I think one of things I hate so much about them is that they don't seem like they should be that difficult. It's just a matter of timing your jumps, right? So why can't I do it?! It shouldn't be that difficult!
Of course, along the same lines, you'd think any sport can't really be that difficult. All you have to do is put the ball in the hoop, or hit the ball with the bat, or hit the ball into the cup. Conceptually, it's not that difficult, so why do we have such a hard time with it? Why do people who can do it well get paid so much? I blame our bodies. Our worthless, uncoordinated bodies. They have failed us. Millions of years of evolution have failed us. Or at least me. I'm waiting for the day when I can transfer my mind into a perfect robot body. Not only will I be super strong and live forever and maybe even be able to shoot laser beams out of my eyes, but I'll finally be able to get past those lifts!
The Big Board in Wario Land 4, especially on harder difficulties. Whether you can complete it with 10,000 coins for the bonus music completely depends on what numbers you get at each of the dice blocks, as does getting the jewel pieces to open the upcoming boss door, as does even exiting the level (especially if you've got like 10,000 coins and all pieces, and get randomly lightning struck to death by the random number generator thing before you can reach the keyser.
In Wario Land: Shake It, there's Gurgle Gulch, hated for the tricky mini games for treasure and absolutely nightmarish no damage run mission (it involves you swinging between two columns of spikes without getting hit...), Launchpad Labyrinth (get to the end of a dangerous flying obstacle course in the unibucket (rocket) contraption that has to be moved by aiming the boosters, made more annoying by the 'don't get hit' mission, and possibly a few others.
Disturbing Tomb. It's a hidden level, yes, but on the map screen the game warns you that this level is difficult. And it is. But most of the level itself isn't that bad- it's the escape portion that's very difficult. The first section has cannons, which require precise aiming and move at some segments. Then there's a run across bomb platforms, where making a single mistake means getting blown up and falling to the lower level; at one point you have to make a dashing duck under a low platform then immediately make a jump in the opposite direction to reach some treasure. Messing up during any of this segment means you're going to have to restart if you want all the bonuses. At least it's got one of the best escape songs in the game.
Wario World has Shivering Mountains, especially because of the two statue pieces on the slopes. Both of them must be obtained while sliding at high speed, and missing them means trekking to the end of the level and taking the Bye Bye Balloons back to the start.
To a large extent, A Town in Chaos is overall one of the most frustrating levels in Wario Land 3, due to most of its treasures requiring you to go back and forth through the level just to ensure certain switches are on or off. Special attention goes to the red and green treasures:
Not only does the red chest require you to redo a lot of going back and forth you had to do in the gray treasure, it ends with That One Boss, Shoot, a boss that you will very rarely lose to, but one who is a massive slog to beat due to the turtle guard ironically being very quick to leave its stunned state, giving you little time to stun Shoot into ball form and knock him into the net before so.
But the green treasure is even worse. Getting access to the room that holds it itself is a clever, but hard to figure out puzzle. However, after that it becomes worst: It becomes a slog through various switch rooms, turning on and off the switches, to slowly reach the top of the room. From there you need to become Fat Wario and drop down to break donut blocks in the way of the path to the green key. When you get the key you'll have to climb all the way back up, going through most of the switch rooms all over again. To make things worse, because of the placement of the blocks, it is very common for you to not even break all the needed donut blocks on your first run, forcing you to climb back up even more times.
Let's start with Orange Ocean in "Revenge of Meta Knight". It has a segment in which the screen auto-scrolls. That's not so bad, but let's take into account that you start underwater, rendering most powers useless AND slowing you down, the fact that there are cannons shooting at you while you wait for the screen to scroll up, and once you're out of the water, the screen moves even faster. Finally, you have to get through the door at the right time; failure to do so results in death by screen.
Then there's Aqualiss in "Milky Way Wishes". There's a maze of water currents in the last area; if you follow the wrong stream, you have to start over. There is no way of knowing where you're supposed to go; it's all Trial-and-Error Gameplay. What's worse, you actually HAVE to take the wrong current to get one of the Copy Essences.
Also in that mode, there's Cavios. It's basically a combination mini-boss rush and maze rolled into one. The fact that the real boss just so happens to be the final boss of "Great Cave Offensive" doesn't help much either.
Possibly the most hated level of Milky Way Wishes is Hotbeat, the lava planet. It takes place in a cave, some stretches of which have the majority of the floor, ceiling, and walls made of lava. It's a nightmare to navigate through. It's even more annoying in Meta Knightmare Ultra, where Meta Knight's enhanced jumping ability becomes a curse, as he frequently hits the lava above him.
"Great Cave Offensive" is That One Game. The Garden is the hardest of the four levels, because some treasures are nigh-impossible to get; for example, you're supposed to know that you can drop through a platform that looks solid and into a pool of water, and you have a dreaded Wheelie Rider segment (the fact that the reward is just about worthless doesn't help AT ALL).
The True Arena is a boss rush. The first six bosses are only harder versions of the ones you fought earlier. Then come the "Final Four," which are extremely powerful forms or Expies of King Dedede, Wham Bam Rock, Metaknight, and Marx. Health does not regenerate between any of the battles, outside of a few healing items that replace a fifth of Kirby's health each. The only practical way of winning the True Arena is to receive zero damage from the first six bosses, and practically none from the next two.
And then there's the dreaded factory stage in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. The stage is long and has all kinds of things that threaten to flatten, squish, and crunch you and therefore cost you a life. The section where you piggyback ride on King Dedede's back has robots that try to flatten you with their hammers, in which you have to wait for them to slam their hammers down and bring them back up before proceeding. And if that's not enough, there's also conveyor belts as well as Bobos and Sawyers to keep you occupied. A few rooms after is the room where the presses come slowly crashing down and press down on the floor (luckily, there are safe areas to keep you safe from these presses). On the last two presses, you have to run really fast since there's not much safe spots on these last two presses. Finally, there's the area where robots push energy walls towards you and try to smash you between them and the walls, and near the top of the room, you have to quickly fly up to the top of the column before the robot that chases you from the right side to the column smashes you between it and its energy wall. Yikes, now that's really tough.
The Rainbow Drop levels from Iceberg onwards in Kirby's Dream Land 2. The scrolling doesn't make them any better.
Dream Land 3 has the fifth level of Cloudy Park. You have to take Rick to the end of the level to get the Heart Star. In order to do this, you have to jump across tiny platforms, jump on the heads of those ghost Waddle Dee things, and then a PAINFUL part where you have to wall-jump up a tall shaft with Gordos placed along it in such a manner that makes it hard to get up there without running in to them and having them knocking you back down. Did I mention that there's barely any space for you to go from wall to wall between each Gordo? It's made no better than the fact that in this game, if you die, you not only lose your copy ability, but also your animal friend.
Kirby: Canvas Curse: A good chunk of the game can fall under this, but nothing infuriates players more than Spectacle Space. It is almost impossible to get through it unscathed. It must be seen to be believed.
Kirby's Epic Yarn has Boom Boatyard, an auto scrolling level on boats with bombs raining down on you, sinking ships. If and when you get hit, your lost beads will either end up in the water, or on one of the sinking boats.
The Mysterious UFO level is a tricky one with its zero-G puzzles.
Many gamers cringe at the mention of levels Deep-Dive Deep, Cozy Cabin, Tempest Towers, and Cloud Palace. Deep-Dive Deep's Bead Run minigame is especially irksome, since you only have 20 seconds to collect the necessary beads, and not a whole lot of beads in one place to collect quickly, unlike the other water level's Bead Run, which has the same time limit, but the necessary beads are all clumped together in a single, small area.
The Battleship Halberd by itself is actually a very fun level. The bead-collecting minigame that takes place there, on the other hand, is absolute torture. You're almost required to kill every single enemy to collect their beads in time, on an auto scrolling stage, with a shot that doesn't even kill the Bronto Burts in one hit, while they're firing so much at you that the stage is borderline Bullet Hell - and every time you get hit, you'll have to pick up everything you've dropped or else you're almost certain to fail, and all this with a ridiculously short timer.
Another really obnoxious one is the minigame at Cloud Palace, where you have to kill 70 enemies in 70 seconds, and getting hit by anything takes 5 seconds off your time. There's just barely over 70 enemies, they don't respawn, and if one of the Krackos decides to run into the wall, it doesn't count as your kill. Oh, and it's an auto scrolling stage too. Joy.
Level 3-11: This is more due to Fake Difficulty than anything else, as you're in a giant tree that's swaying back and forth depending on which side you move the Kirbies to, and you have to move quickly to avoid leaning the tree in one direction too long and causing the whole tree to topple over resulting in an instant death. The hardest part in this level is around the halfway point where you have to carefully dodge several rows of spike balls followed by a giant spike ball afterwards, which is almost impossible to do while moving all of your Kirbies upward. Fortunately, if you can make it past this sequence without getting hurt, the rest of the level is much easier.
Level 4-8: The swinging mechanics that made 3-11 so fun to play through are back, and this time it throws in gigantic stone hands that periodically punch the side of the tower you're swinging that you have to take out fast, Skulligs which can blow your Kirbys out of a hole in the tower's side and make balancing the tower even harder, and to top it off, more spike balls which can only be tossed out through a hole in the tower's side and can one-shot your Kirbys. The worst bit is the room where the second medal is located, where you have to attempt picking up the medal while trying to avoid the gigantic spike ball that can easily roll over and crush your Kirbys and balancing the tower to avoid said spike ball from rolling over in the first place. Thankfully, like 3-11, the rest of the level is much easier.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land has a few. Any level in Egg Engines is a pain in the ass, especially if you're trying to get all the Energy Spheres, but the third Energy Sphere of Stage 2 takes the cake. You must have swallowed the miniboss from the room prior to the room with the sphere and shoot bomb blocks with the lightning bolt attack. Sounds easy, right? Well, how about shooting bomb blocks while moving on a really fast platform, that you CANNOT reset back to the start of the area if you fail to get the bomb blocks. Have fun continually restarting the ENTIRE LEVEL (which is where the levels in the game start getting really long) just to get that single Energy Sphere.
Alternatively, if you missed it during the ride, you can hit the bomb block that reveals the energy sphere by flying to the ceiling & firing a charge shot to the left. That obviously wan't intended though.
Nutty Noon, Stage 5 can be this if you take the secret route. Water Garlboros isn't too bad. But then you reach King Doo. His room has spikes on the ceiling, and the room is so small that if you lose your ability (which is likely), it'll be destroyed in the spikes above, and you have barely any room to move around and dodge his attacks. Then, immediately afterward, you fight Dubior. No break, no additional copy abilities other than Beam, nothing. And its room's terrain is very uneven, and it'll probably be the first time you ever fight it if you took the secret route first (and this is its first ever appearance anyways). And after that you fight Kibble Blade and Gigant Edge at the same time. It's even more nightmarish on Extra Mode, as all the bosses are much harder. And immediately after this level? Grand Doomer.
Dangerous Dinner Stage 3. Most of the level is spent dodging giant flaming fireballs with little room to act. But the most infamous part of the level is the key. To get it, you have to kill a very fast Carry Dee before it runs into lava, then go into the next room, dodge a huge amount of chasing enemies, more fireballs, and giant lava eels. But the worst part? The key is on a timer, which means it's all too possible to barely survive the gauntlet... and lose the key inches before the door. Thankfully the key-carrying is optional, but required for 100% Completion.
Donkey Kong Country Returns has many difficult levels, none more infamous than Crowded Cavern, 4-5. It's a rocket barrel level filled to the brim with literalGoddamned Bats. Most of the time is spent dodging bats and various rocks, and one hit and you're dead. The end is the worst, as you have to dodge a giant bat's sound wave weapons that have the horrible habit of appearing just as you go up. And if you don't move out of the way at the end? You have to do the giant bat's area again!
World 4, the Cave, could very well be one as a whole. All of its levels have minecarts and rocket barrels, are full of Trial-and-Error Gameplay, and it's home to the aforementioned Crowded Cavern. Oh yeah, and a difficult boss (The Mole Train) is at the end.
Level 4-K, Jagged Jewels. Either you're dealing with invincible enemies, spike platforms that are very difficult to determine whether it's safe to pass, gyroscopic bladed rings, or tilting logs with more spike rings. It's so difficult that you get Diddy for it - most temple levels don't give him to you.
Level 5-K, Blast and Bounce. There is no solid ground for the entire level, and it's either spent waiting for the perfect opportunity to go through or jumping on enemies with the weird method of bouncing off them.
Level 6-K, Perilous Passage. It's a Rise to the Challenge level with many chances to die, and about halfway through you're chased by invincible electric bees. To make things worse, there's no checkpoint, as with all Key Temples.
Where's level 1-K? Aside from being the first bonus level, meaning the largest difficulty spike in the game if you like to beat all the levels before moving on, you get no Diddy, you have to know exactly when to jump (or not) or you lose one of your valuable hearts or just outright die.
5-8, Muncher Marathon. A level with an Advancing Wall OfBaby Spiders constantly after you throughout the level, only one checkpoint (and by the time you reach it, the level is practically over; the rest is easy), lots of places to make mistakes and get behind, collectibles that are easy to find but range from mildly tricky to nearly impossible to get and still make it through...it may be one of the shortest levels in the game (despite having "Marathon" in the name) but it's definitely one of the most annoying.
Then there's Gear Getaway (7-4). It's another rocket barrel level that forces you to maneuver around an array of machinery with exact precision. Checkpoints are also inconveniently placed before the most difficult flying segments, assuring that you will drop a ludicrous amount of lives before finally getting to the end.
And 8-2, Hot Rocket. Volcanic rock slabs that crack and move inward or just drop off entirely, fireballs coming in from the left side, fiery dragon-like creatures going in circles with little room to maneuver around, and only one checkpoint. Trying to get all the collectibles? Have fun with that puzzle piece which requires you to grab an entire line of bananas while skimming the surface of the lava. It might be easier to just say that all of the rocket barrel levels, at least the first or second time through the game, belong in this category.
2-K, Bopopolis, consists almost entirely of bouncing off enemies to progress. Mistakes in timing are not an option.
5-K, Platform Problems, basically has the Donkey Kong Country equivalent of Guts Man's liftsfor an entire level. In this case, though, it's not the difficulty that makes these platforms a problem as much as the length: 5-K is probably the longest K level in the game, and it does not give you many places to rest.
On the non-temple side of things, we have 4-B, Shoal Atoll. What's worse than an underwater level with an airmeter and noticeably sparse air bubbles, a Fetch Questmaze, or a level with no checkpoints (the only one not to have any that isn't a bonus level or boss)? How about all three at once?!
Heck, all of the underwater levels in the game (4-1, 4-3, 4-4, 4-6, and 4-B) could qualify depending on how used to the swimmingcontrols you are and how annoying you find the Oxygen Meter.
World 7 (Secret Seclusion) in general. The world has only three levels, but all of them are longer and more difficult than the temple levels.
The bits in Super Princess Peach where before a boss level, you have to get past a short obstacle course using the stylus.
The Good Future levels in Ecco the Dolphin : Tides of Time, mostly for the water tubes (a forced scroll level and a "dodge the garage-sized jellyfish" level, if you fall from either you have to do them all over again) followed by the "fly on air pockets and flying psychic dolphins from floating island to floating island" level...
Likewise, Defender of the Future has a level named Hanging Waters that was meant to be a homage to those water tube levels in Tides ... and it manages to be every bit as frustrating, if not more.
Let us not forget the original game's Welcome to the Machine. Five-minute long forced scroll level with a twisting path you have to memorize lest you be squished against the walls, enemies popping up from flipping nowhere to eat you... and if you lose to the final boss, you have to do it all over again.
The original game's second level, The Undercaves,could easily turn into this if you didn't know where you were going. The whole level is underwater, with only a few air pockets to surface in.
Circus Park. Circus flipping Park. This set of stages from Billy Hatcher and The Giant Egg can be a right royal pain in the arse, having super thin slides containing numerous jets of fire, spikes, holes in the middle of the path, and jumps - often in quick sucession, as well as having an abundance of rails where you must let go of the egg, Egg Rings that swing and require perfect timing in order to not have Billy or his chums fall to their doom, and normal Egg Rings which are often used to cross long gaps which need ridiculous timing to get right. Oh, and they're often used with the swinging Egg Rings, thus giving you a strange perspective, making the normally-fairly simple act of jumping into an Egg Ring a nightmare.
Aladdin (Virgin Games) has "The Escape," a level where Aladdin must try to make his way through lava, large boulders rolling toward him, platforms that sink into the lava, and bursts of that lava that are potentially fatal by causing Aladdin to fall in. At the end of the level, as you're falling the Flying Carpet catches you to whisk you away, but not fast enough to still get hit by a boulder and having to restart the level. You have to fall left to avoid the boulder, and even then the timing is such that it makes it difficult to do consistently.
Immediately after this level, you try to outrun (outfly?) an advancing wave of lava while dodging floating rock platforms sooner and sooner. A mystical genie hand gives you tips on whether to go up or down, but it sometimes throws a question mark up, which, for all the good it does, might as well be The Finger. On the plus side, there's an extra life right at the beginning on the level that reappears upon dying, and the game lets you go to the next level after three tries.
The fifth stage of Gunstar Heroes ("DESTROY THEM ALL") is a long, continuous stage, filled to the brim with enemies trying to kill you. It's long, hard, and if you die, even at the boss, you have to start the stage all over. This stage overlaps with Best Level Ever, though, because it's the one time in the game when players can really cut loose and go hog wild.
Definitely NOT a Best Level Ever is the first part of Orange's stage in Gunstar Super Heroes. The helicopter you fly takes up a sizeable chunk of the screen, and you get no mercy invincibility from taking damage, making it all to easy for your HP to dwindle down to zero before reaching the segment's boss on higher difficulty levels. The good news is once you beat the boss of this segment, a checkpoint lets you continue after it. The bad news is that by the time you beat it, especially on hard, you have so little HP that the enemy can kill you just by looking at you crossways.
The Revenge of Shinobi's level 7. A pixel perfect jump where missing results in death? Check. Enemies jumping out of the water to hit you in the back with a throwing star? Check. Angrish bound to occur? Check. And that is just the first of the three parts. The next part, luckily, is a bit fairer (as in, no pixel perfect jump), but the enemies are clearly placed just to say "Fuck you." The boss, luckily, is easy (compared to the next one). Level 8 part 1 has enemies clearly placed just to say "Fuck you" as well. The boss of the next level, however, (which is also the last) is also close to becoming That One Boss, as his hair keeps changing attack speed once it leaves his head, so even memorising the attack pattern of said boss doesn't insure victory. Ninjisu will be in short supply in those levels...
The entire Grind City chapter from the Classic game. The chapter consists of only two levels (not counting the missions where you have to race Beat and Gum), and boy are they hard. First off is Bantam Street, which has a tag very high up on a wall that can be very hard to reach, and the Golden Rhino members on your ass constantly. Then there's Grind Square, which has quite a few rails that are hard to reach.
Also from the Classic game, the race with Yoyo. It's actually quite easy if you know your way around Benten-Cho very well, but those who are playing the game for the first time obviously don't. This lead to Classic Yoyo becoming one of the biggest Scrappies of any Sega game. (his Future incarnation, on the other hand, is actually well-liked)
Rokakku-Dai Heights in Jet Set Radio Future is particularly annoying. It has one platform puzzle repeated ad nauseam with extra jumps or more precision. But wait! You are also getting progressively higher in the area so you are skating on rooftops. But even better, there is water below you that means if you fall, you take damage and find yourself several precise platform jumps below where you were. And the narrator laughs at you when you get wet. Terrific.
And if you think Rokkaku-dai Heights was bad, wait until you get to Skyscraper District. You must jump from building top to building top, hundreds of feet high in the sky, and every time you fall, you lose a large amount of health. It's made even worse if you're trying to get 100% completion in the game, and are trying to find all the Graffiti Souls and finish all tasks listed in the GG Notebook.
Kid Chameleon has the infamous Bloody Swamp. An entirely circumventable level, if you do have the misfortune of going to it, you will die. A lot. It is about 3/4ths of the way through the game and can easily take you down from a huge number of lives and continues to game over. It is an Advancing Wall of Doom level from hell, with bouncing blocks that catapult you to death, moving platforms which crush you or prevent you from moving on fast enough to survive, and various other nonsense that makes it a miserable, miserable experience. Ironically, one of the ways to get there is via a shortcut which wise players will never, ever use just to avoid this place.
Ristar: from world 5-1 on, there will be lots of areas where Ristar will be sliding on his butt, this sounds funny, but you can just barely control him in the parts where he slides.
Shell Ocean, stage 5. The second part of the level (where you are in the cave) isn't bad, but the first part sticks you with an Oxygen Meter in an underwater level, and the meter is not generous. You pretty much have to follow a specific path fairly quickly and dodge everything (with Mickey or Donald's lousy swimming controls) to reach the end without running out of air. There is a good reason why the first game gave you a suit that gives you infinite breathing time and the second didn't have any completely underwater levels (though the second section of Frozen Plains comes close).
King Pete's Castle, stage 7. Yes, it's the final level, but it's definitely on the difficult side as far as final levels in the series go. Let us count the problems: 1) It is a Marathon Level by Magical Quest standards; 2) It contains three sub-bosses, one new and two returning (and to add insult to injury, one of the latter is MUCH harder if you run out of energy for a certain powerup); 3) It has an annoying Rise to the Challenge section with fire covering the bottom of the screen; 4) It has enemies that are all too happy to knock you into the flames or, in a later section, off small moving platforms and onto spikes (and some of them respawn); 5) One section has Mook Makers that are annoyingly unpredictable about when they will spawn them, 6) In an odd variation of Difficulty by Region, this level is even harder in the GBA version (which was the only one officially released outside of Japan) because of the smaller screen size. Strangely, the final boss himself isn't all that bad compared to his level.
Snow Barrel Blast from Donkey Kong Country combined poor visibility with barrel-shooting sequences requiring perfect timing, and a single miss resulting in instant death. Like Carnival Night Zone Act 2, this level had its own entry on the Automated Help Line — and a shortcut which allowed most of the difficult sections to be easily skipped.
Oil Drum Alley and Platform Peril also deserve mention. The former has the part where you need to time jumps on a shitload of oil drums and tires, and the latter is just long and brutal, complete with impregnable Krushas and collapsing platforms.
There's a reason that Blackout Basement earned its title as a trope namer. Mainly because the lights constantly flicker on and off, and if they're off you can't see anything except your playable characters. Not the enemies, not the platforms above the bottomless pit, absolutely nothing. There's a reason why most people automatically remember this level when this game is brought up.
Three words. TANKED. UP. TROUBLE! This level requires you to grab almost impossible to reach fuel tanks before the platform you're riding on collapses. Missing even one barrel can result in death, if those freakin' bees don't kill you first!
Stop and Go Station. Rock Krocs cannot be killed, move insanely fast in a constant back-and-forth motion, and you can only get past them by changing the lights from green (GO) to red (STOP). These switches never last long even at the beginning of the level, but by the end of it, they switch back on literally the same second you turn them off. And the end of the level is a gauntlet of at least half a dozen rockkrocs and switch barrels, maybe closer to 8-9. You are almost guaranteed to lose one of your Kongs before you finally dive into the exit. Thank all that is holy that rockkrocs only appear in this level. And this is in the second world of the game. Fortunately, there's an easy way to skip almost the entire level: Turn around and head back "out" the same way you came in.
The bonus level Animal Antics from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is almost certainly the most difficult level in the game (even more than Toxic Tower), thanks to a specific part. You must transform into each of the various animal companions in the game. At one point, you turn into Squawks the Parrot, and must navigate a thorn-lined maze. There is no platform to sit and stop for a breather; you constantly have to keep flapping your wings to maintain altitude in a narrow space, as well as avoid deadly bees. Unfortunately, you also have to deal with gusting wind that will blow the parrot into the thorns, forcing you to constantly hold the opposite direction on the control pad. To say it's frustrating is an understatement, considering the rest of the level is a cakewalk. Oh, and the wind constantly shifts the direction it's going, forcing you to constantly adjust the direction you're flying to compensate.
The GBA remake made Animal Antics slightly less scrappy by moving the Continue barrel further in the level (past Squitter's area, which was probably the easiest of that level) so you don't have to redo quite as much if you lose a life later.
To elaborate on Toxic Tower, it's a level where poison keeps on rising at all times and you have to escape, taking the forms of the different animal buddies. The first part has you playing as Rattly the Snake, doing jumps that kill you if you miss them by an inch. The second part has you flying away as Squawks the Parrot, shooting bees that block your way and navigating through a dungeon labyrinth. The bonus area requires using Squitter to shoot web platforms up a long curving bramble-lined passageway to get the Kremkoin, and you don't have a lot of time to do it in. If the webs are not a skill you have thoroughly mastered by now, you're going to be in for some major headaches trying to get that magical 102% completion.
Two words: Screech's Sprint. Just take that infamous Animal Antics Squawks part and replace the gusts of wind with a RACE THROUGH A MAZE OF THORNS AND BEES!
At least you can glitch the level by taking damage to skip the race, if you mess that up though...
Another one from DKC2 is Klobber Karnage. The second part of the map is entirely composed of parts where you are put in a rotating barrel and required to shoot yourself through bee-barriers, requiring the exact freaking timing. Missing just slightly will lose you a hit, which you only have two to spend in one part. Even worse, this level is glitched if you play it on ZSNES — the barrels you control on your own are supposed to stop when you let go, but on ZSNES, a glitch makes them rotate indefinitely no matter what. Thankfully other emulators like higan and Snes9x don't have this problem.
Web Woods also qualifies. In addition to having to rely on Squitter's webs to traverse most of the level (a potentially frustrating feat in itself; see Toxic Tower above), the fact that the level's DK Coin is only available from the end-of-level roulette is capable of causing untold exasperation in itself: it's only shown for a brief moment, and your timing being even slightly off in hitting the target results in completely missing it and having to start the entire level over if you want to attempt to go back and get it.
Bramble Scramble. Between the mass number of invincible Zingers and other crap rushing at you while you flop around riding Squawks, it's just pure insanity.
The invincible Red Zingers are gone in DKL2, but the level still manages to throw you off with how long it is and it's still a maze. With the lesser screen visibility, it makes it almost as hard as it was in the SNES/GBA version.
Glimmer's Galleon in DKC2. Seemingly long stage, entirely underwater with no Enguarde (which means no way to attack enemies) save for the very end, and very dark save for your animal buddy Glimmer providing a cone of light.
More fun in the Game Boy port, Donkey Kong Land 2, where it's completely pitch-black and you have to swim in the dark, looking for barrels that light the way.
Slime Climb from the same game. You must avoid falling into the rising water, and not because of the water being damaging. Rather, it's because of Snapjaw homing onto your Kong's movements. If you fall into the water and he catches you, kiss one of your Kongs goodbye because he will lunge and attack. (and no, he can't be killed. Good luck!)
In addition in Donkey Kong Land 2, because they couldn't implement Snapjaw, the water instantly damages you. And the level is harder than Toxic Tower in either game.
Also in DKL2, it makes a level late in the game more frustrating - Clapper's Cavern. In a ridiculous example of damaging water, the water you just swam in Arctic Abyss, now hurts you for no apparent reason. Like in the Super NES version, you have to use Clapper to freeze the water to traverse over the icy waters, and master the slide to avoid getting hit by Zingers.
Bramble Blast. Just. Bramble. Blast. Let's put a very confusing maze of thorns (that hurt the Kongs if they touch them), shooting barrels that seemingly lead to an endless loop, goddamned Zingers and an awesome soundtrack in the same level. The DK coin is also in an obscure place.
For the players looking for 100% Completion, there's the Fiery Furnace Bonus Barrel. You have to get through most of the stage to even reach the barrel, then a Cat-O-Nine-Tails has to decide to throw you in the right direction to enter it. The bonus stage itself involves riding a directional barrel through a narrow bramble maze lined with Zingers, and you fail if a single pixel of the barrel touches an obstacle, or if the extremely short timer runs out. Finally, the exit drops you into a Barrel Cannon pointed directly at the level goal; that's right, you only get one chance to collect the DK Coin per level playthrough!
Lightning Look-Out from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble. If you find constantly running from deadly and extremely annoying lightning bolts that not only track where you are but anticipate where you will be to be fun, then you will have a masochistic blast with this level. It's even worse the first time you play it because the lightning strike warnings look like nothing more than background effects (NintendoCapriSun had this problem). And just to mock you, it blocks your way to the next save point! Krematoa from the same game falls under this category too, as its five or six levels, each one with a sadistic gimmick, are pretty bloody hard.
Poisonous Pipeline, to an insane degree considering the the fact that it was a very long swimming level with tons of enemies in it. That wasn't the "best" part about this level, oh no, not by a long shot. The "greatest" feature in this level is that the controls are reversed, so have fun getting through a tough level, with incredibly tough bonus stages with reversed controls. It probably didn't help that if you were jumping out of the water (to get the DK coin, the level goal, etc.), your controls would quickly transition from reversed to normal, resulting in the Kong plunging back into the water instead of landing onto the platform. It's no wonder that this is one of the last levels before the K. Rool final boss fight.
Ripsaw Rage, the tree-styled level where a giant saw rises up to kill you and you have to out run it. So they put in sections where you have to move laterally while the saw moves up. More frustrating than hard.
Low-G Labyrinth. The level's main gimmick is, obviously, low gravity. Dodging the onslaught of Zingers is very tough considering you move slower than usual, and the moving ones aren't slowed down one bit. Then you have to navigate the place with the purple parrot, and that gets... tricky.
Koindozer Klamber and Tyrant Twin Tussle. The former contains pink versions of Koin, an enemy which you get one of the Plot Coupons from. The only problem? You have to land pretty much exactly on them- if you land any other direction on them other than the top, they'll bump you to off a ledge to your doom. And if you lose Dixie, you'd better be good with Kiddy! The latter contains extremely muscular enemies who come in pairs, Kuff n' Klout. They'll jump in a certain pattern, then sometimes run. If you don't know how to get Squitter, who is the only one that can kill them, good luck! And you lose him halfway. Oh, then there's the bonus game behind the flagpole! Here, you must collect 15 randomly-appearing green bananas while a set of the twins jump super-fast. At least you spawn right before the flagpole once leaving, and have 50 seconds during the challenge.
Honorable mention goes to the final bonus mission in the Krematoa level Stampede Sprint. To even get there, you have to keep Parry the parallel bird safe through the level, and it's the only one in the game that doesn't have a midway point. He flies high above you, waiting to run into bees, and you can't stop! Once you get to the end, he turns into the bonus barrel. And there is where the trouble starts. It's a "collect 15 green bananas" mission. You have the bird in the bonus level, and a red bee hovers above. Some of the bananas appear above the bee, which means you're going to need a running start to collect them safely. Hit the bee (and you will), and you have to retry the level to try again.
Rocket Rush, the final non-boss level and the toughest level to get into (all 85 Bonus Coins in the SNES version, more in the GBA version). It's a descent down and rapid ascent to the top of a canyon in a rocket, the only time you use the rocket in the game, and the controls could be politely described as "wretched". The ascent is brutal to where a single slip-up means you won't make it out the other side, and you likely will screw up in the ascent since it requires you to know the course ahead of time. The GBA version makes this second half slightly more lenient, but it makes up for it by making the first half a good deal worse; unlike before, the bees actually damage you if you ram the bottom of the rocket barrel into them.
If this tune doesn't piss you right off, then you have never played Rocket Rush.
The Japanese version makes it obvious how bullshit this level is: The title of the level is instead Ponkotsu Rocket de Go (Go by Piece-of-Junk Rocket).
Fish Food Frenzy is a major pain of a level. In that level, a Nibbla follows your every move. He'll protect you by eating the fish in your way, but if he eats too many Lurchins in a row ("too many" usually meaning "two"), he'll turn on your Kongs instead. And the level is crawling with Lurchins. He'll also take a bite out of your Kongs if he goes too long without eating a regular fish, which is difficult because they're less common than the Lurchins, and getting him close enough to one without touching the fish yourself can be quite a pain; Lurchins, on the other hand, he'll eat even if he's not particularly close to.
Swoopy Salvo. You spend the entire level going up and down and in and out of tree trunks while being constantly besieged by dive-bombing hummingbird enemies called Swoopies. Part of the time you're Squawks trying to fly through the lines of Swoopies, and part of the time you're the Kongs, having to either dodge them while you climb ropes or dodging them laterally while you go through openings on the sides of the trees. And to make it extra painful, there are certain sections you have to enter while going directly through a line of Swoopy traffic in the opposite direction, and in other places, you have to bounce off the dive-bombing enemies to reach higher ledges.
Ripcurl Reef in the GBA version of Donkey Kong Country 3. You know the aforementioned Animal Antics with its windy, bramble-filled torture chamber? Well...how about a WHOLE LEVEL with such a gimmick? This level has you swimming underwater rather than being in the air with Squawks, and instead of brambles, you have lots of palette-swapped Lurchins to get around. The "wind" here does not change directions constantly as it does in Animal Antics, which is a double-edged sword: you don't have to worry about keeping track of which way you're being blown, but on the other hand, you don't have a consistent pattern to keep track of. Unless you've memorized the level, you have no way of knowing whether the current will be blowing left, right, or not at all.
Conkers Bad Fur Day had U-Bend Blues, an extremely frustrating romp of a diving sequence just under halfway through the game, which was made somewhat easier in the game's remake...where Mugged definitely takes the cake for scrappydom.
Rusty Bucket Bay from Banjo-Kazooie, which has at least two parts where instant death is highly likely: the part with all the gears, cogs, and propellers, which is a somewhat tricky moving obstacle course above a Bottomless Pit, and the oil-water, which drowns you on the surface and does so twice as fast below it; hope you find a ladder. Also, in the original Nintendo 64 version, all the notes were record-based, and they reset to the initial spots they were collected from every time you die or leave a level. This gives you hell when trying to collect them all in Rusty Bucket Bay, as one screw-up can lead you to your death in the engine room, and once you're done collecting all the notes there, if they're not the last notes you need, you could only pray to God that you won't pull the croak chain and have to do it all over again. Thank heavens that you don't need to recollect the notes again in the Xbox Live Arcade version.
Then there's that absolutely impossible jiggy behind the ship's rotors, whose switch is difficult enough to get to to push without having to run pell-mell for the toxic water, knowing that you're probably going to fall off the rotating platform paths, suffer the humiliation of the rotors starting up again just in time for you to arrive and the blades killing you instantly, or being trapped inside when they do, and drowning just as you remember there was one musical note you'd forgotten to get on the level.
There's also the fact that several of the Jiggies therein are downright sadistic to get. Of paticular note are the Crusher Jiggie (which involves getting through two crushers, the first of which drops you to 1 health and the second of which kills you unless you use the single health restore move in the game with impeccably perfect timing) and the Bunny's Overalls Jiggie (which involves, among other things, battling the resident Tintop Demonic Spiders, which were hard enough with the Grenade Eggs, as the Washer and its crappy range underwear shots).
To give you an idea just how many things need to be unlocked to do anything, let's start with the entrance. Right from when you enter the world, you have to: go through a short platforming sequence above Grimy Water to reach the button that opens the train station, leave the level and use a train station in a different level, and take Chuffy there... if you'd already been allowed to use it; if not, you have to switch to Mumbo, raise Chuffy back on its tracks, take control of the duo again, defeat the boss, and then take Chuffy into the place. That's just to get started in this world.
There's also that one Jiggy in the level that requires just about the most roundabout series of actions put into the game. In all, acquiring the Jiggy involves switching between Banjo and Mumbo, transforming into a washing machine, a Timed Mission or two, running all over the factory, often between floors, a fight with That One Boss, and finally a run to the other side of the basement. All of that is for a single Jiggy.
Canary Mary, a race oriented around Button Mashing that you have to do four times. The first two times are alright, maybe the second is a little tricky. But when you hit the third time in Cloud Cuckoo Land, it only gets harder. She gains the worst Rubber Band A.I., has a finish line that is for some reason before yours, and can take many, many tries if you don't abuse a certain trick. And this is only the third time out of four that you race her!
Another level from Banjo-Tooie, Hailfire Peaks could qualify as this. In the Fire side, there very thin platforms to get through, complete with sliding enemies that pretty much home in on you and hands in the wall that are damn-near impossible to dodge. The level is mainly vertical, and it's very easy to fall into the lava. In the Icy side, it is not quite as irritating, but it's still hell to get around, especially when you fall off one of the higher sections and need to use the climb shoes to get back up. On top of that, each side's boss constantly rains fire/iceballs on you until you defeat them.
Most of the jiggies are very convoluted, one of them requiring you get the train into one of the stations, go to Witchyworld, free Gobi the camel, take the train back, somehow make your way up to him, ground-pound him to make him spit water and cool the engine of the train, before getting Wumba to transform you and opening the other train station so you can ride the train there. Then you can finally get the jiggy. Then there's one Jiggy that requires you to get to a switch by taking a route through the Fire side... as the Snowball transformation. Yup.
To varying degrees, every level after the first two in the NES game Battletoads are examples of this trope. There are two in particular that stand out, though:
Level 3, Turbo Tunnel. It's easy compared to some of the later levels, but the jump in difficulty is so sudden that many have simply given up on it and not even seen the later levels.
Level 11, "Clinger Winger". While not as well known as the aforementioned (mainly because almost nobody makes it this far), those who get there are confronted with a level so nasty the programmers must have actively hated the player to put them through it. Like Turbo Tunnel, it takes lightning fast reflexes to make it through, except is even harder, has no checkpoints whatsoever, and forces you to fight a boss at the end, and if you lose, you have to do it all over again. Just to top it all off, a bug prevents the second player from finishing the level, making it impossible to beat the game as two players. (The bug was fixed in the PAL version, though.)
Clinger Winger is far more bearable with the right controller (the Wii Classic Controller is recommended) than Level 10: Rat Race. The concept itself isn't that bad, but it says something that it got the biggest nerf in Battlemaniacs. Having to race Scuzz, the rat that runs and falls faster than you? That's fine. The game generally makes you do that sort of thing. You have to use a laggy attack on the bomb before Scuzz touches it? Fair enough. But the third race is an unholy abomination of difficulty. You can not afford to let Scuzz get far ahead of you. If you do, you will never see him again. The only way to do this is to keep him from moving down by using timed headbutts. Good luck consistently doing that, the damn headbutt attack has a ridiculously strict hitbox in general and Scuzz is just plain freaking fast. Even worse, a badly-timed headbutt can knock Scuzz ahead of you! The level fully deserves its nerf in Battlemaniacs.
Level 9, Terra Tubes. For those that tried completing this game on a real NES without savestates and such, this is the true landmark of vileness. It's not the hardest level, but by far the most annoying because of its length, Fake Difficulty, real difficulty and the inability to warp past it. The underwater swimming sections are not only chock full of the same instant-kill Spikes Of Doom found abundantly in the drier parts of the level, but Psycho Electric Eels and Goddamned Sharks trying to knock you into the spikes, and Rubber Ducks which are surprisingly even deadlier. There is a series of four races against Advancing Wheels Of Doom, and two later ones which are partly underwater, which not only require avoiding spikes but prior knowledge of which instant-kill wheels will ram the barrier at the end of the race and which will head instead for the small niche beside it. Here's a video of someone doing it right.
The Castlevania games are notoriously hard, and have a number of these moments.
In the original game, just before you face off against Death in Stage 5, you come across a hallway containing two Axe Armors, both of whom take nine hits and throw axes at two different altitudes, while you can only get hit four times, provided you didn't get hit throughout the rest of the level. Axe Armors are easy enough to deal with, but then the infamous Medusa Heads ambush you from behind while you're doing so, and since Simon Belmont isn't the most agile guy in the universe, you're pretty much screwed.
In Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, the developers somehow decided that the first game was too easy, so Dracula's clock tower becomes even more insanely frustrating, with what seems to be a get-together of all the most annoying enemies in the game, coupled with a bunch of bottomless pits and disintegrating floors. Oh, and just because the developers are insane, once you get to Dracula and die, you don't respawn outside his chamber like in the other games. Nope, back to the beginning of the level for you!
Super Castlevania IV has level 8. The hardest level in the game by anyone's standards, full of instant death traps and, near the end, a random spike trap that will kill you unless you're lucky enough. If you make it through the level, though, the boss is a joke.
In Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, the PSP remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, the previously unremarkable Stage 5' has been turned into hell. It's easily the most ridiculously frustrating part of the game, and even if you manage to get to the end, you then have to fight against the Hydra. By this point, you'll probably be down to your last life, and the fight is so confusing that you'll probably waste it pretty quickly. At first, it's fairly straightforward; the boss' head shoots things or tries to eat you, depending on your position, so you dodge everything and whip him in the face. But then things get weird when its head seemingly deactivates and the game gives you no indication of what to do next. You're actually supposed to climb up the thing's back to find its other heads, which have their own attack patterns, and switch back and forth throughout the level. Without a walkthrough, this battle is almost impossible to beat just because the stage preceding it is so ridiculously hard that you almost never get to try twice in a row.
The submarine section from the "Down the Tubes" level also qualifies for this trope.
"Snot a Problem" could also qualify. You face off against a gelatinous ball of snot as you bungee jump between two cliffs, trying to knock each other into the sharp sides to fray their rope enough to snap it and cause them to fall into the lake of goo below. Doesn't sound too hard? Wait until he uses his freakishly-annoying spin move which makes him invincible for a couple seconds, and in the later 2 rounds, the one-eyed teeth monster at the bottom, which just so happens to One-Hit Kill you if you're anywhere near him, both because Jim stretches cartoonishly before the bungee pulls him up and because the snotball is too short for the monster to be able to reach him. Expect to use up half of your lives pretty quick.
Earthworm Jim 2 has The Flyin' King. Have fun trying to guide an explosive and really, REALLY bouncy balloon to the end of a long level while being constantly bombarded by homing pigs that cling to your vehicle and are difficult to shake off that are launched from catapults, which are indestructible, meaning you can't stop them. You have to constantly backtrack because the balloon bounces backwards if you poke it the wrong way, near the end of the level there are slime waves that push the balloon backwards and if you accidentally shoot at the balloon (not that hard, because some of the erratically moving, but killable enemies move behind it), it explodes. If this happens or if you happen to die from the pigs, you have to start ALL OVER AGAIN.
Earthworm Jim 2 also features the "Puppy Love" minigames where you need to save Peter Puppy (the puppy from the first game's "For Pete's Sake!", mentioned above)'s puppies by bouncing them on a giant marshmellow before they hit the floor and splat like an egg. Let too many puppies splat and Peter goes ballistic, turning into his giant purple monster form and mauling Jim, taking off quite a bit of health.
Earthworm Jim 2 also has "Udderly Abducted" which is a very long level where you have to deactivate a series of cow bombs by dunking them in a pot of water to proceed. The timer for each cow bombs decreases significantly every time you grab a new cow bomb, and in the later phases it's all too common to have the bomb explode in your hands for an instant death right before you reach the next pot of water.
Earthworm Jim 3D features the final level "The Good, The Bad and The Elderly" which contains a mini-game that requires you to ride an ice-cube across a predefined path, sounds easy? Not only will it speed away faster than you can possibly move (causing you to fall off and restart the whole thing) it also randomly flings you off with retard speed at every turn it makes, both averted only by jumping (which negates any momentum you had) at the perfect time and praying you will still land on the cube. This goes on for at least a minute before you are awarded an "Udder" which you need to access the boss room that requires EVERY Udder in the game and also a handful of Marbles.
Prince of Persia
In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, near the end you lose your magic dagger. What follows is a fairly long stretch where you have to navigate a section where the camera is badly placed at inopportune times, that you need good timing for jumps that would otherwise kill you, and that you get harassed by some Goddamned Bats, though they tend to be less Goddamnedier than most bats.
The prison escape level, at least on the PC version. There are two sections in a row which require you to open a pair of timed pillars and jump from one to the other to get up. The first section's pillars withdraw as you try to get up them, and the levers that activate them are on opposite sides on a wall. What makes this problematic is the buttons that control movement. Which direction they make you go in changes according to camera angle. The effect of this is that you can run into a pit in the middle of the room when trying to get to the other lever, and also miss the moving pillars entirely and run up the wall.
In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, there were parts when the Dahaka is chasing you. These aren't that problematic in themselves, but there was one where the camera locked on it. The problem? You can't see where you're going, you're trying to run through an obstacle laden course, you can't jump over the obstacles, and when the Dahaka hits you, he also drains your sand tanks. If you could see where you were going, that section wouldn't be half as difficult as it was.
The word "Scrappy Level" came to mind at the series of Dahaka chases after the battle with The Empress. The Battle is rather tough, so you probably used some sand tanks to beat it. Then you have to run from the Dahaka. And then you have to do it again. And one more time for good measure. The last chase is rather long and brutal, and you're probably out of sand tanks before you reach the final chase in this sequence. There's no enemies or sand refills until after you reach the next save point, which is after you successfully finish the three chases, which means that every time you fall or get caught, you restart the sequence. The only saving grace is that you have a chance to save after the boss fight.
The original Prince of Persia should be called "That one game" you only have one hour to beat the game, meaning you have to memorize every trap and where you're going (Every level is pretty much a maze) but not just that, you have to fight guards and skeletons while doing so slowing you down. Not to mention the bosses. And when you die and restore, it doesn't restore the time you spent. This game was brutal.
Ratchet and Clank
The first Ratchet & Clank game features Planet Oltanis, where several tricky jumps must be made without the aid of Clank. What makes it really hard is Oltanis is near the end of the game, so you've had a long time to become adjusted to using Clank to assist with jumps. Luckily, the two most difficult parts of the level are optional, netting you unnecessary (but useful!) items. This level also featured several areas covered in ice.
On Planet Kalebo III, you have to complete a race to get the hologram whasname. You have five opponents who are faster than you in every possible way. At fixed intervals throughout the race, there are speedboosters and missiles. It's generally difficult to get the missiles without sacrificing hitting a speedbooster, and if you don't hit nearly every speedbooster in the race, your chances of winning are reduced from the base level of "Incredibly unlikely" to "Nigh impossible". Of course, if you don't get the missile, then you'll never make it past second place. And the missiles aren't even totally accurate, they are easily defeated by the numerous obstacles that your opponents never seem to have to deal with, even when the guy in first isn't so far ahead that you'll never catch him in a million years. There's a shortcut near the end of the course that is utterly essential for getting even second place, but it's only activated by going through three arches in a right-left-right pattern, all so closely spaced that it's difficult to hit all three of them without crashing into something.
There's also the sewers in Blackwater City, where you try to escape a rising tide of water. You will not beat it, however. The trick is getting as far as you can so you can swim the rest of the way before Ratchet drowns. Fortunately, you only have to do it once, and Ratchet later gets the O2 mask, meaning you never have to deal with that particular problem ever again for the rest of the series.
R&C 2 gives us Planet Greblin, which forces you to hunt for crystals in a vast snowy wasteland, just brimming with Demonic Spiders called YETIs.
That game also has Damosel, which is covered in Protopets. Dozens of them. Right out of the gate, there's a spawner, and you have to get to it to stop them reproducing. Keep in mind that even with the spawner gone, they still reproduce on their own. If you happen to have a weapon like the Sheepinator, which requires no ammo, it's effectively a free upgrade if you can stay alive long enough. Or would be, if they didn't have the irritating tactic of sneaking up on Ratchet from the direction the camera is not looking, and some robots which are themselves each a Boss In Mooks Clothing didn't show up. And this is just the first few dozen feet of the level. It gets worse. Shortly after that section, you face an area with four Protopet spawners, which you have to destroy to proceed, unless you're clever. You face a mix of these robots all through the level, and there's a grand total of one checkpoint.
The third game has the assault on the Starship Phoenix. Yes, it may be two levels from the Final Boss, but it still is heinously difficult, throwing waves and waves and waves of the toughest and smartest enemies in the game at you. Plus, there are hardly any Nanotech pickups when you really need them.
Although not truly bad, the laser-directing setment of Obani Gemini is quite repetitive and boring, made worse by the strange spherical-world gameplay.
Metropolis after Dr. Nefarious goes through with the Biobliterator. Suddenly, the simple mooksTake a Level in Badass and become far smarter and durable, with even the simplest posing a threat. There are also the huge five-eyed Tyrrhanoids with massively overpowered cannons and jetpacks, and also the very powerful hovertanks blocking your way. It's an exhausting, brutal, and long segment all made worse by a very low (if at all) amount of checkpoints. The Rift Inducer doesn't help much.
Deadlocked has the Tower of Power in the Avenger Tournament, where one misstep in a long jumping puzzle will send you back to the bottom.
"Node Overload." Sounds simple: just crank all the bolt nodes. Right? Oh no, not one bit. The second you try for this, you will be surrounded by a complete shitstorm of enemies, with laser turrets popping in right behind you, Berserkers taking you down, a bunch of Executioners, which take a serious beating, and a Landstalker. Your bot allies won't be able to do much to help. This is about right before the halfway point of the game. Good luck, especially if you're trying for the Skill Point that requires you to crank all the nodes yourself. (getting hit will reset all cranking progress.)
Speaking of really nasty levels in Crash 2, level 20, Bee-Having, is probably one of the worst in the series. It's a mountain-ish level with various nasty enemies like plants that spit explosive seeds and lumberjack androids that can flatten you with their hammers, but none of that matters, because in this level, you'll be too busy worrying about your biggest threat: the bees. Throughout the level are beehives that will spawn bees when you walk past them. Level 17 (Diggin' It) had the same theme, same enemies, and it also had bees, but there, the bees came out one at a time. Here, the hives spawn FIVE bees at once, and unless you time a spin perfectly, you won't be able to kill them all and will get hit by the one or two bees that you missed. You can outrun them or get away entirely by digging underground, but if you don't have any ground to dig under (which, coincidentally, usually happens when you have electric fences and seed-spitting plants to deal with as well)...hope you have pretty good timing. You will learn to dreadthat ominous "buzzzZZZZ..." sound that means a new swarm of bees just appeared. The level gets easier once you've successfully beaten it several times already, but the first few times through...suffice it to say that one person commented on an LP of Crash 2 saying that she hadn't seen the fifth warp room in forever because she kept giving up on this level.
Piston It Away, Level 21, is just sadistic. The ordinary level is irritating enough as is. Except the developers chose to go "Screw you!" and make you run almost to the end of the level, break one box, and run back to the second checkpoint, if you want either gem. The problem with this is that you can't actually die. You need to go through the level, backtrack (mercifully, it is a side-scrolling stage), and then survive the Death Route if you want either of the two gems.
The original has Sunset Vista, level 14. It's linear unlike the above example, but in the first game, you need to do the whole thing in one life, and you don't know how many boxes you missed until you've already finished the level. This makes a lot of levels just nightmarish to get a gem on, but Sunset Vista is a huge hard level with a couple hard-to-see crates that really takes the cake.
There was going to be another level that was even harder. Luckily, this uber scrappy level was cut from the game and was later unearthed by hackers. Then again, prototype Sunset Vista was, somehow, even more insanely difficult, so it balances out.
The first game also had levels known as the Elite Four. (no, not that Elite Four) We're talking about the four hardest levels in the game, "The High Road" (level 19), "Jaws Of Darkness" (level 22), "The Lab" (level 24), and "Fumbling In The Dark" (level 27, or secret level 2). It didn't help that these levels had annoying enemies, hard jumps, dark areas, and bottomless pits everywhere. If you could even beat these levels, let alone get the gems from these areas, you should be proud of yourself for accomplishing one of the hardest goals in a game ever.
Oh, and according to the prototype version, Sunset Vista was origanally meant to be EVEN HARDER. See for yourself, and you will be GLAD Sunset Vista was like it was in the released game. Oh, and in case you weren't already convinced the dev team were sadists, it was going to be followed by the aforementioned Jaws of Darkness. Yes, JoD was going to be on the SECOND Island. They probably realised they had to change the game when all their beta testers went insane.
Toxic Waste, level 18. You must avoid barrels being thrown at you as you run down the path, and there are very few areas to hide. Later on, there are bouncing barrels coming down at you, and it takes hundreds of tries and deaths in order to learn and memorize their movement patterns, and how you can get underneath the barrels without being flattened.
Also, ANY of the motorcycle levels in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped might qualify. We have level 8 (Hog Ride), level 14 (Road Crash), level 22 (Orange Asphalt), and level 28 (Area 51?). All of them make you ride a motorcycle and race against several other vehicles (cars in the first three, UFOs in the fourth), all of them require you to come in first place just to get the crystal (except for level 28, which gives you a gem instead), all of them have exactly zero checkpoints, and all of them prevent you from going backward if you happened to miss a crate. Also, with each successive race, the levels become longer, the obstacles become more difficult and more numerous, and the margin of error becomes smaller. You have to drive practically PERFECTLY to get first place in level 28. The fourth game had a few racing levels as well, but they tended to be much easier. And why there are racing levels in a game that's supposed to be a platformer anyway is anyone's guess...
The fourth main-series Crash game, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, had Coral Canyon, level 19. Underwater levels in Crash Bandicoot games tend to be on the annoying side already (thank goodness they all play entirely in 2D), but this one is probably the worst of the bunch, though it's not as evil as some of the other examples here. It is full of dangers that can seemingly come out of nowhere if you haven't memorized the level layout (the submarine can be killed by contact with a fish, for crying out loud), and it is long. The sheer length makes this one one of the most annoying levels in the game to do on Time Trial mode. At least the background music is pretty nice-sounding. Crash 4 also has the Atlasphere levels, which use what many people consider a Scrappy Mechanic (also very annoying to do in Time Trial mode, though relatively simple in the regular mode if you take it slow), and some of the bonus areas (the Blue Gem pathway comes to mind, filled as it is with single-block-wide platforms above instant-kill water arranged in such a way that you often have to jump diagonally from one to the next), among other things.
Any level in Wrath of Cortex where you play as Coco, as she handles significantly worse than Crash (indeed, level 26 is Crash's Level 11, except edited so Coco can complete it).
Smokey and the Bandicoot is, somehow, more difficult than Area 51 in Warped. The relic challenge is easier, but that is the only mercy given here. The jeep you are given handles like a shopping cart that is filled with rocks, which makes even getting the crystal a challenge, and the recommended strategy for getting the gem is to go as slow as possible. And the handling ensures that you'll still miss some boxes. And this is Level 13!
"High Seas Hijinx" in Crash Twinsanity easily constitutes grounds for letter-bombing games developers. Firstly, it takes approximately thirty years to complete. It opens with large and annoying fields of nitro crates on slippy slidey ice (and when a life crate is opened, even if this was because you hit a nitro crate and were instantly reduced to shrapnel, the life is lost until your next replay). After this, it moves on to crossing a series of semi-rotating platforms while rhinos that do Collision Damage swing around, seemingly just because that way they can be a nuisance; there are two life crates that can be accessed, but doing so will probably cost you at least three lives due to accessing the detonator crate to get a stack of nitros out of the way. After this, things settle down to merely annoying until you come to a water room with a huge axle just under the surface; you have to walk along the rotating bulges without falling into the water, and this will almost certainly lead to a nice time falling into the drink and dying instantly. After you've managed that you have to take on N. Gin himself by making him destroy his own crow's nest; the battle consists mainly of running in circles, and then being knocked over the edge by an explosion when you run afoul of the one gap in the spiked wall around the circumference of the battlefield and are unable to escape his rains of missiles. When Gin eventually plummets, you have to run away from a Super-Persistent Predator walrus chef along a massive field where no life crates you pick up will be worth what it does to your time, and by which point your thumb will hurt enough to interfere with your ability to control Crash. And when you've finally managed that? There's another boss fight that just comes out of nowhere on an iceberg that gets fractured before you've really gotten started. And if you run out of lives, you have to do it all over again from the slidey ice with nitros area.
Black Castle in the freeware game An Untitled Story. The whole area is full of spikes and nasty jumps, the worst of which are the arrow blocks that launch you into the spikes if your timing in jumping into them is a little off. It doesn't help that the save points are spread thin and that on any difficulty higher than the second the game starts taking away your save points.
3-3 will most likely be the first level you will exceed 100 deaths on. The level begins with a sequence where you must wall-jump up a corridor while a field of electricity rises to zap you. You won't make it unless you can double-jump to gain extra height, otherwise you'll have to slow down to get to the right position to make it out, at which point you'll be zapped. However, because you have to jump from a one-block-wide tunnel to get to it, there's no telling if you've used your double jump until it's too late. Then you have to complete the level.
5-5 is a nightmare because of one specific jump early in the level. It's difficult to describe, but there is a cluster of fireballs that's arranged in such a way that you can't run at full speed off the previous platform or you'll barely run into it. You have to fall off, release the run key for a few milliseconds until you pass it, then keep going and double-jump until you reach the next platform. Either you'll stop too long and won't make the jump, hit the fireballs, or somehow keep going through the rest of the level, which is not any easier. It's saying something when the Advancing Boss of Doom is the least of your concerns.
World 8 features levels from Jumper that were already incredibly difficult, now updated with actual physics! Most of them qualify, but 8-3 features incredibly precise jumps and 8-4 has no solid ground until the very end.
9-2 has one nasty jump at the beginning. You have to fall under an obstacle, jump up and wall jump over the next spike-covered block, fall over and wall jump from it, and land on the one-time spring block (and don't forget to move left, or you'll hit the spikes) so you can continue. You will miss that first jump so many times.
10-2 is excruciating. Not only is the level rather long and requires a ton of waiting and backtracking, it's laggy as hell. The fire effects are all over the place, which slow the game down to less than half its normal speed.
10-4 features two robots that fire at you. They have really good aim, and lead their shots very well. On top of that, it's incredibly laggy.
One thing that may have made things harder for a few people is that the double jump controls can actually glitch during the climb level, which sends the difficulty from very hard to keyboard throwing.
This is actually MUCH harder with the keyboard, as many keyboards have a limit on how many keys they will register you pressing at once. It turns out that if you remap the jumping controls to your mouse, it makes the section MUCH easier, as you don't have to worry about the limit. That said, it is still nightmarish; the final section is by far the hardest part of the game, and is leagues harder than everything else in the game. Its odd, because the rest of the game is actually pretty easy, so its all the worse in comparison.
Luckily, now there's a patch that makes the level much easier. The Escort Mission doesn't cause you to lose a life if you don't protect Oly now, and you don't lose lives for falling into bottomless pits. The bosses and the jumping puzzle are still as frustrating as ever, though.
The RC car levels in Toy Story count (as does much of the rest of the game for some). You must use crappy controls to steer through a narrow maze, having to restart if you hit the side. To make it even better, you quickly run out of batteries, which you must pick up by steering into them with aforementioned crappy controls. Yay!
Bonus points for the Genesis version, since the hitbox of the stars is smaller, making them harder to collect, and unlike in the SNES version, the batteries in the first of the two such levels (the second has them just lying on the street) go flying all over the place no matter how lightly you hit Buzz.
There's also level 15, Roller Bob. It's a rather Minecart Madness-esque level, similar to "Run Rex, Run!" earlier, but much harder. There is so much stuff coming at you in this level, it's nearly impossible to dodge it all sometimes, and you're bound to lose some lives here (not hits, lives). It gets worse when Scud blocks off half the screen and requires you to react IMMEDIATELY to any hazards ahead.
While most of the entirety of Kid Chameleon can be classified as this, Final Marathon and Hills of the Warrior take the cake; the latter, along with its ilk, involve being chased through an unrelenting maze by an instant-death spike-lined wall, while the former is essentially I Wanna Be the Guy lite.
Hills of the Warrior (a relatively open level) is nothing compared to Bloody Swamp, where you have to hit the right cannon blocks at exactly the right time to advance through a series of such walls, else you get stuck, unable to advance, and run over by the Wall of Doom. Other popular candidates for the title of Scrappy Level are Under Skull Mountain III (the first of several excessively long levels), Forced Entry (another Wall of Doom level), or either Devil's Marsh (a teleport frenzy and an bunch of platforms trying to crush you, respectively).
Though I Wanna Be the Guy is, quite frankly, one giant (intentional) Platform Hell, there are still places that players hate more than others. The words "spike corridor" will cause many people to froth at the mouth.
One particular spot in I Wanna Be The Fangame definitely qualifies if you're playing on Very Hard. It's when you fight Death. Not only is this a Marathon Boss IWBTG style, its also essentially a Timed Fight after he Turns Red and starts breaking what platforms you have left to stand on. And that's not all. After you fight him, you're immediately put into a room with no checkpoint and you have what looks like those spike traps from Link to the Past bouncing up and down in narrow corridors. It's this room that qualifies as That One Level since, if you fail it, (which, in the true style of IWBTG, YOU WILL) you have to do that whole boss fight all over again. And even getting the first part of that room correct involves dodging seven of these spike traps in a row before getting even a slight breather. And then you get to do it again for three more traps.
You can unlock The Kid from I Wanna Be the Guy in Super Meat Boy. Unsurprisingly, the first bonus stage you need to beat to get him is absurdly punishing, even by Meat Boy's standard of ludicrous difficulty. However, the saving grace is that his levels don't belong to Platform Hell genre.
The Cave of Bad Dreams from Rayman 2 is an especially vicious Scrappy Level. Right from the get-go, it's full of almost-invincible Wall Masters that sap your precious health, and lots of jumping puzzles with very tiny sinking platforms—and heck, very tiny not-sinking platforms as well. There's a long and tedious sequence where you have to carry two orbs (basically keys) across several platforms filled with enemies to their bases in order to advance, and dropping the orbs and/or accidentally throwing them into the void is all too easy. After that, you have to go down a long slide race against the boss, which has lots of Bottomless Pits, sharp crystals that slow you down AND hurt you, and the indescribably freaky teeth of the boss. When you're done racing him, you STILL have to fight him as a boss, and he's one of the Guide Dang It-iest Puzzle Bosses this side of the Spider Ball Guardian. To top it all off? Once you're done with that, if you accidentally select the wrong option in the end-of-level cutscene—and it's the one that's automatically highlighted—you get a Nonstandard Game Over and have to do the whole frickin' thing over again!At least, it seems that way, but waiting for about half a minute at the "Game Over" cutscene just takes you right back to select the other choice.
Obligatory mention of the Sanctuary of Stone and Fire. It had THE longest level segment in the entire game, and had several annoying bouncing-berry-over-lava sequences (one which you had to go through twice), AND a crystal ball puzzle! Thank goodness there wasn't an annoying boss at the end...
However, in the PS1 version, the level is EVEN LONGER and has a hellish walking shell ride that if you mess up even once you have to redo from the very beginning, and the level DOES have a very annoying and hard boss in the PS1 version...
In the first game, Eat At Joe's. For the first segment, it's a complete Blackout Basement, with the only light being a tiny glow around your fist. You can throw it to see what's ahead, but it makes scanning the level for cages annoying as ever, not to mention a large cloud hop at the end. It's also the longest level in the game. And if you didn't find all of the cages on your first time through, have fun going back in to find the rest! It can be somewhat remedied if you try using a map, at least.
The third part of Space Mama's Crater is probably responsible for broken controllers worldwide. You need near-perfect timing in order to traverse the labyrinth of sharp obstacles because one wrong move sends you falling to your doom. The worst part is, one of the cages appears behind you, forcing you to backtrack.
Rayman Origins... heck, it's probably easier to list the late-game levels that don't fall into this trope. The Tricky Treasure levels deserve a special mention though. You're casing a treasure chest (essentially making the level an auto-scroller) through a brutal death course filled with wall-to-wall Spikes Of Doom, collapsing floors and bottomless pits. And there are ten such levels!!! Ice Fishing Folly is by far the worst though, featuring a series of 10 jumps in a row, each requiring split-second reflexes, where being even a milisecond too fast or too slow will see you falling to your doom...on ice! And that's just the first 10 seconds of the level! And there are no checkpoints! The end portion is the most brutal part... there's one jump, if your timing isn't spot-on, you'll never make the rest!
"Pirate's Treasure," from the Sea of Serendipity, is among the worst of them. Not like the Tricky Treasures have been easy up to that point, but it's still a Difficulty Spike from what they had been. It's the first treasure to involve swimming, meaning you have to switch quickly between air movement and water movement. Due to having multiple segments, it's longer than the other treasures up to that point. And it's full of platforms that like you fake you out, either by forcing you not to jump, having you jump to places you normally wouldn't, or even forcing you to use your hover powers when you would not normally want to.
Nearly as bad as Ice-Fishing Folly is Risky Ruin. Not only is it a Marathon Level by Tricky Treasure standards, it's also got some pixel-perfect jumps where you'll get skewered if you jump a pixel too high, rope-sliding, and an underwater portion that's incredibly brutal. Right off the beginning is four jumps that will kill you until you learn to stop rushing, and it only gets worse...
Oh, and what is your "reward" for finishing all 10 of them? The Land of the Livid Dead, a good contender for the title of the hardest level in the HISTORY OF PLATFORMERS.
Outside of the Tricky Treasures, there's "Mecha No Mistake." They aren't kidding—this level is full of electricity, vanishing platforms, and sawblades. Lots and lots and lots and lots of sawblades. It's also got one of the hardest Time Trials in the game. To get an idea of how difficult it is, Mecha No Mistake is the final non-boss level in the game, and the world it's in is by far the most difficult (the game has infinite lives, and you will need them), and Time Trials require you to blaze through most of the level without dying once. There's segments with moving sawblades and running up walls, dashing along a course of platforms that only appear for a short time, and a giant room filled with lava and giant hollow gears that are very, very time-consuming. At least the time limit is merciful; most players wouldn't get the trophy because of the gear room if the limit was any shorter...
FICKLE FRUIT. Ice physics, mini Rayman controls, killer fruit that can be very annoying to avoid and some frustrating platforming. The medals range from annoying to downright insane.
Rayman Legends greatly toned down the difficulty of the aformentioned levels for its "Back to Origins" sections, and the game is somewhat easier. Somewhat.
After you make progress in one world, you unlock Invasion levels in others, which are time-trials with enemies/features from other worlds. After beating the game, you unlock Dark Rayman Invasions, which are really nasty. Having to blaze through the course in 40 seconds to get all the Teensies is hard enough, but having to do so with an evil entity that mirrors your actions that kills you on hit is a nightmare. It's telling that the first Dark Rayman Invasion is a four-skull difficulty level, compared to the one-skull difficulty level on Enchanted Forest (what it's connected to).
At the end of the game you'll unlock an extra-difficult bonus world, Livid Dead Party. It's difficult, but not in a good way. Save the first level (Grannies World Tour), all its levels are just 8-bit rehashes of the music levels you've already done, except with visual distortions that make things harder for no reason. Try making the tricky jumps of Orchestral Chaos when there is horrible static every time you jump! Try navigating Castle Rock and Gloo Gloo with a nauseating fish-eye effect! Try to complete Mariachi Madness and Dragon Slayer when it's so pixellated you can't even tell the hazards from the background! And when you beat all of them, you unlock the 8-bit version of Grannies World Tour, which is just an 8-bit rehash with all the irritating visual distortions combined.
The Ice Land stage in Impossamole, although ironically it's not a Slippy-Slidey Ice World until the second part. As usual it has Everything Trying to Kill You, which this time includes snowmen, snowballs, and penguins. Many of the obstacles are often impossible to avoid taking damage from, eg the Invincible Evil Snowman that randomly throws volleys of snowballs, narrow hallways(precluding the use of the Bubble Gun) packed with enemies and enemy-generating doorways which often spawn enemies on top of Monty, falling icicles situated next to Spikes Of Doom, which can bounce Monty back and forth until death(no Mercy Invincibility to these), the usual offscreen enemies that you sometimes can't avoid falling on(especially the Shaft of Doom in the second area, which also has spikes at the bottom), near-unavoidable rolling snowballs, pirhana and mine filled water pits that you sometimes have to swim through, eg the Green Waterfall from Hell, which has falling icicles, a Goddamned Bird guarding your escape from the water, and an unavoidable spike pit immediately afterwards, and the lack of health items and powerups doesn't help either.
The Lion King game adaptation, released in '94 in conjunction with the film, ended for many young players in only its second level ("Can't Wait to be King"), partly thanks to a deviously complicated puzzle involving monkeys throwing the player between trees and realigning their throwing paths to progress. And those who figured it out were rewarded with an ostritch riding sequence (with jumps that required absolutely perfect timing) and another, even more complicated ape puzzle.
The sixth level ("Hakuna Matata") is as bad as this: besides the hard boss fight (a gorilla), there is a platforming puzzle involving logs in a waterfall—in other words, you have to climb small platforms which are in a steady fall. "Annoying" is too soft to describe it.
And then there's "Be Prepared". There's lava geysers, lava dripping from the ceiling, literal Goddamned Bats that attack when you pass beneath them (and can knock you into lava), along with leopards and hyenas scattered about. And then there's the ride on a rock slab along a river of lava (which is where the aforementioned bats become really nasty)...
"Simba's Return" and its infinite looping thorn maze isn't any better, either. Strangely, the final boss isn't all that hard.
Also The Woods, considering how tricky it is to find your way around it without going in complete circles. This level essentially gives The Lost Woods from The Legend of Zelda a run for its money.
Dirk Valentine And The Fortress Of Steam is an awesome game, but don't even mention the Inner Engine Room. Near the end of the level, there's a part where you have to jump onto a platform that has two of the Baron's guards on it. This wouldn't be so bad if weren't for the fact that you have to make the jump from a tiny Floating Platform that moves back-and-forth above a Bottomless Pitwhile being shot at. It's almost impossible to aim and actually kill the Goddamned Bats before landing on the platform, you've only got three hit points, and dying sends you right back to the beginning. NOOOOOO!
HA! The Inner Engine Room is nothing, NOTHING, compared to the Control Tower. You have to exploit the game's primary mechanic (a gun that shoots chains that can be strung between platforms, creating walkways) to ascend giant shafts by jumping and shooting chains under you to land on. Not only is this incredibly tricky and tedious, but the second time you have to do it (and every time after) has cannons on the sides of the shaft that constantly shoot missiles that not only damage you, but destroy your chains. Also, each chain disappears as soon as you shoot the next one, so if this happens you fall all the way back down. INTO A BOTTOMLESS PIT.
In Cocoron, the third ally rescue stage is absolutely covered in cacti that will kill you in a few hits, your only stepping stones being flowers that open and close with no pattern at all. This stage is nigh impossible if you didn't create a character with a Jet or Wing body as your first or second character, Guide Dang It.
Baku's World Levels 2 and 3, the second level requires jumping or if you have a character with the boat body, you can cross the spike pits as they are submerged, but in the third level it is hell unless you have the Jet Body or extremely quick reflexes since the platforms fade in and out, and the entire floor save the starting segment is made of spikes
As ToeJam & Earl generates its levels randomly, one might think it would be immune to this trope. One would be wrong. The game features quicksand terrain, and as one advances through the levels, the odds of it showing up increases. A complete game usually involves at least two levels almost completely covered in quicksand. Quicksand prevents your character from walking at their normal speed, and can bring them to a virtual halt, while not hindering enemies at all, and is usually populated by whirlwinds, invincible hazards that pick up your character and deposit them in random locations, often over a hole that will drop you back down a level.
Usually at least one quicksand level will be loaded with Bogey Men. While far from the most dangerous enemy in the game, they are a terror in quicksand thanks to their high numbers, faster speed than you (in sand), and oh yeah, they're invisible.
Spend some time with LittleBigPlanet's Bunker. You'll never again see electricity as a positive force in your life. The second to last area is a constantly spinning wheel that you start in the center of and have to work your way out of, to the bottom. The beginning of it is fairly easy due to the fact that everything is made of cloth, so you can grab onto it and wait for the next platform to be right below you so you can drop to it and grab it, and repeat, but the last part requires you to stay right at the bottom, jumping on top of the platforms that had electricity underneath you while adjusting for the change in your jumps the physics of it all provides. If you were off by a bit when you tried to drop down to the final area, you hit the sides and were electrocuted. Even then, the final area had you running up a conveyor belt and jumping over electrocuted lights, if you were off by a bit on your jump, you died. Acing this level is no easy feat, but gives you a sweet helmet.
This stage is one of few examples where being That One Player is actually a feat that any of your companions will be more than eager to praise you for. Especially difficult because your companions will waste all of the retries, leaving you to complete it in one run. Particularly frustrating when you've beaten the circle, only to miss the jump into the hole slightly, meaning you either have to do it all again, or are going to be crushed.
There's also the end of Boom Town. You have to fly around a corridor while holding impact explosives, multiple times, and then you get another corridor with stalactites trying to crush you. You push the control stick just a bit too much, and the the explosives knock into a wall and kill you. Especially frustrating in co-op.
The Mines is especially nasty if you're going for the Ace ranking. Ridiculously long, mine cart sections, a couple of spiked enemies, rickety conveyor-elevators, and a giant flaming boulder with flaming floor spots to jump over to end the level and potentially ruin your efforts at the Ace rank. Although the biggest problem with the level was, even if you were skilled enough to get through without dying, the mine carts would occasionally topple over while you were riding in them, forcing you to start over for no real reason.
And there are prize bubbles right overhead that are so tempting. But if you jump, you're certainly going to die.
Serpent Shrine has giant fire snakes running through tunnels, which require quick running to survive, a boss who can kill instantly, and That One Multiplayer Puzzle. In whole, The Canyons is That One Level.
Don't even get started on The Dancer's Court. The main gimmick of this level is moving platforms over fire with blocks of fire for you to run into, spinning cogs with wobbly platforms, a race where it's easy to rush and get yourself burnt to a crisp, and the goddamned fire snake. Again, acing the level is an absolute nightmare.
Also annoying was The Island when running over the paper bridges, as they would arbitrarily decide when they wanted to stay in place or separate and leave you sliding down into the gas.
Although the sequel had nothing near the level of The Bunker, it still had some infuriating levels:
Fireflies When You're Having Fun. Hoo boy. Not only is it ludicriously long (it's 2 parts, and the first part is pretty tough), but the first section has some difficult jumps in the dark as well as insta-death fireflies. Even the powerup that is supposed to make it easier actually makes it harder, since the firefly platforms are very difficult to aim, let alone when it's the only way to make it up a vertical path. The second half is fortunately easier, but requires some precise jumps at the end.
Set Controls To The Heart of the Negativitron is an infuriating level to ace, and hard to pass as well. The first section is very simple and not threatening at all, but a lot to pass through on each of many repeated attempts. The second section is infuriating. It's about twice as long as the previous level, and about 1/3 through that section, the gravity decreases. Sounds alright, but there are several jumps across electrified obstacles that require almost perfect timing to not touch (namely a spinning wheel about halfway through where it's nearly impossible to not hit the electrified ceiling), and a vehicle section that is also long and difficult.
Full Metal Rabbit. The beginning section has mooks throwing impact explosives at you. You have to catch and throw them back without exploding yourself. If more than one player is attempting this level, it's very easy to accidentally detonate the explosive, grab another player instead of the explosive, and let's not get started on the people who throw OTHER sackboys into the mooks on purpose. Then, after destroying the last impact explosive generator, it's time for Platform Hell! You are now required to jump between platforms that have Meaniesshooting fire at you from below. If you time your jump wrong or if someone throws you, you're dead. If you fall down, you burn to death. If you accidentally get wedged onto the platform with the Meanie, just pop yourself - you'll be squashed anyway when someone else steps on the platform.
And then there's the second part of Full Metal Rabbit. You get to ride the eponymous rabbit, stomping and smashing anything that gets in your way. Sounds cool, right? It is. Except for the laser-shooting enemies who will kill you if you touch the beam, some annoying platforming (the rabbit has a tendency to jump higher than needed), enemies that track you while trying to shoot you with the laser, AND if you're going for all the prize bubbles, a lot of them are easy to miss. Multiply all of the above by ten if you're playing in a group.
Orbitus 2 in Jazz Jackrabbit is a major example of this, largely because of a single section of it that due to a Game-Breaking Bug turns what was supposed to be a fun Crowning Level of Awesome into Platform Hell of the sort that would do Kaizo Mario World proud. It's Nintendo Hardeven if you use slowdown. You must squeeze the title character into a tiny passage at the very bottom of a chasm. Then you must jump out of the end of the passage, all the while pushing against a force field that is propelling you forward, and trying to actually jump despite the fact that you're in a tiny passage with a low ceiling and only the last pixel of space that you can occupy without falling actually allows you to jump. And the destination of your jump has a force field just like the one that was in the aforementioned tiny passage. From which you must jump onto the wall directly above you and wall jump forward into ANOTHER TINY PASSAGE. And directly above the passages are one-way paths that will force you upward and away from the passages, forcing you to repeat the whole process, AND the ground beneath said passages are trampolines that bounce you into the one-way paths. This run of the level should give you an idea just how bad this is, considering that it forced the Let's Player to cheat in order to beat it. And he even points out about three quarters of the way into the video that "Not even I Wanna Be the Guy was that hard."
Oh, definitely. Someone able to speedrun IWBTG could not beat this level. It's a very good thing that it is possible to skip over this level and miss only a single boss fight, especially as this level comes relatively early (about a third of the way through the game). This video, although successfully completed without cheating, accurately captures the frustration factor. Also would like to add this bit: although there are no enemies in the level that aren't flat-out laughable, there is a time limit. While in most levels the timer is more than generous, here? HA. Good freaking luck not dying from a timeout after one too many missed jumps.
Though nowhere near as bad as Orbitus 2, there's Scraparap. In a game that was otherwise pleasing to look at, a level consisting primarily of literal trash was rather off-putting...to say nothing of how many Goddamned Bats there were. From the extremely fast turtles, to the hovering missile launchers that chase after you, to the tanks that shoot in a completely random direction, to the rockets on the ground that damage you if you jump onto their engine, all capped off by the magnets pulling you toward all of the above. And the boost pads that you were required to use, but moving even slightly when you were on one was a very easy way to fall.
The Orbitus design bug was actually fixed... in an earlier version. I'm not kidding—somehow, a couple levels had unfinished versions used on the "definitive" CD release. The other results of this aren't as annoying, though (Tubelectric 2 actually becomes slightly shorter, for example.)
Titania is the most hated level in Odin Sphere. Slimes that can only be killed by magic and the uber annoying Wise Man battles make for the least fun section of the game.
Pretty much Ghostbusters for NES. While the pre-Zuul part was basically just the same boring thing over and over again, if you didn't do it well enough there is no way in hell you'll even clear a single floor once Zuul shows up. Have fun starting from the beginning again!
The Advancing Wall of Doom levels of Eversion definitely qualify as this, particularly the second, where you have to outrun a huge mass of what looks like blood, with Evil Hands flying from it, having to dodge the Evil Hands shooting up from the pits, AND having to navigate a maze near the end of the level which requires both speed and pixel-perfect positioning to get through the gaps in the maze (because if you're even slightly to the left or right, it won't let you through, which is made particularly aggravating by all of the above factors) in order to get the final five gems of the level in question.
How about World 8 in the new version? Zaratustra was nice enough to remove the random eversions...but enough of a Jerk Ass to make a newer, and much longer stage with even more difficult platforming and Endless Corridors that loop until you find the next eversion point. Oh, and you need to loop through one section once in World 8-6 just so you can clear out enough blocks just so you can get through it in 8-5. And if you die after the halfway point through the section? The blocks, which are no longer accessible thanks to a still killer wall, regenerate, causing you to waste even more time!
Dynamite Headdy has the last part of Fun Forgiven as a scrappy section of an otherwise tolerable level. Headdy has to travel from one end of a large spike pit to another with a bunch of hangmen. He can shoot his head like a grappling hook, except a) with poorer range than any grappling hook and b) instead of swinging, his body just gets lightly launched in the direction of his head. Oh, and the hangmen (the points you can grapple on) are constantly flipping in and out of reach. Not hard when you learn it, but given that it's near the end of the game, it's hard to get any practice.
In the NES version of Ninja Gaiden, Act VI (the final stage) is next to impossible. You have berserk eagles, unlimited respawning enemies (and you can't scroll them off), platform level hell, etc. If you manage to survive three sections of hell, you are treated to the classic final boss trio, one of which requires you to dodge randomly moving objects, one to hit an enemy that scrolls on the ceiling, and one that again spews out random going objects that hurt. Granted you are given health refills, but if you die in any of those bosses, you start all over.
Interestingly, due to the game design, it is quite possible to survive this stage without getting hit due to non-randomized enemy patterns, spawns, and placement. A lot of the first Ninja Gaiden is learning how to kill things on the run and never, ever, ever stopping your forward movement. Ever. Just keep running. Kill birds on the fly.
Even more fun is the fact that after beating the first boss, the game goes into the usual post-boss routine...including DRAINING YOUR WEAPON POWER FOR BONUS POINTS. That leaves you to fight eternally-airborne boss number two with nothing but your sword.
In the third NES game, the fifth level has a vertical section in wich you must hop into fast-moving platforms that move in all sorts of directions. Wouldn't be hard if there weren't a obscene amount of Goddamned Bats that como from left, right and above you in positions that you can't possibly reach with your sword (oh, and they can and will shoot small firballs at you). There's a specific powerup found in the previous section that is pretty much required to kill the enemies, and failing to reach the vertical section without it or with not enough Magic Points (that may have been spent in the previous sections that aren't particularly easy) is a guaranteed life loss.
The last level of the same game has one: at a certain part of the level, you're running throught platforms that disappear when you run over, and there will be two kamikaze robots that will come out of nowhere and try to knock you out. If you stop, the platform disappear and you die. If you ignore the bots, they will knock you to the pit. It requires a perfect timing and coordination to hit the robots whle jumping since they come at a very high speed.
To say nothing that you are actually required to die at least once since the time limit is lower than the time a expert player would need to beat the last level.
Plok has the absolutely ridiculous Gohome Cavern. Start of the level, you must kill a Demonic Spider who drops a temporary invincibility power-up, use it to jump onto spikes...then immediately afterward, you lose your legs. Seriously. Meaning you have to hop through the remainder of the level, which features slopes covered with spikes, on top of a lot more of those same Demonic Spiders. The trick here is to go under the spikes...but bear in mind, you're hopping...and did we mention there are FOUR of these slopes? Oh, and in the middle of these slopes lies two areas where you must kill a group of five Goddamned Bats...each. And after said slopes, it gets worse. You must make four consecutive jumps (yes, JUMPS, while you're still hopping) with near pixel-perfect timing, all the while avoiding the three InvincibleMinorMinions and the projectiles they launch. All this just to get your legs back...and it's not even over. Say hello to the upper level, consisting entirely of the same Demonic Spiders you encountered earlier paired with Goddamned Bats that you must kill to proceed. Also, this level lacks checkpoints...so if you die here, enjoy getting your legs back again!
To go into more detail: throughout the game you would find magic gift boxes that, if you choose to pick them up, change Plok's regular attack to a special, more powerful one. In the Fleapit, though, the magic gift boxes are not optional, make you weaker, stick around until you've finished that level, and use control schemes you've never seen before outside of a few brief bonus levels that're extremely easy to miss entirely.
While not as extreme as some of the examples here, Vision 6-2 in Klonoa: Door to Phantomile qualifies. First of all, it's much longer than your average level; with all of the puzzles, it can take as long as 20-30 minutes in a game of 5-7 minute levels. The level itself is about half Platform Hell (an example: there is a segment when you're on tiny, tiny platforms. With enemies hopping on all of them.) and half ridiculously annoying puzzles (typically of the 'all of these switches need to be active at once' variety. While the puzzles aren't too hard, they require extremely quick reflexes to complete. It then finishes with one of the most difficult bosses in the game...and since levels and bosses aren't separate, if you die on him, it's back to the start for you!
The Maze of Memories from Klonoa 2 would like to say hi. While it is fairly linear, there's a point near the middle which is so easy to get lost at. Not only that but the gimmick of the level is flipping the room upside down when needed - and there's no shortage of puzzles that make use of this.
The penultimate to last level before the Final Boss is a real bitch. It's very long and drawn out, making you whine and complain every time you think you're done but see another checkpoint. There's numerous bottomless pits, disappearing platforms and a few segments of insta-death water. In short, this level throws everything it can at you for the ultimate masochistic puzzle-platformer experience. They don't call it the Kingdom of Sorrow for nothing!
In the first Spyro the Dragon game, there's Tree Tops. It's a relatively short level. As if. It's very easy to fall off (being a Floating Continent-type level), has some mildly annoying enemies (the large ones have a somewhat wide-range kick, and the smaller ones throw banana bunch-like projectiles without any sound cues), and to get everything, you're gonna need to pull off some Guide Dang It-y Super Charge maneuvers.
Haunted Towers, where a supercharge through several metal doors leads to a room filled with more metal doors (you must run back up several times to re-Supercharge down into another door to open them all). One leads to a pool area with a ramp, implying there is some mythical way to Supercharge down the path, take a right, and somehow charge around the extremely narrow ramp and then jump to reach a hidden wall where a trapped Dragon and treasures are hidden. Said mythical way involves supercharging into the pool area, up the ramp, landing on the next section, charging up that ramp, then leaping onto a hidden platform with a whirlwind. Guide Dang It! See it here.
It also had Fracture Hills and the Alchemist. An Escort Mission where the beginning and the end are just a few metres apart. But the goat decides to take the LONG way around, through a maze of enemies... Even if you beat it, you may have to do it again for the next orb.
There are actually quite a few infamously difficult challenges in this game, including the gear collecting challenge in Breeze Harbor, the Agent Zero minigame, and the Turtle Soup challenge in Sunny Beach. Many people also struggle for a long time with the monsters in party hats who blow noisemakers at you and knock you into the lava, trying to flame them and getting hit each time, not realizing that you need to swallow the rocks at the top of the spouts to hit them with those.
The sidequests that involved yetis in the third game were pretty tough. In one, you have to beat a yeti at boxing. Simple enough? Well, you're very slow, your attacks don't hit hard, and he's a little faster than you. It's possible to win if you just trap him in a corner and hit him with jabs. Once that's done, you have to fight him again, except it's 3 rounds instead of one. He's waaaaay faster, and... well, it gets annoying fast.
Fortunately, you can cheat your way to victory by activating 2-player mode. Just plug in a second controller, and a 2nd player can now controls the enemy yeti... or you can just make him stand there. Naturally, you're never told about this 2-player mode in-game, but then again, it's justified for that very exploit.
Then there's the racing in the Super Bonus Round against the yetis. They're fast, and if you mess up even once there's no chance of winning, and... well, it's just one of those things you need to keep trying to win.
You can exploit a glitch in the game for the race: if you go past Hunter onto the track, you can stand in a blue star. If you return to Hunter, you'll have turbo boost proportional to the amount of time you spent under the star. You can do the entire race on turbo this way. And it's still hard.
In Spyro 3, there are not one, but two levels in the winter world containing challenges where you must go down a slide of hell with almost no friction (damn centrifugal force) and no check points. If you want to get all the eggs, these challenges are mandatory.
Can anyone say Nancy the Ice Skater? Or how about the Agent 9 shooter mini-levels in Fireworks Factory, Haunted Tomb, and Dino Mines? Or for that matter, how about Dino Mines as a whole? Those gun-toting dinosaurs were ridiculously fast on the draw.
The second snowspeeder level in Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: 
The Echo Base levels with Han Solo also count. First of all, you have to play as Han Solo who lacks force powers, a lightsaber, a special spin... Yeah, anything but a good ol' blaster and some incredibly rare and useless grenades. But that's far from the main issue - These levels are two of the longest in the game and simply CRAMMED with nastiness; Fire traps that activate when you pass over them, turrets in the ceiling that are hard to hit, randomly spawning troops that shoot you, troops with shields that block you, spiders that block AND shoot at you and scatter shrapnel that damage you when defeated. The worst are the flying enemies that appear out of nowhere and take away 30% of your life with each hit. The level itself is a maze with several dead ends, and even if you take the correct way its longer than most other! All this is already enough to make these levels the most annoying in the entire game, but there's more! At the end of the first level you encounter a mini-boss that is tough, fast and kills you in three hits at full health. Still, the absolutely worst part are the bosses... Both of them are insanely hard and can easily kill you at full health with lots of powerups after you've learned their patterns... None of which you'll have after the horror that is known as Han Solo's Echo Base levels.
But it can't all be bad, right? There are a lot of item boxes scattered throughout the level... Just that breaking them open is easier said than done, actually getting an item is extremely rare and debris scatter from them when they're destroyed which hurt you. That's right, your only hope of beating this level is more likely to kill you than anything else!
The final level in Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. First, instead of the platforming that game is mostly about, it becomes a first person flight simulator as you ride the Millennium Falcon through the Death Star. In the final level, you have to escape before the fire from the explosion catches up with you, so you have to be constantly accelerating. The problem is that since you are going so fast, you have little time to react as the course changes angles and throws obstacles at you. Crashing into a wall reduces your speed and damages your shields (or the ship's health if the shields are completely gone) and every time you slow down, the fire catches up and damages you as long as you stay in it. The deeper in the fire you are, the faster your shields and health deplete. The memorization and fast reflexes required is bound to make many players shout "THE FORCE IS NOT WITH ME!"
Apogee's Monster Bash has the two swamp levels in episode 3. These are without a doubt the hardest levels in the entire game. Expect to be using that extra-lives cheat a lot.
Taz-Mania, based on the eponymous cartoon series starring Taz, the tasmanian devil was an all around, needlessly annoying game. The Mine level however, revealed the games designers to be a pack inhuman beasts that wanted nothing more than to feed on your misery and frustration. Rest assured, no matter how good a platform whiz you think you are, you CANNOT beat this level on your first try; mind you, once you got the patterns down it was doable, but still... It had all the typical trappings of an out of control vehicle stage. Oh, and you're in in a speeding minecar on a track to hell that not even the most demented mine architect would design, as it would invariably result in the death of any mine worker foolhardy enough to use it! It gets better. Not only do you have little control over this iron death wagon, but you have to jump over the standard bottomless pits WHILE adjusting the height of the minecar in order to avoid being brutally decapitated as the stage progressed. Throw in the fact that... well just watch this video. Also starring CAMOFLAUGED Goddamned Bats, Spikes of Doom That Don't Quite Look Like Spikes of Doom, Out of Place Enemies (the bushrats) and Jerkass Elevators.
In Rabbit Rampage for the SNES, level 6, set in Tasmania. Avoiding Taz and tricking him into crashing through the trees that block your path is easy enough, but the first half of the level consists mostly of riding on birds that go fly in many different directions at various speeds. You have to jump from one bird to the next, and if you miss a jump or even just get unlucky with the timing for when the next bird will spawn, you go straight down the bottomless pit. The boss fight with Taz at the end isn't a lot better, requiring rather tricky timing to hit him without taking damage yourself. The worst part by far, however, is that there is not one single checkpoint in the level. Jump not quite far enough away from the petrified tree after getting Taz to hit it and lose your last bit of health? Enjoy starting from the beginning and doing the entire stupid bird-riding section over again.
Bubble Bobble's level 57 is a classic example. The level is totally empty, except for a platform at the very top that houses four Space Invaders-inspired enemies. The easiest way to kill them and complete the level is to create a wall of bubbles in the very center of the stage and use it to bounce up. This wouldn't be too bad, if it weren't for the air currents in the level that shove all your bubbles in the corner unless you stand in just the right spot - which happens to be right in the line of enemy fire. See this video for the average player's reaction.
By the same token, level 96. The game takes two sets of 3 and sticks them in a tough-to-reach cavity in the top, and the only way to get at them is by bubble-jumping up through the walls and up into the ceiling, then carefully maneuvering yourself down on them with just enough room between you to allow your bubbles to clip the wall-guard they have, while keeping your dino away from sword-inflicted death. Nine times out of ten, though, you'll impale yourself on them (possibly without killing them) and run out of lives.
Thankfully, in the mandatory enemy-swap second quest, neither level is nearly as brutal with the sword-dropping freaks being replaced with something much more benign. Of course, in several other locales, the player is not as lucky.
Let's ALSO not forget that the Big Bad at the end is not only a giant bitchtastic Bullet Hell fight, but you get a Bad End unless you were playing in 2-player mode. Which means if you don't have a buddy you're pretty much fucked.
That can be circumvented by having one extra life. When you trap the boss in the bubble. Pause the game, hit start on the 2nd controller, and pop the bubble. He also only uses his Spread Shot if you are anywhere at the region in front of him which cannot get you if you are somewhat below him.
The makers of Pokemon originally released a game for the NES called Quinty (Mendel Palace for Americans.) In it, you had to shove enemies into walls by literally pulling the rug out from under their feet. The Extra levels had the excruciating Floor 91, with the enemies being the Extra-only purple Moko-Mokos, which run at double speed. All the panels are locked in place (and therefore unshuffleable) except the six where the enemies spawn, so the only way to smash one is to lure it onto the space, then IMMEDIATELY step off, turn around, and shuffle before it can move off! Also, the four panels in the corners act as enemy spawn points when shuffled...
Crystal Caves 2 contains a level which is essentially a giant, empty room full of Invisible Blocks which have to be hit from below to appear. You have to make them all appear so that you can get up to the exit. But doing so will require you to climb up all the blocks you've revealed so far, jump as far as possible so that you will (hopefully) hit the next block on your way, and then watch helplessly as your hero tumbles down back to the ground and has to climb up the blocks all over again. This level will take you a long time to complete.
Epic Games' The Adventures of Robbo the Robot has level E2, which is crammed full of guns whose beams you have to dodge through in order to complete it. Doing so is largely a matter of luck.
Loco Roco 2 has Buibui fort 3 where you finally get a chance to see how a game over screen looks like. Many, many times.
Gambit's Stage in Spider Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge. Gambit's only attack is his trademark card throw, he throws them in an arc (making them difficult to aim), and there is a limited number of cards. You are also chased by a giant spiked ball for most of the level. Easily the hardest level in a game that is Nintendo Hard in general.
Pac-Man World had Spin Dizzy. It wasn't enough that the level had a truckload of steam coming from every conceivable angle, but half of the platforms (as the name implies) are constantly spinning, which means good luck trying to butt-bounce without plummeting into the abyss several hundred times. The checkpoints are either spaced far apart or too close to each other. note (for an example: several times you have to go through two long, difficult segments without a single checkpoint, and then there's checkpoints before and right after a stupidly easy section with pop-ups and cannonballs that smash into them. Twice.) Throw in some giant mechanical hammers, glowing orange bars of doom and annoying clowns in biplanes and you've got yourself a hair-pullingly frustrating mess.
Early on, Crazy Cannonade can be this, because of the length of the level for being such an early level (it's the 3rd in the game) and the gimmick of jumping off the opening-and-closing cannon hatches. The camera also goes into vertigo-inducing angles towards the end.
Down the Tubes. DOWN. THE. FREAKING. TUBES. The first part of the level isn't that bad... but then you get to the underwater maze. The maze is full to the brim of sharks and red-hot pipes - plus, trying to get the second "A" is a pain is the arse; you have to get the Chrome Ball and become Chrome Pac-Man (the equavilent of Metal Mario) from the Peach Door in Area 4, but there's a huge pit right there - if you happen to die, there's no way to reclaim it - the second "A" will remain hidden.
The bonus round of Ghost Mansion. While this level is optional (like all other bonus rounds), you have to jump on blue coffin-shaped platforms that disappear upon stepping on them to collect all the fruit. Worse, to 100% complete the bonus round, you have to hit Blue Switches, FOUR TIMES. And you only have 1 minute and 28 seconds to do so. You got screwed.
Its sequel had several- Blade Mountain, Volcanic Panic, and Ghost Bayou. Blade Mountain takes place on ice skates, and can be difficult on its own, but going for 100% Completion is a nightmare, since the one-way level design means that missing something requires a do-over. Volcanic Panic is long and has difficult platforming areas over lava, as well as lots of backtracking to advance through the level, and a rising magma portion over a narrow, winding path to cap the level. Ghost Bayou is ungodly long, dark and thus difficult to see the winding path, and has several sections where you must kill a number of enemies in a limited amount of time.
Try getting 100% on Ghost Bayou. I dare you. It's practically impossible to get all the items, because every area in the level is not only scrambled, but looks almost exactly the same, so you won't really be able to tell where you did and didn't go, particularly after the first part of it.
Well those levels are even more ungodly difficult on Time Trial mode, as you have to get almost all of those time boxes AND get through the whole level without dying once, good luck! There's also Magma Opus, which is nearly as hard as Volcanic Panic(especially if you're going for 100% as there's a sliding section where it's VERY easy to miss a fruit), and Haunted Boardwalk which takes place on rollerskates and has several sections that require very precise jumps to get through (getting 100% is naturally harder as well).
Yellow Pac-Marine. Wow, Pac-Man shooting enemies with a submarine, how freakin' awesome could that be?! Tons, but's it NOT EASY! To begin with, almost everything in this level is randomly placed anytime you die (Fruit, Enemies, Obstacles, even checkpoints are all randomly placed). Along with that, there are tons and TONS of mines, plus there are parts where you have to fight off Ghost Subs that shoot you back. And there's nothing that can speed the level up. Oh well.
A Boy and His Blob (Wii) has Challenge Level 2-5. It's a Gusty Glade where the only skill you have is the Pear Parachute; you must navigate several narrow passages lined with instadeath floating mines, all the while the wind shoves you to and fro. And since it's a challenge level, there's no checkpoints—fall into a pit, or get shoved into a mine by the wind, and it's back to the beginning for you!
On the theme of "Pear Parachute + Challenge Level = ARRRG," the 3rd world also has a vicious one. You must use the Parachute to drift down a cave, where every single surface is lined with either spikes or mines (so there's absolutely no stopping) and you have to make instant turns in order to get to an entrance all the way on the other side of the shaft. You have to anticipate changes quickly, because the Parachute moves slowly, and if you're not far enough over to drift through the hole? It's the spikes for you!
The Citadel of Shadows in Vexx is one whole world of hair-pulling frustration. There is almost no solid ground anywhere to be found in the level; it's almost all moving, shifting platforms, incredibly tiny platforms, or platforms crowded with enemies. One misstep will send you tumbling into the abyss below. Makes getting to certain challenges a hassel; makes the two collection challenges (6 Soul Jars or 100 Heart Shards) infuriating because your total will reset if you die.
Don't forget the laser beams! Not only do you have to be precise while jumping, you have to avoid a bunch of freaking laser beams while doing so!
The Energy Zone in Contra gives many people fits simply because of the shooting energy traps over Bottomless Pits and a whole series of them on platforms, making a highly difficult game even harder if you didn't use the 30 lives cheat.
There are a lot of annoying levels in Dr Muto, but the Furnaces take the cake. Gone are the fun flying sections of the first two Flotos parts. Instead, you're forced to endure a seemingly endless course of infuriating jumping segments. The "highlights" include using High-Jump Boots to navigate columns of spinning platforms, the infamous rafter section, and killing a bunch of durable enemies while on a time limit. By far the worst part is the rafters, where you have to navigate a long gauntlet of completely unfair obstacles, while as the hard-to-control Mouse (or Rat), and with barely any checkpoints when you need them. Just getting to the place is annoying enough, since you have to traverse a giant broken wire with electric balls bouncing down it, and a mess of steam jets, every time you go in and out of the place. The worst part is, it locks you in the area until you complete it, and there are no save points there to escape (and restarting will send you right outside the rafter entrance). And you don't get to fly again until halfway through Jupiter City, the next section.
If anything, the cursed version of Phoenix Mountain in Tomba!. Especially, the second section of the mountain where you need to jump across a bottomless pit on three extremely narrow platforms spaced really far apart without messing up and falling into the bottomless pit. It is also not made any easier by the fact that the wind makes it impossible to time your jumps carefully.
It gets even worse when you're inside the mountain and have to carefully jump onto a series of small platforms to avoid the pits of fire on the bottom.
The consensus for the most unpopular level in Braid is "Fickle Companion", the last level of World 4. The world's mechanics make it a pain in the neck to solve. Doubly so (at least!) if you're trying for 100% Completion.
Lazrael's Game Maker game "Poyo" has level 45. It's basically a tower, but nearly every block crumbles below your feet, there are slow-moving spikes hindering your progress (do note that you're a One Hitpoint Wonder) and if you're close to the top, there are three crumbling blocks and two one-block wide passages. You have three tries to get to the exit. Just watch this video and you'll know.
Not quite a That One Level normally, but when you're doing a speedrun, level 42 will get you a severe headache.
In Titus The Fox, level 9 "Home of the Pharaohs" - by the end of it - has a typical passage with platforms over a writhing mass of cobras. The trick is that there are instant-kill spikes on the ceiling, too. So, you have to hold the jump button just enough to make the jumps, but not too long, either; meaning, you have to hold and release the jump button with 1/10sec-grade precision or poor Titus will either get a free trepanation, or suffer rectal reptilian invasion. Now rinse and repeat for five or six such jumps in a row.
The Genesis version of The Lost Vikings has a level "RVTS" which has a lot of tricky jumps combined with moving platforms, conveyor belts and so on. One mistake and like always, back to the beginning of the level.
The first Star Wars game on the Gameboy. Two options - Check EVERY cave in a mapless desert, following every side of EVERY rock, or you WILL miss it. Miss what? The weapon that you need to finish one specific, very short level with one enemy in it that is immune to everything else. Miss it, and you will slowly drown, after playing three quarters of the game not knowing there was even a problem.
There's a short driving portion of Monty on the Run (already an insanely difficult game) that requires perfectly timed jumps or else you'd die. And there's no way of knowing when to jump unless you've been through it before.
Ed Edd N Eddy The Mis Edventures (at least the non-GBA version) has scam level three. the scam would not have been so bad if it was not for this. after you get past the first, yes the first obstacle, you get a cut scene where it turns out that some stupid birds put Jimmy's dolls up in some trees, so you have to get them out using the tower of Eddy and put them in the sandbox. now when you drop something, it comes back where it was before you got it. not here. instead, you have to start the whole task all over that does not seem so bad, but the programmers put in these squirrels (yes, animals are your enemies) that come out of the trees and attack you. but if they attack you, you drop the freaking doll that you were trying to get in the sandbox and you have to start the thing all over.
Ball Revamped 4 has "Fuse and Run" in the unnamed 6th world. You have to set off a detonator to blow up a wall that lets you get at the goal, but the fuse of the explosives is ridiculously long, and the only maneuvering room you have is pretty cramped. Now throw in some laser cannons shooting at you every few seconds while you wait and you get this remarkably unfun level. And the fuse resets when you die.
Ball Revamped 5 takes this a step further, with "Longer Fuse and Run!", one of the last levels in the game. Not only is the fuse, well, longer, the lasers have been replaced with a moving rectangle inside your cramped space that kills you on contact. Stop moving? You die. Accidentally bump into a wall? You die. And the fuse takes almost 2 minutes to run out.
Level 40 in BR5 is really nothing more than a simple maze, but the fact that you're forced to take the Mud power in the beginning makes it almost impossible. Mud slows the ball down to about nothing and makes it insanely difficult to turn. And since this is the last level of the world, it's a giant stage. However, there is a very tiny space that you can squeeze through to stop yourself from getting one component of Mud...which leaves you with the ball-growing Flower power. Good luck not touching the walls. Fortunately, you can save yourself the trouble of this level; when you get to your third giant level, just ignore the portal that says "Allium".
The second desert level in Bleach: Soul Carnival 2 (the one after you fight Grimmjow and Nnoitra). It doesn't start out that hard, but the second "room" is a gigantic pain in the ass. You've got strong winds pushing you forward, you can't dash, and there are gigantic Hollows blocking your path with a nearly-unavoidable attack that can deal 5-digit damage. And you're stuck as Kenpachi the first time around, so you'll run out of SP quickly, and unless you're extremely overleveled, you need specials to take out the giant hollows. And forget about breaking the orb that restricts dashing or trying to get the treasures up on high pillars on your first visit.
All of the Challenge Stages, but special mention goes to Area 14 of the Soul Society challenge and the first half of Area 3 of the Real World challenge. The former is like the aforementioned desert stage; heavy winds, and you can't dash. This time, however, you cannot get the ability to dash back. And your enemies ignore the winds. To crank things Up to Eleven, the enemies are giant, so only special attacks do normal damage unless you're about 20 levels higher, and the really big ones can reduce THAT to single-digit damage as well, AND there's a wall of bombs inside treasure chests that is unspeakably hard to avoid, and each bomb deals about 3000 damage. Which means that, unless you waited a really long time to come here, breaking open more than 3 chests at a time results in death. The latter is a REALLY dark warehouse, and the only light comes from windows (of which there are not enough) or lightning flashes (which are infrequent). And then you want to talk about the area itself? You're locked into it the first time you enter the area, meaning you have to grope around in the dark until you find the two orbs that you need to break to escape. Also, you deal double damage to enemies, but the reverse is also true, and also applies to the scenery. Meaning that those damned electric boxes can deal about a fifth of your HP in damage. And that doesn't factor in the horrendous amounts of damage you get from other enemies in the area. You can't get rid of this effect until you get to the second half of the area...which requires jumping through lines of said electric boxes outside the warehouse.
One of the challenges at Mountain Gorge in I-Ninja pits you against the first boss, Kyza, which was an Unexpected Gameplay Change in the form of a first-person giant-mecha boxing match... except you can't get hit even once. To make matters worse, Kyza progressively gets better at dodging and weaving your hooks as the fight goes on and he has a ton of health. If you aren't a Punch-Out!! expert by the time this challenge rolls in, you likely won't make it past a third of his health bar.
Hard Coaster in Bomberman Hero. Really the only thing that makes it live up to its name is the almost mind-numbing tedium of it; the entire level is in midair, but above a pair of quicksand pits that empty into a Bottomless Pit. If you fall into the sand, you have to jump through it to a teleporter that, more often than not, puts you in a position where you have to do a lot of legwork to get back to where you were. And there's Gate Crystals, so you have to scour the last part of the level if you want to get out. If you're trying to get a 5-point score on it...well, hopefully you have a lot of time to waste.
The GBA version of The Polar Express has a level involving skiing along the top of the train at a reasonably high speed. Unfortunately, the section of track that they are running on features a large number of overhead obstructions, forcing the player to jump and duck at split-second notice. Even with practice, this level is painful.
Freudia's stage in Rosenkreuz Stilette, it has the classic insta-kill beams. It gets worse when you play as Grolla. She gets attached to the wall much like X, so it's harder to avoid the beams just getting close to the opposite wall.
Veni Vidi Vici from 'VVVVVV. You have to reverse fall through six screens lined with instant-kill spikes, hit a tiny, disappearing platform at the end, and fall though the same screens in reverse, just to reach a collectible placed behind a tiny bump on the floor. At least it's optional, but the same can't be said for...
"...Not As I Do" in the first intermission. Three vertically-moving platforms, an alcove at the far end of the room and spikes lining the floor and ceiling. This, during an Escort Mission with a teammate who cannot reverse gravity, which makes it hellish to try and keep them alive. There is a trick to it, but even with knowing the trick, it's still very difficult.
The Space Station 2 time trial. This game's time trials are already brutal enough, as they require you to beat the level under a time limit so strict you need muscle memory to accomplsih it within that time, along with not dying once, and collecting every single Trinket. Here, not only do you have to complete the large and difficult second part of the Space Station, but you have to collect every Trinket there, all under 5 minutes. And this means you have to beat Veni Vidi Vici perfectly, on your first try. And complete the rest of the level.
Several of the player-created levels included in Version 2.0 fall under this. To name a few, "Remember Me?" from A New Dimension is Veni Vidi Vici, except longer and mandatory. "The Awkward Terminal" from 333333 requires traversing some platforms and spike pits to reach a terminal that will turn off a gate...except if you die after accessing the terminal, the gate comes back and you have to do the room all over again. "It's Overrated, Really" from The Tower of Power has 8 moving enemies arranged in such a way that it requires precision to not get hit. Also, The Tower of Power has no checkpoints anywhere; if you die, you're sent all the way back to outside the tower.
Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure has World 5-4, the penultimate level, which even by World 5 standards is ridiculous. You alternate between slogging through Weasleby's mansion and hopping into puzzle gates to various little snippets of the other four continents you've visited. You have to fight an Inescapable Ambush nearly every time you go through a gate, with the ambushes themselves ranging from challenging to downright sadistic (in particular is the final area of the Puzzle Realm gate, which pits you in a drawn out battle against Demonic Spiders on a conveyor belt). Hope you've been getting the upgrades, you'll need all the help you can get.
Almost all of "Ninja Gaiden" is a That One Level game- however, level 6-2 is particularly hard, with enemies that continue to respawn on precarious ledges.
Granted, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is a difficult game. But then there's the section shaped like the letter P on its back, in Zulag 3 of RuptureFarms, which can be an absolute sod if you don't know what you're doing, especially if you're trying to rescue every Mudokon. Its features include: having to awkwardly jump down whilst avoiding falling carcasses, timing grenade throws in order to blow up anti-chant devices and not yourself, having to somehow blow up/get past a Slig that descends on a lift that blocks your exit because you pulled a switch that you must pull, and finally, blowing up a Slig and a series of mines with the Shrykull's power before you're either a) shot, or b) blown up. You died? Well then, it's back to the start with you!
The Frogger video game for the PlayStation and PC had several:
Airshow Antics. Why? This level is not like the other cloud levels; the clouds are made of ice that you can actually slip on. And there are planes... everywhere. But here's the worst part: there are helicopter blades right under the clouds. And if you hit just one bit of it, you're screwed big time. And there are birds to make the level more... challenging.
Uncanny Crusher is one of the hardest levels in the entire game. You have to cross pits FULL of spikes to get the frogs. But the right route is harder than the left: IT'S SPIKE MAYHEM IN THERE!. Yes, many gamers will get frustrated with this level, I guarantee.
Reservoir Frogs counts, too. First of all... the spikes return. And what's next? You have to hop on barrels and raccoons to the other side. And to be more warned, there is slime from Slime Sliding, and you have to constantly super hop up the slime. Be careful.
But out of all the levels in the game, the absolute hardest level in the entire game is a level named in three words: BIG BOULDER ALLEY. Yes, this level is an absolute nightmare. You have to time your jumps perfectly over the beetles just to start. What could be worse? There are also raining boulders, and even tumbleweeds. Oh, but here's the nightmare cracker: to get the Green frog, you have to hop over sinking crocodiles. Yes, even the most perfect gamers have had a hard time on this level...
Lava Crush could qualify, due to the Green Frog placed in such an extremely hard location... and Frogger Goes Skiing as well, due to the awkward controls while skiing on ice!
Another in-spite-to-add to level: Boom Boom Barrel, particularly the part where you have to cross the river on fast-moving exploding barrels. It's so hard (and bad), you'll have nightmares for about a week. It also has a much harder version in Bang Bang Barrel.
A less challenging level, yet could be a qualification, is Mower Mania, thanks to the maze like area, and the mowers. And it's only the 3rd level of the 2nd world.
Swampy's Revenge has two contendors: Grindstone and Research Facility. Both of them are quite long, but are difficult in their own ways. The former, Grindstone, is filled to the brim with very fast deadly-obstacle-dodging sections. Heck, the level starts with having to dodge huge rolling wheels, which you can only dodge by standing on certain elevated spots. Then you have to go through fast stampedes of boars and a combination of moving platforms and cannonballs. There are also a lot of spikes that you have to dodge, and there's a deviously hidden coin at the end. The latter is a long level filled with all sorts of hazards, including security drones, unstable platforms, moving platforms over acid, and... monkeys. These monkeys will move toward you in such a way that getting trapped is all too common.
The first level of the Mountain world in Frogger Beyond. It starts with a tricky platforming sequence of moving minecart platforms that have deceptive hitboxes. But after that, you have to deal with the minecart section. You have almost no room for error when it comes to jumps over the rocks and gaps in the tracks, and it's a long sequence.
There's also the final level of the Underwater world. It's very long, and filled with all kinds of difficult obstacles. There's electrified floors, sand conveyor belts, and these snakes that constantly chase you through a tricky platforming sequence.
Captain Comic I has The Cave and The Shed. Both areas have no shortage of pits to fall down and the way the enemies behave, especially the killer bees, makes getting killed by them frustratingly easy. Many a player has lost the last of their lives in one of these two areas, a fate made all the worse by the complete lack of a save-game feature, something which is generally quite rare for a PC game, even one from 1988. Fortunately, if you can survive these two areas, you'll probably make it to the end of the game.
The second South Wing level in Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. Part of it takes place underwater, which slows down your movements. The fireball-puking yellow ghosts are nearly everywhere, and the literal Goddamned Bats are underwater thanks to their bubbles, which makes it a problem in one part of the level where you have to go down pass-through platforms while being dragged by currents toward spikes, which the bats are nearby and constantly patrolling.
Poptropica may be a cheery, kid-friendly game, but it still has parts that will make you want to smash your computer. There are plenty of individual difficult sections, but there are also entire Islands that are That One Level.
Spy Island: Hope you like dodging lasers, cause there's a lot of lasers in really inconvenient places that make already difficult platforming sections even harder. Including a section with lasers AND moving platforms. Then there are the spots where you have to use the Grappling HookBowtie, which is very hard to aim, flings you around in unpredictable directions, and has a tendency to go off when you don't want it to. These include one section where you have to push a bomb across a greenhouse with difficult terrain, using the Grappling Hook Bowtie to get around which, more often than not, will fling you straight into the jaws of the giant man-eating plants. And it's a Timed Mission.
Nabooti Island is That One Level Made Of Those Few Levels. It has everything: a lot of hard to dodge enemies, two very difficult series of jumps (the second of which has slippery platforms), a variety of obtuse puzzles , a Minecart Madness section that requires lightning-fast reflexes, and a game of Mancala. Yes, they expect you to win a board game that you've probably never heard of. And yes, The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard.
Astro Knights Island. Just...Astro Knights. This Island is so hard that the developers released an official, in-game walkthrough for it because it had the lowest rate of completion. The first section is easy, but shit gets real when you go into space. There arethreeplanets to explore, and they're all full of pixel-perfect jumps, be it across slippery icebergs while robot fish jump up and try to knock you off into the insta-kill water, across swinging platforms with enemies hanging down from above, across raising and lowering platforms that require you to jump at precisely the right millisecond, or over an enemy that changes direction and shape unpredictably, and all three have That One Boss. Just to GET to one of the planets you have to lure away the giant Robot Space Sharks guarding it and into a Black Hole, while not being eaten or sucked in. After getting past all of that, you have to navigate an Asteroid Thicket, solve a difficult flip-the-tiles puzzle, and then fight the hardest boss in the entire game. Even if you can breeze through the rest of the Island, Mordred will still reduce you to tears.
Reality TV Island might as well be called The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard Island. All the challenges are brutally difficult, and ALL YOUR OPPONENTS ARE ALWAYS BETTER THAN YOU. And if you do at all poorly in the challenges (and YOU WILL) you'll usually get voted off, and have to start the whole series of challenges over again.
Steamworks Island is difficult overall (and long), but the worst part is the apartment. It's one of those puzzles where you move around pipe segments to make a path for the steam, only you have to uncover the tiles first and there are empty tiles where you can't place anything. The last part of the Island is just insane, combining awkward platforming with Goddamn Bats and some annoying minibosses, ending with That One Boss.
Wimpy Wonderland is extremely long and boring, interrupted with the most unfair, broken and downright impossible puzzles in Poptropica history. You will never again be able to hear the words "Watercress Salad" without going into a foaming rage.
The GBA Treasure Planet game has the Jungle. It is long, complex and very confusing, has the biggest Goddamned Bats in the game, in the form of carnivorous plants that shoot out small and hard to avoid attacks, are static and take three punches to kill, in over-abundance. The gimmick introduced, walking on lava, which coincidentally kills you on contact, can also be very annoying to use.
The final level in Ninja Spirit. The first half isn't too bad, but the second half is a long freefall in which you must dodge hundreds of ninjas leaping upwards. It requires heavy memorization and good reflexes, and you have very little frame of reference. While there is a safe spot near the left wall, even that can be tricky to get to. The worst part: you can't even kill the ninjas.
Bucky O'Hare has Cell - Act 5. It's a tight room filled with difficult jumps off Mega Man style disappearing blocks and blocks that move when you stand on them in a room filled with instant kill spikes. When you get to the end of the level, you get a choice of two paths, and if you pick the wrong one, you have to do the room all over again.
Ratatouille. Ah, Ratatouille. The video game was just a kid-friendly game that's based off the movie, but the final level, The Deserted Kitchen, can give grief. First off, it's pretty much a rehash of a level (Little Chef - Big Kitchen, which was only two levels apart from it's rehash). But as the 'The Deserted Kitchen reads, it's pretty much empty, with the exception of Skinner, Linguini, and Colette. Unfortunately, a numerous amount of crabs seem to take up the area, with one area that's particularly very frustrating - one of the main missions is getting the book. You have to get into a small mouse hole, which is already being blocked by a weed. You have to have the spoon to defeat it - too bad the aforementioned crabs like to steal anything you hold. Once you defeat the weed, you have to roll on a ball with godawful controls while squishing ants. After that nightmare roll - go out of a different mouse hole, another one blocked by an enemy. There's no spoon here, so you'll have to scamper your way back to the kitchen area to grab the spoon and then defeat the enemy. In the book area, you have to use a can, then you swing on poles, latch onto fences, and bounce on trampolines. You'll finally finish that mission, but now you have to reach Emile using a can. Unfortunately, guess it: the crabs will steal the cans. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the crabs move faster than you carrying an item? You have to defeat TWO crabs with spoons (yes, their are TWO crabs), then use it on the box holding the necessary platforms to reach the pot and sink area. In conclusion - this level shouldn't have been tough in the first place.
The 10 Dream Worlds can sometimes be nightmares, too, but none are as hard as the two kitchen worlds (Dirty Dish Fright and Kitchen Chaos). To explain - both have slippery and wet dishes, as well as pots. The former one also had more than one part where you had to use a can as a raft and paddle you're way across a sink. The latter is much harder than the former, as the pot handles SPIN, the insides of the pots now have bars of soap sliding in a circle in it, and there are ROLLING PINS that are as fast as hell. It's not surprising that the info for Dirty Dish Fright on the Dream World menu says "Is this a dream or a nightmare?", as those two levels are nightmares, compared to the other ones, which are mainly based on actual FOOD. It doesn't help that the music of those two levels are nightmarish in following the nightmarish background...
Level 30 in the flash platformer Give Up. The game is intentional Platform Hell, yes, but even by those standards Level 30 just goes straight past eleven and up to twenty. How bad is this level? The game designer's official walkthrough video spends 8 minutes out of a 20 minute video on this one level. For some perspective: that's slightly under 25 seconds per level up until this one, which takes nineteen times that. Of 306 deaths total, 237 of them came on this one level. And at the end of the video...the creator rage quits. Yes, you read that right, the creator's official walkthrough video has him ragequitting at this level. It's not a straight Difficulty Spike either, as the later levels are nothing compared to this.
Spurt has the absolutely ridiculous final level, "Black Eyes." The game may be balanced poorly, and the last six or so levels spike to ridiculous levels of difficulty even with maximum upgrades. But "Black Eyes..." You know this level is bad when half the comments are discussing how awful it is. For starters, at this point in the game the basic flying mooks have 5000 HP, which is as much as one of the Degraded Bosses, and their attacks take off huge amounts of damage, considering there's going to be a lot of them. Then there are the energy cannon-toting roosters, who have an absurd 25,000 HP. It takes a good 15 seconds of nonstop level 3 Fishbone firing just to take one down. The first half of the level, you have to go through several of the roosters, combined with some of the flying mooks. But then you drop down into hell. There's a ton of flying mooks, backed with several of the roosters and two of the most difficult enemies in the game- the giant blue birds. 100,000 HP, Bullet Hell that takes off giant chunks of your health, and all surrounded by the aformentioned enemies. The boss at the end may as well be a pushover compared to the hell you went through... if you weren't down to the last of your health, which is very probable.
102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue has Big Ben, a long ordeal through a variety of physics-based platforms. Clearing the level normally is a pain since there are many secret areas and hidden passageways that hide things. There's the segment which has several giant pistons moving up and down, requiring you to ride them and jump off just at the right time to get the most air time... but it's also home to many of the aformentioned hidden areas, and it's easy to mistime a jump, meaning that it's likely that you'll be having to climb all the way up again. Plus, many of the enemies are flying, which makes them more annoying to kill.
Barnyard is an annoying slog that consists of running all the way around the small map in order to perform chores. Only thing is, it can be tricky to find some of them. The Royal Museum may also be this, since it's one of the larger levels and it's nothing but a Fetch Quest.
The Legendary Axe has Room 5L, a seemingly endless corridor where you keep waiting for your axe to fully charge before you dare to inch a few steps forward and get ambushed by any kind of Demonic Spiders (usually just one, but unfortunately not always).
The SNES version of Zool has a few levels that deserve to be noted.
Level 1-4 for instance, where the horrendous horizontal resolution becomes very clear, because the game asks you to jump on platforms you can't see. To top it all off, the platforms are made so that you stick on them, making it only possible to jump on them if you're on another platform that floats on it or on the very edge on the platform (which is thankfully very easy to do, because the sticky platforms slow you down). Thankfully, the boss at the end is pretty good.
The entirety of world 2 as well, world 2-1 is made so that you can't see where the finish is. You want to know how to finish it, by hitting a wall that looks like any other wall in this world, something you would've never guessed weren't you guided by an arrow that shows you where the finish is. World 2-2 is just a seemingly endless confusing maze, just like world 2-3 and world 2-4 suffers from the same issues as world 2-1, but much worse as it's harder to guess where the invisible wall is, but again, no complaints towards the boss.
In The Adventures of Lomax, the section right before the fight with Evil Ed. You are very likely to lose the most of your lives there as you try to get past these clouds of smoke that are supposed to propel you high into the air, but it's nearly impossible to determine the pattern in which they do that instead of making you fly too low and fall to your death.
Also, The Wild West levels in general can feel like this. The cowboy enemies shoot walking bullets, which are the only enemy immune to your spin attack and actually harm you if you try to destroy them like this. Also, there are spikes coming out of the ground in certain patterns, spiky balls that swing on chains in a fake 3D perspective, and lots of Obstructive Foreground smoke.