Follow TV Tropes


Platform Hell

Go To
"Here's an example of a typical scene: Trees full of apples. Unassuming, you stride under one, and an apple falls from the tree and crushes you, sending you back to the start of the screen. You approach again, this time cautiously poking your nose out under the tree in an attempt to goad the apple into falling before you pass. ...About halfway across, you notice an apple low enough you can jump over it. ...You jump over the apple, and the apple falls up and kills you. The apple falls up and kills you."note 

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a plumber jumping into an invisible coin block and falling to his death, repeatedly — forever.

Video game protagonists often have bad days. It's not uncommon to have to Double Jump between Floating Platforms over spiked pits, dash between three sets of synchronized fire vents, then bounce off a flying enemy to hit an item block, all while dodging those Goddamned Bats and Demonic Spiders. It may be fiendishly difficult, but it's still par for the course.

But not like this. Not like this.

The first item block? Falls and crushes you when you hit it! The pit spikes? Shoot freaking lasers that slice you to bits when you jump over them and that's if they don't move themselves to where you would originally land! The safe platform at the other end? Suddenly tilts sideways for no reason at all! The harmless bush you just walked past? Grows teeth and bites your head off! The tiny white cloud that you thought was part of the background? Just blasted you with lightning! The secret Warp Zone you found? Sends you back to the first level of the game!

And when you finally, finally get that precious Super Mushroom? Makes you grow so monstrously huge that the floor cracks in half and you plunge into the center of the Earth.

Might we be the first to say... welcome to Hell. Platform Hell.

This isn't just Nintendo Hard; it's actively sadistic. Every platform has booby-trapped spikes. Every empty hallway has a wall of cannons waiting just offscreen. Most of the power-ups will kill you or impede your progress, but every power-up that doesn't is absolutely necessary for survival. The Kaizo Trap isn't a nasty surprise; it's an inevitability. And just when you think you've figured out the twisted mind of the game designer, something incomparably worse gets thrown at you. The entire experience is a humongous, hilariously sadistic Kafkaesque parody of a Darker and Edgier Nintendo Hard video game.

As a rule of thumb, a Platform Hell game should meet several of the following criteria:

Typical "traps" in these games include:

They will also usually go by names that outright suggest the cruel difficulty and trickery contained within, usually with names based on 'hard', 'impossible', 'difficult' and 'unfair'.

For obvious reasons, very few commercial companies would dare release a game like this. Hence, this variety of videogame is almost entirely the domain of ROM Hacks and homebrew. ROM Hacks especially are made for game emulators, which almost always have a save state function, so it's fully expected that the player will be taking advantage of it as much as possible.

Also known as "Masocore", after this blog postnote . This should not be confused with very Nintendo Hard games like Jumper, N, and Battletoads, which, while being immensely difficult, play (mostly) fair and straight. A Platform Hell game is intentionally unfair by design, and plays that unfair Fake Difficulty as a sort of slapstick humor in which the audience, or rather, the player, is the comedic victim.

It should also not be confused with masochism-themed games like Mighty Jill Off, which are more homage than parody.

They're also sometimes known as 'Kaizo' hacks after Kaizo Mario World, as well as 'Pit' hacks (if they're so difficult as to be impossible with normal human reflexes).

The Trope Maker is Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2), which intentionally screwed with all the tropes of the previous entries: Warp Zones that returned you to already completed worlds, land-based enemies now appearing in the water and underwater enemies floating in the air, springs that bounce Mario far beyond the top of the screen, winds that play hell with your momentum, invisible power-up blocks to be hit as you attempt to make a jump and, of course, the Poison Mushroom, often dispensed by hitting a block only reached by a crazy difficult series of jumps. Its trolling elements would be exaggerated by other developers, but its frustrating aspects went so far beyond Nintendo Hard that its original NES version was never released in America.

Compare/Contrast Bullet Hell games, which are Shoot 'Em Up games with exaggerated projectile volume, but generally play more fair, and what you see is what you get. Often these levels can be a much more dangerous version of a Level of Tedious Enemies, except that the enemies now pose a genuine threat to platforming.


    open/close all folders 
    Mega Man inspired 
  • Jinsei Owata No Daibouken (also known as The Life Ending Adventure) is an ASCII art flash game which can be found here. It stars various Japanese ImageBoard memes and is murderously hard. In one of the current versions, right from the start the game pulls two traps almost back to back in the first screen, the boss at the bottom path is pretty much as Bullet Hell in a platform game as you can get (and it's mandatory if you ever want to take the right path or take the left without fighting the clones), the top path boss is a Boss Rush of three clones that get harder, the last one having an attack leaving it invincible and dashing around the stage (and it can use it after another bullet spammy attack — just jumped because of a wave of bullets? Then you can't reach the ground fast enough to jump again and avoid this attack), said boss even heals its health mid fight, and, if that wasn't enough, the left path becomes a Homage to I Wanna Be the Guy itself.
  • While Rockman No Constancy's Normal Mode is much harder than the standard Mega Man game, it's still at least somewhat reasonable. The Hard Mode on the other hand removes Mercy Invincibility, turning an already hard game into pure Hell. Even the weakest enemies turn into massive threats that can single-handedly kill you.
  • Rockman 2 Neta, a mock-upnote  of Mega Man 2 with a... twist. An easy way to sum it up is, if you have trouble fighting the robot masters individually...
  • Mega Man Unlimited's Brutal Bonus Level, Yoku Man's stage, fits this. Not only does it include the iconic disappearing* block puzzles of the classic series, but contains several twists deliberately designed to mess with the player—one of the first obvious ones being that the background music contains the iconic sounds of the disappearing blocks. Others include enemies disguised as yoku blocks, yoku spikes, enemies that create Fake Platforms (and some Fake Platforms that simply exist to begin with), a labyrinth section that connects to other rooms within it inconsistently, and finally a boss that will appear to die from being shot, only to attempt to reappear on top of the player (keep an eye on the boss's health meter!). It's also a LONG level.

    Super Mario Bros. inspired 
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, as mentioned above, is the Trope Maker and one of the few commercial releases that falls under this trope (though its difficulty was not the sole reason it was not initially released outside of Japan, as being a Mission-Pack Sequel was also a factor). It is also worth noting that every subsequent release of the game nerfed the difficulty in some way or another.
  • The Impossible DLC Pack in New Super Mario Bros. 2, seriously. The pack includes three levels that have various enemies thrown at you at slow screen speeds, wall jumps needed to be done while avoiding fire bars in a narrow area, and traversing a large hallway full of Fire Bros., chainsaws, and flamethrowers with a poison pond that rises rapidly at certain points, in that order. Buy it now for $2.50.
  • Super Mario Forever - this video was phenomenally popular in April of 2007, mostly due to the surprising amount of visible emotion and frustration in the anonymous player's actions. An English Gag Dub of that same video exists here (NSFW). And now you can try it yourself!
  • Kaizo Mario World — colloquially known as "Asshole Mario". Quite possibly the Trope Codifier, at least for this tendency in the world of SMW hacking. While Super Mario Forever had only fire bars, blocks and moving platforms, the many traps and devices of Super Mario World make their appearance here. One particularly notable trap occurs in Special World 2. If you don't grab a pound switch right at the end of the level, then after you hit the end gate, Mario gleefully walks along, right off a ledge, and dies. After finishing the level. And what's even worse is that the entire level has to be completed in less than two minutes, so the player is already in a frenzy, trying to get to the end before the timer runs out.
    • Kaizo Mario World 2 goes one step further into Platform Hell within the first few seconds of the game by attempting to kill you in the opening cutscene.
  • Shobon no Action (sometimes called Cat Mario or dongs.exe, but most commonly known as Syobon Action) - seemingly inspired by the two directly above. As it isn't a ROM hack, the designers were able to add even more preposterous traps and setpieces. It also makes very clever use of the Invisible Block trick; most players would be genre savvy enough to check for invisible blocks, sometimes even being able to get an advantage in clearing the pit by standing on the block. The game knows this, and has a block that once you stand on, it breaks. If the main game is not enough, pressing "0" on the title screen creates levels with randomly-placed blocks, enemies, and hazards. The first stage music in this game is a Shout-Out to Cheetamen II, an infamous unfinished Platform Hell which is loved for its music and nothing else.
  • Hammer Brother is an example of this trope caused by Fake Difficulty. Ratchet Scrolling makes it easy to get stuck, very long levels without a checkpoint are mandatory, and the Orb Glitch is required to bypass an Unwinnable boss fight.
  • The Unfair Platformer, found here, is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, though more like a homage as many sections are rather easy once you've figured out where the traps are.
  • Super Kusottare World: This is just a video of the very end of one level, and a hack that's seemingly so badly designed it took said video maker about 5 hours to get past one jump. It's all but unplayable even with save-states. The maker gave the game to someone to review on YouTube. The reviewer became so incensed at the game that he abandoned the project halfway through and told the maker never to contact him again unless the hack was edited. Kusottare is a swearword that roughly means 'bullshit' in Japanese.
  • Super Mario Bros SpeedExpiation seems innocent enough — all the original levels are left as is. Then you notice how quickly the timer runs down, and how it's a bad idea to do a Goomba Stomp or even pick up a coin... It's basically turned normal game objects into instant death blocks.
  • Super Tabarnak World — A hack that actually requires you to get a Yoshi in the bonus game to progress and whose last castle is basically 10 rooms of Kaizo traps on permanent super sped up mode. With more Kaizo traps in the middle. And tons of ghosts in the Bowser battle. Pretty much defines cruelty. It speaks volumes when the strange word (Tabarnak) in the title is actually a Foreign Cuss Word from Quebec.
  • The "gimmick" used by SpeedExpiation is also applied, with hair-rending results, to Super Mario World in Present Mario.
  • The Hard Level Compilation - Exactly what it says on the tin, and a compilation of about 20 of the hardest Kaizo styled levels people have contributed.
  • "Pit Hacks" are a fan name for Super Mario World hacks that aren't made to be playable by human beings, even with save states. Beating them requires speedrunning tools, slowdown, and exploiting glitches in the SMW engine.
    • The original pit hack, Pit of Despair. That's a Tool Assisted Speedrun of the level and only one of three (Moltov Mario World and Lawler Mario World being the others) that the video creator has made based purely on being the hardest games ever. The sequel, Pit of Death, apparently took over 5000 reloads using TAS to beat for the creator.
    • There's also Pit of Trials, Pit of Keys, and Pit of Insaneness (sic), by different creators.
    • The infamous Item Abuse and its even more insane sequel, Item Abuse 2, inspired by the above hacks. Some of the glitches have to be seen to be believed. Item Abuse 3 is even more insane than its predecessors.
    • Wall Jump Abuse has been described by one TASer as "the hardest hack I have ever played".
    • ColonThree, which requires an insane range of glitches to complete.
    • Super Mario Intrigue (Special World). As with many of these others, it requires savestates and slowdown to complete normally. Of course, by now, it has been thoroughly broken. (There's another, less complete, TAS here, which demonstrates some other breaking methods).
    • This little gem entitled Living on the Edge. Makes Pit of Despair look like a walk in the park. The best part is probably where you have to juggle two keys.
    • Possibly the single most ridiculous hack in existence is one called Glitch Abuse, which is exactly what it sounds like. It requires using nearly every known glitch in the SMW engine for a successful playthrough, most of which require frame-precise timing. It now has two sequels. Which have, as with Intrigue above, been broken severely thanks to... erm... glitch abuse.
    • All of these have been outdone by Armageddon. It uses every TAS technique and glitch known as of its release in 2021 (including the ones in Glitch Abuse and many newly discovered ones), is longer than Colon Three and the last room requires you to do arbitrary code execution to complete it. The full clear is a spectacle to watch.
  • Springboard And Shells Hack: Yes, just that name, but freaking hard as hell. This video is a tool assisted speedrun the hack creator made of the last level, which makes you dodge almost endless halls of spikes while bounce on enemies, entering doors in mid air by bouncing off keys and blocks and having between only 50 and THREE seconds to beat each room. Then there's the boss...
  • Cool or Cruel - A deliberately Kaizo Mario inspired hack/game which is also a parody of the Mario World Special World area (note the punny names such as Snarly instead of Gnarly, Way Cruel instead of Way Cool and Awful instead of Awesome). Platform Hell is pretty much the most common Mario World ROM Hack genre by now.
  • The Vein Popper: Another hack that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It begins with having to move to the right after beginning the game or else you die at the hands of a Thwomp, and the first level involves getting a bunch of extra lives. This should set the tone nicely.
  • Mario's Evil Level is a really sadistic version. This level is tough as nut even with save states. In addition, it has multiple paths, some of them which take you to a dead end and some of them which make you think they've taken you to a dead end. To add insult, almost every 3-up moon and often seemingly safe surfaces or air kills you without any indication before.
  • Many ROM hacks of Super Mario Bros. 3, eg Ultimate SMB3, are like this.
  • Mario's Masochistic Mission. That video being a perfect example. Nice relaxed Super Mario Bros 1-1 remake. Then a "tiny" fortress where the end usually is... which turns out to be a massive castle of doom, Munchers, death traps, pixel perfect jumps, and instantly dodging about four falling Thwomps. And it kills you at the end if you didn't activate the Red Switch, which is LATER in the game. (The creator said that the last part was accidental.)
  • Yoshi's Island DS has Nintendo Hard secret levels... with the exception of the last one, Yoshi's Island Easter Eggs. That contains several incredibly frustrating and hard challenges, and doesn't even try to play fair (Ride an Arrow Ball through a room of spikes! Jump on platforms controlled by an enemy! Light switches last for 3 seconds!)
  • A hack of Super Mario World, "The Second Reality Project," has various Nintendo Hard levels, especially in the last few worlds. However, the very last level is a very hard level. It goes like this, you go to Bowser's Airship and once you're there, you are forced to shrink into Small Mario and go through about 16 of the hardest rooms (Including spinjumping on top of spike balls, floating with the balloon in a room full of spikes, going through a tower-like room with a bunch of Football Kicking Charging Chucks, swimming in a room full of Torpedo Teds, dodging giant spikes, and more) without getting hit once. The level is very tough and there is no checkpoint. In a newer version of the hack, "The Second Reality Project Reloaded," the level is remodified to where there is a powerup in every room and a checkpoint is offered after going through most of those rooms.
  • Yet another ROM hack, Hell Level, is aptly named. The first screen has annoying mini-puzzles and red herrings, as well as having to catch fish with Yoshi. The second screen was so broken that the player had to fix it in Lunar Magic. The third screen is an abrupt transition to Bullet Hell, with baseballs, Bullet Bills, and fish flying all over the place while Layer 2 spikes fall from the ceiling. And it's all slippery.
  • Toby's Masochistic Adventure. Some of the stuff in here is just insane, requiring a hell of a lot of bug and engine exploitation.
  • Going back to the original Super Mario Bros., Hard Relay Mario makes Super Mario Frustration look like a walk in the park. Kaizo Traps in half the levels? Check. Spikes that instantly kill you, even if you're big? Check. Employs nearly every glitch in existence, some requiring frame-precise timing? Check. Naturally, this is impossible without emulators, slowdown, and savestates. For a slightly faster TAS of the first world, see here, but it doesn't include the bonus levels.
    • Both these TASes have now been obsoleted with HappyLee's virtuoso run, which manages to be faster than either of them while completing all the bonus stages.
  • Along the same lines as Hard Relay Mario is Falling Mario. At the end of each world, Mario falls off into a pit and utters "Oh god! Wonder how many times I have fallen!", and the ending isn't any more uplifting. Even the music has been changed to a minor key, to make the atmosphere of the hack even more depressing.
  • The difficulty of Hard Relay Mario has now been beaten by MMM, although Hard Relay Mario is still generally considered to be a better-designed hack. The difficulty has been raised so much here that not only does the player need every powerup given to them, but also every life given to them, since the only extra life is needed at one point for a forced suicide. At this point these hacks resemble (fiendishly difficult) puzzle games as much as they resemble platforms in terms of how much outside-the-box thinking has to be done to get through a level successfully.
  • Going forward two platform generations is Kaizo Mario 64. Notably, it's different from most of the typical Kaizo-style hacks in that it simply takes the levels in the original game and makes them much, much, much more difficult, whereas Kaizo Mario World and other similar hacks often have very difficult levels made from scratch. It also has a variation on the Kaizo Trap, which are instead placed at the beginning of certain levels, rendering them inaccessible until you activate the cap switches. LPs of the game can be found here and here.
  • A game based in Syobon Action is The Hell Evolution. It has invisible coin blocks, kaizo traps, and evil blocks that look like the good ones and will disable them, blocking your way and forcing you to suicide.
  • S Mario is a hellish hack of Super Mario World. But what's worse than a few annoying aspects is the fact the game bases all its levels around an unfair, brutally cruel gimmick and then makes you do standard kaizo stuff under said limitations. Some of the worst levels are:
    • This level. The gimmick is that the very second you try to go left or spin jump, Mario dies on the spot. The whole level has an icy floor causing you to slide, trial and error jumps and traps come at you fast, on/off switches must be pressed with perfect timing and homing Bullet Bills get fired at you in the later part of the level.
    • The final level has random wind physics. As in, it pushes you left and right every half a second or so at random. The level itself wouldn't be so bad normally, but with random, uncontrollable movement along with trial and error gameplay? Awful.
  • "Master Quest", which is a fan-made level of Super Mario Galaxy 2, which is based on the hardest level in the game, "The Perfect Run", which is a harder version of the already-hard to beat Grandmaster Galaxy. The star is located above the house you see Rosalina inside at the end of the level, and it's very hard to reach without a Cloud Flower.
  • Takeshi's Castle was an attempt to make Super Mario Bros in real life as an obstacle course game show. It worked.
  • Mario Must Die features levels that, according to the intro, Bowser teamed up with Hitler and Satan to design. This is one of several Super Mario World hacks that is probably impossible to complete without emulator slowdown and savestates.
    • See also Yoshi Must Die, a Yoshi's Island hack from the same creator.
  • Now we have Kaizo Yoshi's Island! Well not really, but darn, it requires precision shell jumps and TAS requiring tricks in a maze of instant kill spikes and thorns in a Yoshi's Island level, so it's close enough.
  • The PETA video game Super Tanooki 2D Skin, which parodies Super Mario 3D Land's use of the Tanooki suit. It is a very short game, but it is impossible to beat without dying a lot, especially since the game is just one fast Auto-Scrolling Level and the scrolling speed just gets faster as time goes on.
  • Eryi's Action, a cute but fiendishly hard platformer involving a fairy girl who wants to get back her melon. Places more of an emphasis on puzzle-solving than the pixel-perfect jumps of I Wanna Be the Guy. The manual lampshades this, making many references to player frustration or player-damaged input devices.
  • SMW Lost Brain Ultimate Edition is this, because it completely lacks any kind of consistency. Basically, no two objects act the same way as any other two objects in game, so the whole thing is literally Trial-and-Error Gameplay from start to finish. That one pipe or cloud could kill you instantly with no warning whatsoever, but the one next to it (with identical graphics) is completely harmless. In some cases, the ground, water or even AIR kills you with no warning, so the whole thing is basically video game Russian Roulette. Basically, you can't beat it without rewinds, save states and likely psychic powers.
  • Unfair Mario is exactly as it sounds. Being a Kaizo like game, the biggest offense it has is that the insta-kill traps and enemies have a bigger hitbox than you would expect. Making for many deaths where you don't even get hit.
  • Grand Poo World 3 is one of the greatest of this type, adding custom mechanincs, a randomized tower of rooms and puzzle solving in addition to the challenging gameplay of these types of games.
  • raocow is rather infamous for his ability to design absurdly insane levels. He published his own Super Mario World rom hack, What The Hell, full of invincible enemies and the craziest jumps imaginable, and has submitted levels to several collaborative hacks- they were used as part of the last world or as a Brutal Bonus Level. He eventually lowered the sadism factor after being forced to play through several of them when let's playing those games, and now considers them Old Shame.
    raocow: [This level] was made by me back in the day when I had no idea what 'fun' meant
  • Super Mario Maker:
    • "My First Course", which is presented as a course designed by Mary O. (the woman from the game's digital manual). The course elements are haphazardly placed, there are a lot of cheap traps, and it is risky to collect the only power-up in the course and emerge unscathed. This was justified as Mary O. still being a rookie. On the the Japanese page presenting the course, Mary O.'s course-making teacher Yamamura was a tad unhappy about it.
    • Of course, given the main concept of the game, there's nothing stopping level creators from making devious platform hell courses. The higher levels of the 100 Mario Challenge were at one point so thickly saturated with them that Super Expert mode was seemingly created just to store them all. While the game does require you to beat your own course before publishing it (otherwise the course list would be populated with Unwinnable Joke Game courses), it hasn't stopped very skilled players from successfully publishing Kaizo-esque courses for others to flip tables over. You can also expect tons of the hardest courses to be riddled with Fake Difficulty and dirty tricks. Just a few of the MANY examples include kaizo blocks that will ruin your jump when you least expect it, pick a door/pick a pipe where all but one will kill you with no indication which is right (god help you if it's at the end of a difficult level, and they can be randomized as well), hard to find developer shortcuts that allow them a way to skip challenging parts of the level, possibly leaving it Unwinnable legitimately, levels designed to waste as much of your time as possible performing tedious tasks, hiding an invisible block with a key or star needed to exit the level hidden somewhere in a vast level, blind jumps with no indication which direction you need to go to land safely, and sections that require you to do something seemingly stupid to survive, dying if you take the seemingly correct path (or the reverse). Oh, and all of these and more may be and probably are going to be combined, amplifying each other to make some of the worst levels imaginable. Be glad there's a skip button.
  • Super Mario Odyssey's Superstar Mode mod remixes the game to be much harder, to the point where several advanced tricks are needed just to navigate the overworld. The sand in the Sand Kingdom deals damage. The water of the Lake Kingdom is icy, hurting Mario if he stays in it for too long. The lower parts of the Lost Kingdom are constantly bombarded by waves of instant death poison water. All four Broodals are fought at once. Unlike most difficulty mods, the creators have stated that it is possible to get every moon without glitches or taking damage.

    Other Platformers 
  • Celeste is a challenging platformer even at its easiest, and actively encourages players to be proud of how many times they've died because they're learning from their mistakes. But finding and collecting the cassette tapes hidden in each level unlocks their "B-side", which are exponentially harder. These levels demand precision platforming from the player — even the easiest B-sides can kill a seasoned player upwards of sixty times on their first go — and to make matters worse, Chapter 7's B-side throws in an all-new mechanic, the Wall Bounce, which then becomes mandatory to complete the rest of the level. Clear the B-sides, and your reward is the C-sides. Each of them only lasts three or four rooms, but C-sides can prove even more challenging than their B-side counterparts because the last room is always very, very long and must be completed perfectly to finish the level, or else the player will get sent right back to the start of the room. Oh, and the very last C-side introduces another new skill, the Hyperdash.
    • Unlocked along with the C-sides are the Golden Strawberries. Each level has one, including the B-sides, C-sides, and Farewell. To collect a Golden Strawberry, you have to complete the level without dying. Mess up even once, and you'll be taken all the way back to the beginning of the level, no matter how much progress you've already made. In a game as difficult as Celeste, successfully grabbing a Golden is one of the greatest challenges Madeline will ever face.
  • The Divide: Enemies Within have increasingly insane amount of platforming areas as the game goes on, to the point that you can spend minutes jumping around just to get to the next area. Miss a jump and if you survive, get ready to restart from the nearest drop-point. The fact that a lot of these are Temporary Platforms doesn't help either.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy: The Movie: The Game - confirmed to be directly inspired by Jinsei Owata no Daiboukennote . In this game, everything really is Trying To Kill You, even apples. Which fall upwards. At one point, the moon gets dropped on you, several times. At another, a save point tries to eat you. Find it in all its horrible, hair-tearing glory here.
    • One of the traps in the game occurs during a pre-boss cutscene with Dracula. Near the end of the cutscene, in the middle of a line, he throws his wineglass at you, and unless you move while Dracula is still talking to you, you will die. Incidentally, you also cannot move until he throws the glass.
    • Only a handful of people in the entire world have been confirmed to beat the game on Impossible (meaning no save points). The official comment to the first time this happened was "holy crap you're not serious are you".
    • The official list on the forums has only 509 unique people to clear it, including the creator (who is not anywhere near first on the list). The best-known impossible-clearer created a separate fangame and game engine.
    • The sequel, I Wanna Save The Kids, is an Escort Mission from hell. As if that wasn't redundant enough.
    • One notable fangame is the aptly named I Wanna See You Suffer, by UltraJMan, which was created as revenge on the people who recommended his maddening, rage-inducing run through I Wanna Be The Fangame, and it shows. The first thing that'll happen when you spawn is that you die, and it will take you approximately 10-30 minutes to get past that first obstacle and reach a breather point. That's 1/3rd of the first game screen. After that, the game will stop treating you nicely; there are numerous routes you can go, and most of them lead to dead ends after 2-4 soul crushingly difficult screens... the game's official key features are that it is "unfair, precise, and unfun".
  • You Have to Win the Game is as much Platform Hell as the player wants it to be. You can beat it without all that much in the way of suffering, but if you want to go for 100% completion, you're going to have to go through some areas that require every bit as much in the way of precision and timing as the worst of IWBTG's challenges. It doesn't pull IWBTG-style cheap tricks to kill you just for the hell of it — but, then, it doesn't need to.
  • The hidden Hell Temple in La-Mulana takes an already difficult game and sends it screaming right into the bowels of self-aware platform hell. It may seem fair, but you'll be going cross-eyed with grief once you step into an invisible pit again, or accidentally enter a one-way Door to Before. And the solution to the final 'puzzle' in the temple? Completing the whole temple again. Twice. And once you finally beat Hell Temple, what is your final reward for it all? A skimpy swimsuit. Which you then see Professor Lemeza wearing!
  • A Slightly Difficult Game really likes spikes, weights falling out of the air for no reason, and Mega Man-style dissapearing blocks. The game over screen (which you are going to see a lot) also has a message mocking the way you died.
  • I Wanna be the Star is a Christmas themed platform hell game inspired by I Wanna be the Guy, where you play as a blue ornament trying to oust and replace the star on the top of the tree.
  • You Probably Won't Make It is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. No traps, but LOTS of Spikes of Doom, combined with obnoxiously difficult jumps, and a system that shows you where you died last. Expect the screen to be covered with red blotches.
  • The Dirty Harry NES game is somewhere between this and Nintendo Hard. While a lot of the difficulty is standard, it also sports a number of cruel glitches, as well as things more in this category. Such as the "Ha Ha Ha" room. An area, impossible to tell from the outside, that once entered, requires you to reset the game, and a one-way maze leading back to the start of the game. Here's another level. There are issues with collision detection, item usage, bad coloring, repetitive music...
  • The Nickelodeon flash game Unfairly OddParents
  • This Ninja Warrior-inspired flash game. Complete with one mistake fails and strict time limit. The hardest difficulty is basically a No-Damage Run.
  • Checkpoint is not as difficult as some examples, but it's filled with unfair traps and levels that literally cannot be cleared without dying one or more times, plus the game mocks you every time you die.
  • Ms. 'Splosion Man. 'Splosion Man was hard enough, but from World 1-2 on, the sequel takes it further.
  • Limbo is a bit nicer than most of the above examples — you're expected to die early and often, but Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, and dying once is supposed to help you figure out how to not die upon retrying the puzzle. The level designer has talked at length about balancing this.
  • Ninja: Shadow of Darkness: The game begins as a rather standard (if really fun) Beat 'em Up game, but as it progresses, platformer elements starts becoming increasingly common, to the point of becoming painfully tedious. The Cloud City, Beach and Hell levels are notable offenders.
  • Super Metroid hacks often veer into this category at times. An example is this segment from Super Metroid Redesign. For a long time, arguably the only two well-known hacks that didn't were Metroid Legacy and Golden Dawn, and even Golden Dawn probably comes close in a couple of places (if you can't wall jump, you won't even be able to get past the opening segment). However, some recent hacks like Vitality and Hyper Metroid have more comparable difficulty to the original game.
    • The most prominent example is literally called Super Metroid Impossible. It has the same world map as the original Super Metroid, except with badly-damaging spikes scattered throughout Zebes, forced mockballing and bomb-jumping, escape sequences with time limits so tight that the slightest slow-down will result in failure, normally-accessible areas in the original now blocked off by green, yellow, or metal doors, and key items rearranged into the most assholish places. It was made in 2006 by a Tool-Assisted Speedrun author, for Tool-Assisted Speedruns authors, and for long wasn't thought possible by a human. Take a look.
      • Multiple human players have now run Super Metroid Impossible deathless, including Oatsngoats, azder, and hotarubi, and zoast, the world record holder as of October 2021. (Oatsngoats and hotarubi are former world record holders for Super Metroid itself; zoast still holds SM world records in numerous categories.) Oats also ran the game at AGDQ 2020; he died five times to Ridley and reset once at Mother Brain. (Ironically, Draygon is generally considered the toughest fight in this hack.) A better indicator of the hack's difficulty, however, is to watch zoast play through the hack for (mostly) the first time, having only seen other players run it. It took him about nine hours over several days, and he divided the YouTube video into two videos.
    • Super Metroid Impossible has probably now been topped by Super Metroid Discord, created by the creator of Mario Must Die (see above). Unlike Impossible, however, Discord has little in common with the original game in terms of its design, having much more to do with Kaizo Mario World and other Mario hacks.
    • Kaizo Super Metroid also exists; here's a TAS. This one is substantially more difficult than Impossible, so a Kaizo Possible version was created to be completable by human runners; nonetheless, Oatsngoats played through a good portion of the original (here are parts one, two, and three). Oats also has a deathless run of Kaizo Possible.
  • Takeshi's Challenge, a video game inspired by the impossibly difficult game show "Takeshi's Castle", includes several unfair segments (including a Shoot 'Em Up section in which the player can't move upward without hitting gusts of wind, which are destroyed if shot) and Guide Dang It! puzzles.
  • Distorted Travesty can get like this in some of the later levels, but Distorted Travesty 2 really takes it up a notch. The character in the sequel has a lot more ways to keep herself airborne (a double jump, the ability to float for a couple seconds, infinite wall jumps, and an air dash)... so, naturally, the creator took this opportunity to design some truly sadistic platforming sequences that are a challenge even with all those abilities. Notably, there are a couple of sequences in the final level where, aside from the entrance and exit, you are airborne for the entire room, with no safe ground to land on and rest anywhere.
  • The Flash game Give Up has you progress through levels increasingly choked with obstacles, all while a sadistic AI mocks your efforts and encourages you to push the big blue "GIVE UP" button at the bottom of the screen. Pushing the button gives you the "bad ending", where soothing music and condescending platitudes like "You did your best" play over the credits.
  • Pirated hack Super Contra II (hack of the already Nintendo Hard Contra on the NES) is somewhere between this, Nintendo Hard, and Bullet Hell. You start off with 5 lives instead of the usual 3 and you get to keep your weapon when you die, but that's the only mercy this hack has. The level designs are obtuse and ridiculous, featuring numerous invisible platforms and being able to fall off the screen when you're in water, the base levels are practically Bullet Hell, and the bosses have been ramped up in difficulty. One of the most egregious examples is in the first level, where certain sections will have you falling out of the water to your death. Oh, and the Konami Code won't save you herenote .
  • The Rick Dangerous series. Both games are full of hidden traps, spikes that only appear the moment they kill you, and hidden missile throwers. To top it off, you only have a limited amount of lives and no continues.
  • Mutant Mudds is typically Nintendo Hard, but then you beat the game and unlock Grannie as a playable character. Unlike protagonist Max, who can only use one power up at a time, Grannie has all three power-ups. She also has twenty of her own secret levels. Surely they must be easy, because she has every power, right? Wrong. In addition to being lined with Spikes of Doom and featuring truly brutal enemy placement, the levels are based around using all of those powers at once, like forcing you to hover across giant, spike-filled gaps you can barely make, while shooting lots of flying enemies, and at the end, you have to do a well-timed Rocket Jump just as you run out of hover power. They're brutal.
  • Guild Wars 2 has a Super Adventure Box "dungeon" which amounts to a platforming game-within-a-game, with blocky, colorful graphics, chiptune music, and design sensibilities from NES-era games. Then you have Tribulation difficulty, a clear attempt to recreate I Wanna Be The Guy in an MMORPG engine. It comes complete with countless invisible spike traps, invisible lava pits, power-ups replaced with explosive barrels, and even an equivalent to invisible blocks (solid clouds which suddenly appear, cutting certain jumps short). In most areas where the normal difficulty already required near-perfect maneuvering, Arenanet simply added an invulnerable lightning-spewing psycho-raincloud to the area, forcing you to either rush through or dodge carefully.
    • Outside of SAB, many of the game's jumping puzzles can verge on this when they incorporate traps, enemies, precise jumps, and respawn points positioned so the player will have to run the entire puzzle all over again.
      • The biggest offender is Troll's Revenge, a meandering rooftop, cliffside, spelunking, tightrope trek through the updated Lion's Arch. A complete run with minimal errors can take 17 minutes. A fall at any point on the run requires a start-over and the run itself is often incomprehensibly convoluted and exacting in precision. Without a mesmer who can create portals for people who fall off, an average run is 3 hours.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a compendium of all of the Nerd's Nintendo Hard pet peeves. The most common frustrating obstacle are the "death blocks", which often periodically appear and disappear or have to be negotiated in jumping puzzles.
  • In the Commodore 64 game Hercules, and its sexed-up Atari ST/Amiga remake Yolanda, the protagonist is a One-Hit-Point Wonder with no attacks and must undergo the "Twelve Labours of Hercules," all of which involve finding the way to the exit. Each of these trials is selected at random and is Trial-and-Error Gameplay that makes Rick Dangerous look like a model of fairness. They feature floors that spontaneously burst into flames (and every starting platform will do this if you dawdle on it for a few seconds), platforms that disappear when you jump on them, and invisible platforms that could be anywhere.
  • 1001 Spikes is all about this. The difficulty is somewhere between Meat Boy and I Wanna Be the Guy, giving your difficult platforming with semi-frequent psychic-powers-requiring death traps. Most common of those death traps are spikes that unexpectedly come out from the ground but they can also take form of collapsing floor tiles.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog - YOLO Edition is a rom hack where you only have one life to beat the game. There are no rings, checkpoints, extra lives, or continues (the score is frozen at 0), every monitor is a Robotnik monitor that will kill you, and cheats don't even work (level select sends you to the beginning no matter what you select).
  • While on Sonic, Sonic Unfair, which like Unfair Mario is a huge Kaizo trap (with just one minor advantage: Sonic can jump while falling).
  • Now there's a Kaizo Sonic rom hack. Just to emphasise how hellish it is, all the original sound tracks are replaced with Dark Reprise remixes, and the last level (based on Labyrinth Zone) is called "Bad Time Zone". At least it gives you lots of extra lives.
  • Dust Force veered into the higher end of Nintendo Hard with levels such as Zeta and Yotta difficult, but with the DX update they included one hidden level found by trying to create a custom level and naming it "exec func ruin user"note  which removes all hint of being fair. While the X-Difficult levels refrained from using enemies that attacked you and focused on the platforming elements, the Ruin User level hides projectile-shooting enemies in spikes in tiny corridors, requires the player to use techniques usually reserved for Sequence Breaking, and requires pixel-perfect positioning at several points in the level.
  • Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land may be one of the most difficult games ever based on a kids show. 1 hit kills. Relentless enemies. Maze-like level designs. It's I Wanna Be the Guy for kids.
  • Wild Woody for the Sega CD. The game stars the titular Mascot with Attitude, Woody, a pencil given life by an talking totem head statue to return his brothers and save the world. The game itself is annoying difficult as the controls are heavy and unresponsive, setting objects like mushrooms hurt you for whatever reason, power-ups and their sections add extra difficulty because you can't see what's up ahead, and the only way to beat enemies is a gamble as the controls don't always register that you tried to erase a mook so you'll take yet another hit. The game received negative reviews and didn't help the Sega CD's small library of games to stand out to the Sony Playstation or the Sega Saturn.
  • Trap Adventure, an iOS game full of hidden spikes, collapsing platforms, and other ridiculously unfair traps in the vein of I Wanna Be the Guy. And there's a sequel with even more ridiculous traps.
    • Of note is that the second game has things like Unexpected Gameplay Change, fake notification that fall on your character, and the ending credits after you seeming escape with a space shuttle where you dodge the game montage to play a few more screens in an outer space setting before the game truly ends.
  • Hollow Knight is, for the most part, not an example of this genre: It's instead a fairly traditional Metroidvania side-scroller that draws some concepts and mechanics from Dark Souls, of all things. This means that the difficulty comes mostly from the combat and not so much from the platforming (save for the occasional tricky challenge here and there). But then you reach the White Palace, a technically optional level (that is, however, mandatory if you want to get the Golden Ending) that dips its toes good and well into hellish territory. Monsters are few and far between, and instead the area consists of long, unforgiving gauntlets of platforming challenges that demand very precise jumping and timing, lest you fall into one of the many, many Bottomless Pits and Spikes of Doom (that also exist elsewhere in the game, but there they are used sparingly). As a small mercy, falling into those returns you to a nearby ledge with one less hit point, but when you run out of hit points (and indeed you will, since the aforementioned lack of monsters deprives you of your main source of life-restoring Soul: killing enemies) you are sent back to a checkpoint bench as usual, but here they are few and far between, meaning you'll be forced to repeat each gauntlet A LOT. The main frustration of this level is just how jarring it's nature is: nowhere else are non-combat sections so long and unforgiving. This level feels more like the late-game of Super Meat Boy than it does the game it's in (comically large circular saw blades included!).
    • And if that's not enough, a later update introduced a new, completely optional area — the appropriately named Path of Pain, located behind a secret, breakable wall in the White Palace. The Path of Pain is more unforgiving than the White Palace by a country mile, requiring almost pixel-perfect timing to clear increasingly cramped passages riddled with even more buzzsaws and thorns than before. To make matters worse, the distance between spots you can land on unharmed is much, much greater, forcing the player to think outside the box: for a few sections, it's mandatory to use the Nail to pogo off of the sawblades themselves, many of which are moving. The very last section, a particularly brutal and lengthy thorn-filled passageway with lots of platforming on sawblades, ends with a Dual Boss battle against a pair of Kingsmoulds, which appear right when the player thinks they've gotten to safety. And what do you get for making it all the way to the end of the area? A very brief cutscene showing the Pale King and a younger Hollow Knight together, and a new addition to the Hunter's Journal.

  • Tomb of Horrors, the infamous Dungeons & Dragons module and Ur-Example. To just get into said dungeon you have to get past a literal Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. And that's the easiest part of it; it all goes downhill from there. Have fun, you masochistic players, have fucking fun.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has the "Death Road of Despair", an extremely challenging platform game filled with many extremely hard to avoid and often invisible traps, made harder with slippery, stiff controls and by the fact that your 16 extra lives are represented by you taking control of another character once your current one is defeated, but said characters follow behind you and are still vulnerable even when not being controlled, meaning that even if you successfully avoid a trap, you may still end up losing many lives. In-Universe, it's meant to be a method of emotional torture for the main characters, tantalizing them with a possibility of escaping the killing game but making it extremely unlikely they will succeed, even players will be woefully unprepared for it. If you manage to clear it, all you get rewarded with is a Downer Ending and a menu skin. Later in the game, you get to go back there armed with special hammers that can disable any trap, making it much easier.
  • The Impossible Quiz - a non-platformer example, only by virtue of the completely ridiculous and hilarious "solutions" that the game expects of the player.
    • A brief sampler of said "solutions": Finding a completely invisible button to click on a white field, choosing an answer in a multiple choice question where the answers have nothing to do with the question, are not in english, or are blank, and right clicking on the window to deactivate the Flash control to keep the program from failing younote . The game does let you skip some questions, but you'll need every skip available to pass the final question. This was quite intentional.
  • The PC game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984) is notorious for being very close to Adventure Game Hell. Many puzzles are ridiculous and insane, and the room descriptions contain outright lies. Not mistakes, lies. Many other Infocom Interactive Fiction games have even harder puzzles, but this is the only one that uses its difficulty in the same ironic manner as other Platform Hell games.
    • In addition, it's extremely easy to make this game Unwinnable. Didn't pick up the junk mail at the start of the game? Didn't buy the sandwich in the pub? The game won't mind, it won't even hint that those things have any effect when you do them - but if you don't, woe betide you later on. Also, near the end of the game, you will find yourself in need of a certain item. The item is chosen from a list of twelve possibilities, and unless you have all of them, the game will always ask for one you don't have. So, if you're not using a walkthrough, you'll start over and make a point of finding the item you missed, only to get to the end and find that you need a different one. Repeatedly.
    • An example of the game lying: in a certain corridor in the Heart of Gold, if you try and move in a particular direction, you are informed, "You can't go that way." In a typical adventure game, that would be the end of it, but this game expects the player to try to move in that direction repeatedly until the game eventually says, "Fine! Have it your way!" and allows the player to proceed.
    • Douglas Adams said in an interview "This is the first game that moves beyond user friendly. It is user insulting and...user mendacious."
    • Dave Leary's games were notorious for their "lying computer" puzzles as well. Leary did admit to being heavily inspired by Infocom games.
  • Curses is probably the most famous Interactive Fiction game to fit this trope, though there are many others. (Just don't say any actual curse words in-game, no matter how frustrated you get, or you will be punished with a parser that ignores you until you wash your mouth out with the soap that just appeared in your inventory.)
  • Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna is RPG Dungeon Crawler Hell. You know how weak the average monster in a Random Encounter is compared to RPG heroes? Well, in this game, you're on the side of the monsters. Not only that, but the puzzles take Guide Dang It! to an extreme; most players won't even make it out of the first room without outside assistance.
    • The same can be said about Samuel Stoddard (of RinkWorks fame)'s dungeon crawler Murkon's Vengeance, which is basically a homage to Wizardry IV in every way. Including the difficulty. Watch as your 10-hitpoint-1-damage-dealing character barely scratches the enemies less than half of the time and spends the rest "too scared to act".
  • Bastet, or Bastard Tetris, is a Tetris clone with a key difference. Whereas Tetris will select the next brick random(ish)ly, Bastet deliberately gives you the least useful brick.
    • Wesleyan Tetris has random bricks, but otherwise deploys a full Platform Hell arsenal.
  • The Kaizo scene has even extended into Pokémon territory with Pokémon Blue Kaizo. Even from the first battle of the game, you know this game is going to be insane when you see that your rival's starter Pokemon is Mew!
  • Racing games are not immune to hellish hacks either. F-Zero got its own hellish hack called F-Zero: The Revenge. Land mines, magnets, death traps, long jumps, twisting and knotting tracks, and Marathon Levels galore!
  • Non-video game example: Ninja Warrior. Hopping around obstacles of varying difficulty within a time limit is harder than it looks, especially since only four people beat the obstacle course. (And only one has repeated his victory)
    • To be specific, there have been 31 Ninja Warrior tournaments held, each with 100 contestants. So 4 out of 3,100 people have passed it...a whopping 0.13% success rate.
      • There's also the Ninja Warrior flash game. "Just like the real thing, you should not expect to complete this course easily or on the first try. Do you have the timing, reflexes and resolve to complete our Sasuke and become the next NINJA WARRIOR?"
    • And Takeshi's Castle, which has been beaten by a total of nine people.
    • Ditto for Wipeout (2008), which also has a Wii adaptation.
  • Iter Vehemens Ad Necem, which means "A Violent Road To Death", is the Roguelike equivalent. It is not kidding. The fact that some people can beat the game is generally considered a bug.
  • Guitar Hero custom songs are often this because they are made by/for people who think even "Through the Fire and Flames" was easy. They often contain inhumanly fast sections and awkward patterns among things. Despite his charts actually being accurate to his songs, Exilelord in particular is a repeat offender. Possibly his most infamous song, "Mechanical Machines (Soulless 2)" is so bad that it took almost 8 years for a legit FC. "Soulless 6" takes this straight to Unwinnable Joke Game levels.
  • Deadly Danger Dungeon is a board game example, which was created by none other than James Rolfe when he was a kid. He showed it on one episode of Board James which demonstrated just how frikkin' hard it is. The rest of review was him humiliating Mike Matei with it.
  • Happy Wheels tends to have user-generated levels fall into one of three categories: story/travel levels that you ride through with little to no effort; "effect" levels like dominoes, glitches, etc; and obstacle courses. The obstacle courses, if done well, are Nintendo Hard. If not done well, or if done by a sadistic designer, fall very firmly into this category.
  • Remember what we said about Bullet Hell games being fair? The Touhou Project fangame Unreasonable Mechanism takes that sentence as a personal insult. Some truly impressive creativity, all bent towards destroying the player (and considering how difficult the original games can be...).
  • Which Way Adventure as well as its two sucessors Get Lost and Curse of the Red Ninja are all point and click adventure games that can easily fall under this category. All three games are mostly trial and error based, and have routes that could kill you shortly from the start of the game. Which Way in particular gives no hints and only encourages you to explore. The latter two games require rather elaborate methods to get to the "best" endings.
  • Technomage, an obscure, German-developed action RPG, includes some platforming segments which come with checkpoints, in anticipation of players finding them this tough. If a player fails a platform segment, they're sent back to the checkpoint with no penalty.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, every summer during Moonfire Faire, there's an obstacle course mini-game where you jump across platforms to earn some event points to trade for seasonal items. Getting to the goal isn't too hard, but if you want to, you can climb up to the very top of the towering structure by jumping across the many tiny platforms and pillars leading up to it, with almost no safety drops. You don't get anything for reaching the top, so taking on this hellish challenge is on your own volition.
    • Some Sightseeing Logs are located in high-up places inside towns (so no flying) that require some serious jumping skills to reach. The Kugane Tower jumping puzzle in Stormblood is one of the most infamous ones.
  • Final Fantasy XV has the Pitioss Dungeon which dumps the games combat mechanics for pure platforming with many challenges that that play this trope straight.
  • Splatoon 2: A number of the tests in the Octo Expansion DLC qualify for this, usually of the "fight a large number of enemies while hopping between tiny platforms over a bottomless pit" variety. As a bonus, several of them also require you to move platforms and such by shooting targets while dealing with enemies simultaneously.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm is primarily an RPG, made in an RPG engine, so all of its platforming segments are little bit janky. But the six bonus trials during the epilogue take it to a level of pure absurdity. New mechanics are thrown at you left and right, none of which are explained to you, and sometimes the physics don’t even make sense. (You can’t stand on moving platforms, for instance. They can only be used as stepping stones). Even players dedicated to 100% completion have admitted to giving up in frustration… on the first level.
  • Christos Owen, one of the developers of the randomizer for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, made a "Kaizomizer" for the game which... well, rather than try to describe it, it's probably best to just let you watch speedrunner Andy Laso run it yourself. Hilarity Ensues, of course.
  • The Doom Game Mod NoYe, made by speedrunners for speedrunners. Most maps in the set are ridiculously difficult. For example, MAP03 forces you to tightrope-walk along a very thin, very long, curving path, all while hundreds of monsters are firing at you from all sides. MAP28 has you up against a horde of over eleven thousand monsters, all in one open area with no cover whatsoever. MAP33 places you on a fast conveyor belt, forcing you to dodge instant-death obstacles with barely any time to react. Amusingly, MAP01 is an inversion — it's literally the easiest level possible: you win instantly upon starting it.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's World includes one of these in its post release update. The issue isn’t so much the minigame itself, it’s the game's titular Rainbow, who is a massive jerk that mocks the player for dying and even kills them if they die too much. Said Rainbow even decides to replace the intended boss for the update and carry over the flagrant unfairness of her game to the fight.
  • Half-Quake is a series of Half-Life mods - with two of its installments predating I Wanna Be The Guy and Kazio Mario World - which take Half Life and turn it into First Person Shooter/Platformer/Puzzle Hell.

    Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): Masocore