edited.
- Super Mario Bros SpeedExpiation seems innocent enough — all the original levels are left as is. Then you notice how quickly the timer runs down, and how it's a bad idea to do a Goomba Stomp or even pick up a coin... It's basically turned normal game objects into instant death blocks.
- Super Tabarnak World — A hack that actually requires you to get a Yoshi in the bonus game to progress and whose last castle is basically 10 rooms of Kaizo traps on permanent super sped up mode. With more Kaizo traps in the middle. And tons of ghosts in the Bowser battle. Pretty much defines cruelty.
- It speaks volumes when the strange word (Tabarnak) in the title is actually a Foreign Cuss Word from Quebec. The title cusses. That bad, people.
- The "gimmick" used by SpeedExpiation is also applied, with hair-rending results, to Super Mario World in Present Mario.
- The Hard Level Compilation - Exactly what it says on the tin, and a compilation of about 20 of the hardest Kaizo styled levels people have contributed.
- Pit of Despair. That's a Tool Assisted Speedrun of the level which has to utilize pretty much every glitch in the original game. It's also only one of three (Moltov Mario World and Lawler Mario World being the others) that the video creator has made based purely on being the hardest games ever.
- And the sequel, Pit of Death. Apparently, it took over 5000 reloads using TAS to beat that level for the creator.
- Springboard and Shells Hack. Yes, just that name, but freaking hard as hell. That video is a tool assisted speedrun the hack creator made of the last level, which makes you dodge almost endless halls of spikes while bounce on enemies, entering doors in mid air by bouncing off keys and blocks and having between only 50 and THREE seconds to beat each room. Then there's the boss...
- Cool or Cruel - A deliberately Kaizo Mario inspired hack/game which is also a parody of the Mario World Special World area (note the punny names such as Snarly instead of Gnarly, Way Cruel instead of Way Cool and Awful instead of Awesome). Platform Hell is pretty much the most common Mario World ROM Hack genre by now.
- The Vein Popper - Another hack that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It begins with having to move to the right after beginning the game or else you die at the hands of a Thwomp, and the first level involves getting a bunch of extra lives. This should set the tone nicely.
- Mario's Evil Level is a really sadistic version. This level is tough as nut even with save states. In addition, it has multiple paths, some of them which take you to a dead end and some of them which make you think they've taken you to a dead end. To add insult, almost every 3-up moon and often seemingly safe surfaces or air kills you without any indication before.
- Many ROM hacks of Super Mario Bros. 3, eg Ultimate SMB3, are like this.
- Mario's Masochistic Mission. That video being a perfect example. Nice relaxed Super Mario Bros 1-1 remake. Then a "tiny" fortress where the end usually is... which turns out to be a massive castle of doom, Munchers, death traps, pixel perfect jumps, and instantly dodging about four falling Thwomps. And it kills you at the end if you didn't activate the Red Switch, which is LATER in the game. (The creator said that the last part was accidental.)
- Yoshis Island DS has Nintendo Hard secret levels... with the exception of the last one, Yoshi's Island Easter Eggs. That contains several incredibly frustrating and hard challenges, and doesn't even try to play fair (Ride an Arrow Ball through a room of spikes! Jump on platforms controlled by an enemy! Light switches last for 3 seconds!)
- A hack of Super Mario World, "The Second Reality Project," has various Nintendo Hard levels, especially in the last few worlds. However, the very last level is a very hard level. It goes like this, you go to Bowser's Airship and once you're there, you are forced to shrink into Small Mario and go through about 16 of the hardest rooms (Including spinjumping on top of spike balls, floating with the balloon in a room full of spikes, going through a tower-like room with a bunch of Football Kicking Charging Chucks, swimming in a room full of Torpedo Teds, dodging giant spikes, and more) without getting hit once. The level is very tough and there is no checkpoint. In a newer version of the hack, "The Second Reality Project Reloaded," the level is remodified to where there is a powerup in every room and a checkpoint is offered after going through most of those rooms.
- Yet another ROM hack, Hell Level, is aptly named. The first screen has annoying mini-puzzles and red herrings, as well as having to catch fish with Yoshi. The second screen was so broken that the player had to fix it in Lunar Magic. The third screen is an abrupt transition to Bullet Hell, with baseballs, Bullet Bills, and fish flying all over the place while Layer 2 spikes fall from the ceiling. And it's all slippery.
- Toby's Masochistic Adventure. Some of the stuff in here is just insane, requiring a hell of a lot of bug and engine exploitation.
- Super Mario Intrigue (Special World). As with many of these others, it requires savestates and slowdown to complete normally. Of course, by now, it has been thoroughly broken. (There's another, less complete, TAS here, which demonstrates some other breaking methods).
- This little gem entitled Living on the Edge. Makes Pit of Despair look like a walk in the park. The best part is probably where you have to juggle two keys.
- Possibly the single most ridiculous hack in existence is one called Glitch Abuse, which is exactly what it sounds like. It requires using nearly every known glitch in the SMW engine for a successful playthrough, most of which require frame-precise timing.
- Going back to the original Super Mario Bros., Hard Relay Mario makes Super Mario Frustration look like a walk in the park. Kaizo Traps in half the levels? Check. Spikes that instantly kill you, even if you're big? Check. Employs nearly every glitch in existence, some requiring frame-precise timing? Check. Naturally, this is impossible without emulators, slowdown, and savestates. For a slightly faster TAS of the first world, see here, but it doesn't include the bonus levels.
- Both these TASes have now been obsoleted with HappyLee's virtuoso run, which manages to be faster than either of them while completing all the bonus stages.
- Along the same lines as Hard Relay Mario is Falling Mario. At the end of each world, Mario falls off into a pit and utters "Oh god! Wonder how many times I have fallen!", and the ending isn't any more uplifting. Even the music has been changed to a minor key, to make the atmosphere of the hack even more depressing.
- The difficulty of Hard Relay Mario has now been beaten by MMM, although Hard Relay Mario is still generally considered to be a better-designed hack. The difficulty has been raised so much here that not only does the player need every powerup given to them, but also every life given to them, since the only extra life is needed at one point for a forced suicide. At this point these hacks resemble (fiendishly difficult) puzzle games as much as they resemble platforms in terms of how much outside-the-box thinking has to be done to get through a level successfully.
- Going forward two platform generations is Kaizo Mario 64. There's an LP of the game here. Kaizo Mario 64 is different from the original Kaizo in that all of these levels are very clearly based on original SM64 levels, only made about a billion times more difficult.
- A game based in Syobon Action is The Hell Evolution. It has invisible coin blocks, kaizo traps, and evil blocks that look like the good ones and will disable them, blocking your way and forcing you to suicide.
- S Mario is a hellish hack of Super Mario World. But what's worse than a few annoying aspects is the fact the game bases all its levels around an unfair, brutally cruel gimmick and then makes you do standard kaizo stuff under said limitations. Some of the worst levels are:
- This level. The gimmick is that the very second you try to go left or spin jump, Mario dies on the spot. The whole level has an icy floor causing you to slide, trial and error jumps and traps come at you fast, on/off switches must be pressed with perfect timing and homing Bullet Bills get fired at you in the later part of the level. See it here.
- The final level has random wind physics. As in, it pushes you left and right every half a second or so at random. The level itself wouldn't be so bad normally, but with random, uncontrollable movement along with trial and error gameplay? Awful. See the level here.
- "Master Quest", which is a fan-made level of Super Mario Galaxy 2, which is based on the hardest level in the game, "The Perfect Run", which is a harder version of the already-hard to beat Grandmaster Galaxy. The star is located above the house you see Rosalina inside at the end of the level, and it's very hard to reach without a Cloud Flower.
- Parodied in an easter egg at the end of one Homestar Runner Halloween short where the King of Town (dressed as Mario at that time) imagining himself playing inside an exact replica of World 1-1 of the original Super Mario Bros. game. Since the KoT is so fat, he cannot jump at all, and as a result the Goomba at the start of the level immediately kills him.
- Takeshis Castle was an attempt to make Super Mario Bros. in real life as a game show. It worked.
- Mario Must Die features levels that, according to the intro, were designed by Hitler and Satan. This is one of several Super Mario World hacks that is probably impossible to complete without emulator slowdown and savestates.
- Now we have Kaizo Yoshi's Island! Well not really, but darn, it requires precision shell jumps and TAS requiring tricks in a maze of instant kill spikes and thorns in a Yoshi's Island level, so it's close enough.
- The PETA video game Super Tanooki 2D Skin, which parodies Super Mario 3D Land's use of the Tanooki suit. It is a very short game, but it is impossible to beat without dying a lot, especially since the game is just one fast Auto-Scrolling Level and the scrolling speed just gets faster as time goes on.
- Eryi's Action, a cute but fiendishly hard platformer involving a fairy girl who wants to get back her melon. Places more of an emphasis on puzzle-solving than the pixel-perfect jumps of I Wanna Be the Guy.
- SMW Lost Brain Ultimate Edition is this, because it completely lacks any kind of Consistency. Basically, no two objects act the same way as any other two objects in game, so the whole thing is literally Trial-and-Error Gameplay from start to finish. That one pipe or cloud could kill you instantly with no warning whatsoever, but the one next to it (with identical graphics) is completely harmless. In some cases, the ground, water or even AIR kills you with no warning, so the whole thing is basically video game Russian Roulette. Basically, you can't beat it without rewinds, save states and likely psychic powers.
- Unfair Mario is exactly as it sounds. Being a Kaizo like game, the biggest offense it has is that the insta-kill traps and enemies have a bigger hitbox than you would expect. Making for many deaths where you don't even get hit.
- raocow is rather infamous for his ability to design absurdly insane levels. He published his own Super Mario World rom hack, What The Hell, full of invincible enemies and the craziest jumps imaginable, and has submitted levels to several collaborative hacks- they were used as part of the last world or as a Brutal Bonus Level. He eventually lowered the sadism factor after being forced to play through several of them when let's playing those games, and now considers them Old Shame.
raocow: "[This level
] was made by me back in the day when I had no idea what 'fun' meant"
- Wall Jump Abuse has been described by one TASer as "the hardest hack I have ever played".
- The hidden Hell Temple in La-Mulana takes an already difficult game and sends it screaming right into the bowels of self-aware platform hell. It may seem fair, but you'll be going cross-eyed with grief once you step into an invisible pit again, or accidentally enter a one-way Door To Before. And the solution to the final 'puzzle' in the temple? Completing the whole temple again. Twice. And once you finally beat Hell Temple, what is your final reward for it all? A skimpy swimsuit. Which you then see Professor Lemeza wearing!
- A Slightly Difficult Game really likes spikes, weights falling out of the air for no reason, and Mega Man-style dissapearing blocks. The game over screen (which you are going to see a lot) also has a message mocking the way you died.
- I Wanna be the Star is a Christmas themed platform hell game inspired by I Wanna be the Guy, where you play as a blue ornament trying to oust and replace the star on the top of the tree.
- You Probably Won't Make It is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. No traps, but LOTS of Spikes Of Doom, combined with obnoxiously difficult jumps, and a system that shows you where you died last. Expect the screen to be covered with red blotches.
- Especially in Level 18. At least, until you realize that it is impossible, and the creator didn't add a level 19 or 20note .
- The Dirty Harry NES game is somewhere between this and Nintendo Hard. While a lot of the difficulty is standard, it also sports a number of cruel glitches, as well as things more in this category. Such as the "Ha Ha Ha" room. An area, impossible to tell from the outside, that once entered, requires you to reset the game, and a one-way maze leading back to the start of the game.
- Here's another level. There are issues with collision detection, item usage, bad coloring, repetitive music...
- The Nickelodeon flash game Unfairly OddParents
- This Ninja Warrior-inspired flash game. Complete with one mistake fails and strict time limit. The hardest difficulty is basically a No Damage Run.
- Checkpoint is not as difficult as some examples, but it's filled with unfair traps and levels that literally cannot be cleared without dying one or more times, plus the game mocks you every time you die.
- Ms. 'Splosion Man. 'Splosion Man was hard enough, but from World 1-2 on, the sequel takes it Up to Eleven.
- Limbo is a bit nicer than most of the above examples — you're expected to die early and often, but Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, and dying once is supposed to help you figure out how to not die upon retrying the puzzle. The level designer has talked at length about balancing this.
- Super Metroid hacks often veer into this category at times. An example is this segment from Super Metroid Redesign. Arguably the only two well-known hacks that don't are Metroid Legacy and Golden Dawn, and even Golden Dawn probably comes close in a couple of places (if you can't wall jump, you won't even be able to get past the opening segment).
- The most prominent example is literally called Super Metroid Impossible. It has the same world map as the original Super Metroid, except with badly-damaging spikes scattered throughout Zebes, forced mockballing and bomb-jumping, escape sequences with time limits so tight that the slightest slow-down will result in failure, normally-accessible areas in the original now blocked off by green, yellow, or metal doors, and key items rearranged into the most assholish places. Take a look.
- Super Metroid Impossible has probably now been topped by Super Metroid Discord, created by the creator of Mario Must Die (see above). Unlike Impossible, however, Discord has little in common with the original game in terms of its design, having much more to do with Kaizo Mario World and other Mario hacks.
- Takeshi's Challenge, a video game inspired by the impossibly difficult game show "Takeshi's Castle", includes several unfair segments (including a Shoot 'em Up section in which the player can't move upward) and Guide Dang It puzzles.
- Distorted Travesty can get like this in some of the later levels, but Distorted Travesty 2 really takes it Up to Eleven. The character in the sequel has a lot more ways to keep herself airborne (a double jump, the ability to float for a couple seconds, infinite wall jumps, and an air dash)... so, naturally, the creator took this opportunity to design some truly sadistic platforming sequences that are a challenge even with all those abilities. Notably, there are a couple of sequences in the final level where, aside from the entrance and exit, you are airborne for the entire room, with no safe ground to land on and rest anywhere.
- The Flash game Give Up has you progress through levels increasingly choked with obstacles, all while a sadistic AI mocks your efforts and encourages you to push the big blue "GIVE UP" button at the bottom of the screen. Pushing the button gives you the "bad ending", where soothing music and condescending platitudes like "You did your best" play over the credits.
- Pirated hack Super Contra II (hack of the already Nintendo Hard Contra on the NES) is somewhere between this, Nintendo Hard, and Bullet Hell. You start off with 5 lives instead of the usual 3 and you get to keep your weapon when you die, but that's the only mercy this hack has. The level designs are obtuse and ridiculous, featuring numerous invisible platforms and being able to fall off the screen when you're in water, the base levels are practically Bullet Hell, and the bosses have been ramped up in difficulty. One of the most egregious examples is in the first level, where certain sections will have you falling out of the water to your death. Oh, and the Konami Code won't save you herenote .
- The Rick Dangerous series. Both games are full of hidden traps, spikes that only appear the moment they kill you, and hidden missile throwers. To top it off, you only have a limited amount of lives and no continues.
- Mutant Mudds is typically Nintendo Hard, but then you beat the game and unlock Grannie as a playable character. Unlike protagonist Max, who can only use one power up at a time, Grannie has all three power-ups. She also has twenty of her own secret levels. Surely they must be easy, because she has every power, right? Wrong. In addition to being lined with Spikes Of Doom and featuring truly brutal enemy placement, the levels are based around using all of those powers at once, like forcing you to hover across giant, spike-filled gaps you can barely make, while shooting lots of flying enemies, and at the end, you have to do a well-timed Rocket Jump just as you run out of hover power. They're brutal.
- Eversion initially looks like it isn't an example at all, cutesy and easy. But as you progress through the game's Dark Worlds, the difficulty spikes up, rocks become enemies, harmless plants become spiky traps, gem boxes stop giving gems and deadly surprises appear one after another. At the point when you get to the "Wall of blood" level, it isn't even remotely fair.
- Guild Wars 2 has a Super Adventure Box "dungeon" which amounts to a platforming game-within-a-game, with blocky, colorful graphics, chiptune music, and design sensibilities from NES-era games. Then you have Tribulation difficulty, a clear attempt to recreate I Wanna Be The Guy in an MMORPG engine. It comes complete with countless invisible spike traps, power-ups replaced with explosive barrels, and even an equivalent to invisible blocks (solid clouds which suddenly appear, cutting certain jumps short). In most areas where the normal difficulty already required near-perfect maneuvering, Arenanet simply added an invulnerable lightning-spewing psycho-raincloud to the area, forcing you to either rush through or dodge carefully.
- Outside of SAB, many of the game's jumping puzzles can verge on this when they incorporate traps, enemies, precise jumps, and respawn points positioned so the player will have to run the entire puzzle all over again.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a compendium of all of the Nerd's Nintendo Hard pet peeves. The most common frustrating obstacle are the "death blocks", which often periodically appear and disappear or have to be negotiated in jumping puzzles.
- The Amiga game Yolanda. The protagonist is a One-Hit-Point Wonder with no attacks and must undergo the "Twelve Labours of Hercules," all of which involve finding her way to the exit. Each of these trials is selected at random and is Trial-and-Error Gameplay galore. They feature floors that spontaneously burst info flames, platforms that disappear when you jump on them, and invisible platforms that could be anywhere.
- 1001 Spikes is all about this. The difficulty is somewhere between Meat Boy and I Wanna Be the Guy, giving your difficult platforming with semi-frequent psychic-powers-requiring death traps.
- Sonic The Hedgehog 1 - YOLO Edition is a rom hack where you only have one life to beat the game. There are no rings, checkpoints, extra lives, or continues (the score is frozen at 0), every monitor is a Robotnik monitor that will kill you, and cheats don't even work (level select sends you to the beginning no matter what you select).
- Dust Force veered into the higher end of Nintendo Hard with levels such as Zeta and Yotta difficult, but with the DX update they included one hidden level found by trying to create a custom level and naming it "exec func ruin user"note which removes all hint of being fair. While the X-Difficult levels refrained from using enemies that attacked you and focused on the platforming elements, the Ruin User level hides projectile-shooting enemies in spikes in tiny corridors, requires the player to use techniques usually reserved for Sequence Breaking, and requires pixel-perfect positioning at several points in the level.
- UR Example: The infamous Dungeons & Dragons module, Tomb of Horrors. To just get into said dungeon you have to get past a literal Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. It's all downhill from there. Have fun, you jackasses.
- And as a shining example of Tropes Are Not Bad, this is also by far and away the franchise's most well-known module.
- And just to show the difference between this trope and Nintendo Hard, the 3.5E counterpart Red Hand of Doom is an insanely difficult (very generously, one early quest gives access to giant owls that allow it to be beaten by weaker characters) Timed Mission module which requires players to punch way above their weight class. In a lot of ways, Red Hand of Doom is more difficult since it uses harder (though still weak compared to an optimized party) combat encounters rather than Trial-and-Error Gameplay. But aside from that the adventure doesn't pull any unusually cruel tricks. Well, for the kind of game it is.
- The Impossible Quiz - a non-platformer example, only by virtue of the completely ridiculous and hilarious "solutions" that the game expects of the player.
- A brief sampler of said "solutions": Finding a completely invisible button to click on a white field, choosing an answer in a multiple choice question where the answers have nothing to do with the question, are not in english, or are blank, and right clicking on the window to deactivate the Flash control to keep the program from failing younote .
- To be fair, the game at least gives you the ability to skip questions. Except that some of them can't be skipped. And that skipping any question makes the game unwinnable. And yes, this was quite intentional.
- The PC game based on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is notorious for being very close to Adventure Game Hell. Many puzzles are ridiculous and insane, and the room descriptions contain outright lies. Not mistakes, lies. Many other Infocom Interactive Fiction games have even harder puzzles, but this is the only one that uses its difficulty in the same ironic manner as other Platform Hell games.
- In addition, it's extremely easy to make this game Unwinnable. Didn't pick up the junk mail at the start of the game? Didn't buy the sandwich in the pub? The game won't mind, it won't even hint that those things have any effect when you do them - but if you don't, woe betide you later on. Also, near the end of the game, you will find yourself in need of a certain item. The item is chosen from a list of twelve possibilities, and unless you have all of them, the game will always ask for one you don't have. So, if you're not using a walkthrough, you'll start over and make a point of finding the item you missed, only to get to the end and find that you need a different one. Repeatedly.
- An example of the game lying, in a certain corridor in the Heart of Gold, if you try and move in a particular direction, you are informed, "You can't go that way." In a typical adventure game, that would be the end of it, but this game expects the player to try to move in that direction repeatedly until the game eventually says, "Fine! Have it your way!" and allows the player to proceed.
- Douglas Adams said in an interview "This is the first game that moves beyond user friendly. It is user insulting and...user mendacious."
- Dave Leary's games were notorious for their "lying computer" puzzles as well. Leary did admit to being heavily inspired by Infocom games.
- Several Interactive Fiction games fit this trope; the most famous is probably Curses. (Just don't say any actual curse words in-game, no matter how frustrated you get, or you will be punished with a parser that ignores you until you wash your mouth out with the soap that just appeared in your inventory.)
- Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna is RPG Dungeon Crawler Hell. You know how weak the average monster in a Random Encounter is compared to RPG heroes? Well, in this game, you're on the side of the monsters. Not only that, but the puzzles take Guide Dang It to an extreme; most players won't even make it out of the first room without outside assistance.
- The same can be said about Samuel Stoddard (of RinkWorks fame)'s dungeon crawler Murkon's Vengeance, which is basically a homage to Wizardry IV in every way. Including the difficulty. Watch as your 10-hitpoint-1-damage-dealing character barely scratches the enemies less than half of the time and spends the rest "too scared to act".
- Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors, though unreleased, appears to be a deliberate play on this trope, especially the minigame where you drive a bus across the Nevada desert without exceeding 45mph. Oh, and the bus veers a little to the left. And you can't pause. And making it to Nevada is worth one point. And the game is in real time. Like, actually real time. By which I mean, it takes 8 hours to play once.
- And then you get to drive back. And forth. And back. And forth. To play the game to completion takes either copious cheating or over one month of constant play, where "completion" means until the score counter stops incrementing at 99 because the game will go forever and where "play" means something not involving fun.
- 'Desert Bus for Hope' is a charity project where a group of gamers play Desert Bus: the more donations they get, the longer they play. It always brings in a lot of money, because gamers love to see other gamers suffer.
- That, and because they donate the money to Child's Play.
- Bastet, or Bastard Tetris, is a Tetris clone with a key difference. Whereas Tetris will select the next brick random(ish)ly, Bastet deliberately gives you the least useful brick.
- Wesleyan Tetris has random bricks, but otherwise deploys a full Platform Hell arsenal.
- The Kaizo scene has even extended into Pokemon territory with Kaizo Pokemon Blue. Even from the first battle of the game, you know this game is going to be insane when you see that your rival's starter Pokemon is Mew!
- Racing games are not immune to hellish hacks either. F-Zero got its own hellish hack called F-Zero: The Revenge. Land mines, magnets, death traps, long jumps, twisting and knotting tracks, and Marathon Levels galore!
- Non-video game example: Ninja Warrior. Hopping around obstacles of varying difficulty within a time limit is harder than it looks, especially since only three people beat the obstacle course. (And only one has repeated his victory)
- To be specific, there has been 25 Ninja Warrior tournaments held, each with 100 contestants. So 3 out of 2,500 people have passed it...a whopping 0.12% success rate.
- There's also the Ninja Warrior flash game. "Just like the real thing, you should not expect to complete this course easily or on the first try. Do you have the timing, reflexes and resolve to complete our Sasuke and become the next NINJA WARRIOR?"
- And Takeshi's Castle, which has been beaten by a total of nine people.
- Ditto for Wipeout 2009, which also has a Wii adaptation.
- The Roguelike equivalent is Iter Vehemens Ad Necem, which means "A Violent Road To Death". It is not kidding. The fact that some people can beat the game is generally considered a bug.
- Deadly Danger Dungeon is a board game example, which was created by none other than James Rolfe when he was a kid. He showed it on one episode of Board James which demonstrated just how frikkin' hard it is. The rest of review was him humiliating Mike Matei with it.
- Happy Wheels tends to have user-generated levels fall into one of three categories: story/travel levels that you ride through with little to no effort; "effect" levels like dominoes, glitches, etc; and obstacle courses. The obstacle courses, if done well, are Nintendo Hard. If not done well, or if done by a sadistic designer, fall very firmly into this category.
- This Touhou hack. Some truly impressive creativity, all bent towards destroying the player and considering how difficult the original games can be ouch.
- Which Way AdventureCaution as well as its two sucessors Get Lost and Curse of the Red Ninja are all point and click adventure games that can easily fall under this category. All three games are mostly trial and error based, and have routes that could kill you shortly from the start of the game. Which Way in particular gives no hints and only encourages you to explore. The latter two games require rather elaborate methods to get to the "best" endings.
- "Hoagie's Revenge" (a.k.a The Challenge, f.k.a. "Hitler's Revenge"), a (not real) unreleased NES game in which a deli owner gets hit by sudden meteors, dodges unexpectedly heavy clouds, gets punched by booby-trapped treasure chests, and can die by just tripping over a slightly raised block.