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That One Level: Action Adventure
Levels from action-adventure games that test your reflexes...and your patience.


Nintendo
  • Star Fox Adventures:
    • The Test Of Fear. It takes about half a dozen failed attempts to even figure out the controls for the damn thing, and even then how hard your little cursor thing moves seems completely arbitrary. Even after you learn where the biggest cursor movements come in, it still takes near-superhuman reflexes to react on time.
    • There's also Lightfoot Village, the area you have to get through beforehand, since it has two tests prior. Though the Tracking Test won't be too much trouble provided you know the area well, the Test of Strength is basically Button Mashing gone horribly wrong. Becomes insulting when the Krazoa version of said test is taken much later in the game, for it being too easy.
    • Dragon Rock. Already a very intimidating-looking Bleak Level, it requires sheer dexterity for the shooting segments. Which are also needed for Drakor.
  • Metroid:
    • Torvus Bog, from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. It's a cross between a swamp level and a sewer level, how could that possibly go wrong? note  All the enemies are Goddamned Bats or Demonic Spiders, there's annoying water sections without the Gravity Suit, half the bosses are That One Boss, and it's just a generally unenjoyable level.
      • Generally, the upper half (the swamp level) isn't too terrible; the rooms are big enough to bypass enemies, water's mostly just a hip-deep obstacle during combat and exploration will help you past any sticking points. The lower half, the sewer half, is a nightmare. The first time through, visibility is near-zero, making it painfully easy to walk right past important objects and not even know it. Movement is reduced to a crawl, enemies can come from any direction, and you have absolutely no idea what you're supposed to be doing. This segment can take hours without prior knowledge of the critical path, and the hint system is useless since all it gives you is the destination, not how to solve the locks. Good luck. Oh, and thanks to bad save point placement, if you die to the Alpha Blogg (which you will), you can potentially count on repeating the entire lock puzzle to open the door to the boss room hint .
    • Metroid Prime has the Phazon Mines, a massive Space Pirate mining complex. It's the dullest-looking part of the game by far, being nothing but gray rock and Phazon. It's most notorious for what's known as 'The Gauntlet', which you go through on your first visit. You have to go through half the level, fighting Mega Turrets, Wave-, Ice-, and Power Troopers, an Elite Pirate, more Wave and Ice Troopers, the Cloaked Drone, and an electrical morph ball maze, all without being able to save. It's generally considered the hardest part of the game.
    • Prime also has the crashed pirate frigate. It would have been an excellent level, if it wasn't for two things. First of all, you can enter without the Gravity Suit and get stuck at the bottom of a massive room with no way to get out other than a long, long string of difficult jumps where one false move sends you plummeting back down. Second, half the doors in the frigate are powerless, meaning you have to find several conduits and energize them. It's just busy work, and it turns what would have otherwise been an interesting level with great music into a long, mind-numbing slog.
    • The Impact Crater is probably Metroid Prime's worst level. There are only 3 or 4 rooms leading up to the final boss, which happen to be filled with red phazon and Fission Metroids that are only vulnerable to one beam and (as their name suggests) split into more Fission Metroids. The only save point in the whole place is near the entrance. After all this you end up fighting a difficult boss that has 2 forms. To make it worse, the 2nd one can spawn Fission Metroids.
      • Power Bombs are your friend - they instantly kill fission metroids before they can split, and since they aren't required for the boss, you can use them freely on the way there. The ones the boss spawns can be dealt with easily using a tactic that's required in the fight against said boss anyway, or through a liberal application of more Power Bombs.
    • The Space Pirate Homeworld in Corruption. In contrast to the previous two beautifully-detailed worlds (post-apocalyptic Magitek ruins and steampunk floating city), this place's color scheme is an endless flood of red and black in a dark mechanical world with little scenery. The corridors are narrow and mazelike, there are numerous annoying enemies and bosses (Commando Pirates, Gandrayda, and the Hatcher Metroid say hi), and there's lots of backtracking. The acid rain also eats through your health like nothing else until you get the necessary item. And the whole place is topped off with an Escort Mission (though it's not too bad, your escortees are pretty skilled). After all this madness, you'd expect to have an original boss, right? Nope, it's Ridley. Again.
      • An annoying part of that world is destroying the Command Center's shields. After climbing up a tower and constantly being attacked by strong Space Pirates, you have to destroy these power units to remove forcefields around a Bomb Slot (which completes the mission upon use). The trouble starts then. You have to destroy said power units by using the X-ray Visor to find them behind plates of phazite and shoot the moving orbs inside with the Nova Beam. Only problem is, a pair of Commando Pirates drops in, one of which instantly goes into Hypermode. You have to stop what you're doing (since any enemy that uses Hypermode in the room jams your X-ray visor; this also prevents you from shooting them in the head with the X-ray Visor active and killing them instantly) and blast both of them with your own Hypermode. And once you kill a pair, ten seconds later another pair drops in and one of them goes Hypermode. Rinse and repeat 10 times until you manage to even find all three of the power units. And right afterwards is the Escort Mission!
    • Phaaze. You have to complete the whole level under a strange time limit/health that depends on your Energy Tanks. If you skimped out on Energy Tanks, you will have to rush through the place. There's annoying segments where you have to destroy barriers with the Hyper Ball, which is very short-ranged and weak, as well as a spot where you have to kill a small, durable creature that constantly moves around in an enclosed space without being able to lock on to it. And at the end... two Final Bosses, the first of which is That One Boss and the second of which has two phases. The place is interesting, but the amount of neon blue is an eyesore.
    • Super Metroid is a very well designed game, but Maridia earns many player's ire for the large amount of backtracking required to get all the items.
    • Metroid Zero Mission has the Zero Suit level: You're in a spaceship infested with laser-shooting pirates without your Power Armor, a completely useless shock pistol as your only weapon, Everything Is Trying to Kill You and you can only take as many hits as you have health tanks (which is 9+1 max). Even worse, Hard Mode decreases that number since Energy Tanks only give 50 health per.
    • Metroid: Fusion has the reactor level. The power for the station gets knocked out, and you have to find out what caused it and turn it back on. For the first part, all Save and Recharge Rooms are offline, so you have to fight through a long string of rooms before getting to Yakuza, a giant spider that falls squarely into That One Boss territory. After that, there's a newly-activated-but-easily-missable Save Room, and then a long, aggravating SA-X chase sequence. Finally, you get to go through Sector 2 again, this time filled with Ki-Hunters, ending with Nettori, who is also immensely frustrating, although less so than Yakuza. The Space Jump and Plasma Beam are a decent prize, though.
  • Donkey Kong 64:
    • Frantic Factory. Not only is it a very long and difficult level in its own right, it also has That One Boss, and is also home to...
      • ...The original Donkey Kong arcade game. The trouble is, this version of the classic arcade game practically embodies Nintendo Hard; you only have one life to complete all four levels (though you get one extra life if your score hits 10,000), barrels come from everywhere, and you can't skip the cutscenes. Oh, and that's not the worst part. When you beat it, you get a Golden Banana, but then in comes Squawks who challenges you to play the game again for a unique prize. And the worst part isn't that when you go for that prize, you have to beat it on Level 2 difficulty; the worst part is that the prize in question, the Nintendo Coin, is crucial to opening the way to the final boss, meaning that you have to beat the game twice.
    • Crystal Caves is just outright ridiculous. Any sense of plausible navigation is chucked out the window, since every area looks strikingly similar due to the dense brown and blue wall textures. Besides that, only three of the five Kongs get new moves, and Crystal Caves in general is home to the game's most fiendishly punishing challenges hands down, including that Goddamned second beetle race. Oh, and there's an offscreen baddie that constantly causes giant stalactites to rain down on you the first time you enter the level.note  The only good thing about the level is that its boss is a joke compared to the previous three, which are all That One Boss.

Other
  • The developers' insistence on putting chase missions into every single 3D Spider-Man game ever made. Including some requiring you to escape from an enemy while web-swinging toward the camera.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man. Chasing Electro. Imagine the person you're chasing can fly and has the ability send you flying (and usually plummeting afterward) in the opposite direction if you get anywhere near them.
      • Speaking of Ultimate Spider-Man, the third (?) level where you play as Venom. It starts out with a fight against Silver Sable, which is good fun, but afterwards, the rest of the level is just fighting mooks, running towards a checkpoint, rinse and repeat. It's incredibly repetitive and just isn't fun.
    • In Spider-Man 2, you had to web swing on these freaky floating (fake) UFOs to the Statue of Mysterio on Liberty Island. Unless you were already close to the island, one slip-up would start you over from the beginning.
    • In Spider-Man (the game based on the movie), the level Race Against Time goes from challenging to damn near-impossible on the higher difficulties. Firstly, you've got bombs you've got to disarm, and have to reach them pretty much immediately. Secondly, there are these insanely powerful robots you've got to face which are not only hard to damage (unless you've got the unlimited webbing cheat on), but can attack you from an ridiculous rangea and take off roughly three-quarters of your health in one hit.
  • La-Mulana's Brutal Bonus Level, the Hell Temple. If you love Trial-and-Error Gameplay, "Land of Hell" rooms that take you back several rooms once completed, very finicky jumping puzzles, a Wall Jump room so sickeningly frustrating that you'll wish death upon the developers, and a man in a swimsuit as your reward, you will LOVE the Hell Temple. Not to mention the fact that the final puzzle requires you to leave the temple to collect an item necessary to complete this puzzle, making you redo the entire Hell Temple again. The kicker? You have to do this twice.
    • If you don't play Shoot Em Ups, have fun solving the puzzle in the 21st room of the Hell Temple, as it requires you to get 120,000 points in the Parodius clone PR3. Some players have gotten others to do this puzzle for them.
    • Also, the Twin Labyrinth is full of Demonic Spiders, is very confusingly arranged, is inaccessible for most of the game, has a sickeningly garish color scheme and terrible music, and is filled with confusing puzzles.
    • The aptly-named Confusion Gate, with its dark, ugly-colored background and creepy (yet awesome) music, starts with a maze of invisible ladders and teleporters that's impossible to find your way around without a guide, with glyphs that endlessly mock your incompetence, a complicated pedestal puzzle, and the fact that you have to leave the level to do a Fetch Quest. Then there's the puzzle to get the Flywheel, which involves hitting a bunch of pots twice each while using an item that makes time freeze but takes 3 minutes in-game to recharge (no waiting by playing minigames or listening to the in-game jukebox), a room full of disappearing ladders that can leave you trapped, and a room where you have to fight a giant bat...on a series of tiny platforms, in a room covered in spikes.
    • The Spring in the Sky, at least on the first visit. For one, it's filled with water, which not only drains your health at a very fast rate until you obtain the Scalesphere, but masks the Goddamned Bats that fill the game. The local enemies are also quite fast. But then there's the segment where you must ride a moving platform up a waterfall infested with... Surprise Fish. One hit from them will knock you off the platform, which will most certainly knock you into the water below. It's not easy to see where they come from, either. And don't get started on Bahamut.
    • The Tower of the Goddess, its backside equivalent. It's an entirely vertical level. Combine that with the game's finicky jumping physics and knockback, and it's pure frustration. Not to mention the invisible enemies; the item needed to reveal them is at the end of a long and annoying underwater side portion infested with said invisible enemies. Oh, and it's home to the balance puzzle for the Mace.
  • Soul Reaver! The Cathedral, full of Vampiric Spider enemies and an area long puzzle. The puzzles are confusing, way too easy to screw up and having to back travel, but before then searching frantically feeling like you're stuck. The Spider enemies attack fast and dodge a lot, attack in numbers, one hit does a good amount of damage, and one hit from anything takes off the Soul Reaver. Since the spiders attack in numbers, you can't feed off them enough to replenish the Soul Reaver. There's also rooms with no items to kill the spiders with, which means you have to try very hard to kill them with the Reaver. Only at the very end, before the boss fight there's a warp room, which can be easily missed if you go down the wrong way. Easily the WORST segment of the game.
  • For that matter, Malek's Bastion in the original Blood Omen. You're a vampire in a bleak snowy castle in which all enemies are very durable animated suits of armor with no blood to suck. Worse, your blood level just degrades by itself over time, and health items are few and far between. Add annoying traps, a stark gray/pale map (the protagonist himself complains that his eyes ache from lack of contrast in voiceover!) and it gets frustrating/depressing very quickly.
  • Castlevania 64 had a few reviled levels (when not the entire game), thanks to sluggish movements and unhelpful camera angles. But the worst is the one in which you had to carry an exploding gunpowder keg. One, you can't jump, or it'll blow up, instantly killing you. Two, you can't get hit without an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Third, you can't put it down. The path is naturally goes along ledges, filled with God Damn Bats and their cousins.
    • Another contender for the title of That One Level is the original version of Duel Tower, which they forgot to put save points in.
    • ANY Clock Tower level in any Castlevania game. Moving platforms, conveyor belts, Medusa Heads, wall-to-floor-to-ceiling spikes, and to top it all off, a boss battle with Death in most recent games. Fun stuff.
    • Stage 16 in Castlevania (the third-to-last stage and the first section of the last area) has you crossing a stone bridge with gaps and Goddamned Giant Bats that take as many hits as the original Giant Bat from Stage 3 to kill. Did I mention this is only the third-to-last stage? The next stage has Goddamned Fleamen, and the final stage is the battle with Dracula the Goddamned Bathead. Oh, and since this is the last stage, you lose 4 out of 16 HP per hit, which means you die in just four hits.
    • The entirety of Level 4; the catacombs and the outer area immediately following them. The catacombs are filled with Goddamned Bats and Mermen ready to knock you off of any platform you try to get on, made worse by the fact that they appear erratically while you're doing precision jumping on moving platforms over a pit of instant death water. If you survive that, you face the field of a million zillion Fleamen. Basically, it's a long path, with hawks constantly airdropping fleamen (the hardest to hit, fastest, and probably most downright annoying enemies in the game). If you let too many get in and moving, you're screwed. If you let them surround you, you're screwed. If you take more than a few hits, you're screwed, because in order to reach the next checkpoint, you have to kill a White Dragon. This bugger slides up and down and erratically shoots fireballs out you. Touching him or getting hit by a fireball will knock out 4 HP, so 4 hits and you're dead. After that, to reach the boss, you have to kill 2 more White Dragons, each placed in more annoying positions than the last. And then you have to kill Frankenstein's Monster and Igor. Note that Frankenstein and Igor also take out 4 hp on a hit, and if you die to them, you have to fight the last 2 Wite Dragons again before facing Frankenstein once more.
    • Stage 8 in Castlevania IV (the dungeon) is a low point for what is otherwise gaming nirvana. This level is nothing but instant death spam taken to 11. Although the level is short, it feels like an eternity. The boss is a push over.
    • Dracula's Castle in Curse of Darkness is easily among the worst levels in the game. It's not particularly hard, per se, but going through the same few rooms OVER and OVER again gets to be a hell of a drag.
    • The underground waterway in Circle of the Moon is utterly infested with Demonic Spiders, most notably the Ice Armors. These things throw two spears at you, both of which freeze you. If you're hit with the first, say hello to the second one for three times the damage, which is typically more than half your life bar gone right there. But those are just the starting point: we also have Sirens and Frozen Shades throwing projectiles at you from the air. The former moves erratically and is extremely difficult to dodge, while the latter has an odd delay on its projectiles that means they can hit you even after you kill them...oh, and they freeze you too. On top of that, the place is filled with puzzles involving platforms you have to manipulate, which in themselves aren't so bad, except that item drops will always fall right through them, including extremely valuable DSS cards.
    • Symphony Of The Night''s Black Marble Gallery can be a pain, due to being full of Nova Skeletons and spike traps. It also has Guardians, as well as numerous another annoying enemies.
    • Levels 6 and 9note  of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Good luck beating those two without the "HELP ME" code. Level 6 begins with an Axe Armor that you are forced to fight at short range (which is a lot harder than you think) followed by a stretch of conveyer-like rapids where you have crows, hidden Fishmen and Bottomless Pits to deal with, and ends with a collapsing bridge with crows flying randomly over it, followed by the Water Dragon. Level 9 starts with a Fleaman spam that surrounds you with up to five of them at a time, a stairwell sequence where you are simultaneously attacked by Skull Towers and Skeleton Flyers, and and even more difficult, two-story reprise of the rapids sequence from level 6. It ends with a rotary bridge where you are being chased by Medusa Heads (and just like the collapsing one, one hit is death, and this time you can't even jump), followed by the Doppleganger.
    • The Clockwork Tower in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is easily the worst designed level in the game. The game's platforming is already finicky, so requiring the player to make precise jumps across moving platforms should NOT have been something that was in the game. This is topped off with several Guide Dang It moments (such as needing to use a platforming maneuver that the game never tells you about), a difficult and out of nowhere boss and a boring looking color palette. It's also a Marathon Level.
  • In the PC game of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, most of the game is well-balanced, and not too hard to complete. However, the last level of the Hippogriff Flying minigame is super-tough to beat— it's a tricky Pass Through the Rings challenge, where you can only miss at most 3 rings, or you have to start over. And you have to beat it to complete the game.
  • Illusion of Gaia.
    • The raft cutscene after the first boss is reviled by fans, as it is purposefully boring to make the player empathize with the characters. It doesn't help that no one seems to know exactly what actions trigger the end of each sequence.
    • The Atlantis inspired level which involved raising and lowering water levels, filled with hard hitting enemies, the game not providing any easily obtained healing items (every Healing Herb is unique.) containing That One Boss even IF you know where to find the secret portal to Gaia so you can transform yourself into your knightly powerup mode. Because, hey guess what, the boss is a Vampire couple who've got one of your friends on a timebomb. So not only are they a BITCH to take out, you're fighting time, with a weakened character.
  • Sand Zone in Cave Story. A giant level, in which you are forced to spend much time collecting the five Puppy Hats of Plot Continuation for what seems like eternity, deal with not one Wake-Up Call Boss, but TWO, get the first chance to miss out on the Spur, an Infinity+1 Sword, and go through the same area, the hardest in the area, multiple times to get three of the five aforementioned Puppies. Your reward? A Player Punch and becoming trapped in what is considered to be an unescapable dungeon.
    • Said inescapable dungeon, the Labyrinth. It is extremely long, throws in a number of things you need to do to get the best ending that are very easy to miss and two That One Bosses.
    • Final Cave (Hidden) is an enormous Difficulty Spike, with no save or health restoration points, spikes and lava pits everywhere that take off 10 health (out of 50) with each hit, requiring split-second timing with the Booster to pass that isn't present anywhere previously, and there's a miniboss two-thirds of the way through. It's only accessible when going for the Best ending, and it's all to give the player a taste of what's to come with the Sacred Grounds.
  • The flashback sequences of Lucas' childhood in Indigo Prophecy, due to their horrible implementation of stealth based mechanics in what is otherwise an Action Adventure game.
  • The "UFO Catcher" side mission in Yakuza. Yes, it's entirely optional, and the reward for beating it (a step towards 100% completion and a decent weapon) isn't crucial, but having to use a crane game to pick up a whole bunch of stuffed animals is the epitome of tedium. Tedium then turns to rage as the loop of stupid, tinny, "cheerful" music bores into your brain, the annoying depth perception issues keep you from getting a bead on your target, the wonky physics engine causes the toy to fall out of the claw as it's moving towards the redemption chute, and the claw itself takes an excruciatingly long time just to move back to the starting point and reset itself.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb had an incredibly sadistic level near the end. A crazy Nazi starts chasing you in a drill tank. While running from the drill tank, you have to get across several bottomless pits. Doesn't sound too hard right? Here's the kicker: Some of the whip swing pits are very close together, and during the swing, you have to let go of the whip just slightly before you reach the terminus of the swing. If you let go just slightly too late, you will overshoot the small platform and fall into the next pit! To make matters worse, there are no checkpoints, so if you die, you have to start the whole level all over again, Unskippable Cutscene and all! At least the game doesn't make you run toward the camera!
    • In Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine, the raft level. Yes, the goddamn raft level. You have to navigate a river, and you can't go too fast or too slow or you die for some reason. And then you have to time the jump off of the raft perfectly or you DIE and have to do it all over again. If you succeed, but die afterwards, you start at the point RIGHT BEFORE YOU HAVE THE MAKE THE JUMP, making it almost impossible to do it again. And after that, there's no indication of what to do. You can't change the camera angle for the jump, Indie usually slides off the platform upon landing.
    • Indiana Jones And The Staff Of Kings has an equally frustrating last level. You have to swing a piano at Nazis. The problems? The piano is slower than your joystick, the unchangeable camera makes it hard to hit them, they're climbing ladders that, once they get part way up, you can no longer hit them, and if they shoot you once, you die. Never mind that you've been able to take multiple bullets before, one hit, you die.
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is enjoyable on the whole, but has a couple of "why why why" moments. For the most part, for instance, the jumping-around-on-ruins-and-between-ledges mechanics are smooth and allow you to rapidly get through areas. However, in one part of the game you must jump around the walls, pillars and chandeliers high up in a large building, making your way over to two switches on opposite sides of the room. This is perfectly fine up until the point where you have to make it across an innocent-looking jump (pretty much identical on both sides) from some planks to some other planks. Where Nathan's been happy to do semi-automatic jumps and physics-defying jumps between tiny ledges earlier, these two gaps cause him to have a brain aneurysm and forget how to jump long, instead deciding to take a short leap and then forget how to grab ledges.
    • The final gunfight is a hair-pulling exercise in trial and error, too, unless you're a shotgun expert by then. The game's mook turned Big Bad has an insta-death sniper rifle that, unlike other snipers, hits you even if you're rolling. There's a ton of soldiers in the way, and after the first quarter of the fight, you end up behind breakable crates. Which the Big Bad shoots to pieces. So you have to memorize where the enemies appear, take them down quickly enough to avoid running out of cover, and not waste your ammo on the invincible-even-though-he-isn't-armored Big Bad. It all ends with another trial-and-error mess in which you have to figure out exactly when to dodge between crates.
  • The Occupation of Arteria Carpals in Armored Core for Answer. The level consists of a fake briefing, crossing into the center of one of the worst battlefields in the game, hearing that the entire level is a trap to make you die, then seeing not 1, not 2, but 4 of them come flying in, ready to kill you. Your ally is worthless- they'll slaughter him in a matter of seconds, then they rush you. Unless you know exactly what you're doing (which essentially comes down to cheap tactics or sheer luck), you die, very quickly. Best part? The Hard mode version adds another enemy.
  • Spartan Total Warrior has an Escort Mission in which you have to guide the mathematician Archimedes through a horde of Roman Legionaries. This suffers from a total lack of checkpoints of any kind despite an incredibly long setup, a gigantic map in which everything looks the same, having nowhere near the supplies you need, and having far too many mooks for the button-mashing hack-and-slash combat engine to stand up to while protecting Archy. The kicker, however is that he is suicidal. It's one thing for a frail old man to be unable to keep up with the cream of the Spartan military, but willfully running into fires is quite another.
  • Naruto: Rise of the Ninja has its racing levels. They are especially difficult when you have to use chakra concentration and climb up buildings. Never mind the fact that Chakra Concentration takes FOUR SECONDS to charge up to use, and another second and then ANOTHER four if you fail.

  • The rooftop level near the end of the Ghost in the Shell Playstation game. You go left a millimeter, you fall off the building. Go right a millimeter, you fall off the building. Try to climb the cable, you fall off the building.
    • The two Timed Missions in the game where you had to collect bombs strewn all over the levels under a tight, tight time limit. Cue the Rage Quit.
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis had a puzzle at the end for mixing some potion and boy it was bad. Even with a guide you're going to have trouble with this. It was randomized to make it hard for a guide to give solutions. You had to rotate 4 pipes with grooves and get them into place, except rotating one affected others as well. It was tantamount to a Rubik's Cube, which is a sadistic thing to subject a gamer to. Probably the worst puzzle in the RE series.
  • Dead Space Zero-G levels. You attach yourself to any wall or ceiling (which then becomes the 'ground') and have to reorient yourself to your surroundings making it very easy to get lost or confused.
    • The turret section where you have to protect the Ishimura from incoming asteroids. Some people found this part infuriating due to poor controls. The fact it only took a couple asteroid hits to fail this section didn't help matters.
  • Level 3-5 in Twisted Pixel's 'Splosion Man. To put into perspective how much this level is reviled, Twisted Pixel brought a punchbag to Penny Arcade Expo with a dev's face and the caption "I Made Level 3-5". The poor bag never stood a chance.
  • Darkened Skye, a Skittles adgame, is That One Game made entirely out of That One Level. Entertaining writing aside, the game at it's very fundamentals sucks (the controls are iffy at best and the hitboxes are wonky, so that you can flail away at enemies and still be beaten by little flying reptiles clawing at air a meter away), and each level has it's own unique way of utilizing these failings to send you to cheap death after cheap death.
  • Special mention of Ōkami and its Blockhead enemies. In order to beat them you have to watch for a flash, and then draw a dot on that spot. The first few are okay, but try getting the one with eight dots right when you only have a few seconds to watch the flashes!
    • In fact, the later Blockheads are so infuriating that there have been instances where players have drawn on the TV screen with dry erase markers and lipstick in order to track down all the dots in time. Sometimes, it has to be a team effort, with one person doing the monitor drawing and the other handling the game controls. And this was suppose to be a single player game...
    • Also, the Spider Gate challenges. If these weren't optional, the game would probably go into Nintendo Hard. Remember to bring about 100 or more of each type of healing item plus attack/defense upgrades, because you'll need them!
    • For some, the kimono drawing sidequest for Stray Bead #48 qualifies. The game gets infamously picky on whether if it accepts your rendition of the little girl's vision or not, making this seem almost like a Luck-Based Mission. The heart, the second shape the player has to draw seems to get people the most.
  • Sly Cooper possesses several examples:
    • Sly Cooper And The Thievius R Accoonus
      • In Muggshot's Turf, the level "At the Dog Track". A race against four opponents who are faster than you in every possible way. And the steering controls are really shitty. And the car comes to a complete stop if you hit anything larger than a molecule. And if you turn a corner too sharply, you'll slow down for several precious seconds, causing your competition to get an even bigger lead. There are speedboosters available, but half the time they either cause you to crash into the nearest obstacle(on account of the fixed camera so you can't see what's ahead of you for half the race) or, if you happen to use it near the middle-point of the track, you'll flip your car completely over onto its back, and when they do work properly, it's rarely, if ever, enough to gain any significant ground at all. Later in the game, you have to do it again, but it's even more difficult than before.
      • In Sir Raleigh's area, there's "Treasure in the Depths", an Unexpected Gameplay Change with a mandatory minigame where the player has to break open 50 chests while making sure none of the fast moving crabs gets a single one. It requires much faster reflexes than any of the levels previously, and most of the ones after it.
      • Another mandatory minigame that is quite difficult is "Down Home Cooking", which requires you to kill 50 chickens in 90 seconds. The area you have to do this in is quite large and has several obstacles to make things difficult. But the really annoying part is the pair bomb-toting roosters that randomly appear, which are faster than you and will kill you if you so much as get close to one. Also in the same world is "Piranha Lake", which requires you to light 25 voodoo torches with the swamp craft's flamethrower. The flamethrower is fueled by running over fast-moving, skittish piranhas. You can only hold 5 shots at most, and you have 2 minutes to light all the torches in the large area. Do the math.
      • Most of The Cold Heart of Hate is quite difficult and annoying. "A Hazardous Path" is a long rail shooter with very sensitive aiming, which is not good when your targets are fast-moving Robo-Falcons or clusters of mines. "Burning Rubber" forces you to collect 60 computers while preventing the hordes of fast-moving lava slugs from doing the same, with the driving controls you've learned to hate. "A Daring Rescue" is short, but requires tricky platforming, and there's no lucky horseshoes anywhere; plus, if you trip the alarms, they're staying on. "Bentley Comes Through" pits you through a different shooter, where the targets you're trying to destroy to obtain the code pieces will split into pieces and cause damage, as well as the security algorithms that will One-Hit Kill you with their homing shots. Then there's "A Temporary Truce", which is a "protect Murray" Escort Mission from Hell. Then comes "Sinking Peril", a very long Rise to the Challenge level where a single slip-up sends you back to the beginning. The next level? Clockwerk. This world is no fun.
      • To elaborate on "A Temporary Truce", you're forced to shoot the various enemies and obstacles in order to help Sly reach his cane. It's pretty much the same as the previous levels where you had to do the same with Murray, so what's so bad about that? Well, some of the enemies come out of nowhere, which means Trial-and-Error Gameplay is in full effect. While with some of them, you can tell by Sly's reaction, others come from right behind him. Plus, compared to Murray's screams and running for cover, Sly simply runs backwards, if at all. It's a short level, but infuriating.
    • Sly 2: Band Of Thieves
      • There are three levels where Sly must sneak through to a particular point hidden inside a TNT barrel. The first is comparatively easy, but the second can be either easy or Nintendo Hard depending on the starting position of guards. It helps to whack them with Murray in the section of the mission preceding it. The last, however, is horrendously frustrating, requiring the player to go all over Arpeggio's blimp (itself That One Level, due to Disappointing Last Level), pick up 3 chargers for a TNT barrel, and blow up the door to a generator. Sounds easy? Well, the level is full of narrow platforms, slow guards who synchronize their walking schedules, take half a minute to calm down if they see anything suspicious and instantly kill Sly if they bump into him, fast rotating spotlights that can blast Sly to pieces if he so much as moves a muscle inside them, and on top of that, Sly can't jump out of the barrel the whole time. The only saving grace the level has is an Anti Frustration Feature that lets Sly keep the chargers he has already loaded up and plonk him in a convenient spot outside of the barrel, where he can take out the guards in his immediate area.
      • Another obnoxious mission is the one where you must carry a beetle to Rajan's office. To make things difficult, said beetle starts buzzing loudly after 10 seconds pass, which attracts the attention of all enemies nearby. To stop it, you have to put the beetle in water pools scattered about the level; however, since it's not really that obvious where they are, it devolves into a mad dash for the area you have to reach while enemies are chasing you. And did I mention that taking any damage forces you to start over?
      • Available at the exact same time as the above-mentioned mission is the mission where you have to steal Rajan's blueprints. To do this, you have to follow him, but not too far away, as that'll fail the mission, or not too close, bec- "A VIPER IN THE GRASS!" and you fail the mission. You have to shoot darts to lure him over to the watermelons that will make him fall asleep when he eats them so you can steal a blueprint. Unfortunately, you're doing this as Bentley, which means your combat and mobility options are very limited. To make matters worse, Rajan only falls asleep for a very short amount of time, and if you're too slow, th- "A VIPER IN THE GRASS!" and you fail. At least you keep the blueprints you've collected if you fail.
      • If there ever was such a thing as Platform Hell in the Sly Cooper series, the sequence while fighting the final boss has to be it. You have to paraglide across a mess of falling platforms and debris in order to reach the final boss and take it out. But the debris and platforms are moving and twisting around so much that you've got to be exact on your jumps and gliding to reach each one, or fall to your death. Sometimes you might run into a small piece of debris which stops everything. It's not exactly a short sequence, either. And falling just once forces you to start this mess all over again.
    • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
      • "The Dark Current" where Dimitri must swim to retrieve Sly's cane. It goes into a watery tunnel requiring luck and lightning fast reflexes to survive. Dr. M's Sea Creature is easy by comparison. Or not.
      • The first part of "Operation: Wedding Crasher" is an exercise in patience. Here, you have to drive a difficult-to-control RC car through a maze of blue lasers. Destroying a security node by running into or shooting it fails the mission. Accidentally tripping a blue laser fails the mission. Destroying the glass windows fails the mission. And some of the laser fields move; some of those force you to go through very tight spaces, and the RC car hates to turn tightly. Screwing up forces you to start all over. Have fun. At least you get to blast all of the things to bits at the end... but good luck finding them all in time.
      • Right before that, you get to experience RC car hell in Down the Line. The RC car does not like to turn properly, the camera doesn't like to follow you, and it flips around if you bump into anything taller than a loaf of bread. Now take that and go through a long timed race while being assaulted by fire dragon heads and having to destroy rocks with a cannon that overheats quickly and cools down very slowly. And if you destroy a TNT barrel, it'll take off nearly half your health.
      • Lastly, there's "Stand Your Ground", a brutal Multi-Mook Melee against a huge amount of extremely vicious mutants. They can take quite a beating, and have annoying moves that'll take off your health like nothing. The cobra-headed mutants throw bombs and have scream attacks that send out slow projectiles that make any attempts to fight them head-on impossible, and the lobster-clawed ones can block your attacks and throw their claws, which cause huge knockback. If you don't have the Juggernaut Throw, this is just about impossible.
    • Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time
      • The Murray Games, which isn't so much difficult as very, very long and drawn out. (Justified, as it's essentially a playable Training Montage.) It consists of six different minigames you have to complete. They're mostly easy, except for the balance and slingshot minigames. The former requires you to use SixAxis controls to keep an egg from rolling off the wooden beam "Bob" holds, all while penguins are jumping on the platform and shifting it constantly, and you have to last 25 seconds with this. The latter requires you to sling penguins at these targets that pterodactyls hold, but sometimes the controller acts up and refuses to sling a penguin (and you can only miss up to three). But once you beat all six of the minigames, you have to go through a lightning-quick barrage of these minigames. And there, hoo boy does the balance game ramp up in difficulty. You don't have to last nearly as long, but on the other hand the platform is tilting extremely quickly, back and forth, constantly.
      • On that note, the entire world "Clan of the Cave Raccoon" is one huge Scrappy Level. There are very few missions where you get to play as Sly and the area is very difficult to navigate without the ability to walk on ropes and spires, an ability which his prehistoric ancestor lacks. Since you mostly play as Murray and Bob, you're in for an onslaught of minigames like the obnoxious Murray Games (Mentioned above) and the needlessly long climbing mission where you have to keep from waking Pterodactyls (Which seems to have no real technique to it outside of Trial-and-Error Gameplay). It's also a huge letdown to go from Tennessee Kid Cooper and his infinite ammo revolver cane to Bob Cooper, who's essentially Murray with the ability to climb.
  • Darksiders has the Black Throne towards the end of the game. The point of the dungeon is to reach, and then redirect three beams of light into the central chamber, which is easier said than done thanks to: extraordinarily tough enemies with relatively few health chests considering the size of the dungeon (and God help you if you die and start out with only a select number of health pieces, because Continuing Is Painful; A miniboss that, while not entirely difficult, deals amazing damage. And you have to fight him THRICE; Hair-tearingly convoluted puzzles in almost every room, many of which you need to do twice, forwards and backwards; Actually redirecting the beams of light the right way has proven to be a Guide Dang It for many players.
  • 3D Dot Game Heroes has that one level in the form of the Flame Temple. Leading up to it is an annoying cavern maze with falling rocks everywhere. It's got all sorts of Demonic Spiders, including the Dark Ropus, an enemy that drains your magic and leaves you with half a life-point when touched and is extremely fast, the Gray Magi, which requires a special spell to kill, teleports away fast, and drains your magic if its spells hit, and the Knight, which is only vulnerable from behind, blocks your hits, and has a good amount of power and health to boot. To make the level worse, it has a special gimmick involving pressing switches to advance through the level, and if you load a game or die (which will happen often), the switches will reset and you have to go through the temple again! And to cap it off, it's got That One Boss. Yikes.
    • The desert leading up to the Desert Temple isn't much fun, since you've got to deal with fast, stronger enemies than what you're used to that fire projectiles, and a frustrating maze involving one-way, conveyor belt-like quicksand. The Desert Temple is easy compared to the path leading to it.
    • The Wind Temple is a labryinthine five-floor Marathon Level chock-full of gusts of wind, Knights and Black Knights, and numerous one-way paths that require a guide to traverse properly. And the temple's item is located on a very out-of-the way path that can easily be missed, and isn't required to beat the level (but is required to reach The Very Definitely Final Dungeon). The Dark Knight boss is pathetic (unless you're trying to book it), as a consolation.
    • Even as the final level, The Dark Tower is an exhausting Marathon Level consisting of all six other temples. Health items are very scarce unless you deliberately farm the few enemies that drop them. The most common enemy past the first three floors is always Grey Magi. Because the level's so large, you get multiple warps through it- but if you die or load, have fun trekking through all the levels you've previously beat! Of course, the Wind Temple section is at least twice as long as the other levels, taking up nearly three floors. Have fun.
  • Case 7-2, the Bomb Collector mission of Dead Rising for X-Box 360. Imagine riding a motorcycle through a dark tunnel overflowing with zombies to gather bombs trying not to hit to many zombies lest you lose your motorcycle, leaving you on foot and pretty much screwed. All the while being chased by a guy in a moving van throwing grenades and trying to run you over. And bear in mind that every tunnel looks exactly alike, so unless you're bringing up your map every few seconds to double-check your position, it's very easy to get lost or miss an important turn.
    • The park in the center of the mall. It is a wide open area almost as big as the entire rest of the mall and only has 3 psychopaths to deal with compared to the dozen or so found elsewhere in the game. What makes it so hard? The 3 psychopaths work together and drive a jeep mounted with a turret throughout the level while the player can only move slowly on foot. The turret deals a decent amout of damage and causes the player to stumble when hit, making healing items impossible to use unless the player can somehow find cover (or is extremely quick). The convicts respawn if A the player leaves the park without killing them all or B if its A NEW DAY. Oh, and at the start of the game the player only has 4 hit points and dying resets all progress since you last saved at one of maybe 4 or 5 save points scattered about the mall. God help the poor bastard who tries escorting survivors through this place without killing the convicts first. If they can.
  • 2099 Doctor Octopus' stage in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Exploding kamakazi critters, giant teleporting lizard-things, regular enemies a-plenty (incuding lots of huge mooks and shielded mooks), a very long and difficult protect mission, and to top it off the stage takes a long time to complete.
  • The PC Version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had the Maze. Sure, it was easy enough (after a while) to get to the center and past the hedge wall that wants to eat you, but getting past the goddamned fire crabs are a pain in the ass if you don't know what to do.
  • The on-foot missions in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams are hell to get through, especially the ones in Memory Forest and Crystal Castle. Good luck passing, let alone A-Ranking.
    • Sky Concert is another annoying example—NiGHTS flies a bit slower than you need to hit the notes in time of the music, and you're only allowed a few misses before getting a Game Over.
  • The Sun Temple in Aquaria features a rather egregious number of timed jumping puzzles - in a game based around swimming. Hello there, floor - nice to see you for the hundredth time... and yes, the Frozen Veil features this too, but at least that's an optional zone.
  • Tomb Raider 3 has Caves of Kaliya and Lud's Gate.
    • Caves of Kaliya is The Maze with a boss fight at the end and very little else at all (it is at least very short when you know the way out).
    • Lud's Gate is partially made up of an underwater maze, and it has a somewhat inexplicable path split that, rather than providing two different routes (like other levels with one) you simply miss about a quarter of the level if you make a mistake at one point. The previously mentioned underwater maze also happens to have a vehicle in it that actually makes things harder if you use it. Finally it feels quite thrown together thematically, which adds further scrappy factor considering it comes after the level many consider one of the games atmospheric/thematic highlights (along with it doing nothing with a somewhat interesting subplot with "The Damned").
  • Tomb Raider Anniversary has The Great Pyramid; not only was the level massively cut down from the original game's version, but what was there has been replaced a shaft climb that many found incredibly difficult and frustrating.
  • Tomb Raider 2's Temple of Xian. The game tricks you by putting the dagger right down a suspiciously empty hallway, but as soon as you get within a few feet of it, the floor opens up beneath you and immediately springs two traps on you at the same time! Let's just say Lara's day doesn't get any better afterward.
  • The level "It's a Trap!" in chapter 8 of Buddy Rush has you fight 7 waves of enemies. Among the various enemies, you have go fight pelicans three times, you see. And then there's "Prove Your Friendship 3" in chapter 9, where you must protect a toilet from a bunch of mummies. You just can't kill them without letting them hit the toilet and to make things worse, four mummies appear at once during the battle!
  • Level 10 from Evolva. You must reach the top of an island before it sinks, making it a Timed Mission. Besides the usual Zerg Rush of mooks, you have to pass through several locked doors, which only open using keys available in paths apart from the path to the top, and collect a pair of exploding spores in order to open the side path where one of the keys is. The worst part is, not only you have a limited time to reach the top, but a limited time to grab the items at the side paths. Waste even the slightest time in a point, and the game may become Unwinnable without you even noticing it, as the sea leel may have risen enough to sinks parts of the next side path or even the item you must grab.
  • LEGO Adaptation Games:
    • LEGO Star Wars. Trying to get Jedi Master status (collecting enough studs to fill an onscreen meter) on the level "Defense of Kashyyyk" is downright infuriating, mostly due to the beach section that has you trying to use the Force to pull up plants to get studs as respawning enemies swarm everywhere, all after you. Pulling up the plants takes a few seconds, leaving you a sitting duck, and if you get hit you stop and have to try again. And when you die (which you will), most of your studs scatter everywhere as you rush to get them back before they disappear. Lose too many studs, and you'll most likely have to start the whole level over. Forget the Goddamned Bats, here you'll be cursing the Goddamned Clones, the Goddamned Droids, and ESPECIALLY the Goddamned Walkers. It doesn't help that you end up saddled with two of the game's weaker characters: Chewie can't dodge, and his melee attack in Saga Edition takes forever and locks him in place, while Yoda walks with a cane whenever he's not jumping, which makes him aggravatingly slow.
      • The last level. First is a long series of runs and leaps over lava towards the camera, with any slip-up meaning you start over from the beginning. The second is a timed area where you have to solve a puzzle before you die instantly (you can extend the timer by building support beams, though). The third is a chase sequence along ledges, punctuated by puzzles, above lava. If you fail at any point, you have to start over from the beginning of the scene (though not the level, thankfully). Then you need to hopscotch across sinking metal platforms floating in a field of, oh, you get the idea. Then there's the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan. One misjump, and you may be starting to notice a theme.
      • The podrace. Anakin's Pod is incredibly fragile, and takes damage whenever it's shot, whenever it hits something, whenever the wind is blowing in the wrong direction... and the game lacks Mercy Invincibility, and the Pod hurtles off whenever it takes damage, and it can take only four hits. Now imagine taking this vehicle, and navigating it through the same tight corners and caves you saw in the movie. But that's okay, all you need is some careful, deliberate timing... what, this is a race with an incredibly small window of error that dictates moving forward at all cost? Okay! And every time you die, you get sent back to a checkpoint 1/3 of the way through the level? And if there was a cutscene in that third, it plays again and you can't skip it? Okay! The worst part, though, is the middle of the second lap, which is when the Tusken Raiders start shooting at you while in an avalanche. Pick your poison: clipping a boulder, pinballing into three others and dying, or maneuvering through the maze, getting into a Tusken's line of fire, getting shot four times, and dying? The level was remade entirely for Saga Edition, making the Pod considerably less fragile, removing the one-hit-kill pits, and making the margin of error considerably larger... and it was still hard! (At least in that version, you can replay the race as a TIE Interceptor and effortlessly leave Sebulba in your dust.)
    • In the original LEGO Star Wars II for the PS2, Dagobah was frustrating because of the literal Goddamned Bats that interfere with Luke's efforts to raise Artoo to the timed mushrooms. When remade for the PS3's LGSW: The Complete Saga, it becomes impossible.
      • Nothing in the Original Trilogy (at least in the PSP version) was as sadistic as Super Story, Ep. VI. You have to complete all 6 levels of an episode in under an hour, while collecting 100,000 studs. However, VI's levels are all long and filled with tedious and long puzzles. The AT-AT section of "Speeder Showdown" is where if you screw up, kiss your Super Story run goodbye- 30 minutes in. If you destroy the right shield generators first, you don't have enough space to destroy the rear one without backing up which takes about 3 minutes; if you're fast, you'll barely make it out in an hour. (In the Complete Saga version, the requirements are "100,000 studs or under one hour." It's a great improvement. Still challenging, since studs are scarce in VI, but no longer a reason to contemplate murder.)
    • LEGO Star Wars III has nearly all of the Assault missions. The player is dropped with few or no soldiers, in a battlefield controlled almost entirely by the enemy, and has to build an army and either destroy the enemy forces or build an escape pod in a time limit, which is usually around 10 minutes, and there are thirty of these missions. Most of the time it's just easier to save up for Super Speeders (which costs 40 million studs) and use them to steamroll the missions instead of trying them the regular way.
    • "Harboring a Grudge" in LEGO Batman is annoying. About halfway through the level, you're harrassed by police skiffs, who destroy you quickly and your main vessel turns pitifully slowly. Also, losing the Penguin Submarine means you lose all the torpedoes you have. To make it worse, the skiffs can shoot you underwater. And then there's that part where you have to press two buttons to activate a gate, each of which have spotlights that fire homing missiles at you. Irritatingly, the button-pressing physics decide that they'll refuse to work, as you're getting pummeled by missiles and even more police skiffs. Then there's a boss that sends waves of the aformentioned skiffs at you, while you try to go for torpedo runs. In all, not fun.
    • "The Black Lake" from LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. Depth Perplexion is in full effect here- the level's essentially a sidescroller. This also means that the shells that must be destroyed for a House Crest piece and the targets to release trapped students can't be destroyed with the automatic aim- nope, you have to aim the shots manually. The main enemies not only have a time-consuming attack animation that prevents you from switching, they have Mercy Invincibility. And if the whole thing wasn't bad enough, the whole level is so dark it's a borderline Blackout Basement.
    • Then there's The Dead Marshes from LEGO The Lord of the Rings. It's not just that you have to drudge through the swamp to get to the other islands. It's not just that you have to go all over the place to perform puzzles to find water to fill your bucket. And it's not just that the place is rather dull-looking. No, it's that Gollum won't shut up. Every ten seconds he'll start urging you to hurry... while you're running all over the place doing puzzles. After the 5th time of "hurry Hobbitses, hurry!", the player gains a strange urge to punch the little guy. But that's not all- there's also a really long stealth section where you must hide from the Ringwraith that flies above, killing you instantly if you're in view (and keeping you from proceeding). Think it's over? Wrong. Then you have to do a totally out-of-nowhere part where you must defeat two oliphaunts (or rather, their drivers).
  • Speaking of LEGO games, LEGO Island 2 features the rather infamous Fishing Minigame. Firstly, just knowing how to play the game is a Guide Dang It. How so? The instructions are about as vague and generalized as they can be. What you're told is to use your bait to catch the big fish, Big Bertha, followed by a screen of the control legend telling you "Up" is strike, "Down" is reel in, "Shift" activates, and "Control" builds power and casts. This is about as non-specific as it can be, and learning it becomes a tedious trial-and-error process. How do you actually play the game, you ask? You press "Shift" to sit down and be able to fish, and cast with "Control". Then, you wait for the screen to say "Strike now!", where you press the "Up" key. You're supposed to know that the bar on the right of the screen is supposed to not go too high or low, and it gradually goes down. When you press "Down" it shoots back up. Keep repeating this until you pull the fish in. All of this, and the game expects you to come to this conclusion just by the information it gives you. This would be bad enough, but when you realize this is for kids, this is downright inexcusable. On top of all of this, the minigame is as boring as it could possibly be. Waiting for Big Bertha to come to you is entirely a Luck-Based Mission, and can either be done in five minutes or an entire hour. You just have to wait for her to bite the hook. Even when you think she's about to, she'll sometimes just turn around and swim away. Of course, there's minnows in the water too just to stall you even longer, as they can also bite your bait. They're entirely pointless unless you want more points, which probably won't happen. Plus, by the time it actually tells you to strike, you probably won't even remember what key you were supposed to press. And even if you do, you still have to figure out the whole bar thing. And thanks to a glitch, the part of it that is "too high" is a little bit lower than the top, so if you casted too hard, you won't even get a chance to do anything. Many never got past this part because it was so poorly explained and boring as it could be. Thankfully this was all cut from the PS1 version due to space issues. Which of course didn't stop them from forgetting to take out all references to it.
  • Illegal Communication has the maze room, where you have to blast your way through a Space-Filling Path filled with destroyable blocks. If you brush ever so slightly against a wall, you die (and the corridors are thin). Your character (controlled by mouse) moves with a lot of inertia, so if you ever move your mouse a bit too fast, you crash into a wall and die. The blocks you destroy regenerate very fast, so you have to be constantly on the move—if you try and move slowly to be safe, a block will respawn on top of you and kill you.
    • The Arkanoid room soon after that isn't much better. The paddle steers like a cow, the ball tends to bounce off corners at unexpected angles, and if you miss the ball even once, you die and have to redo the entire preceding, annoying platform sequence.
  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors: Level 12: Mars Needs Cheerleaders is filled to the brim with Goddamn Bats, the fast-moving martains that can stop you in your tracks, football players that knock you all around, and a the martain ufo, which can only be killed by lobbing soda in a VERY specific weak point.

    That One LevelThe Legend of Zelda

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