You've got all the time in the world, and you've got the right units...but you've also got to deal with these levels before you can proceed.
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has several levels loaded with Geo Symbols, crystals that can cause various effects on the battlefield, but are mostly used to multiply the enemies' stats or remove part of your HP every turn. More often than not you're forced to sacrifice one or more characters in order to fight the enemies on equal footing. Examples:
Absolute Zero: Attack is halved and Defense is raised by 50%, making it hard to deal direct damage. The area is covered by the Ally Damage 20% effect, so every turn all your characters will lose 20% of their max HP. The enemies here specializes in poisoning, thus making it unnecessary to do direct damage to you. The Geo Symbols starts quite far from your characters.
Theatre of Death: All enemies have a 300% boost in their stats. In order to reach the Geo Symbol (wich is conveniently placed in the opposite corner of the arena), you'll need to do a chain throw to make one of your characters able to get rid of the symbol. The characters used for the chain throw will eat some serious damage and propably end their turn poisoned, asleep or paralyzed due to the enemies. There's a similar situation in the Hero's Tomb area, but it's just bigger, the boost is of 600% and to deal with the crystals you'll end up surrounded by enemies (and the boss), while your throwers WILL die before the second turn).
Main Corridor 3: Absurdly sturdy and strong enemies (three of them are even using weapons they don't specialize) which have their stats boosted by a whopping 900%. Six of them use tranquilizer guns that deal decent damage and put you to sleep. Requires a bare minimum of three sacrifices before you are actually able to damage them and not get OHKOed by the lighsaber wielding ones. Oh, and after that, there's a boss waiting for you (unless you take too long, so the boss will come and help the other soldiers).
The Nightdwellers level. Despite the fact that the intro to the level is one of the funniest scenes in the game, the level itself is terrible unless you're horribly overleveled. The entire stage is covered with a GeoEffect that causes everybody, allies and enemies, to randomly teleport around the stage at the end of each turn, which makes forming any coherent strategy pretty much impossible. It is possible to destroy the symbol that causes the effect, but it has a ton of HP, and you have to rely on luck to get any strong attacker near it. And you can only hope that your healers don't get teleported next to that freaking Red Ranger...
This type of map comes back once more in the last chapter. It's not an easy map to begin with, but making every square on the map a Warp tile is just vile.
While we're on the topic of Disgaea, Disgaea 2 - Dark Hero Days has one particularly infuriating stage near the end of Axel Mode, once again due to Geo Symbol effects... Namely, a field that grows bigger and bigger with each round, meaning it will eventually cover the entire battle field. The effects it has on anyone standing on it? Invincibility. No lifting. GAME OVER. The very instant someone steps on the field, YOU IMMEDIATELY LOSE. Oh, and did we mention that the enemies are programmed to move towards it? Hope you like Level Grinding, 'cause the only way you're getting through this one is by making your entire team strong enough to kill all the enemies on the stage in one or two rounds. If you can't do that, you're basically doomed.
Disgaea 3 and 4 have the X-Dimension versions of every story map. These maps will have box and Geo Symbols arranged in a way that you must use a certain strategy to beat. They often involve having one or more characters able to move over 10 panels in a turn and a Jump stat above 80, being able to attack enemies from 6 panels away, or clear the map in one turn because a Game Over Geo Symbol will become active in the whole field at Turn 2. Other restrictions might include being unable to use humanoid characters. And on top of that, some maps will have a too convenient Geo Symbol around that is there to induce the player to destroy it in order to make the map easier. Doing so will usually trigger a Geo Chain that will make the entire map a Absolute Area, where nobody can do anything and the player is forced to reset the game. Woe you if you decide to tackle a map of those without saving first. Especially if you've benn playing for a while.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has a level near the end of the game where you have to fight dozens of dragons to make your way to the very powerful king of Goldoa. Their brute force and numbers makes up for their terrible strategy and poor luck, and they feature both physical and magic attacks. Unless you use the battle save (unavailable in Hard and less than fully honorable at any difficulty), one mistake can cost hours of work.
There's also one earlier in the game (Chapter 3-13) where you have to play as under-leveled characters fighting against a nearly endless wave of laguz. Especially egregious because Ike, the best unit in the game to which everything falls in two hits, is the enemy boss. You have to rely upon mostly brain-dead ally units to do the dirty work for you, and only one of them, (the one referred to by fans as the "3-13 Archer") actually puts up a fight. There were several joke topics on GameFAQs about how "3-13 Archer" was the best character in the game. The only redeeming factor (somewhat) by the Crowning Music of Awesomeplaying in that chapter.
Don't forget that Soren might have a Blizzard tome by now, which not only allows him to attack from half the map away and probably kill anyone who isn't being rescued, but waste a really good tome on units that you don't want to kill.
Chapter 4-3 doesn't have quite this much luck. Sure, it's probably the least bad of the Fire Emblem desert levels (which, given how bad they always seem to be, isn't saying much)... but then try playing it your first time through without a guide. You won't realize that Sothe and Volke's ultimate weapon and the Dragonfoe scroll (both of which are EXTREMELY helpful in Endgame) are buried here, much less where. You won't know to send Micaiah to the far east (which is quite counterintuitive, by the way) to get Stefan. You won't know that you need to keep the boss from being the last enemy you kill because there's a Laguz Gem (also EXTREMELY helpful in Endgame) buried at his position. And you won't know that you have to hurry to gather kills before the Black Knight shows up and annihilates all the enemies in his path. Yeah, in case you didn't get the message, that level is a MASSIVEGuide Dang It.
Chapter 1-5 in hard mode falls squarely under this for one simple reason: Jill. Also known as your "ally", who you have no control over, and who will grant you a Nonstandard Game Over if she dies...with A.I. that seems completely suicidal. And she starts a good distance ahead of your team, so even if you rush your entire army straight to her position, she'll still get a guaranteed chance to screw you over.
Chapter 4-5 in Radiant Dawn: the one with hordes of feral laguz coming at you, swamp that lowers movement rate everywhere, and a boss that would summon four more enemies every single turn, and, if you got close to him, would teleport away. At least it's a mage boss.
Chapter 23 of Path of Radiance and chapter 3-11 of Radiant Dawn. Pitfall traps and enemy ballistae to take out your fliers. The latter is made at least marginally more palatable by the fact that dragon-riders no longer count as fliers for the purpose of determining weaknesses, but is turned back around by the many enemies using Shine Barriers to block the only path available to ground-bound units (other than being carried over by a flier) for a number of turns. You know, ground-bound units like Ike, who has to capture the boss's position to end the chapter?
Any Fog of War chapter in any game is met with groans of disgust, but "Battle Before Dawn" in Blazing Sword has a reputation for being particularly sucktastic, especially in hard mode. To elaborate: there are three different AI allies whom you need to rescue, and they are in the bottom left, center, and right. One is the prince, who at least has the sense to hide and use Elixirs. The other two are Nino the wizard, who will get killed by any physical attack and Jaffar, who starts surrounded by enemy forces and can get killed by a couple bad rolls. To top it all off, the boss will move to get you and has the long-range Bolting tome, which will kill weakened units or the aforementioned Nino and the prince. Even worse, there are two treasure rooms, each one holding absolutely fabulous treasure (one has a consumable item that permanently increases a unit's movement range by one, and another is an equippable item that removes a flying unit's crippling arrow weakness). However, the enemy starts much closer to those treasure rooms, and deploys their own thieves to steal the treasure for themselves. So, in addition to needing to defend all three Non Player Characters, you also have to fight flawlessly in order to get to the thieves (who will have stolen the treasures before you get there) and kill them to get the treasures before they escape off the map.
To add an extra grain of salt into the wounds, in Hector's mode, the enemies sent to kill Jaffar all have Swordreavers (and some have Swordslayers, just for an extra "fuck you" to the gamer) which reverse the weapon triangle, putting Jaffar into a massive disadvantage at the beginning. Sometimes, you just have to restart because the game wanted him dead. Hope you got a flying unit/paladin at the ready! Nino at least can be recruited and sent to safety fast since you usually reach for her after clearing the path towards her with relative ease, but doing the same with Jaffar is pure torture.
Also, regarding the prince and his Elixirs; he will not use them unless his health is below 50%. When he has 20 HP to start with. In other words, if a Fighter attacks him and only does, say 6 damage, it would be WORSE than if it nearly killed him, because he won't heal the damage back! if you don't have a healer with a Physic staff handy and relatively close, prepare to get shit-scared every time the little guy takes a hit.
The Sword of Seals has one late in the game. Chapter 21: The Sword Of Seals. Let's see, we've got reinforcements arriving in groups of four, and as many as five of these groups arrive on certain turns early on. Most of these are Dragon Riders/Dragonlords, one of the toughest classes out there. It's also a really big level. Then once you get close to the boss, you've got another really powerful enemy character showing up, one that all indications thus far have shown might be recruitable. He isn't. He won't attack you, mercifully, but he and his units will get in your way if you decide not to engage them in battle. Luckily, reports that you have to leave him alive to get to the Gaiden Level aren't true. Then there's a boss whose HP breaks the usual cap and who also has insane strength and defense. Here's hoping your mages have either been loaded with Angelic Robes (which you can actually buy in the secret store in this game) or have developed high dodge rates. Oh, and don't bother staying near the start and waiting for the waves of reinforcements to come to you, or else you'll have trouble beating the level in 30 turns, which is required to get the Gaiden level—and remember, you need to get every Gaiden level to unlock the Perfect Run Final Boss.
On that note, Chapter 16, Retaking the Capital. There's a rather powerful enemy General who must be kept alive in order to unlock the Gaiden level. I recommend putting him to sleep to get the bulk of your forces past him and leaving one unit with high HP and dodge, stripped of their weapons and packing an Elixir or two, in his range to keep him busy. Also, mages/sages and bishops with Bolting/Purge.
Any time there's a desert level in a Fire Emblem game, you know trouble is headed your way, because your movement on the desert is mega-slow. Paladins normally move 8 spaces, but on deserts it's 2 spaces. Magicians (Non-mounted of course—hope you trained some. And no, this doesn't include the Spoony Bard.) aren't affected by this, and neither are fliers, which the enemy army typically has a whole lot of. The Sword of Seals makes it worse by forcing you to use Sophia—a level ONE Shaman who dies in one shot from just about everything—in this desert level, which just so happens to include Fog of War. And you need to keep her alive AND pass the level in 25 turns or you won't get the Bonus Level, which is needed for getting to the proper end of the game. Now, desert levels typically hide items in the sand. You find them by putting a Thief or high-luck-stat unit on the space where the item is (just barely evades Guide Dang It by putting the items near bones on the map). Going back to The Sword of Seals, you have to protect Sophia in Fog of War, worry about the time limit AND worry about finding all the items... AND one final item that only Sophia can find! Did I mention the Bishop with a Sleep spell who can freeze Sophia and make her helpless to just about anything?
As a level pretty much copied from that one, Living Legend from the Rekka no Ken prequel isn't much better. While it doesn't have Fog of War (thank Elimine, you have the two bosses inspired by those in the Seals level, and one of them has a very valuable Guiding Ring (promotion item for magical units). Problem is, the character you're supposed to rescue (Pent the Mage General) is very badass, but being a high-level magic unit he moves around the map with lots of speed while trying to protect himself.. and if you can't reach for that specific boss and yoink the Guiding Ring with your best Thief, Pent will kill the boss before you can obtain the Ring. (AUUUUGH.) And if your flier isn't overleveled enough to reach for Pent in time, s/he WILL get shot down because the level includes several archers, who have high chances to crit on them. Really, Pent is an awesome character in-story and in-stats, but in this particular level he can completely trash your strategies.
Not to mention that Pent can also screw you out of that chapter's sidequest, the requirement for it being that your party has to collectively gain 700 EXP during the map. That's hard to do when he's killing all the enemies! Oh, and that bit about there not being Fog of War? That only applies on Normal mode; on Hard mode, that small blessing is taken away.
C15 of Path of Radiance. Not only do you have a desert that slows down everyone except mages, flying units, and thieves; the map is full of Laguz shapeshifters, who are among the most powerful units in the game when transformed...but unable to attack when not transformed. This would be a blessing if not for the fact that you're rewarded for not killing them, even though they're making every effort to kill you. Add in that on top of the usual hidden treasures, there's also a hidden unit that can only be recruited by sending one of two units to a specific square, and if you send any other unit to that square first, he'll leave... (though at least you'll still get the Vague Katti if you send the wrong unit there.) If you don't mind forgoing the bonus experience for sparing the enemies, though, it's actually a pretty good place to level units up, both because the laguz give out just as much experience when they're not transformed as they do when they are and because the boss is immobile and lacks a ranged attack, allowing anyone with a ranged attack to grind for experience off of him without fear of counterattack. And given that Chapter 14 is a Fog of War chapter and Chapter 17 is, well, see below, this could also qualify as a Breather Level.
C11 in New Mystery of the Emblem. A big desert map filled with Wyverns. Wanna know what's so bad about Wyverns? Well, you know how desert maps severly lower the movememt of just about all your units? Well, immagine if the enemy had a unit that not only ignored the penalty, but had a larger movement range than anything on your side AND hit like a, well, dragon to boot? Yep, that's Wyverns, and they're not even bosses, they're the map's basic Mooks! Oh, and they're fast enough to avoid being doubled by most of your party, and lord have mercy if they actually double you... And on Lunatic Mode, their breath has increaced range.
Chapter 17 in Path of Radiance. First off, it's a four-part chapter with four different mission objectives—the first part is a Rout map, the second is a Seize, the third is a Survive (10 turns), and the last is a Defeat Boss. Much of it takes place in a swamp, which gives out even heftier movement penalties than a desert and only your fliers, rather than both fliers and magic-users like in the desert, are unhindered. The first part is relatively easy—not too much of the swampy terrain, and aside from one promoted unit with a Killer weapon, there's nothing too tough. Part two is where the swamp starts, but any unit can take the mission objective and it's not actually at the opposite end of the map (the short way goes through a lot of swamp, prompting you to take the long way around), so with a strong flier or two you can get through it quickly. Then things start getting really challenging. In between part 2 and part 3, Ike encounters an NPC in distress, and rescues her—which means that for the remainder of the chapter, he's permanently locked to having a rescued unit, cutting your speed and skill in half. (Better hope he's damn close to level 20, because he won't be doing much fighting anymore and he automatically promotes following the chapter.) Finally, part 4 throws a mage with a long-distance tome at you near the starting position, with trees protecting him from your units as he's able to get close enough (fliers can go after him, of course, as can an archer with a longbow). And once you go past a certain line—a line that you'd have to send someone over very early if you want to take out the mage with the Meteor tome? Four allied NPCs show up halfway across the map from your starting position and in the midst of the enemies' starting formation, one of whom is powerful enough to kill just about everything—and rob you of all of their dropped items—while another one is completely defenseless and will likely get killed if not rescued quickly. Your best bet to keep them from doing too much damage is to rescue all four of them as well...leaving you with five units who are going to be more or less useless in combat.
It doubles as a Marathon Level. To add to your worries, if you can get past all of the previously mentioned challenges, there's still the matter of running out of weapons and healing items.
Thracia 776 is renowned for being Nintendo Hard, and there are many different levels in this game that would easily qualify as That One Level in normal Fire Emblem games, but the one level that takes the cake is Chapter 22. Lots of high-leveled enemies that all have a boosted 30% accuracy and avoid thanks to a particular character on the map, status-inflicting staff users (in this game, long-range staffs can affect anyone on the map, and bad statuses do not wear off over time) and lots of ballistas that are subject to the same accuracy/avoid boost that love to snipe your weaker characters off. Although it is very easy to simply cop out and use a Warp Staff to kill the boss and seize the castle on the first turn, one of the bosses, who has an army of very powerful soldiers protecting him, gives a very nice sword to someone if you have her talk to him. So, if you want that sword, or if you ran out of Warp Staves... godspeed, soldier.
Chapter 17 on the east path (17A) will make you feel like you had gone with Honor Before Reason and wish you had been sneaky. The particular character in question is also in this chapter, and there's a bunch of Shooters and Meteo mages around the castle to keep you from getting in quickly enough. What's that? You'll take your time and avoid the distance bastards until you wipe out everything else? No you will not, you will get torn up by Mage Knights and Poison spell Dark Mages up the wazoo. Poison itself is a nasty status effect here, averting Useless Useful Spell; it actually deals passable damage on each turn....or rather it would be JUST that if it didn't last indefinitely and the means for getting rid of it wasn't overly limited. Worse, the bastards with the poison spell can teleport themselves with Rewarp Wands, and thanks to the hyper accuracy, they will hit and poison you even if you strike first, and no you will not One-Hit Kill them unless you have a seriously overleveled character, and the hyper avoid makes it quite possible that a second character will have to attack and risk being counterattacked and poisoned. It's so bad that MageKnight404 got upset having to deal with it and was relieved when the character finally left, and he has experienced Chapter 22.
And those chapters actually pale in comparison to Chapter 24x. The whole chapter consists of a never ending swarm of berserkers with ridiculous crit rates and the mentioned Dark Mages with the stupid Poison-inflicting tomes. If that weren't bad enough, the map is full of invisible trap tiles that warp any unit unlucky enough to cross it to an inescapable room full of said enemies and the only way to get them out is to use a Rescue Staff to bring them to the staff's user... The problem is that particular staff only has three charges and there only 2-3 of them in the entire game, and you've likely used them up at this point and/or are saving them for the final chapter. And to make things worse, this is an escape chapter meaning your troops has to make it to the exit and leave before your Lord can, otherwise any units left behind will automatically be captured. And since 24x is AFTER the chapter you are able to break your captured units out of prison (Chpt 21x), anyone abandoned/captured here will be considered capital-D Dead at this point.
Even getting access to the chapter is a pain, due to the sheer amount of luck involved. In the previous chapter, you have to rescue children being pursued by those Dark Mages and carry the right child to a door who will unlock it, revealing a room with a chest that has the item required to unlock Chapter 24x, the problem with this task is that carrying another unit(even a child) cuts the unit's stats in half making attacking enemies very risky, the child who can unlock that door is totally random, this chapter is full of chapter-lasting Standard Status Effects, and the children are far away from that room and you have to fight those Dark Mages for them. If one of them captures/kills the child you need, you are screwed.
And going thru all this trouble gets you a few useless (at this point) items and the Jeigan you lost earlier. Which means the only reason to even go there is if the player is doing a AAA or SSS Ranked Game.note Oh, and to avert the MASSIVE Player Punch of seeing the Jeigan brainwashed into becoming one of the main enemies and having to kill her.
ANY "Defend" mission if you actually defend, or attack in the wrong place, or send in the wrong units, or send in the wrong level units... Any defend mission.
Not all of them. Chapter 2-E in Radiant Dawn may be a Defend mission, but it is also a Best Level Ever.
Chapter 2 in Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu can give you a lot of headaches. Namely, the condition of keeping those three NPC knights alive if you want the very valious Knight Ring (it lets foot units move again after attacking, VERY useful for dancers!). And no, you can't get it again in the second half. Thing is, these NPC's have such low AI that they tend to attack the enemy on sight and then get themselves killed, so you'll find yourself trying to reach for them to heal them WAY too many times to even count.
A close second is the final part of the last chapter in which you not only have to withstand a barrage of enemies, a powerful boss with a Holy Weapon and three Falcon Knights with Awareness and the Critical Skill but you also have to hurry over to Velthomer to take out Manfloy so you can get Julia back on your side!
And you NEED her back on your side, because without her the Final Boss is pretty much impossible, since he has an (un)holy weapon that not only jacks his stats, but halves the attack power of anyone attacking him, and that's before the boss's defense is even factored. In other words, even your most powerful units will be lucky to do more than sneeze on him. The only way to negate this is with the holy light tome Narga, which can only be wielded by, you guessed it, Julia. Oh, and he has a long-range tome that lets him snipe your units from afar to boot, making even approaching him a risky proposition. So you need to hurry and kill Manfloy, while avoiding killing Julia, hurry Celice back across the fucking map to snap her out of, schlep Julia right back across the map to get the tome, and then try to get to Julius without him sniping off your weaker units.
The Sacred Stones is rather easy overall, even without the Level Grinding you can do in the Tower of Valni. One level, however, is pure torture: Fluorspar's Oath in Ephraim's route. The level is set up so that you have to corkscrew your units around a winding river. You could use your 2 Pegasus Knights or your Wyvern Knight to fly a few units across to save some time, but then they get put in the range of Archers and Selena's long-range and very powerful Bolting tome. Fine, use Colm and (If you promoted him to pirate) Ross to rescue a few units across. Psyche! Even on water, Ross is really damn slow when carrying someone, and will get owned by the sword-wielding cavaliers, the archers, and/or Selena's lightning. Also, you have to reach two towns before the Pirates and Brigands get it. Yeah.
Chapter 11, Phantom Ship on Ephraim's route, if you didn't grind in the Tower of Valni, is a nightmare on Hard Mode. You have to fight your way through a ship full of enemies to get to L'Arachel before she's stupidly killed because she's a noncombatant at this point, while her bodyguard Dozla is running off attempting (and mostly failing) to hit enemies with his huge Battle Axe. You could send your fliers to rescue her, but the seas around you are swarming with flying enemies, including flying spell-casters that can nuke the otherwise hardy flier Cormag. And at this point, there is nobody in your army big enough to rescue Dozla.
Heck, all of Ephraim's route. In between the aforementioned "Phantom Ship" and "Fluorspar's Oath" is "Landing at Taizel", a giant level which you get thrust into immediately after "Phantom Ship" (no chance to level-grind) and has enemies all over the place. Also, in order to recruit Marisa, you have to use the newly-recruited Ewan, who has a movement range of 4 and gets owned in one hit by everything because he's a Trainee-class unit and a Squishy Wizard at that. The only way to properly make this recruitment is to lure her in with another unit, preferably unarmed because anything strong enough to stand up to her criticals would probably one-shot her due to her low HP. This requires careful planning to pick off any other enemies that are even remotely close.
And after those three, there's "Father and Son", which does hard the old-fashioned way: by being gigantic and filled with enemy reinforcements as well as chests that must be opened. And we're not counting the two Druids with really, really effective Berserk staves, that are almost guaranteed to make units with low Resistence go Ax-Crazy and attack whoever's on their reach— even those on your own side. And God forbid they crit one of your own party members. Ewwww, go stock on Restore staves and keep your staff-using units safe, you WILL need them.
The game throws an early That One Level very early on at the Adlas Plains, when Eirika is still the default main character. Before the level starts, the level boss Novala decides to taunt Eirika by teleporting three random, defenseless civilians into the map, and putting them right near a den of giant spiders, which turns it into a Timed Mission as letting all of the civilians die leads to a Nonstandard Game Over. (And losing one of them will screw you over getting an Orion's Bolt, which is needed to promote archers, for free). Between the NPCs and the spiders is a fairly strong force of Grado soldiers (which can inflict some very painful damage on your still-squishy units). And the whole thing is covered by Fog of War. It's basically a combination of almost every single Scrappy Mechanic in the series.
Not helping at all is the enemy outnumbering you a lot more than in the previous levels and being spread out all over; if anyone but Seth goes out on their own (like Vanessa the pegasus knight trying to get the civilians out of spider range...) they WILL get ganged up on and most likely die. This level is one of the best arguments the "It's OK to use Seth" camp has in its arsenal early on. And even with this, it won't be cakewalk to have him reach for the boss: with the Fog of War around and how Novala is actually in an upper corner of the map, poor Seth will get ganged-up and die if you aren't careful.
And then there's Scorched Sand. Half of the level is made up of desert tiles, which make any non-flying mounted unit essentially useless and any armored unit even MORE so. And as for all other units, save for magic ones they get slowed down substantially, making the level just drag on for hours on end. Good thing this map offers obscenely good items to break up the monotony. Want to get them? Better check the strategy guide! And at the end of it all, you face That One Boss, who is way too likely to kill off even your best units. And there's actually two bosses. Which of them was meant when they were referred to as That One Boss? Why, both of them.
Except that only Caellach qualifies as That One Boss. If you strip Valter of his Fili shield with either Rennac or Colm (and yoink them away in time), he shouldn't be that hard to defeat with a Dragonspear!Ephraim, a Wyrmslayer!Eirika, or a well-trained bow user. It's not the same with Caellach even if you use the same trick to get his Iron Rune, since he's got a Tomahawk (basically, your Hand Axe on steroids) and thus he can pack the punch better than Valter does with his Spear.
Prologue 8 and Chapter 6X of FE12. Prologue 8 has Katrina as the boss, and due to the way resistance works in this game, her attacks will do tremendous amounts of damage to you, if they don't just outright kill you. She, unlike many early-game bosses, can and will move to attack people in range. Chapter 6X is a small map filled to the brim with Fighters, and on top of that there's Caesar and Radd, who you actually have to keep alive so that they'll join you later. However, they won't hesitate to attack your best units and die trying. At least Radd is fast enough to avoid being hit twice.
Chapter 19 is pretty annoying too, with its long streams of brutally tough reinforcements. (Which on Lunatic Mode all carry uber forged weapons) Not only that, but there's four characters you have to recruit, and they form a chain (the first recruits the second, the second recruits the third and so on), meaning they all have to treck across the map. Did I mention they all have crap stats and die in a few hits to the reinforcements?
Some of the Game Mods have their own difficult chapters:
Chapter 6 in FE Girls, a very elaborate hack of Sacred Stones. Similar to its real-game counterpart, but there's no fog, no giant spiders, and you only have to survive for 12 turns. However, you still have to defend the helpless citizens, who are now stranded on a pier and the first one will die on the third turn if you aren't going full tilt towards them. The enemies will flood this area, too, citizens or no. On top of this, ZEPHIEL of all people is here, and, starting on the eighth turn, HE MOVES! He'll reach the island with the pier, too, so if you stopped after rescuing the citizens, thinking you're safe, you're DEAD wrong. You actually have to start retreating, citizens in tow, unless you want to see the stragglers get slaughtered where they stand. Good lord.
Chapter 13 somehow manages to be even worse than Chapter 13-Ephraim in regular FE8. There's three different bosses, one of them actually appears behind you and will start chasing you, and the map is very large. And you get two new characters, one of which is a Dancer and the other one, while capable of fighting, is very hard to keep alive with all the enemies around. While one of the bosses can be swayed to your side, said boss is very aggressive, carries a Bolting tome, and moves. It's not unlikely to see her kill Lyn, the very person who recruits her. She's also the Lord. And you know what that means...
Take the original Scorched Sand, make it larger, thrust not one, but twoSquishy Wizards into the party and you have Chapter 15. Also, there are level 21 and higher enemies.
Chapter 20 of The Last Promise, a very elaborate hack of FE 7, is just plain evil, thanks to the Wyvern Riders and Wyvern Lords. They'll swarm your position from the get-go, and you'll need to contain them quickly before they overwhelm you, which is far easier said than done. You get three new characters, two of whom are painfully underleveled and quite fragile (the third is a powerful Paladin, and you'll need him to survive). On top of that, the map is huge, forcing your army through a narrow path full of forest tiles which slow your movement speed down, and it's filled with tough enemies which can pose a serious threat to you. Oh, and the boss is painful too, a level 10 Wyvern Lord with good stats and a very powerful Sylmeria lance. His weakness to arrows doesn't help much - you only have one bow user at this point, he's not stellar, and the boss is sitting on a gate which helps him dodge most of your attacks.
Being a Fire Emblem game in all but name, Tear Ring Saga has its fair share.
The first, and by far the most annoying, is Map 16: Dark Beasts. A huge map already filled with Opuses to begin with, things rapidly go From Bad to Worse. Opuses can multiply. Let that sink in: Every. Single. Enemy. On. The. Map can potentially become two. Oh, and the boss is a Mook Maker. That's a lot of enemies. They're weak and fragile, but have high speed due to their 'weapon' (actually themself) having no weight, so they dodge often and are hard to double. As the map progresses, the enemy count can easily reach the seventies and beyond. So how do you win? Well, there's the thing: even if you somehow manage to kill everything (which will probably take about three hours), the chapter won't end. Turns out the actual victory condition is to open all the chests. Most of which are either in the middle of a swamp that slows you down and saps your HP, and hidden behind invisible pathsthrough walls. Oh, and only two characters on your team can actually open chests, and only one of them is forced into the chapter! You'll need to set aside a lot of free time just to get through this monstrosity.
While more rewarding in the long run, going the B route of Chapter 25 and 26 is an excersise in patience. First, in Map 25, you have to sieze the lower castle. The one that happens to be at the edge of a desert. It's also guarded by the Condor Squad, a.k.a That OneWolfpack Boss, four Dragon Knights who get such a big support bonus from eachother they each have a base critical rate of 50%at minumum. Even worse, if you want to recruit the single most Guide Dang It-y character in the game, you need to defeat one of the squad with a specific one of your characters. Naturally, he just happens to be in the class affected by the desert the worst. If you get through that, you are "rewarded" with Chapter 26b, which involves, among other things:
Enemy Mooks who can steal your weapons permenantly if they so much as scratch you.
Enemy crossbowmen sniping you from the other side of a locked room you can't even think about opening until the damage is long since done.
Hostages to rescue that turn out to be bandits Disguised in Drag. More of a mild annoyaance than anything, but it still seems like a dick move considering the rest of the crap the chapter puts you through.
One of your troops being forced to fight you due to an I Have Your Wife ploy. And unlike FE 3's Abel, the enemy was smart enough to dress him in their colours. This means he looks exactly like a normal enemy Mook, and there's no way to tell which one he is. Did I mention that to get him back, you need to rescue his fiance (who's very weak and underleveled) from a cell, get her back to him. And if you forget which of the Mooks is actualy him, she's going to get splattered.
A very powerful Swordmaster guarding the throne room, and a boss with a weapon with 80% Critical!!
Then there's Chapter 34: Total War. All that needs to be said is it has reinforcements that spawn early, very close to you, and never stop coming. And its boss is pretty much That One Boss too.
The chapter right after isn't exactly a breather either. You have to take down Julius, a Dragon Knight boss with massive stats and a powerful lance that drains HP. It gets a little easier on the third turn, when a bunch of NPC rebels pour out of the arena. Good news: Julius will probably break his lance fighting them. Bad news: They have the Mug skill, which lowers the Hit and Evasion off all units within three spaces of them, including yours! This makes taking down Julius even harder than it should be. Thanks for the "help".
Fire Emblem Awakening is not without its own brutal chapters. Chapter 17 splits up your party and has you fighting through a fort. This is the part of the game where, on higher difficulties, every single enemy is carrying around a forged weapon, too. The boss has a Fortify staff that she will use if the enemies around her get so much as a scratch. Later in the chapter, you appear to get NPC reinforcements... that are then swayed to the enemy side. It can be a dick move if you're not expecting it.
And the very next chapter is even worse! There's little room to maneuver, and the floor starts giving out more and more as the chapter progresses. Meaning that you'll take damage if you're on it. Oh, and there are chests here, and if you don't get to them before the floor gives way, they're Lost Forever.
Among the Paralogue chapters, there's the one where you can recruit Severa, a female mercenary and daughter to one of your playable characters. Unlike most characters who can be recruited throughout the series, she doesn't immediately join your side when you talk to her, you have to escort her through the fortress which is heavily armed with enemies who can so much as swat her like a fly. What's worse is that her AI has the common sense of a blind ostrich, and will outright turn over to the enemy side if the NPC she has to talk to is accidentally killed.
The final chapter can be really difficult as well if your trying for a no death run. It may not look like it at first but the fact that Grima summons four enemies each turn really makes things tricky, and they often come packed with Killer weapons. Especially since the battlefield basically has no obstructions, allowing the enemies to flank you and pick off your slower units. And because of Grima's Dragonskin ability and ridiculously high health, he will most likely take a few turns to take down unless if you attack him with Chrom's Exalted Falchion, which by that point a good number of your army will most likely be killed.
The "Kanbei's Error?" mission of the original Advance Wars. The normal Campaign version of it is quite easy, with the biggest challenge being if you're trying to unlock an optional series of missions that requires you to finish this mission and the two previous in a certain number of turns (and even that's not too hard). The Advance Campaign version, though, cranks the difficulty way, way up, making it borderline impossible to win without a day-by-day guide or lots of trial and error.
Unless you have a grasp on the Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors, any naval-based Drake mission can be really frustrating. And even some of the land ones; in "Captain Drake", Andy has to capture X amount of cities before Drake does. Except Drake has more units than you to start with. Oh, and he already has infantry on the center island. And you have to make infantry from factories. And you have only one lander and no way to make more. And Drake has a submarine. And... You know what? Let's just say Drake is one tough son of a bitch to beat.
Crystal Calamity is the scrappiest of many teeth gnashing missions. Your first objective in the level is to fire off all nine Silos in the level whilst operating under a real time timer in an otherwise turn based game. The Timed Mission is one thing, but if the enemy secures even ONE Silo, you lose. What's worse than that is that if you spend too much time fighting and do too much damage to the enemy forces you charge their special moves, leading to the very definite possibility of an enemy tag break that grants Black Hole two turns for each unit meaning they'll almost certainly reach at least one silo. Talk about Fake Difficulty. Plus on Normal Campaign, Black Hole could send the Black Bomb toward red team and screw you over that wayif you didn't cheap out a Day 1 T-Copter. And it doesn't even end there, as there's a second objective once the first one is done, and if you mess up there, you have to repeat the whole thing again. The level is so bad that Totally Flaked mocked it mercilessly.
Pincer Strike. So many units, so many indirects, so much forest, so much fog, so much possibility of a Tag Break involving Drake, whose Super CO power does 2 damage to all your units and cuts their fuel in half. Not good for you. You're mostly better off barely bothering to tackle the enemy's naval force, believe it or not.
Surrounded, especially the Hard version. It's made even worse that you don't automatically win by routing the enemy force, and only win by capturing the towers with your ever so slow Infantry, so Kindle looks like a big time cutscene abuser.
Verdant Hills. The AI just loves to Tag Break ending on Javier's turn. Since Javier ensures control of at least one tower, he will have so much defense that he pretty much prevents you from retaliating against your reduced control over the choke-point. The only "easy" way to win: ignore the top half of the map, which Javier and Jess will swarm over, and sneak a Mech to take the HQ once all of their units have left. Of course, this will destroy your Technique score. Getting an S Rank on this level will cause baldness.
Ring of Fire has difficulty dissonance on its fronts. How does the top front manage to be so very difficult but the bottom one which is the one that matters manage to be so very easy?
Neverending War on Hard Campaign involves having the map flooded with enemy Neotanks while you can't deploy anything better than a normal Tank. Some suggest to get the airport, but that's still a dragged out war. And the 100 Speed limit is how many Days again?
Dark Ambition is a boring piece of garbage thanks to Olaf's Winter Fury power that makes pushing through the defense of the HQ so annoying. In fact, if it weren't for that Stealth you get, you probably would lose thanks to the Megatank. (Yeah, what were you thinking, Allied Nations? You regarded the reverse engineering possibility and they actually would be causing you to lose if they actually had a Stealth of their own.)
Sunrise in Days of Ruin also qualifies. The Nest provides explosive bombs to rip apart your units at the most inconvenient times, infinite free units which can whatever Caulder damn well pleases, and lasers covering rough terrain to keep your forces spread thin and repeatedly suffer the abuse. And it's made worse that Caulder, with daily healing and ridiculous combat boosts to anything near enough his unit or just his unit itself, makes Sturm look like a Joke Character. Watch as a Duster with him loaded effortlessly destroys your Fighter. It's amazing how the level has a consistent Day-To-Day guide on YouTube that makes it so easy to beat. Oh, and here's the best part: you have to repeat the level 10 times to get a certain medal.
Said Day-To-Day guide is pretty much the only way to complete it, and even then only if Caulder feels like following it. For instance, if he uses a Fighter instead of a Duster, you're screwed because he's only able to target your precious bombers instead of being distracted by other units. Also, said guide completes the mission in around 10 days at most. If you don't win by Day 13, Caulder pretty much tells you to give up. Now that's nothing uncommon for video game villains, but unlike most others, he's not bluffing. It's possible to beat it after 13 days, but good luck getting a half-decent rank.
"A Hero's Farewell" in Days of Ruin. The sea throws a Battleship and an Aircraft Carrier at you and the rough seas and lack of your own predeployed Battleship keeps you from doing much about either one quickly enough to avoid letting your Cruiser get shot, and if you don't kill the Battleship in one turn, your Submarine will inevitably get hit by the enemy Cruiser. The Aircraft Carrier, meanwhile, sends out Seaplanes. As for the land front, you're not going far quickly because of a terrain-covered Rocket Launcher, which allows Forsythe to build up.
The best part: if you go into the Tactics Room, instead of Lin, Forsythe himself tells you how to go about the mission. He's an Anti-Villain, yes, but still... the enemy CO takes pity on you!
Before that, "Greyfield Strikes"... you. Greyfield, in order to show who's in charge, randomly shuts down one of your units every third day. There's a fairly reliable day-by-day guide out there... but if Greyfield decides to call out any but one of three units, it falls apart.
"Waylon Flies Again" is considered one of the hardest non-boss missions in the entire series. You start off with NO factories or airfields - which your opponent DOES have - while the enemy has a HUGE airforce ready to attack. The AI has an inadequate amount of anti air only to slow them down while your one Anti-Air in the center - and, inevitably, your infantry surrounding the center - get bombed to Hell. And if the AI loses all its units, you lose. The one redeeming factor is Will's Shut Up, Hannibal! to Waylon on the 2nd or 3rd day, his second Crowning Moment of Awesome in the game.
What's that? Look for a day-by-day guide? Thanks to how Waylon's programmed in this stage, there aren't any. Waylon's actions are completely random, making a day-by-day guide impossible to consistently follow; even the best FAQ can only plot his actions up to about Day 4 before they have to give up.
Some people consider "A Hero's Farewell" more of a Best Level Ever, but just about EVERYONE hates "Lin's Gambit", a Fog of WarTimed Mission where Greyfield's units make advancing quickly extremely frustrating. To top it off, if you're not good with naval combat, you're not going to do well in this mission. At all.
Several non-campaign maps are an absolute terror. Comb Map casts you as a small force away from your own base, with powerful enemies bearing down on that base from all sides. It's guaranteed to be one of your longest missions ever.
Jay Islands is a four-way marine battle of attrition in Fog of War where you're constantly taking one step forward and two steps back. There doesn't appear to be any comprehensive day-to-day guide for Jay Islands online, probably because winning it takes equal parts patience and blind luck.
Wedding Ring is a copter-and-infantry focused race to capture as many cities as possible where the AI will punish you severely for the slightest misstep. It's fairly easy if you think outside the box and go right for the enemy HQ, though — trying to actually fight the AI is just a losing proposition.
Metro Map. The blue team not only starts with a property advantage, but get to work with a nasty forest clump that is even more bothersome to the player. It desperately needs a Day-To-Day guide, but the sole one available is for the high score that requires too much luck, even with Save Scumming.
Triangle Lake is another pretty hard Trial map despite being the first one unlocked through the campaign. The enemy outnumbers you two to one and has several indirect units, including an Anti-Tank parked on the HQ. While you do control the only factory on the map, it still requires a lot of strategizing in order to get a good score.
Time Map. It's a very small map and, similar to "Waylon Flies Again" above, the actions of the three AI players are totally random, and two of them have armies consisting solely of TEN WAR TANKS. The idea is to weaken them with constant barrages from missile silos, but there's no guarantee that the third AI won't attack you with them (because their army, like yours, is ten Mechs). Not only this, but if you want a high score, you can't just sit back and let the armies destroy each other because that causes the Power score to tank. There's also no comprehensive guide to this one, due to its highly random nature.
Any map with Sturm in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is a qualifier, because you're shoehorned into battle against a Game Breaker. All of his units get a 20% bonus to offense AND defense and are unimpaired by all terrain, and his Super CO Power (Meteor Strike) will severely damage a patch of your best units and throw another substantial boost.
Also on that note, "Sinking Feeling": Sinking 9 battleships in 17 days is tough on its own, but your units will spend half that time just getting within firing range, meaning that one mistake can doom you and reinforcements will need to be built a few days before you actually need them. Lash will throw Bombers at you fairly regularly, so you need to be extremely careful with positioning your Artillery and Rockets to keep them alive, while being equally cautious with your Anti-Air so they're still strong enough to kill Bombers. To make matters worse, you also need to send a unit to the other side of the map if you want to unlock the Neotanks mission for Green Earth.
"Great Sea Battle", the last mission in the Green Earth campaign, will leave experienced players picking their teeth out of the gutter. Hawke has access to a factory, i.e. 3 free units per turn, while you're stuck with 3 meager bases. While you're still capturing cities and churning out your first Tank or Bomber, Hawke will be sending a few dozen units towards you, all while he gets covering fire from Cannons. Since you're managing 3 armies in this mission, you also have to move fast with your Green Earth troops to keep Orange Star from being overrun.
This map would be much easier if not for Hawke's Super CO Power: He drains 2 health from all your units and heals all his by 2. That enemy you thought was almost dead? Nope, it's good to go. This forces you to be extremely cautious with your units and use what would normally be considered overkill, since they'll have to be able to sponge Hawke's attacks even after he uses his CO power.
The CO select somehow makes the mission harder: You get to pick all 3 Commanding Officers in the battle, but Sami and Drake are next to useless, and Jess and Andy aren't very useful either, not that the map layout lets you know. Players who don't like Max or Eagle are out of luck.
Yellow Comet is basically dead weight in this mission: They start with a tiny base, take forever to capture the nearby Airport since it's protected by a Minicannon, and are far away from the rest of the fighting. It doesn't help that none of their COs are a good fit: Sonja doesn't help when there's no Fog of War, Sensei isn't much use since Infantry won't encounter much resistance and B Copters will get thrashed by Hawke's Cruisers, and Kanbei's just impractical due to the low number of cities available. The only way to get some use out of them, cutting along the side of the map and destroying the pipe seam with Rockets, will complete the mission but result in a very low score.
Probably the biggest That One Level of all in Black Hole Rising though is Liberation: Hard Campaign. Even though it's only mission 8, even though you're facing Flak. Having a factory with Hard Campaign production orders on such a small map is just brutal.
Bissum Desert (Campaign 36) in Game Boy Wars 3, although potentially managing healthy difficulty, may give players grief even if they do manage to get past the Do Well, But Not Perfect issues of the Campaign Mode in general. The gist is that the game's overly Glass Cannon mechanics generally work in White Moon's favor on this map. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, even though the mechanics generally favor the player in plenty of maps in Campaign. However, the later part of the map does have its annoyance factor.
To elaborate on the difficulty of the map, it starts with White Moon having a bunch of planes deployed, among them 2 Interceptors, which can snipe your air units and can be very hard to get at safely on Day 2. The simple solution would be to not send out your air units right away, but navy is unavailable and since White Moon also has a bunch of tough land units predeployed to the east, you will need air units to help handle those buggers. This isn't so bad on its own, you just need to use any Interceptor units you have to hammer the enemy's, and set up an anti-air perimeter to keep your units safe from flanking. However, as soon as you try storming White Moon's HQ, things get truly irksome as you have to deal with crossing a most likely Artillery-covered area with a lot of Desert terrain—yes, you read right, not the terrain template you would know in Dual Strike or Days of Ruin, but terrain tiles that are similar to the Desert terrain in Fire Emblem. And unlike the Plains and Forests and stuff like that (which in this game actually have some Movement Costs at 1.5), the Desert gives off painfully high Movement Costs to the point where your land units being able to move more than one space at a time is the only reason why it's not a surprise that they're far less likely to be slaughtered than Cuan, Ethelin, and their group of Lenster Lance Knights in Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu.
Their Finest Hour in Battalion Wars 2. Due to the shaky controls of your options in the Airbase defense, you have to contend with either potentially jumping out of the MG Tower without warning and not necessarily knowing how to get back into it, or if you switch to either air unit, you have to keep track of how you handle the Wiimote or else you might crash into something. Either way, the starting part is annoying. Oh, but the worst is yet to come: there are AA units all over the place, the Airbase you spend the whole time trying to capture will produce Fighters and Gunships that are already on top of you to be Demonic Spidersbefore Pierce or A-Qira mention that they have been sent out, and all you get to fight them with is the Fighters, which, of course, have to contend with the AA units even if you do overcome the faulty controls. It's no wonder the time limit for a Perfect S Rank is 16 minutes.
In the first game, X-Day. How many times did you die on that beachhead? Or right after that beachhead? Or...
There is a way to get through the Artillery at the start of that level. Direct your units to move near the fence, so that they'll get right within the Artillery's safe zone.
There's also "Siege of the Vladstad", which is a perfectly acceptable level right up until the end. And that's even if you realize the Vladstag has a side entrance.
"Road to Xylvania" tops all of them. First of you have a Battlestation which unlike the sequel cannot turn to aim and thus you have to position yourself perfectly to beat the Pillboxes that will kill everything else in a heartbeat.On top of that the path is so curvy giving Heavy Tanks an advantage against the Battlestation. That's a just ridculuosly in itself,but then you have Gunships constantly after you mercilessly attacking anything in sight,and you only have 6 Missile Vets.You can spam the Y button all you want,they'll still get ya' down. Not to mention acid pits that are too easy to step into. At least Vladstag has assistance.
Bonus Mission 3 may be a Bonus Level Of Hell, but it has earned its place here. At the start, you're immediately bombarded by 2 Artillery, each guarded by 3 Rocket (Bazooka) infantry to deter your Heavy Tanks. You must destroy this Artillery ASAP or they'll destroy the fortress that the game doesn't suggest is destructible and give you an automatic mission failure. You would want to work on tasks other than the Artillery because once the Artillery is destroyed, a respawning Bomber appears to make your life miserable, and you don't even get any anti-air units unless you're willing to count Assaults, which still do likely too little damage to be worth considering. And to top it all off, your only units for destroying all of the enemy vehicles are Heavy Tanks, which are slow and big, which means thanks to similar reasons as to why Pit in Super Smash Bros. is a Skill Gate Character, are given grief by the Anti-Air Vehicles' attack spams causing them to repeatedly bounce along with all the damage they take. Oh, and guess what is ready to hammer your infantry and further mess up your Technique score? Two more Artillery! And if you finally get past all of this, say hello to a Bomber and Gunship spam to give your Fighters (which arrive, about time) misery in killing them all quickly, which you need to do because of the fact that your Heavy Tanks are still mission critical, even if you wiped out every enemy vehicle. And if you're looking for a good score, you have so many units that basically amount to being little more than target practice for the Bombers that your Technique will be based on whether your units feel like surviving all the abuse.
The Reckoning in the sequel borders on being That One Level, but doesn't quite manage it because it's the last mission. However, if you want that perfect S-Rank, have lots of hair ready to be torn out. Technique, although having a ridiculously high minimum (a whopping 70% with just the Battlestation, the mission critical unit, alive), doesn't hit 100% easily, so you have to keep plenty of units alive, which means you'd want to get through the first half of the stage without anything lost, because the second part is full of Fighters and Strato Destroyers, which are bound to tear apart your units like paper, and your Anti-Air Vets have laughable lock-on range for their job if you thought you could switch to one to erase the air units faster. But things get really bad if you want 100% in both Power and Speed. Not only does the game place 2 Heavy Tanks and some Grunts behind the Mining Spider but Speed is absurdly strict for the fact that you'd have to deliver the painfully slow Battlestation from one end of the map to the other in order to do anything to the Mining Spider. This troper has done every other mission in the game on a No Casualties Run with a Perfect S-Rank (including Their Finest Hour, actually except Under Siege but he's convinced that one is possible with a competent teammate) and finds that a No Casualties Runat all is harder on The Reckoning than on any other mission between both games except maybe Bonus Mission 3 in the first game, if it's even possible to do, never mind trying to do it in the time limit.
However, the level that stands head and shoulders above all is Rivals, of the first Advance Wars.
Merely accessing the level requires a Guide Dang It by defeating all 4 Green Earth Missions as Sami, one level of which, Wings of Victory, is a That One Level unto itself. Proceed to defeat Sturm in the final mission, after which Eagle will challenge Andy to a "friendly" showdown. The map is wide, traversed by narrow bridges and islands, and you are given no units, a small base, and are a long way off from the nearest nuetral bases, which will not be nuetral by the time you reach them. You are forced to play as Andy. Your foe starts with forward units and a very strong base. The normal campaign version is harder than the majority of the advance campaign missions. The advanced mode of this mission? Your foe starts by owning the nuetral bases. And forward infantry. And an air force. In Fog of War. And both times, but much more pronounced here, he is using Lightning Strike, the best CO Power in the game. And with all those expensive air units you need to destroy, he will have very liberal use of that Power.
It gets to the point that the only way to defeat him is days (literal, 24-hour segment DAYS) of trial and error. And then you will still be crying as the mass of unstoppable Bombers, Fighters, Medium Tanks, Battle Copters, and Rockets roll over your base. Again. And again. And again.
There is a guide. It shows you exactly how to defeat the mission, by exactly, tile-by-tile, day-by-day, telling you how to fend off his attack in such a way, that allows you to escape with a few transport copters and infantry, while he overruns your base so thoroughly that you are actually depending on him saturating your properties, hoping that his own units block his infatry from taking your HQ. You then must execute a perfect suicide run for his HQ. If everything goes well, you triumphantly stand upon a shattered Green Earth HQ, a half-damaged infantry your unit on the map, and 30-some game-days of anguish behind.
Guess what? Even this exhaustive strategy guide doesn't work 100% of the time. Sometimes, Eagle will move his Battle Copter in a way that makes the entire strategy futile. Many, if not most, of the games have a randomized AI routine that is set when you first enter the Advance Campaign 22 levels earlier. This determines whether Eagle in Rivals sports a minuscule Achilles' Heel, or if he is quite simply unbeatable.
The Macross Plus stage in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3. You begin the stage with only two units, both of which have fairly low HP and damage output. Your enemies include a rather large number of units, particularly the infamous Ghost X9s, a new type of plane which has downright insane dodge rates, possibly the highest in the game, bar a few bosses. Normally, this wouldn't be much of a problem, as your characters can usually cast buffs on themselves in order to increase their own hit and dodge rates. However, for the beginning of the stage, you not only have no access to your buffs, but your morale is down, meaning an overall decrease in stats. Despite having two of the fastest pilots in the game out, you rarely get above a 30% chance to hit. Even when backup finally arrives, you still have no way of increasing your chances to hit for a good while, so getting through the stage even at that point is an exercise in luck, frustration, and lots of soft-resets.
That One Level is OG Gaiden Stage 15. Not only does it pit you against a horde of (thankfully not reinforced) enemies which have crazy dodge stats and high morale values, it later features one win condition that requires a certain character to do it. Then, a Player Punch occurs, then That One Boss appears...
Let's go for a classic: Super Robot Wars 3, "true" final mission. You're on a map with a grand total of THREE enemy units, two of which are the infamous Valsion (the final boss mecha of SRW2), and the other being the Neo effing Granzon. Now, count the facts that in this game Focus (increases own accuracy and dodge rate for a full turn)and Hot Blood (greatly increases the damage of your next attack) were RARE seishin, you couldn't upgrade your unit's mobility or weapons, morale raising seishin had a prohibitive cost and the two Valsions were weak enough to die in a few hits without effectively raising your morale. Furthermore, the final boss's morale went up by at least 15 for each turn due to your characters hitting him (not counting those it eventually shoots down), he could attack TWO times for each turn (so could your units, but it was more like a 'get twice the chance of getting shot down'), had insanely high HP and Armor and his morale could cap at 200 which meant EVERY SINGLE ATTACK WOULD KILL YOUR UNIT RIGHT AWAY....
Super Robot Wars Destiny. All of it. It starts out as a great game, with a lot of anime getting their introduction into the franchise, such as Megazone23, Godmars, Daltanius, Macross 7, and The Big O. It also explores the idea of what would've happened if the Earth had been sealed away, Irui Ganeden's goal in Super Robot Wars Alpha 2. And it ALSO features the OZ and the Neo-Zeon Movement as allies, simply because they're the only groups left that have the manpower to save the Earth, meaning Haman Karn arguably makes her debut as a Super Robot Wars protagonist. Then things get sour, fast. The Original Generation mooks are unbelievably fast and accurate to the point that, on the last stage, they're more dangerous than thefinal boss, every Super Robot has abysmal armor to the point where even if they're fully upgraded they're useless by the halfway point of the game, and you'll probably be using Fire Bomber as a blatant crutch.
You want That One Level, Try Mission 23 of that game, You cannot destroy the Adrasteas in that mission or it is game over, and you cannot allow the enemy to advance to the other side of the map which means you have to box in 2 Adrasteas and reduce their HP to 20% while knocking off the enemies flunkies, And THEN the reinforcements... do not get me started on them, because you have to fight a THIRD Adrastea in addition to the flunkies that it brings, and even before that you have to fight 6 Garland GR-2's (Garlands have high evasion rates), which means you will be spamming Seishins out the ass just to keep up with protecting the area you are ordered to guard.
Another mission that will piss the hell out of you is Mission 37 which is a two part mission but the second half is what will reallly drive you mad! In the second half of that mission you have to hit 4 switches, one every 8 turns, the real problem is that the enemies have high evasion/accuracy and can respawn if you don't leave 6 of them active. So mentioning the Fire Bomber Units being a crutch, yeah you will need them for this.
The final battle map is aggravating for one reason. Before you fight the Final Battle, you have to fight two Original Generation bosses, who will always recover their full HP unless you kill them in one shot from around the half HP mark, and have considerably high HP... coupled with the fact that if your machine can do enough damage to them to kill them, they will enter the battle in defence mode and cut your damage in half. Effectively, you're forced to go into the battle doing enough damage to almost kill them, and have another unit support your unit to finish them off, as they won't factor support attacks in to whether they defend or not... and support attacks do half damage on their own.
There is also Super Robot Wars 2's final stage. Similar layout to 3's, with you against the Granzon, Valsion, and two Punch Clock Villains from Gundam ZZ of all series. Things go sour fast if you want to beat the Granzon for the Bragging Rights Reward. The game, as long as you know what you're doing, isn't impossible or even very long... but by GOD that level is hard since the Granzon is immune to all projectile attacks and has armor three times as thick as the Valsion's.
Speaking of which, the introduction of the Inspectors in Original Generation 2. "But it's a Hopeless Boss Fight," you say. "you're supposed to lose!" No, not this one. This one is Hopeless only in that it's damn near impossible to win. The challenge of that stage is surviving. With only a battleship which you have had few to no opportunities to upgrade (depending on the route split) and three mid-level mecha, which have had no opportunities to be powered up (if you were able to get a certain Secret weapon, that's about it). Against a bunch of Mooks, a couple enemy battleships, and three end-game bosses that can probably kill your mecha in a single hit. And you have to escape through the far side of the map. That is to say, right through them.
Oh and get this: One of the game's super-special secrets requires that you not escape the battle, but you have to beat them, while leaving the most dangerous for last. And due to the set-up of the stage, it will be tough every time, even with the bonuses normally gained though a New Game+.
One mission in Original Generation 2 requires you to defend an annoyingly large base from annoyingly fast enemies. Not only is it game over if they so much as reach the outside line, but you're going to be using one set of mechs you haven't upgraded (since it's on the Earth Route, you won't have had a chance to upgrade Katina's stats so she can dodge better than a paraplegic whale, for example), the third wave comes from the back, your most durable starting robot isn't allowed to move until the third wave, the Shirogane battleship and the allied NPC Barrelions will be contributing jack shit (at least the Barrelions are trying), your reinforcements deploy to the west so you can't use even the fastest of them to secure the east, and every time you fail (which will be often), Captain Lee Linjun will insult your troops despite the fact that he was The Load for the entire mission.
The final stage of the PSP remake of Advance. Tough grunts and ridiculously high HP bosses with HP regen are nothing new, especially if you took the Nadesico route at the last path split and had to fight Don Zaucer... but unlike most levels in this game (or in the non-skill point using installments of the franchise in general,) there is a TURN LIMIT. You have 10 turns to wade through the strongest grunts in the game, backed up by TWO overpowered bosses, one of whom as far as I can tell has an automatic 0% chance of being hit (and not the type that goes away after one attack,) with the only ways to even HIT her being to use accuracy boosting spells (and SP is rather limited in this game overall, though by no means as bad as in certain other titles,) and her own counterattack range and accuracy being ridiculously huge. Thankfully, she's not REQUIRED to be defeated to clear the stage (though have fun clearing it with her sniping you constantly)... but the actual boss is so much worse. Some 260K HP, of which he regenerates 10% a turn, exceptionally high EN, which he also regenerates, and his attacks use far less of it than they ought to (not that you can really hope to drain his EN even without the regen, due to the turn limit), a VERY powerful and accurate MAP attack, and the ability to move and attack TWICE per turn. Oh, and while not guaranteed, he is surrounded by high HP/Armour grunts, some of whom have HP regen, all of which if they are right next to him can Support Defend (take a hit for him for half damage) THRICE PER TURN. It might be worth noting that this is also the game where enemy accuracy increases with each attack - if you dodge an attack, the next attack aimed at that character will be at a cumulative 15% accuracy boost, meaning that with enough attacks at any one character, eventually they WILL get hit (and there are more than enough enemy units for this).
First, there's missions 5 to 8, Those Four Levels.
Mission 5 pits you against every single bad guy in the first half of Overman King Gainer, including Brunhilde, who in the series attacked friends and foes alike, yet here only attacks you. Fortunately, to beat the level you just need to kill Brunhilde... except it has 10000+ HP (At Stage 5 it's pretty good, mind), and you've got like 7-8 Fragile Speedster bosses attacking you at the same time as well. At least the Mooks are easy.
Mission 6 has the beginning of GUN×SWORD, only Van is being attacked by a lot of Darius Empire Mooks instead. You basically have to survive for two turns until the Daiku Maryu crew shows up to aid him, which is easier said than done.
Mission 7 is a mix of the two before: It starts with Dann of Thursday, plus El Dora V (that guzzles EN like crazy), Brownie and the Original Generation main character being attacked by a bunch of Overman King Gainer mooks and bosses (again). Again, you have to endure a few turns until the other heroes shpw up, only the enemies also get two tough bosses as reinforcements: OKG's Cynthia Lane and GXS's Ray. And like Brunhilde above, neither of them were with the Siberian railroad, but on their own team, yet here, they only attack you again.
And besides that, there's all the Virtual-On missions (The first two are long, boring missions set in corridors against mooks with Map Attacks, the last one is on an open field with more Mooks like that AND Elite Mooks with huge HP supplies AND the Attack Combo skill that allows them to crush your support units)) and the one playing Gundam SEED Stargazer (A "don't let the bad guys get to this point" mission... IN SPACE. On a game where everyone who doesn't goes into space in-series has a B as its Terrain Rating for... well, space, and terrains matter A LOT. See: King Gainer getting hit easily and missing often.) Ouch.
Super Robot Wars Judgment has the attack on Hell Island, which could end up spelling the end for you if you don't know what you're doing. You start the level facing several fairly powerful mooks and Zaied from Full Metal Panic!. After beating him, Gauron shows up in the Venom (very dodgey, very accurate, lots of HP and equipped with a Lambda Driver, which more or less halves all damage inflicted upon him), along with more powerful mooks and a couple of Giant Mooks. Then, after after defeating them, you're forced to take on Zeorymer's Ritsu and his Rose C'est la Vie of the Moon, who has a fair amount of HP and is capable of dishing out a decent amount of punshiment. Then, after defeating him, the real final boss of the level, Baron Ashura, appears in his Mechabeast-ized form along with a group of even more powerful mooks, but before fighting him, you'll ALSO have to fight and destroy a possessed Diana A TWICE (which ITSELF has an inordinate amount of health points BOTH times). But of course, just fighting Baron Ashura himself isn't enough because, after ALL of that, he still regenerates all of his HP after you've defeated him, forcing you to fight and kill him AGAIN before the level is finally over. Sheesh. The only saving grace that keeps this level from being an absolute nightmare to slug through from beginning to end is that you get to see Mazinkaiser recieve its final upgrade during a mid-game event. In conclusion, this level (and SRW J as a whole, for that matter) isn't hard, per se, but rather is incredibly long due to the sheer abundance of high-powered bosses, which puts you in danger of consuming all of your resources prior to the FINAL, final confrontation due to a lack of foresight.
Being one of the harder handheld titles, Super Robot Wars L has quite a number of tarpits that even veterans may fall for:
Stage 17 is Operation Yashima from Rebuild of Evangelion. As suggested, you have to deal with Ramiel (aka the 6th Angel) but at the same time Mimetic Beasts are standing in your way. Since Ramiel gives a nice amount of cash and a rare Part, it's common for players to rush up with all their forces in order to destroy it at least once before the stage forcefully ends on Turn 6. The problem is that Ramiel (in addition to HP and EN Regen as well as an AT Field) has its Will maxed out at 150 already, and in case of players who forgot after watching the movie, this Ramiel actually has a sweeping MAPW around it. That will certainly hurt. But it doesn't end there: on turn 4 Eva-00 and 01 finally show up at where the stage begins— and enemies spawn to the left and right of them. If Shinji gets attacked even once, GAME OVER. That means one have to leave some units behind to prepare for such a scenario, but that also mean you can't attack Ramiel with your full force.
Stage 30A: Little Queen, Little Sister. You have to last 9 turns against never-ending waves of Vajra while Ranka gets ready to sing them all away. But one has to make sure the Vajra don't reach the building before she does, which is easier said than done since you don't have enough units to protect all the tiles (which becomes worse when one of them leaves the map on Turn 4). Even with Brera flying off to one corner of the map and holding off part of the wave, it's still going to be a nightmare.
The worst example of this trope, however, is Stage 37 where you resolve the ending of Linebarrels of Iron, which would be the biggest Crowning Moment Of Awesome of this game if this stage doesn't annoy players so much. First off, you have to protect all 6 Machinas from being destroyed, which would be easy if Koichi (in his Linebarrel mode-C) wasn't a NPC and didn't rush headlong into the enemy formation, chopping up anyone in his way (that includes Soubi, in case if you want to recruit him). Doesn't help that the enemy force is made up of Original Mooks with armour-reducing weapons and they're more than happy to use it on him. Worse, since Koichi WILL attack anyone if they're in range, Linebarrel's energy and ammo will eventually dry out, leaving it as a complete sitting duck. The catch? You have to defeat Masaki (in his Naked) to return Koichi back to your control. This is just the first part of the stage.
The second part of this stage involves protecting all 6 or 7 if all conditions are fulfilled Machinas (who'll just stay idle in the middile of the stage) from being destroyed in 4 turns, in order to begin the Final Phase. Remember how fast and hard those Mass-Produced Machinas are during the first half of the stage? You have to deal with an unlimited number of them. From both sides. This immediately happens after you defeat Masaki's second form, so there're basically no breathing room nor redeployment time in between. Many who manage to protect Koichi in the first half may actually fail on this part.
Although stages in Super Robot Wars UX are more forgiving than L, it also has quite an amount of crazy stages, especially late game.
The most well-known but unexpected That One Level happens on Stage 23, The False Songstress. This is your usual "defend a certain area" mission (except half of the field is a sea), and it's mostly easy......Until Ranka Lee is captured by a Hound Vajra and the objective "reduce Hound Vajra's HP to 10%" is added. First off, it only has slightly better stats than other Vajra (it's one of the late-game grunts), so accidents may happen for those players who don't notice. Second, if you accidentally summon Tobikage to the field, due to his AI pattern, he'll directly go for that Hound Vajra and kill it in one hit! Third, even you don't summon Tobikage, Brera Stein, who is supposed to help you as an NPC, will do the same thing to Ranka if you don't act fast enough. This stage is so frustrating to the point that it has created numerous new memes, like "Killing Ranka without mercy", "Victory Condition Thief" for Tobikage* In addition to its infamy of stealing your cash, experience and secret conditions, and "Ranka Slayer" for both Tobikage and Brera.
Except Brera can't really deal enough damage in one hit, and the Hound Vajra has an Energy Field so if you leave it to Brera, he will lower the Hound Vajra's HP below 10% himself with the pattern he uses. Two problems do exist though: First, Brera's strongest attack, even the Hound Vajra has an Energy Field, is capable of killing it in two hits. Second, because Brera comes with boss-like stats, the Hound Vajra will also target him (again because of the AI pattern) if he's in range, so the situation isn't much better. And that's not even accounting for Critical Hits......
Stage 46, The Beautiful Dystopia. Successfully landing Pretender on the designated grid is one challenge in itself, and after your reinforcements arrive and kick some Mass-Produced Machinas' butt, Deus ex Machina will pop out and reduce all your units' will by 30 (except Kaidou and Magami, they will either gain +30 Will, lose only 20 or be completely unaffected). At this point if you don't act fast enough, your units and battleships will be surrounded and being slapped to death due to the enemies' Will bonus. Deus ex Machina also moves twice, has Override, a MAP weapon and HP/EN recovery. Have fun.
The next stage, Heaven and Earth is also insanely frustrating, as 70% of the stage consist of water terrain, which limits your options to Air units and units with Sea Adaptation. Which make those red Festum much harder to deal with due to their ability and, in case of not having enough units for Sea Adaptation, terrain bonus. If you want to save Kurusu, all Fafner units must deploy, and each must fight him once, but only a few of them can deal with such situation. Oh, and your reliable Festum buster, Kazuki and his Mark Sein? He won't show up until you beat up Kurusu enough.
In Stage 48 we deal up the last of the ELS. As mentioned in Demonic Spiders, lots of ELS means big problem to your units, and now they come without limits. You think ELS is your only problem? Zerokage will also pop up with his force, probably enough to distract you. And all those big bad ELS twin units around the designated area after Setsuna arrives. In the meantime, you have to be cautious that random ELS may race down to the south edge of the map, or gangs of ELS suck up all EN from one of your battleships, while you have five turns to send Setsuna to the designated point. Talk about a race against time and a war of attrition.
Super Robot Wars Z isn't a PARTICULARLY difficult game, if you understand how to abuse the TRI System, but some of the SR Point requirements are BRUTAL for anyone not in a New Game+, and sometimes even then they can be crazy! A few definitely stick out, though.
Rand's 6th scenario, The Night of the Festival. The mission itself is a reasonably difficult one - you start out with an unupgraded and very, VERY gimped Turn A Gundam facing an enemy horde. You DO have reinforcements on the map, but they're far enough away to not be able to get at the grunts until Turn 2. The problem here is that you need to start dealing damage immediately and not stop, because the enemy grunts are spread out and will not entirely convalesce by Turn 3. To twist the knife, you're not allowed to end it at the actual end of turn 3 for the SR point - no, you have to end it on the player phase, which means you can't hope the enemy will come to you on their phase and run into your well upgraded units!
One of many secrets that's easier to get in one protagonist's story over the other is keeping Aki alive. Want to do it in Rand's story? Well, understanding how the first mission (that gives you the first two requirements) works is important, and you will fail without knowing that, but even assuming you do that you may end up running headlong into trouble on the GalliaRoute's mission 18 - you start with the Zambo Ace (the main component of Zambot 3) alone against an army of Mechaboosts, and it must kill two enemies before Turn 3 begins. This means you get four phases to kill the enemy, one of which will ALWAYS be spent getting to the enemy no matter what, and one of which will only have you attacking a single enemy unless you switch Zambo Ace into its Fighter mode (in which case you can't deal damage fast enough to win). But that's not the problem, oh no. See, if you forgot, before the stage, to upgrade Zambot's weapons (which you may do, he's powerful at base and there's a lot of units that need your money more), you LITERALLY become FORCED to get at least 3 criticals on an attack that RARELY gives them out.
The infamous Dorter Slums area, the fourth storyline battle in the game. At this point, you've got some level 3 characters (if you're lucky), and very few abilities, not to mention two computer-controlled guest characters who strain believability with their inepititude. The foe is three archers (one of which is mercifully unarmed), two black mages, and a comparatively-high-HP knight. What makes this battle particularly annoying is that two archers have a massive height advantage. They start off on top of a tall building while you're on the ground. They can start shooting at you on the first turn and rack up some high damage with their shots while you can't do anything to hit them; they're way out of the range of any attacks due to the height they're at, and it takes several turns to get characters up there to attack them. By the time you get up there and kill them, it's likely that they've single-handedly wiped out half your party. And while they're doing this, the Black Mages and Knight are routing your forces on the ground. In other words, they have range, you don't. If you're trying not to lose any of your generic troops, the battle is a lesson in patience and luck (and hours upon hours of Level Grinding).
The Golgorand Execution Site. The opponent has eight units to your five, one of whom is a Recurring Boss. Also, the Time Mages will cast Haste on themselves and Slow on your own units. Winning is an exercise in luck and patience.
What makes the Gafgarion battles annoying is that most other special units you run into have, as their battle's sole objective, the defeat of that character (e.g. "Defeat Wiegraf!"). Gafgarion is treated as just another unit, so even if you take him down, the battle's still on. At worst, this is a slight Guide Dang It situation. Gafgarion also never has the maintenance ability, which means you can steal or destroy his weapon. All of Gafgarion's abilities can only be used if he has a sword. If he does not, he does trivial damage with punches and poses no real threat.
The Duel Battle between Wiegraf and Ramza at Riovanes. Unless you have a very specific setup with a very specific inventory, this battle sucks. Wiegraf has an attack with an effect range of four squares that cannot miss, and he will always move to the maximum range before attacking, and does lots of damage (three shots in three rounds will kill an equivalent level Ramza if you don't heal). So it comes down to either killing Wiegraf before he kills you, which is hard because he's probably more mobile than you, or fighting a long, drawn-out battle consuming expensive resources. Did I mention that, on average, Wiegraf blocks two out of three attacks, even when the hit percentage is 90%, and frequently counters melee attacks for significant damage? Extremely annoying battle. And Wiegraf has a second form, which is also quite difficult. Fortunately, you get back-up for it. (So does he, but since you can focus-fire him down to win the battle...) The absolute worst part about the duel with Wiegraf is that it's one of a string of battles you cannot interrupt. It's preceded by a Storming the Castle level, and if your only save after the successful storming, you are trapped, with no chance to withdraw, buy new gear, gain more Job Points or EXP, obtain the necessary very-specific-setup-and-inventory, etc.
The first fight against Marquis Elmdor and his two assassin girls. On the one hand, all you have to do to end the fight is critically injure one of them. On the other hand, if you've been leveling normally up to that point in the game, they outclass you in every way. The assassins can inflict negative status (KO, charm, confuse) on a character with 100% success if the character isn't protected against them. The Marquis himself is essentially a souped up Samurai, meaning he can use powerful area attacks that require no charge time. Oh, and he can teleport with 100% success. The PSP version makes it even worse because he has Safeguard, meaning you can't steal his great equipment. The worst part? This first fight is an Escort Mission; if the relatively pathetic guest character is KOed, you lose. Naturally, the character will rush right into the enemies.On top of all of this, if you don't have ninjas on the field, the bosses will always go first and you have a very high chance of not even getting a turn before the guest character is dead and the battle failed. And, like the above fight against Wiegraf, this is also one of a string of battles that you can't interrupt (in fact, it's the battle right after Wiegraf).
While easier than the first encounter with Elmdor and his assassins, the second encounter inside Limberry Castle is no walk in the park, either. Your goal is to defeat Elmdor in this battle - kill the assassins, and they'll come back as Ultimus Demons. However, Elmdor not only has a great equipment set (the Genji equipment, no less), but he's packing the Blade Grasp reaction ability— meaning any physical attack, front, side, or back, will have its hit-rate drop to about 30%. If you neglected to bring a mage to the battle, it's going to be a very long affair unless you get very lucky.
This is even worse because there are two abilities that are Lost Forever if you do not do specific things during this fight. One of them, Ultima, can only be learned by Ramza, if he is a Squire, and it is cast on him by one of the assassins and he survives. Technically, it is possible to get it the first time the assassins, but the odds of the assassins casting Ultima at all (let alone ignoring Rafa and attacking Ramza) are basically non-existent, so you need to get it this fight. Even though the odds are much, much higher, it can still easily take numerous rounds for either to decide to cast Ultima, let alone use it on Ramza.
You can also learn Ultima in the fight that immediately precedes this one. What's really obnoxious (at least in the original Playstation version, since you can't do it at all in the rerelease) is stealing Elmdor's Genji equipment. With the most favorable setup, you're looking at a 5-10% chance per turn for each of the five pieces of equipment. Even with Ramza spamming yell (which increases speed) to the point that your thief gets several turns for every one of Elmdor's, this can still take well over an hour.
Side mission "Time to Act" in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. You are in charge of protecting 5 moogles (Black Mage, Moogle Knight, Fusilier, Tinker, and Thief) and you're only allowed to send out ONE person from your clan to support them. What makes this extremely aggravating for most players is some of the moogles can be downright stupid and suicidal. The Tinker will constantly spam Red Spring if no one on your side has Haste or he will use Green Gear to try and cause Poison to the enemy. Tinker abilities can hit either friend or foe, which makes this a Luck-Based Mission. The moogle Thief may spend more time trying to steal than actually fighting. If one of the moogles gets knocked out, you lose.
This is on top of the way that the AI chooses the target to attack. Does the enemy on the entirely other side of the map suddenly have less hit points than your current target? Better start wandering over there!
"Bonga Bugle - Blackfrost." You have to survey people and find out what the most popular resolution was. Problem here is that some people either give more than one or give one that could have more than one meaning. Of course you have to restart the mission all over again if you get the answer wrong. However, doing this mission multiple times changes the top resolution, so not even Save Scumming will work here! While the Head Editor does give a slight hint at what the answer will be, everything is vague here. What also makes this annoying is that there are TONS of NPCs on the field to talk to, including a few on the rooftops for some odd reason so unless you have a high move or jump stat, have Fairy Shoes or Galmia Shoes, or have a Gria unit, you might not be able to reach the highest NPCs. And you can't forget talking to people behind their doors either. Since all the units on the field are considered guests, you'll waste time watching them do nothing.
Chapter 2-1 of Vandal Hearts is an early gimmick battle, and boy is it a doozy. There are a number of immobile, evil statues placed strategically around the map. These statues have possessed the villagers, turning them into insane, bloodthirsty killers. Your objective is to destroy all of the statues while keeping at least one villager alive. Sounds simple enough. The problem? Your party automatically counter-attack every single time without fail, and each of the villagers will go down in one hit, even from your weakest party member. It's a hair-pulling extravaganza.
The above battle is difficult, but with a strategy based around luring the zombie villagers and using the conveniently placed blocks on the map it is actually rather easy to finish the level without killing any of the villagers (you lose money if you do) and getting all the chests/secret treasures. A better example is 2-6 where you have to kill all the enemies on the map in 3 turns. Not only do you have to travel the length of the entire map to do so, but if any of the enemies manage to leave the screen before these three turns are up, you also lose. Oh, and the enemies are all Monk class so they have no specific weakness to any weapon or magic & can inflict poison just by attacking you. Have fun.
Although a lot of the fights in Vandal Hearts seem like this if you want to get all the hidden items/not have anybody die, pretty much all of them can be beaten by a properly balanced party and a decent strategy. Though some fights seem to require EXACT strategies.
The second game is much more difficult due to you and the computer taking simultaneous turns. You may be focusing on defeating one particular enemy and try to guess where he'll be so you can move behind him and take him out, but you've forgotten about that archer on the other side of the map! Now the computer's making him attack a character that has their back exposed! This means that now you've got two characters in compromising conditions and an enemy in a prime location to attack either of them. Have fun guessing which.
Chapter 7 in Valkyria Chronicles is one of these combined with That One Boss and a heaping portion of Guide Dang It. You have to fight a gigantic tank about ten times the size of your own. It's armed with five machine gun turrets that can cut your infantry to shreds instantly, and two gigantic cannons that can slice off more than half your tank's HP in one go. First, you have to destroy all of its machine gun turrets so you can approach the monstrosity with your anti-tank troopers. Then, you have to shoot at the bottom of a bunch of conveniently-placed ruin walls so that they fall over, blocking the path of the tank. It will then shoot at the wall with its main cannon, which causes three radiators to pop up. These radiators are only around for one turn, and take about four Lance shots or one grenade to destroy— assuming you don't miss, which you often will— and you can only destroy one of them per turn. After you destroy two of the radiators, an invincible Valkyria warrior arrives along with other reinforcements. If you're lucky, she'll be so far away that her AI refuses to do anything unless you move someone closer to her. If not, she can instantly kill any character that isn't your tank, often knocking out three or four footsoldiers in a single turn. If you manage to destroy the final radiator, you then have to attack and destroy the tank itself now that it's finally vulnerable, while scrambling to rescue the soldiers that got killed off by the Valkyria. Does this sound bad enough yet? There's also a strict turn limit.
The second half of Naggiar. You start with a basic goal of "capture enemy base", with relatively light enemy presence (one Tank Destroyer and some bunkers) and Valkyria Alicia systematically destroying the enemy installations. Then when you capture the base, you find yourself caught between a pair of Dromedarius, massive tanks that take effectively no damage when not shot in their weak points, fire area-denying incendiary rounds, and are backed up by a neverending stream of enemy footsoldiers (including a bunch of Elite Snipers). And Alicia gets taken off of the map in a cutscene. Your goal now is to destroy the tanks. You can have a very bloody fight against them as you struggle to keep your troops in one piece, or you can cheat and use your foreknowledge to position tanks and lancers behind the enemy tanks' spawn points before capturing the camp, then completely ignore all the other units and finish off the tanks quickly. No one ever said war had to be fair.
Any X-COM: UFO Defense mission that has chryssalids. Can you say "zombie apocalypse with ambushing giant insects creating more zombies"?
MOST missions in X-COM: Terror from the Deep, including cargo ship terror missions (bad AI means they can run into thousands of turns while you try to hunt down that one last alien hiding in a closet), alien colony assaults (same problem, except also with Tentaculats galore), and Artefact Sites (same as colony assaults, except they pop up randomly and you have to do them immediately or take such a huge penalty to your score that it can sink your game).
Similarly, there are two types of level in UFO Aftermath that will give you a bad case of twitching: anything involving the Deathbellows (aka the Squad-Killing Abomination From Hell), and most things involving bases, especially in the later stages when the aliens are breaking out the big guns. Having your entire squad wiped out by the balloon fish behind that door you carelessly opened? Hurts. Having them wiped out by an alien rocket launcher with a blast radius larger than some European countries? Hurts even more.
Also, with XCOM: Enemy Within: the Site Recon mission. Chryssalids, Chryssalid zombies, and a whale that's apparently one big Chryssalid hive. Even Central agrees that the best way to deal with it is with Death from Above.
The final mission in Roland's Campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic II is an absolute MONSTER. First off, normally, campaign missions will give you a choice of one of three bonuses to assist you in the scenario. Just to show how you are getting NO help in this scenario, the choice between three bonuses is actually a choice between getting one of three artifacts that will hinder your army instead. Next, the developers put an enemy hero right next to one of your starting castles, but just out of sight. If this is your first time playing this mission, it WILL catch you offguard and essentially force your first of many restarts. But the most difficult part by far is the magnitude of the armies you will face in this mission. Your opponents have no less than TWELVE towns, (technically thirteen, but one of them simply exists to amass troops for the epic final battle, which compared to the rest of the mission is a cakewalk.) backed up by more than enough resources to fund every single one of them. By comparison, you have 3 towns. Yeah...A playthrough on Youtube took roughly EIGHT HOURS to beat this mission. And that's a single attempt. Account for failed attempts and we're easily talking FIFTY HOURS of gameplay on This. Single. Mission. And as if that isn't enough, the fact that The AI is a HUGE cheating bastard in this game means that you can't just abuse the AI. You'll have to fight tooth and nail for every single castle on the map, and sometimes even that won't be enough. It is impossible to describe the pain, time and amount of attempts it will take to finally put this monster of a mission down. The only redeeming factor is that this IS the final mission, so an epic battle is what you would expect. And boy, does it deliver.
In Heroes of Might and Magic V, the third chapter of the Inferno campaign requires you to defeat an enemy who starts with three Sylvan castles (a faction type that's unbelievably imbalanced), and all you're given is one Inferno settlement that can't access its best units (the only redeeming quality of their entire army). You are required to make a run and grasp the first enemy castle ASAP, but even after you succeed at that, the enemies' attacks will start raining on you, having multiple dragons and ents, units that you can't even match before you can upgrade the castle you conquered into its full power (because the only one that didn't have a dragon portal to start with was the outermost one). In addition, the enemy has a ridiculously powerful hero who will keep respawning in their biggest castle every time you defeat him, something that by the normal mechanics of the game wouldn't even be possible (if your hero is beaten, you lose the game).
Though there is an out-of-the-box tactic for this mission that exploits Sequence Breaking: instead of capturing the lighty-defended southern Sylvan town as the game expects, capture the better-defended northwestern town first and build it up. This will avoid triggering the script that sends overwhelming armies against you.
And if you think that's bad, try the second mission of the Dungeon Campaign with one (handicapped) town against six and a lot of enemy heroes on higher levels than yours. Better find that Tear of Asha fast. Oh, and the next mission starts with zero to eight, but you start with two decent heroes and enough troops to easily capture two quickly.
Not so much a level (because it doesn't have levels) as a stage, but the Independence War in Colonization. You have to pass it to beat the game, but it's so hard and just downright unfair (Where did the 18th-century English navy get teleportation technology!?) that many players just avoid it entirely (which makes the game unbeatable). Since it's a sandbox game, this isn't too bad, but as time goes on the game makes it harder and harder to play without fighting the Independence War, so eventually you have to either attempt it (and the longer you put it off, the harder it gets) or just quit.
Also in the follow-up Civilization IV: Colonization. The problem is that at a fixed point in the game, the King of England will begin amassing an invading army, and the larger and more successful your economy, the larger that inevitable invading force will be. The counterintuitive secret to winning is to deliberately cripple your economy and trick the computer into sending a smaller invading force that you actually have a decent chance of beating. Which is stupid because the whole pre-invasion half of the game is essentially an economic and nation building sim.
Age of Wonders features a very difficult campaign in general, but the third dwarf mission, The Hall of Heroes really takes the cake. You start with a decent-size town and few resources, with your objective being to find the titular location. The briefing conveniently forgets to mention that you will come under attack almost immediately from the north and east by Frostlings, while the Dark Elves attack simultaneously from underground. The teleporter to get to the Hall is hidden underground, past heavy fortifications, and is personally guarded by two Karaghs. Resources are few, the AI will seem to be everywhere, and it will take many tries before you either get lucky or figure out one of the few strategies that has a decent chance of working.
Trying to get the Dauphin to the cathedral in Reims is one of the hugest headaches in Jeanne d'Arc. For one its an escort mission, that's bad enough. But also the Dauphin will always die in a single hit - even if its from a cheap shot from an Archer that spawned out of nowhere behind your party just to ruin your day. Oh, and there's a time limit— take more than twenty turns or more and it's GAME OVER.
Bleach: The 3rd Phantom has the Bonus Dungeon Urahara Tower. It's somewhat easy, until you get to the sixth floor. This is the first stage where you can unlock a completely new character (Gin), but it's almost prohibitively hard to do so. You have to kill him AND Izuru in five turns to unlock him, but there's a Menos Grande blocking the one path to them, so unless you can kill it within two turns, you're screwed. To make matters worse, the second turn is when the two of them start to run away, powering up all the while. You have to use Bankai if you have any hope of catching up to, let alone killing them. And god help you if it runs out before you're finished with them.
Guess what? It gets worse. Floor thirteen has you fighting Hitsugaya, Rangiku and about 10 other strong Hollows, on a map where there is so much distance between you and them that it's next to impossible to clear in 5 turns. You're fucked if Hitsugaya goes Bankai, crosses the field, and then uses Sennen Hyourou note (It deals damage, lowers accuracy AND evasion, and prevents you from moving or attacking.) on your best characters. Have fun trying to kill people when your attacks only have a 50% chance of doing anything!
Floor 18 is also painful. The map is pretty large and there are four unique characters, of which two have Absolute Defense, meaning that your attacks will, more often than not, do only single-digit damage. At least there's nobody to recruit.
In the main game, "Homeward Bound". You start out with just three characters, all of which are rather weak. You have to not only protect Tatsuki, who is incapable of combat, from Ulquiorra and Yammy, you also have to defeat the two of them (at least on paper you do; but the battle ends anyway after defeating only one). And they're both nigh-impossible to beat. Matters are made easier when Ichigo arrives on the map a few turns in, and more so when Kisuke and Yoruichi also show up a turn after him, but those first few turns comprise one of the hardest sections of the entire game.
Front Mission 5 has a stage roughly in the middle of the game, where the objective is to defend four units at the center of the map, and the enemies keep coming in quite an amount of waves. To top it all off, it also has a two-phase boss fight thrown in at the same time, and the enemies that come as reinforcements have jetpacks, so they can instantly get to the structure you're at. Yes, you do need to destroy them. All of them. Fortunately, you are given a support unit and four base cannons for extra defense, though the cannons are rather fragile and have very limited ammo. And you only get a game over if all four units at the center are destroyed.
Battle for Wesnoth the mission Costly Revenge in the "Legend of Wesmere" campaign. Your second-in-command Landar has gone crazy and decided to enact some ethnic cleansing on the local Saurian tribe in revenge for an earlier raid, deciding to kill all of them and burn their villages. The shamans in your army are appalled and withdraw their support. This mission is a colossal pain in the ass because
You have no source of income due to burning down all the villages, so it is impossible to recruit units once you run through your starting gold.
You have no source of healing for your injured units due to losing access to your druids and destroying the villages.
You have no access to Woses, which regenerate and are strongly resistant to the types of damage Saurians can inflict.
Saurians are just generally annoying to fight.
One mission in Day 4 of Devil Survivorstarts out simple enough: Fend off a crazed lynch mob. But then, halfway through the level both you and the mob are attacked by a recently Face Heel Turned Keisuke, and the mission changes from defeating the mob to defending the mob. Depending on how much damage you were inflicting on the enemies beforehand, this can be literally Unwinnable.
Really, any mission that either requires you to keep the enemies from escaping the map or to protect NPC civilians is this. In the former, the demons will, 100% of the time, completely ignore you and make a beeline for the exit, fully exploiting any racial skill they have in ways that shouldn't be possible. For the later, with very few exceptions (mainly Mari and Gin), the NPCs you need to protect are pitifully weak and can easily die from a single attack. And yes, the demons will completely ignore you and make a beeline for the civilians, even if they're already within striking range of one of your teammates.
Paranoia levels in Majin Tensei II, especially Gee. In Gee, you have to advance one human character to a certain point on the map. However the Paranoia maps have this nasty feature in which movement range is sharply reduced for all land units. It's even worse because of 2 other features. The map of Gee itself is covered in mountainous and sand panels which reduce your movement range to a pitiful 1-2 squares, and there are Pendragons stationed on the far left and right side of the map, they have an absurd attack range that is on par with Polaris. There is only one saving grace you have and that there are 4 health regeneration panels close to each other, but they are inside the mountain panel cluster and near the side you start at.
Project X Zone has Stage 16, Detestable GoldenSunny Demon. Everything starts out easy, you get Jin and Xiaoyu in this stage, and half of your characters with you, which Kite and Black Rose need to survive. That's actually the easy part. The hard part is when your other half of the party arrives, four golden goblins arrive which the main objective becomes "kill all four of them before they reach the gate". The actual problem? They're way farther than at the starting point of your second party and act faster than your fastest pairs. At this point, if you haven't been using skills, this part will murder you over and over again.
Chapter 29, "An Unbeatable Love". You get your entire army... against a small country's worth of Feydooms. Better yet, you're up against three Skeiths, two "clone" Skeiths and Skeith Zero, and the clones are only slightly weaker. Oh, and on Turn 3, Vile joins the fun with a wave of Mega Man X enemies... and thanks to Iris showing up, Zero has a Heroic BSOD on the far end of the battlefield, and you have five turns to either reach him or kill Vile (twice, thanks to his Ride Armor) or you lose. And once you do talk to X and Zero? You still have to kill everyone on the map. Do you have Multi-Attacks yet? Because if you don't, you're getting nowhere fast.
Chapter 39, "Devils Never Cry", a.k.a. "Let's Make You Burn Through Your Items!". You start out with half your army, flanked on either side by Astaroths and their minions, and the goal is to kill all enemies without Dante and Demitri buying it. Simple. But then once you kill them, Riemslenne and Selvaria arrive, both bringing their own forces, and you have to kill them. And when you defeat them... Jedah and Lord Raptor arrives, hauling along their own armies, and suddenly you have eight turns to kill Jedah before it's Game Over. Oh, and Lord Raptor's forces start directly on top of you. This is an incredibly tedious level at best, and an exercise in sending you to the final levels without any resources at worst.
Jagged Alliance 2 normally doesn't throw this at you, but in the v1.13 mod there is the dreaded Drassen Counterattack. Very early in the game you can take control of the small town of Drassen. Its a useful early-game town as it possesses one of the only airfields in the game and is used to ferry in weapons and supplies. It also serves as a base for your helicopter pilot as well as your first mine. Plus in 1.13 it also has a police outpost (useful as a headquarters/intelligence station) as well as a field hospital to speed up the healing of your wounded mercs. Great place to start off right? Yeah, sure. But the AI in 1.13 is scripted to send "massive counterattacks" which include upwards of over a hundred enemy soldiers at once (in a game where early on you might have one or two squads of lightly-equipped and likely-wounded mercs). Some of these gigantic waves of enemy troops will include black-armored elite special-ops troopers with fully-kitted assault weapons and grenades. the majority will just be regular soldiers who will still be pretty well armed and massively outnumber your mercs and trained militia unless you've been really, really careful and spent some time prepping before fully liberating the city.
Map 8. This is the first map where the opponent has pre-captured mana crystals, range 3 attacking rangers and mana generator units, in addition of cliff terrain that only air units can cross. The mana crystals are placed across waters where it shall slow down mana crystal capture the first time the player can access it. Worse yet, the AI are smart enough to send units to step onto the summoning circles which prevents units from being summoned. There is absolutely no room for mistakes in this map.
Map 11. The enemy is at the top of a cliff, the AI always spam mana generator units to gain a quick mana pool lead and the units sent down to the player are mostly priestesses or genies which deal lots of damage to any units that the player can summon the first time the player can access it, which prevents the player from getting near to the enemy's area without having units severely damaged.
Map 20. The enemy starts the map with three land dragons which charges towards the player's castle and turning most of the fields into lava, which only only grants the land dragons terrain bonus, but also renders all land and sea units (except the land dragon) taking 2 damage each turn! This map is unwinnable without the phoenix unit and even with it the map is still very hard.
Mission 3 of Faselei! is a brutal endurance run against two waves of enemies (at a point in the game where you can't carry much spare ammo, and thus are likely to be close to running out before the end,) followed by a Hopeless Boss Fight against the enemy commander, who's likely to wipe out your teammate and leave you half-dead before taking off and bringing in a a heavy-duty tank with a metric ton of HP to finish you off. Equipping the Backup chip to call in emergency repair and ammo replenishment is an absolute must.
The endgame is particularly brutal. First is Mission 12, with 5 waves of enemies (including a massive boss battle) and no Backup chip support whatsoever. Better be careful with your ammo. Fortunately you can skip the first 2 waves by just running past them and heading straight into the enemy base. And after that the game goes straight into Mission 13 and the Final Boss, with no chance to buy new equipment or save (and still no Backup chip support, though you at least get to change your loadout and add more inventory items into your backpack.)