The Mario Kart series' Rainbow Road tracks are infamously difficult. In all versions, sliding off the track at any point results in a plummet into the abyss that costs several seconds to recover from. While other tracks feature similar areas (lava pits, water, etc.), the Rainbow Road is unique in having no solid ground anywhere except the actual road surface. Slipping just a little off on a turn means a punishing fall rather than a minor loss of speed from hitting the offroad. Mario Kart 64's is an exception, since it is entirely guardrailed, the only obstacles are occasional zigzagging Chain Chomps, and its only rather big spike is that it's the longest track in the game, taking 4 and a half minutes to finish the race at LEAST.
Rainbow Road in Super Mario Kart has no rails to block the fall, and the course becomes extremely narrow in parts, and the course has Thwomps that cause an instant spin-out when you run into them, and the other racers are as speedy as in the rest of the Special Cup. Also note also that the CPU racers have a tendency to speed right through those damn invincible Thwomps and never fall off the course. Depending on your skill and racer choice, one valid tactic is to actively avoid gathering coins, which increases your top speed - Except coins are placed exclusively on yellow panels and tricky to spot and avoid. Conversely, if your tactic is to quickly gather enough coins and motor ahead then you'll find that they're tricky to spot and not-avoid.
Mario Kart Super Circuit for the GBA, on the other hand, unleashed a Rainbow Road that's something to fear—and laugh at all at the same time. Rather than going without railings or railings everywhere, the level is almost entirely lined with jump pads, which can be even worse than having no rails at all. If you know how to use Mushrooms properly, however, it becomes a laughably easy track with all those shortcuts you can take.
The track is a little easier in Mario Kart Wii ("easier" being relative), as it has guardrails in some areas, but it still features numerous sharp turns, and several jumps that land on very narrow areas, such that hitting the jump plate even a small angle off means a long, long fall. Beating the CPU (and especailly other players) on this level usually requires you to have both skill (to run the whole track at speed without falling) and luck (to avoid weapons and sideswipes that would throw you off the side of the road).
Don't underestimate the turns on Mario Kart 8's version. It's very easy to fall off the mostly-railless track if your car doesn't have good handling.
Any simple, starting track, like Figure-Eight Circuit, Luigi Circuit, or Peach Circuit can function as That One Level. Not because you fall off the track a great deal or anything, but because the item distribution is absolute murder on a flat basic track which is usually rather short. Basically, long fancy tracks can have the item hits made up for by sheer lead and skill based on the track layout, but if you get hit on Luigi Circuit, you're likely to get hit by every single opponent in the race in short order and fall down a few places regardless.
The Bowser's Castle tracks are right on par with the Rainbow Roads on being the hardest tracks in the series. While Rainbow Road relies on tight corners, narrow pathways and the almost entire lack of guardrails, Bowser's Castle relies on lots, and lots, and LOTS of very well-placed traps such as fireballs, lava pools, and Thwomps which can squash the racers. The more infamous examples are the Mario Kart 64 version due to its many Thwomps which — just to give more fuel to the fire — even move strategically in order to squash as most racers as possible; the Double Dash version again due to the tons of Thwomps — this time mostly put on the narrower parts, and mind you, they cover the entire roadway in such situations — and also at the end a giant Bowser statue which spews fiery boulders FROM BEHIND THE RACERS; the DS version due to its overall snaking track design, a spinning cylinder halfway through the track, and moving platforms at the end; the Wii version for similar reasons to the incarnation in Double Dash; and finally the version in Mario Kart 8, as the anti-gravity mechanics are used to hide the tons of traps from the playernote ...Although it's regarded as a Best Level Ever by the fans..
Mario Kart 64 has Banshee Boardwalk, which later reappears as a retro track in Mario Kart DS. Holes in the floor, blind curves with no guardrails, and Goddamned Swoopers that can knock you off course.
Then there's Toad's Turnpike on Mirror Mode... the cars go towards you, the entire track is a big turn so if a car is approaching, you have little time to react, and getting hit by a car launches you 20 feet into the air. This is, of course, enough time to get launched 20 feet into the air by each of the inevitable 5 cars tailgating the one you hit.
Yoshi Valley is quite hard to navigate, and even harder to stay on the track; if you take a wrong route or fall off, you won't place well at all.
Sherbet Land. Penguins everywhere, slippery slidey ice, sharp turns early in the lap that are impossible with certain karts or bikes in the Mario Kart Wii version. Good luck if you favour light characters; many vicious online players LOVE to shove lightweights off into the water, costing 4-10 seconds as you have to be to thawed out before you can drive off again!
Luigi Circuit in Mario Kart Super Circuit (and in an encore appearance in Mario Kart DS) is filled with puddles of water which cause you to spin out... and which, of course, the computer never runs through.
Worse still is Shy Guy Beach, particularly the Mario Kart Wii version. The entire track is nothing but sand and water, meaning that every vehicle is constantly being slowed down by the sand. And there are several sections where you are forced into water for brief periods. There is even one section consisting of about 8 of these back-to-back. If you're using Manual, you can hop over them if your timing is perfect. If you're using Automatic, enjoy your loss. Also, there's the Sidesteppers (Crabs) and the cannonballs the Shy Guys' pirate ship keeps firing at the track. Now, course obstacles are nothing new - they're in quite a few tracks throughout the game. But every course obstacle has predictable patterns... except for the Sidesteppers and the cannonballs. Twice the unpredictability, twice the frustration!
Those levels were nothing compared to Lakeside Park. First of all, there's a volcanic eruption that work similar to the Shy Guy Pirate Ship, but then there are the boost jumps that are very easy to fail. Fail those and you'll end up in last place in no time.
Mario Kart DS' Peach Gardens' return in Mario Kart Wii was unwelcome to many; Chain Chomps, grassy flower patches that can slow down even the Magikruser, and HUGE FREAKIN BLOCKS disguised as hedges.
Mushroom Gorge in Mario Kart Wii is a nightmare for item use. Most of the track is made up of huge pits and you can only cross them by driving onto mushrooms that bounce you over to the next one. If someone uses a Thunderbolt as you are jumping, say hello to the abyss. Using a Star, Bullet Bill, or Mushroom? Don't bother using them during the mushroom spans since going too fast will make you overshoot the next mushroom jump and you'll most likely fall off the track and the Bullet Bill has a good chance of running out in between jumps.
Moonview Highway in Wii is arguably even more annoying than Wii's version of Rainbow Road due to you driving with a bunch of cars, trucks, and even rolling Bob-ombs with wheels, all which either squish you (coming at you) or send you flying (going away from you/Bob-omb). Even more obnoxiously, some of the cars swerve from lane to lane, making it harder to dodge. Luckily, there's a predictable pattern, but even after recognizing that, many safe driving passages between cars are sometimes incredibly tight and require very precise timing. Moonview Highway also is an issue for players in most countries driving on the right (mainly North America and mainland Europe). Namely, the cars in the level drive on the left side of the road (since the game is Japanese and Japanese drivers drive on the left), so if you don't want to spend you time dodging cars coming at you, you're going to have to ignore your instinct to drive on the right side. Then, once you finally get used to that, Mirror Mode comes along, and right hand drive applies.
Most of Wario's Gold Mine has no guardrails, entering the mine itself always involves negotiating a barrage of Swoopers which can slow the player down massively, and the mine cart segment has many opportunities for players to be knocked over the side by a cart as it switches tracks.
Coconut Mall. There are the cars just towards the end. Did you just get hit by an item right on the speed boost? No problem, you'll speed up in no— WHAMMO! The Mii you designed to look like your grandma just decided she would park right in front of you. Enough to completely destroy a potentially good finish, particularly in online matches.
Grumble Volcano. Starting in the second lap, the course begins to fall apart (watch out for areas where there are long cracks in the track - they might be shaking and about to go when you go by in the second lap, and are gone by the third) usually when you're right over a part about to break off and have just been hit by an item; cue a nice lava bath! And there's also the meteors falling all over the place, with timing patterns that are incredibly annoying to learn.
DK Pass in Mario Kart 7. It's already a difficult track in the DS game, but it seems like there at least the snow didn't slow you down as much. In Mario Kart 7 on the other hand... The snow to the side slows you down drastically, the icy road makes it difficult to even charge mini turbos/drift properly and the lack of edges mean that one mistake near the start has you fly off the road to your doom.
Rosalina's IceWorld in Mario Kart 7 is a living hell if you don't have good reaction times, a vehicle with good handling, and just overall some grand amounts of skill. Not to mention the AI seems to love beaning you with Red Shells every five seconds here, slowing your progress even more than usual thanks to the ice.
Dolphin Shoals in Mario Kart 8 is Grand Prix hell. With lots of long straightaways, expect the enemy to slipstream off your back and pummel you with shells, fireballs, and boomerangs regularly, and you'd better not fall off the eel while you're tricking off of its narrow back if you don't want to fall into last place.
Piranha Plant Slide, in both the 7 and 8 versions, is an interesting case in that some players consider it a Best Level Ever, while other players utterly loathe it, with seemingly no space in between. The latter camp cites its extremely tight turns, the utter randomness of the item boxes screwing you out of an item you desperately needed, the overall lack of well-placed coins, and the Piranha Plants being extremely hard to properly predict - and the fact that, because of the former camp, it will come up online.
Just about, I dunno, EVERY mission is a pig to beat on Very Hard mode. And to get 100% Completion, you have to beat every chapter on Very Hard to unlock all the AX characters.
For regular races in GX, Trident is an interesting case. It has a lot of very narrow roads without guardrails, and one careless move can easily result in losing your machine. After learning it well though, it becomes Difficult but Awesome, as you knock out other racers left and right. Destroying 10 or more machines here can become par for the course.
GX also has Mute City: Serial Gaps, the final course of the Sapphire Cup series. The Sapphire Cup is bookended by two rather unwieldy courses: Drift Highway at Big Blue and this course. Drift Highway is decent but difficult to actually win in due to the short track length and the tight turns. You make this up by racing steadily through the next three courses (none of which are particularly bad). Then you hit Serial Gaps. Large jumps and a high chance of missing your landing result in burning through all your machines on the last race of the series.
Two words that will make any GX player cower in fear: Phantom Road.
The original F-Zero has the Death Wind courses, in which powerful gusts blow your machine to the side, making for an odd angle to drive at. Death Wind 1 is not so bad, but Death Wind 2 has extra corners that make the wind much worse.
90-degree corners combined with dash pads which give you an instant boost to 999kph. Hello, wall!
F-Zero GP Legend has Illusion: Abyss Drop, a technical course with no guardrails.
F-Zero Climax has the pre-made custom course White Land - Catharsis, which is more or less a test of how good you are at hairpin turns after being boosted to ludicrous speed. And many of said hairpin turns are over ice so that makes it even easier to hit a wall.
F-Zero X: Big Hand. This is a rather long course in the shape of, well, a hand, and many parts of it have no guardrails, and there are some patches of ice in these rail-less portions. And it has some brutally difficult turns.
The Japan-only Expansion Kit for X has the even harder Big Foot, with even tighter turns in much quicker succession.
Kirby Air Ride: Checker Knight and Sky Sands. Especially Checker Knight.
They're both only slightly harder than all the other courses in a easy game. The only hard one is Machine Passage.
Which is only slightly harder than them if you're going for the no hitting the wall challenge.
To elaborate, in Diddy Kong Racing, there are Silver Coin Challenges which are unlocked after you win all the races in a world and beat the level's boss. To win a SCC you have to collect 8 silver coins throughout the stage AND get first place. This would be fine if not for the fact that (A) they are REQUIRED to beat a world (which is required for story completion); (B) the coins have ridiculous placements often requiring you to hit all the shortcuts (and some "longcuts") in order to get them all; and (C) the computer racers are not bound by the coin collection requirement and are simply out to win the race. Greenwood Village is the worst level for this, as it has many shortcuts (all housing at least one coin), and the sheer number of them requires that you use all three laps to get them all — on most stages, you can spend the first and second laps getting coins and use the last one to get back into the lead, but GWV has so many coins in non mutual locations you WILL need all three laps to collect. Your only hope is that you do freakishly well while you get all the coins, because the game will not show you any mercy. And for your efforts... you get to race a harder boss!
Adding salt to the wound are TASses of the game that don't necessarily use a lot of (obvious) glitches but still lap the AI while collecting all of the silver coins! Oh sure, make it look easy.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed's World Tour is a single-player mode with one near-universally frustrating mission type: Traffic Attack. All of them involve navigating dense traffic and hitting checkpoints at the end of each wave. However, in the higher difficulty levels, which are required to unlock all of the characters, Traffic Attacks require you to pass through 15 of these checkpoints with a time limit so strict that, even if you hit every checkpoint and time bonus, each mission would still give you barely enough time to finish even if you didn't hit any cars in the whole mission. These higher difficulty levels also include cars that will try to block your way, meaning you can't just look in front of you and charge a path ahead. it is not uncommon to hear people complaining that they spent hours each time a Traffic Attack came up going through the World Tour.
For the individual tracks themselves, there's Burning Depths and Race of Ages. The former is, without a doubt, the most technical track in the game, filled to the brim with sharp turns and narrow curves. The boating sections in the 2nd and 3rd laps has incredibly tight turns that requires you to smoothly drift around them, thus making a driver with a Handling stat of 3 or above a necessity to get a podium finish. The latter is basically the All-Stars Racing Transformed version of Rainbow Road: high-speed, technical, and is severely lacking in rails (one wrong drift or unlucky blow from a weapon and off you go!). The second half of the stage, which can either be an aerial or boating section, are also equally hard; the aerial section tests your maneuvering skills as you fly down an obstacle course consisting of gate-like, rotating steel gratings, electroshock grids with small safe zones to fly through, and massive, obstructive holograms and satellites flying around the section. The boating section combines the sharp 90-degree turns of Burning Depths with bumpy waters and electroshock gates that usually activate right as you are driving through them. Good luck trying to finish first here; you'll need it.
As well, the Classic Cup tracks, especially Sunshine Tour and Roulette Road, are notoriously difficult to get 1st place finishes in, because of the complete absence of jumps and boost opportunities that literally every other track in the game has. Did they just not CARE about the levels that everyone loved like Thunder Deck or Ocean Ruin?!
The original Cars video game had Tractor Tipping (particularly levels 5, 6, and 7; the other levels aren't too terribly difficult) These three levels will give you agony. Level 5 has only 6 tractors, but Frank (the main obstacle; if you run into him, you're screwed) is constantly driving around in circles, and most of the tractors are right in his way. But have fun trying to get the tractor on the ledge. It's really hard (thanks to the spotlights; stay in them for too long, and you're also screwed).
Level 6 has 13 tractors in total, with only 4 minutes and 5 seconds to get them all. It's really hard to find the proper path to getting them in the fastest time, really.
Level 7. It's a race against the time, of course. But that's not the only thing you're racing against. You're also racing against Frank, too. This is a one-way path (meaning Frank is chasing you the entire time), and some tractors are out of the way. The spotlights only make it worse. Doggone it.
The Tractor Tipping mini-game returned in Cars Mater-National, with only 6 levels this time. But the spotlight goes on Level 5. Similar to Level 7 of the first game, Frank is chasing you the entire way. But there's a TON of gravel, and if you happen to simply drive over it, "Frank will hear all that crunching", and his meter will rise (if the meter is full - you guessed it - you're screwed). The only way to drive on gravel without making the meter rise is to sneak on it (drive on it very slowly), but that's not and option, or Frank will catch you. But trying to get the last tractor is like playing Tractor Tipping in hell - it's on a ledge blocked by some bushes; in order to reach it, you have to get Frank to plow the bushes, but to do THAT, you have to go straight south into a small area so you can just barely dodge him. And then you have to romp up the ledge to the tractor - RIGHT NEAR F#!$%NG FRANK! Oh yeah, and if you're near Frank, the meter will rise until you lose. Way to go, THQ.
Cars Race-o-Rama had a type of race called Guido Kart, where you play as eight of the small cars (Guido, Luigi, one of Lightning's pit crew, one of Chick's pit crew, a blue pit crew, a white pit crew, Mike, and this yellow car with weird hair on her head). A few of them are really hard, but none of them comes as close as Level 6 does. In Level 6, you have to race around near the entrance to the Rustbucket Arena in Ornament Valley, but the path is so thin and the controls are so sloppy that you'll more than likely end up crashing more than once. There's actually a shortcut after the starting line where you can skip the first U-turn up ahead, but in order to that, you have to pass through the metal rails, which have such small space to get through that there's almost no margin for error to actually take the shortcut. Worse... the items...
Other Video Games
Monaco is the That One Level of every Formula One game (and in real life, see below). A thin race track where it need super braking skills to not hit a wall and with at least 20 something cars on the track pretty hard to win.
The SNES game Top Gear has Bordeaux. Nothing but winding S-curves lined with grapevines that will take your speed from 200 MPH to a dead stop in .1 seconds, and it's 6 laps long as well, so even the fuel-efficient white car can expect to use the pits at least once.
Rio is the site of the game's first major Difficulty Spike. It's one of the longer tracks in the game distance-wise, there are very tight corners all over the place, and you have to drive 6 laps around.
The final race at Stonehenge can be this if you're using the gas-guzzling red car. Even if you race perfectly, you will still have just barely enough fuel to get to the finish line, and there are no pitstops anywhere.
If you haven't mastered powersliding in Daytona USA, its Expert course is gonna give you hell. It seems even harder when you take into account the strict time limits that the game imposes.
2001 has Rin Rin Rink. This course has a long, sharp turn at the bottom of the track that is just really hard to slide around properly. Your car never seems to achieve enough drift to stay on the tarmac here and going to the grass is costly. The only way to really take this turn properly is to simply slow down and grip through it. You might lose some standing but it's better than trying to drift through it and ending up on the losing end.
"Mercedes Showdown", the final driving mission in Gran Turismo 4. You are given the all-powerful Mercedes SLR MacLaren, but it's configured so it handles "like a fish out of water", adding an element of Fake Difficulty. Your opponents are group of much less powerful Mercedes who are given a 3 minute head start. Not to mention you are driving on the world's Real Life Most Scrappy Racetrack, the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The Opel Speedster challenge- for some reason, the CPU cars are driving tuned Speedsters, so unless you sink a few hundred thousand into your car and sit around tuning it for every bit of extra speed, you won't have a chance. Even then, good luck.
The All-American Championship. You need to spend a few hundred thousand bucks on a race car (or alot of upgrades) to beat this beast, and all you get in return is a few thousand credits and The Alleged Car, a 1954 'Vette. Not to mention it often features the nearly-unbeatable Chapparal 2J opponent.
The Formula GT, basically the Final Boss of 3 and 4, not only pushes your driving and pitting skills to the limit, but also your tuning skills.
Driving Mission 23. This is the challenge that GT4 players love to hate. Why? It's not like the rest of the slipstream DMs in which the cars are equally spaced. No, the lead car is farther away, forcing you to play leapfrog in order to catch up.
In Project Gotham Racing 4, you get to race on multiple Nürburgring tracks. And unless you're in a custom race where you can control the weather, it's always snowing! Add in that you can't always rely on watching the walls to know when a turn's coming (there can be loads of space between the track and the railing sometimes) and you can see why Nürby is PGR4's That One SET Of Tracks.
The factory driver challenges in Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed. Particularly the ones involving several 360 degree turns in a row.God.
Need for Speed Most Wanted had some quasi scrappy levels in them. The police chases later on in the heat levels 4 and 5 to be exact get more frustrating then anything else. While not a level they get much harder because you have to deal with spike stripes that if you run over them, it's pretty much means that you get busted. The SUV's don't make matter's worse, but what does is the helicopter. If you happen to get away from the police unless you are in a building or in a tunnel the helicopter will be on your ass until it has to leave because it has to refuel.
Heh, try the endgame. Level 7! And you have to last for ten minutes just so a path can open to beat the GAME! Then again, you can really, really kill time if you just run around the Rockport freeway, because it goes in a giant loop, its easy to obtain really high speeds, and there are twists, turns, and jumps to help take out or get some distance between the cops. As long as you use speedbreaker on the road blocks, and aim for the rear end of the cars (they are front heavy), you're fine. Then again, if the chopper gets pissed off enough that it swoops down to nail you, you're dead.
Even worse? Getting busted when you can see a clear path out of the police block or can otherwise force your way out through the power of your car, particularly after completing a Pursuit Milestone that can take a long time to get.
Forza Motorsport 2 has a Scrappy track, the full "King Cobra" variation of the already-annoying Test Track, which includes enough impossibly tight hairpins and 90-degree bends to make a player pine for a NASCAR oval track. One race late in the game's career mode is an invitational with a 700 horsepower limit, and getting cars that powerful around the King Cobra track is a colossal headache for even the most experienced racing sim fans, especially since the shortage of straightaways and the emphasis on extremely tight turns means you're spending a lot of time pushing a car capable of 200+ MPH around the track at roughly 60. Making things worse, this track suffered from a leaderboard glitch (drivers were posting lap times of .008 seconds) that required a complete wipe of the track's online top lap times. Including the hard-won legitimate ones.
The Legends World Trophy series is by far the most infuriating event in Forza 2. It pits two 1967-era Le Mans racers, the Ferrari 330 P4 and Ford GT40, against each other, with half the grid in Ferraris and half in Fords. These cars run on narrow cross-ply tires that don't provide nearly enough grip to cope with the cars' 500-horsepower engines. Even with stability control and traction control enabled, the GT40 and 330 P4 fishtail wildly when you gun the accelerator even in a straight line. Of course, the immediate thought on most players' minds is to give the car some racing slicks, which would turn it into a pussycat, but in this race, unlike all the other Professional Series races, you are not allowed to modify the cars in any way. It's like one huge "fuck you" to everyone who plays with a controller instead of a wheel. Each race is excruciatingly long as well, lasting up to 20 minutes, and there are six of them. You cannot go to another race without forfeiting the championship so you have to play them all in a row. The R1 championship (the ultimate event in the game, with modern, 800-horsepower Le Mans cars, an absolutely enormous purse, and steep Level Grinding requirements for entry) is a breeze in comparison.
Initial D Arcade Stage has Irohazaka, a narrow road (thanks to being a one-way street in real life) with at least 27 hairpin turns. It gets worse in Initial D Arcade Stage 4, where getting the best time or winning a round is a matter of grinding against the inner rails to get around the corners very fast. And if you start grinding a rail too early? You get reversed! IDAS4 also has Myougi, where a mechanic involving hanging up your steering if you exceed a hidden, arbitrary speed limit on a corner means that you can't go very fast through this course. And the embarassing part about this course? It's a beginner-level course.
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune is a highway racing game...until you get to the Hakone course, which is a mountain pass. Thanks to Maximum Tune's super-drifty physics, you will be hitting guardrails a lot the first few times on this course. Ironically, the two Story Mode stages set on Hakone are the easiest in the entire game, due to the AI being extremely weak on this course.
The second game had a notoriously difficult Story Mode, complete with nerve-wracking barricades, variable traction levels, and some truly insane opponents. But by far the most ridiculous stage was 59, where you're against the Devil Z and Blackbird (your two toughest opponents) on a short, tight course with lots of turns, and where the finish line is at the end of arguably the most challenging stretch of road in the entire game. Put it this way: if you can beat this on your fourth attempt, you're doing pretty good.
And Hakone. If you think it's a beast in the third game (the one with the extremely weak AI here), be glad that you didn't have to play it in the second, which was tighter, had higher speeds (and higher penalties for hitting the wall), had tougher opponents, and got DARK at night. Anyone who's faced the Kamiyas there knows what a delight that was.
Snowboard Kids had a number of hard scenarios and bosses, but one takes the cake as ridiculous. In the second game, you have to bomb a giant Snowman that fires back down a course in the dark. Fun. Later, you have to race a giant dinosaur. Slightly less fun, but not too bad. Then you have to fight a giant robot even harder than the snowman down a fogged course. Actually, that was pretty fun. The horrible part is when you have to race through a down hill course firing newspapers at tiny mailboxes with the bare minimum number of shots WITH A TIME LIMIT. That's not even mentioning that one of the mailboxes is actually hidden on a shortcut behind a normal looking patch of trees.
Burnout 3's final race series with Indy cars. Long races with infuriating rubber band AI (that can pounce on you after one mistake), and the Indy cars handled as well as boats through molasses. Correction: your Indy cars handled that well.
The President's Run in Driver. Your felony meter starts at max, so every cop in town is after you and drives at maximum speed, the roads are slick with rain and snow, and you're driving a slow and sluggishly handling limousine, so the cops are much faster than you. Which leads to you being helplessly smashed to scrap metal after being PITted. The PSX version also has FBI cars which can cause you to get stuck in the wall. At least your car can take more punishment than usual.
That assumes you got past the Forced Tutorial. Many players never actually got to play the game because of it.
Though much of it stems from younger players trying it without knowing what a slalom is.
The Chase in Driv3r. A motorcycle is already hard to control in the first place, in this game it's made doubly hard by the clunky, buggy play controls.
Chase the Gunman in Driver 2. The mission starts with you on foot and the gunman quickly driving away. By the time you get in car, chances are the gunman will be far away. Combined with a short time limit and difficult turns, makes this one of the most difficult missions in the game.
Star Wars Episode I Racer featured a track on the Invitational circuit called Abyss that got on quite a few nerves. The track did so because it featured three major shortcuts, one of which allows you to skip AN ENTIRE TENTH OF THE TRACK, all of which are either difficult to notice or difficult to use, and all of which are used frequently by the CPU racers (particularly the skip-a-tenth-of-the-track shortcut, which appears right at the beginning and is impossible to miss provided you can stay on a twisty narrow track without railings for a good fifteen seconds while not letting other racers get ahead of you. If you slide off the track, you go to the track below it, which puts you through the full track while 8 of the other 11 racers take the shortcut). You didn't have to beat it to race the Boonta Classic, fortunately, but you DID have to beat it to access Bozzie Baranta (but Bozzie's a pretty unimpressive racer, and you're probably exclusively running Anakin or Bullseye Navoir anyway).
One horrible track that you DO have to beat, however, is Grabvine Gateway. Seriously, this thing has so many hairpin turns you'd think it was designed by having a child scribble on a piece of paper; not to mention all the obstacles and visual distractions in the back end of the track.
Howler Gorge has steep drops that you could fall down if your pod isn't going fast enough, Frictionless Ice that makes turning difficult, narrow crevices that you have to very carefully go through or you crash, and pieces of ice that sometimes you can fly through, but most times you can't. Expect to spend lots of time restarting and practicing in the time trial mode.
Ando Prime Centrum is like this game's equivalent of Mario Kart 64's Yoshi Valley. So many different routes!
Jak X is a cart racing game, requiring boosts and weapons to slow your opponents and protect yourself from backstabs. In a particular mission, you are sabotaged and deprived of the ability to use weapons, making you vulnerable and impotent, which means you have to rely on speed and skill alone. The problem with this? If you stay in first for too long (which you'll want to do, to win and stay out of range of basic weapons) you WILL be blown up by a peacemaker, which flawlessly targets and destroys the person in first place.
Any of the marathon races, considering that the level of Rubberband AI and The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard in this game matches that of Mario Kart. Basically, they're Point A to Point B races that usually span the entirety of all the other tracks you spent the entire cup doing laps around. It usually takes about 10 minutes to speed through, so it's already long and tedious to begin with, but the aforementioned cheapness of the AI will usually fuck you up right when you're about to cross the finish line. Getting a Gold is no small feat with these marathons, considering that unlike regular races, if you don't do it, you have to sit through another whole ten minutes for each attempt.
24 Hours of Le Mans in Codemaster's Race Driver: GRID. While actually only being 17 minutes of actual race time in the game (time is greatly accelerated), you're still racing against ruthless AI, who who cheat once night falls (and you can't really see the track anymore) and will happily ram you off the track, no matter how you drive.
The little-known Mickey's Speedway USA has most of the levels in the last circuit, Frantic Finale- Hawaii has narrow drives over water and falling coconuts that act as blocks, Oregon has a bridge near the course end which requires absolutely perfect powerslides, or you fall into the water and lose several places, and Colorado has ungodly sharp turns and many easy-to-fall-off ledges with ungodly sharp turns. You're gonna need that Unlimited Retries cheat before attempting the last two.
Laserdisc game Road Blaster's 9th (and final) stage (which is pretty much either Turn Left to not die, Press this pedal to not die, or both). let's summarize: it starts off with a turn that, if you don't know it's coming, you'll lose a life. the turn commands are strung so close together that the checkpoints in the level actually occur in the middle of a turn command (thankfully, you won't be responsible for the turn in progress). If that was the extent of the problem, it'd be bearable, but NOOOOO, it has to have TWO frame-perfect S-turns in the last stretch of the level. It's one thing to lose a life for getting the command wrong. it's another altogether to lose a life for holding the previous turn just longer than it had to be. oh, and did we mention if you try and cut a turn short, you die?
Split Second's Ryback Thunder Challenge can be the bane of many a player's existence. The Ryback Thunder is already a difficult vehicle to control, being a slow, heavy truck which requires you to plan out your turns far in advance (in other words, don't expect to beat this on the first ten tries). Add to that the fact that it's a Detonator challenge, which is a time trial wherein every major disaster on the track is going to occur as you drive by. The gold medal requirement for the challenge is 1:54.00. To say that this is an unfair time limit is akin to putting a gun against your head and lamenting that you won't have enough time to dodge the bullet. Simply knowing which turns to take wide and which turns to cut through and how best to dodge every trap is not enough. Expect to see a lot of times like 1:53.56 taunting you on your many attempts. Once you've perfected the track, it will still come down to luck. It's worth noting that if you haven't patched the game, there is a glitch that can be exploited to get a boost of speed at the beginning that can help out immensely.
Wipeout Pulse has Fort Gale White, with insane turns through narrow tunnels that require you to slam down on the airbrakes to avoid crashing into a wall. There's about four of these turns in a row. There are also some other narrow tunnels and a nasty S-curve. Good luck navigating it on Phantom!
If you're playing Detonator in HD, Corridon 12 becomes this due to it being split into two halves, and you can only ride on one half per lap. It is entirely possible to go the entire race without seeing any bombs, let alone destroying them!
Pure,Pulse's predecessor had Citta Nouva, which was the most technical track in the game, with multiple tight curves and even a 180 degree hairpin. At the higher speed classes, even the autopilot had some difficulties staying off the scenery.
But special mention goes to how he tears into Temtesh Bay 2 from Fusion:
"Oh my god, this course is horrible! Temtesh Bay Course 2 is an absolute travesty of a circuit. It's difficult for all the wrong reasons. It's littered with sharp blind corners, you have two parallel track sections you can easily jump between, you've got open sections that can send you plowing into a random rock pillar, and those bulkheads...those bloody bulkheads! They don't open until you're practically on top of them; basically, you're completely blind to the track up ahead. And there are loads of them all through the circuit. It's not so bad once you get outside, but there's nothing more difficult than that first section in the entire game."
Chocobo Racing. One word: Fantasia. Not mastering how to deal with sharp turns results either in a lot of retries or the track being flat-out unwinnable.
Crash Team Racing. The Pinstripe boss race. For those who haven't played it, but have played Mario Kart, imagine Rainbow Road. Now imagine that you are facing one racer who, no matter what, won't fall off and will be faster than you. Now imagine he is throwing green shells (bombs in the game) at you. You have the Pinstripe race.
Driver: San Francisco has one mission somewhere in the 4th chapter where you have to drive from point A to point B. In this game, you play a police who somehow has the ability to hijack the bodies car drivers, and every now and then you may find yourself body-hopping from one car to another to go through the game. Okay, back to that Chapter 4, you have to safely drive your main car to a certain spot. There are two major problems: The distance is insane, and worst of all, your enemy for this mission has the same power as you, meaning that in a given traffic, he can hijack any car and ram it to your car to wreck it. Oh, and the nearer you are to the destination, the higher the chance that your enemy will hijack multiple cars at once. And no, this is not a side quest; you have to finish it to go through the game. And this type of mission will be repeated. Several times.
San Francisco Rush 2049 has Track 5, which is right-angle central in a game where all other tracks have relatively gentle curves. It's the one course where, if you are using manual transmission, you will be reaching for second gear a lot. It's not particularly unfair, but it requires more technique than the other courses.
R4: Ridge Racer Type 4's GP Mode has the first course of the Final GP, Phantomile. It is only 1.8 kilometers, making it the shortest course in the entire game. Yet it is still only three laps, and you need to get to first place. (To contrast, the final course, Shooting Hoops, is slightly longer but uses six laps.) Thus, a few mistakes can kill your chances of qualifying, even moreso if you've been playing poorly and therefore getting all the bad upgrade cars, in which case you better not make ANY mistakes.
Real Life Racing
Truth in Television: Monaco is That One Level in Formula One. It's the only track where drivers have made it onto the podium without ever finishing the race simply because everyone else crashed before they did.
The 1984 Monaco GP didn't even make it through one lap before there was a crash. Those cars did not have air bags, power steering, anti-lock brakes, or traction control. Driving a car that old means driving one that has none of the safety features we take for granted.
The San Jose Grand Prix, a Champ Car World Series course consisting of streets in downtown San Jose, Calfornia, wasn't too popular either. San Jose is notorious for its bumpy, cracked, pothole-filled streets, and to add on to the problem, two sections of the course required cars to drive over light rail tracks at high speed; for reference, the top speed of a car in the CCWS is typically around 220-230 mph. On top of that, the course was very tight and narrow, and half the starting grid dropped out in mid-race in 2005, the first year of the SJGP.
The Toronto circuit (back on the list this year, thankfully) has what can only be described as a Scrappy Turn: after hitting a car's top speed for several seconds on one of the longest street course straightaways in the world, cars have to navigate a double-hairpin. Carnage inevitably results as two cars enter the turn and, without fail, wind up taking each other out.
The two Scrappy Levels in NASCAR are Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Don't let the long oval layouts fool you into thinking it's easy. Nine times out of ten, races at the two aforementioned tracks WILL have a big wreck taking out at least 10-15 cars, usually more...
Two factors here. One, remember that an "easy" course is easy for everybody, meaning that even a slight slipup can be incredibly costly and there is NO margin of error for making passes. Two, Daytona and Talladega are the two courses where the cars are required to have restrictor plates to limit their speed. Trouble is, this limits acceleration as well, making it easy for a driver to get caught in a wreck he'd otherwise be able to speed away from... and it just snowballs from there.
If there's a particular 'one level' of NASCAR, it was most definitely Darlington International. The track is laid out and shaped very differently at either end, thanks to obstacles that couldn't be relocated when the track was built, making car setup nearly impossible. The track surface was extremely abrasive and rough on tires, in addition to being very bumpy, which negatively affected car handling. When Darlington was built, its 1.4 mile length made it the longest NASCAR oval on the season calendar, which meant that in addition to the problems already posed by it's layout and construction it allowed the cars to reach previously unheard of speeds, making it even more dangerous. The track is called 'The Lady in Black' because its white walls are typically quite blackened by the end of the race, thanks to the racer's tires hitting the wall. Slapping one's car into the wall at Darlington was long considered a 'rite of passage' for rookie NASCAR drivers.
And then there's Laguna Seca Raceway, the bane of any racer who can't turn on a dime. Andretti Hairpin right out of the starting block, sharp 90+ degree turns all over the place, sand all around, and the corkscrew. Dear God, the corkscrew! You practically need to stop dead on your approach, as trying to go through it at anything faster than 10 mph will send you into a wall.
The corkscrew drops both of your left tires out from under you and your right front brake doesn't work anymore because your right front tire is in the air. You don't really drive through the corkscrew. You slam on the brakes and pray you don't crash.
Nürburgring Nordschleife, the world's most dangerous racetrack; there's a good reason why it's not used for F1 racing anymore (that's done on the adjoining Nürburgring GP). It's also a Marathon Level, so driver fatigue can play a role in why this course is problem (particularly the massive straight, which can be taxing on both driver and engine).
This is what the new, 3.2 mile GP course looks: Map◊
And, on the same scale, what the Nordschleife looks: Map◊
Circuit de la Sarthe, the famous race course for the 24 Hours of Le Mans; while it's roughly about half of the Nürburgring's length, the circuit is still dauntingly long enough for drivers to take on. Case in point, the infamous Mulsanne Straight, which held the record for the world's longest straightway out of any race course; the straight was incredibly taxing to both the car's engine and the driver, and to further compound problems, drivers have to slow from 240+ MPH to about 50 MPH at the end of the straight that leads to a hard right corner which leads to another long and high speed straightway, thus putting significant strain on the brakes as well. The Mulsanne was configured in the early 90s to have two chicanes during the middle part of the straight to reduce such speeds. However, it also once again taxes the brakes after reaching such high speeds.
Its sailing, not auto racing, but the longest leg of the next Volvo Ocean Race (an around-world yacht race) deserves mention. 9,707 nautical miles from Recife, Brazil to Abu Dhabi, UAE. That's about 20 straight days averaging 20 knots in a monohull yacht. The 24-hour distance record for a monohull yacht is 596.6nm (24.85 knots).