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That One Level

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Aeris suddenly remembers why she stopped playing these games.note 

Sivert Fjeldstad Madsen: Since you've made every game... Did you actually beat Battletoads?
Lord of Games: I assume you mean that tunnel level with the hoverbike. I, er... well, of course I beat it. It's not as if I or anyone else would release a game that couldn't be finished with standard human reaction times.
— Facebook Q&A, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

There are times in video games where, instead of a boss becoming infamous for being frustrating and/or difficult, a level does. It could be that it is infested with Goddamned Bats or Demonic Spiders, is really long, lacks items or checkpoints, is home to That One Boss, is home to That One Puzzle (or at least one with a Guide Dang It!), has you trying to outrun an Advancing Wall of Doom or otherwise sticks you with auto scrolling, tasks you with keeping a NPC without any basic survival instincts alive, has a different mechanic in play (often from a level-specific Unexpected Gameplay Change, such as a Stealth-Based Mission or Action-Based Mission), or is The Maze level. If you experience frustration and anger at a level that may have one or more of these things, congratulations: you're playing That One Level.


Sometimes, these levels are polarizing; a portion of players find it infuriatingly hard, while others don't have much of a problem with it. This can be a matter of general skill, familiarity with a particular control scheme or just plain luck, depending on the level. Game forums are literally packed with examples of this, which often results in discussions about said levels turning into flame wars.

Although it isn't a necessary requirement, it should be noted that many of these levels are hard on all difficulty settings. If a level is difficult on the highest difficult setting, it's to be expected. Chances are that one level is almost as infuriating on easy as it is on Harder Than Hard.

These levels might not always have a sign at the start that says "Welcome to Hell!," but they might as well.


Escort Missions, Slippy Slidey Ice Worlds, Under the Sea and Down the Drain-esque stages tend be more receptive to becoming these levels. For an optional level that is intentionally difficult, see Brutal Bonus Level.

See also That One Boss and That One Sidequest. Compare Ridiculously Difficult Route. Often contains the Last Lousy Point. Contrast Breather Level.

Please note that there is an emphasis on the "One" in "That One Level". If every, or at least most levels in the game are difficult, then you have Nintendo Hard. The level has to stand out in difficulty compared to the other ones in the game to qualify as an example.

Example subpages:

Other video game examples

Card Game

  • Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes had the infamous mission 20, called "A Shadow Falls". It is all because of an unfair special "rule" named Power to the Plants! note , so the opposing heroes can easily just play plants to overwhelm your weaker zombies. Green Shadow, a plant hero that relies on boosting plants, has many ways to hit you hard. Captain Combustible also can grow his allies huger thanks to the rule. However, Solar Flare, on the other hand, is a complete try hard with the rule. She simply rushes with weak plants, and thanks to the rule, they are now going to become a very large threat. The former boss mission even had Green Shadow with a complete advantage. She would've started with 3 Torchwoods and +15 health. What do you start with? Nothing. The fact that all lanes are heights as well makes it impossible to play a few ground lane cards and environments and makes Amphibous zombies more prone to being destroyed. It was too hard that even PopCap had to nerf the level to the point where the rule only affected the current turn and the Green Shadow boss now just starts with 6 cards.

Digging Game

Edutainment Game

  • Not really That One Level per se, but the desert you must cross to get to California in Oregon Trail II gets on many people's nerves.
    • Ditto for that game's river rafting minigame, which is much tougher than the original's and requires a lot of trial-and-error and dexterity with the mouse to pass, especially if you choose to shoot the rapids. And the Sublette Cutoff, which is unavoidable if you're a Greenhorn. If you forgot to bring canteens and/or water kegs, your party WILL die of thirst.
  • Brain Age 2:
    • There are unskippable connect-the-dot images and acrostics. And when more than one person is using the same game card, drawing a picture of something the game tells you to. All of the above includes getting upstaged by the game proving it's better than you. Because you are facing a professor.
    • For people with OCD/impatience, the number memorization game within the trademark Brain Age-checking system. Sure, it's supposed to help your memory, but many just restart their DS when they get to it then re-take the test until they get one without it, because it's too frustrating to complete, but too easy to cheat at by writing the numbers down somewhere.
  • JumpStart 5th Grade:
    • The crossword puzzle. You're supposed to go through the museum to find the answers, but this tends to take forever (And as many have said, it tends to be pretty well-hidden. Made worse by your parents who could have set a time-limit...making it unwinnable), since looking aroudn the museum and reading takes time.
    • The locks. Sometimes it's addition and subtraction. But the other half of the time? It's multiplication and division... long division. (Meaning you can't just brute force it with a calculator - since you have to give the game remainders.)

  • The line of Junior Arcades by Humongous Entertainment typically had at least one instance.
    • Freddi Fish & Luther's Maze Madness gave us Level 24, an incredibly long and tedious level composed of three rooms. One of the rooms in particular is filled with opening and closing leaves, that will only let you through when they feel like. This makes the level drag out for as long as possible.
    • SPY Fox in Cheese Chase includes Level 75, "Carnival of Clouds." You navigate through narrow passages of rollercoasters, all of which are one hit kills. If you do so much as touch the corner of one of the tracks, it's over. This is often the one level where people use the "Go slower" junior helper.
    • Spy Fox in Hold the Mustard has the passageway levels. Compared to the rest of the game which gives you a sky to fly around, the passageways are narrow tubes, and thanks to the lack of Mercy Invincibility, walls are almost always one hit kills, unless you get lucky and somehow manage to escape before your health drains (and even if you do, you'll still probably have only one hit left). The microscopic enemies certainly don't help matters, considering they also knock you far back, commonly into the walls. This is all bad enough; the fact that there are sixteen of these in succession instead of the usual eight, it's one heck of a ride. Sure, you can break up the action a bit by going to the secret Atlantis levels midway through, but they aren't much better.
    • Putt-Putt & Pep's Balloon-o-Rama has Level 108, which has balloons encased in a line of pinwheels and bumpers. For those who don't know, it plays like Breakout, except there is gravity thrown into the mix. The bumpers will be sure to keep you out of there though, and the pinwheels are supposed to send you in a random direction, but more often than not they just act like the bumpers. This makes getting the balloons they are blocking dang near impossible. You will be playing this level for a loooong time before you finish it.
    • Putt-Putt & Pep's Dog on a Stick has a level toward the end where you are traveling along one-square wide paths, with four hedgehogs in your way. This is a Q*Bert styled game, and the hedgehogs are the fastest enemies in the game, so they are a giant pain to dodge. There are also switches all over the level that add additional squares to help you some, but often the hedgehogs will hog the buttons and just keep switching them on and off as if to taunt you. Getting through this level without the unlimited lives junior helper is a big pain, unless you exploit a glitch that lets you jump through enemies with the proper timing. And even then, it hardly helps because you'll probably just land straight into the inevitable hedgehog that was trailing it.

Full Motion Video

  • Brain Dead 13:
    • Moose's entire scenario. It starts when you enter Moose's room and, immediately on entering it, you notice a stone football getting thrown into your mouth if you don't avoid it. Once you get past that football, you have to dodge another football, along with Moose's grabs, shoulder charges, baseball bat attacks, being flung by a basketball net as a catapult, and the grab from below his head, all in the first quarter of this scenario (followed by a lot of Deadly Dodging of the lightning rods in the second quarter; finding a way to destroy Moose in the third quarter; and dodging Fritz as usual in the final quarter)! Failure to avoid any of these attacks in the first quarter of this scenario will send you all the way back to where you entered the room in the split-second that the same stone football is getting thrown into your mouth again!
    • The Maze (which has many of these literal dead ends if you don't go in the right direction, accompanied by deadly mushrooms, snakes, man-eating frogs, spike traps, and deadly vines); and the giant statue at the end of it, which can require a whole lot of situations where you can't just "press X to not die", but you LITERALLY have to make it more like a BIG "Mash the X Buttons a Whole Lot of Times to Not Fall or Get Doused in or Sprayed by Acid, Impaled, or Squashed Flat" situation.
    • If you end up in Vivi's Salon and have the misfortune of accidentally picking 'manicure' for the treatment option you have to endure a very long minigame of having to avoid getting your hand lopped off by a meat cleaver. The tell for where Vivi is going to chop is unbelievably subtle and only appears for a split second. If you fail you watch as Lance's hand gets cut off and he collapses on the table from the shock.

Match-Three Game

  • In level 152 of Snoopy's Sugar Drop: The Search for Belle, there are five strawberries (which must fall through the bottom of the playfield), five eggs (which must not fall through the bottom) and five clovers (which may be moved freely, usually beneath an egg, but cannot fall through the bottom). The level starts with the strawberries above the clovers, and the clovers above the eggs. The object is to collect all five strawberries, but the level is lost if an egg falls through the bottom, no matter how many moves you have left.

Mecha Game

  • The first mission of the MechWarrior 3 fourth campaign. This is the only Timed Mission, in which you have to fight through a couple of enemy patrols and catch up a train. By this time, there is a good chance you have discarded the lighter Mechs in favor of the slow 100-tonners, the timing is very tight, and the enemy patrols have guns which can knock down even the heaviest Mech.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

  • Heroes of the Storm: There are a handful of maps which are divisive in the community, but no map has as much unified hatred as the original version of Hanamura. It was a two-lane map with the unique gimmick that the cores couldn't be attacked, only damaged by escorting a payload or defeating the boss in map's center. The concept was okay, but the execution was horribly imbalanced.
    • Both teams had a payload and it could never be destroyed, only delayed by the opposing team. This meant players had to constantly divide their attention between pushing their cart, stopping the enemy cart, stopping forts from falling (which gave a damage bonus to the other team), and checking the boss and other mercenaries. There was also no way to deny objectives since they were up forever, so turning in your payload when you're behind didn't slow the enemy down at all. This made the game very snowbally, since once one team got a payload in, they could commit their full force to delaying the other until theirs respawned.
    • The map also alienated many Heroes. The low value of taking towers lowered the power of siege heroes; the drastic distance between lanes and tendency to group up for fights at carts made roamers and gankers less useful; the constant moving of carts made characters that took time to set up fights less useful; and the game being over so fast meant late-game heroes never came into their strength. All of this combined to ensure this map had the lowest roster of viable characters. This could be a bit annoying for a ranked game, but Quick Match is the most played mode and this tendency made it even more hated. Picking any hero that is not built for team fighting was dangerous when there was a chance of being thrown into Hanamura and forced to play a game as The Load.
    • Originally, if a team managed to take both the Fort and Keep of a single lane down, they would get a Sapper minion in place of the usual Catapult. This generally spelled doom for the other team, as now they had to pay attention to their payloads, the enemy's payloads, the boss, and up to two lanes that no longer have any defenses. An update a couple months after the map's release removed the Sappers. While this removed the aspect of adding another thing to pay attention to, it also made it so the only way to win was pushing payloads or defeating the boss. This allowed particularly dickish teams to drag games out indefinitely by refusing to push their own payloads while also preventing the enemy team from pushing.
      • Hanamura was so despised, it was removed from all game modes (except Custom Matches) to receive a major overhaul a mere four months after its inclusion. Fortunately, the reworked version released a year later (cores are no longer protected, the map only spawns one payload for both teams to fight over, and captured payloads damage enemy structures akin to Blackheart's Bay rather than targeting the core directly) was much better received.

Mini Game Game

  • Remix II, Stage 1 in NES Remix. The first section is a simple "Enter the cave" scenario from The Legend of Zelda, and is easy to get past even with the blue Lynels and the constant screen blurring and unblurring. After you enter the cave, the second section unexpectedly changes to Donkey Kong, except instead of playing as Mario, you're still playing as Link, who can't jump or use his sword (or the two Hammers in the level). The barrels fall in such erratic patterns that it becomes a Luck-Based Mission to get to the top.
  • Each of the three Lazerblazer games in Super Scope 6 has at least one of these.
    • In level 29 of Intercept, the enemy missiles fly in a high-density formation with clusters of small far-away missiles interspersed with the occasional faster and closer ones above them. You're limited to 3 shots on the screen at once, but there will be more missiles on the screen at one time than that especially near the end. With all the small far-away targets and the 3-shot limit, your base most likely will get hit a few times.
    • Level 28 of Engage has the highest enemy count in the game with 35, as well as a constant neverending barrage of high-speed missiles heading straight for you. Not only that, but almost all of the enemy formations are very far away, leaving more room for a missile to block your shots and requiring more precise aim, and every enemy aircraft that you let escape will fire another missile on top of everything else. It is very likely that you will either run out of fuel trying to gun down all 35 enemies or get your aircraft destroyed by 5 of the 50+ enemy missiles that will bombard you throughout the mission.
    • The foreground is your worst enemy in level 26 of Confront. The enemies love to sneak in from behind the foreground obstacles and pick you off, and there are a lot of them out there.
  • In Rugrats: Royal Ransom, many, many levels on Rugrat Medium & Reptar Tough difficulty quality. Were the developers sadists indulging their fetish by wrapping it up in a licensed game aimed at children?
    • Punting Papayas in Jungle World on Tough is one of the most frustrating levels in the whole game, with the insanely long and hard-to-navigate paths you have to follow, to the point where it's physically painful to play.
    • Monkey Business is basically the same thing, just with papayas swapped out for monkeys.
    • Acrobatty Dash on Medium & Tough is just cruel and inhumane. On Baby Easy you're given a nice, comfortable seven minutes to go through the acrobat course. On Medium & Tough? 3 minutes 30 seconds and two minutes, respectively, even though the level itself is exactly the same. Cue much swearing, ripping of hair, and gnashing of teeth.
    • Meanie Genie on Medium & Tough difficulty is Platform Hell incarnate, with jumps requiring precision presses of the A button, lack of depth perception making it hard to tell if you're gonna land on a platform or in the boiling lava, the fact that it goes on damn near forever, and the background music is annoying to boot.
    • Temple Of The Lamp. On Easy & Medium it's a nice, if boring "collect-the-rubies"-athon. On Tough? An exercise in frustration. For one thing, you have to collect a whopping total of 70 rubies. Yeah, that's right, I said 70. Secondly, those goddamn scarab beetles are all over the place, serving to make your job even harder for no real reason at all. Thirdly, most of the rubies are located high on the buildings, forcing you to make even more perfect A button presses. Thankfully, it's easy to avoid doing this level in favour of other, more fun ones, like Rugrat Rug Race.
    • Moon Buggy Madness is extremely difficult on all difficulty levels, not due to any intention of the programmers, but due to the floaty physics making it almost impossible to get a sense of control.

Star Wars Expanded Universe

  • The level in every other Star Wars game that forces you to play the "Snowspeeder wrapping up the legs of the AT-AT" level.
    • Notable Features of this Level: You must defeat all AT-ATs to complete the level. You must use the speeder on this stage (and/or AT-ATs can ONLY be defeated by snowspeeders). You cannot just shoot them. There are lots of other enemies you can accidentally run into (and die from) while looping. A time limit of some type, while not mandatory, is encouraged.
      • Various examples: Rogue Squadron 1 through 3 (N64/GC/PC), it depends on the exact game/level, but it hits practically ALL of the above.
      • Rogue Squadron 1 took the cake with its Corellia Mission. You only had to take down one AT-AT, but it was at night, with the target walking along a cliff face, leaving you with a much reduced safe lane on one side. And since the mission is dark, it's hard to see the cliff. Have fun.
      • The Empire Strikes Back (NES/Gameboy), while the speeder part wasn't too bad, if you crashed you had to continue very slowly on foot.
      • Shadows of the Empire (N64), you 'can' shoot them to death in this one, but it took forever.
      • Lego Star Wars II (various), in Freeplay mode you could fly a different craft, but the only one that could defeat an AT-AT was the speeder. One of the less annoying examples the looping was fairly quick and easy to control (the infinite lives nature of the Lego-(something) games also helps).
      • The Battlefront games are at least nice enough to let you kill AT-ATs with sustained rocket/turret fire, as opposed to the speeder trick, but it also opens the door for Genre Savvy human players on the Empire's side to drive the AT-AT and knock out the turrets before Rebel players can use them. And may the Force help you if the Empire decides to rush in and capture the Echo Base hangar right away, depriving you of snowspeeders.
      • Star Wars Trilogy Arcade's Battle of Hoth stage skips the cables and has you shooting the AT-ATs' heads off by the neck.
    • Adding Fridge Logic is the fact that the Rebels have canonically taken out AT-ATs without cables, Insert Grenade Here, or rammingnote . In Isard's Revenge four of the Rogues take out four walkers in about five minutes. Of course the difference is, that time they were using dedicated combat vehicles (X-Wings) instead of glorified pickup trucks with popguns. And it's not just the EU: in the actual movie, after tripping the one walker a snowspeeder finishes it off with a laser shot to the joint between the neck and the body.
  • Play a Star Wars space simulator. You will hate the Gallofree Yards Medium Transport. And to think, the Battle of Hoth had that just after the AT-ATs.
  • Star Wars Rogue Leader has the Razor Rendezvous level, where you have to take down an entire Star Destroyer by yourself. With dozens of very accurate laser cannons ripping you to shreds the whole time.
    • Razor Rendezvous is usurped by the game's other That One Level: the Battle of Endor. In this level you have to destroy two Star Destroyers at the same time... with a strict and very short time limit!
      • Both aren't nearly as bad as the final Story mission: Strike at the Core. You have to protect Lando (or Wedge, if you're playing as the Millennium Falcon) from being shot down by TIE Fighters, and it is no exaggeration that you can get an instant Game Over in under ten seconds.
      • Prisons of the Maw is also one of the top contestants with you navigating through the asteroid belt to rescue some rebel prisoners. As if trying to sail through a rock pile isn't hard enough, you have TIE fighters and three shuttles securing the area, then you have to disable three shield generators (in the middle of a mine field mind you) with your ion canon while the fighters keep chasing you (doing it quick or the rebel ships you're supposed to escort will be blown apart by the imperial ships), then you have to protect the rebel prisoners in their train by shooting at guard towers and destroying communication relays while TIE fighters chase you again. Finally, you have to protect the prisoners as they escape in an imperial shuttle.

Stealth-Based Game

  • Hitman 2: Silent Assassin has a level called Hidden Valley, where the sole objective is to get from one end of a valley to the other, evading swarms of ninja guards. This isn't actually all that hard in itself. However, the highly trained ninjas apparently do not have the slightest understanding of basic road safety and have a habit of getting themselves run over by the truck convoys going through the underground tunnel. This would invariably result in the body being discovered and the alarm being raised, ruining the player's chances of getting the top mission ranking of Silent Assassin through no fault of their own. This would happen about four times out of five and could happen at any point in the mission, even when you were just seconds from reaching the exit. The only solution was to just keep trying again and again and hoping you got lucky.
    • The Motorcade Interception mission of Hitman 2 is an exercise in hair-pulling because of the way the civilians are handled. Their starting positions and walking routes are randomized, and they run to get the nearest guard immediately if they see you with a weapon. This is mitigated somewhat by the fact that without a weapon, they don't even notice you exist. Unfortunately, this is a sniping mission, so you have to carry a rifle from either the start of the level or your contact elsewhere to the nest. AND you're liable to get noticed while you're waiting in the nest for the motorcade to pass by, AND it's quite possible to go through all of this and then miss the shot anyway. This is especially annoying if you're trying for Silent Assassin rating.
  • Hitman (2016)'s "Freedom Fighters". All the NPCs, excluding the targets and hackers, are armed and the entire map is hostile. There are 4 targets, who, along with being bland compared to the previous targets, are spaced out, forcing you to run from one point of the map to the other. If that was not bad enough, the game forces you to infiltrate a house and break into the basement to leave.
  • Metal Gear series:
    • Building 2 in Metal Gear was a pretty creative, if difficult, level in itself, with various types of gameplay depending on what floor you're in (straight-up stealth, running away from pursuers, shooting, a maze, and so on), but was ruined by one piece of bad level design which makes the whole thing like pulling teeth. This is that one of the elevators will only go up, and the other elevator will only go down. It doesn't help that the radio gets jammed, so you can't even send or receive calls until getting antenna.
    • There's a lot of hate for the passageway between the Zanzibar Building and the Tower Building in Metal Gear 2. First of all, the obstacles range from boring, to annoying, to boring and annoying. It doesn't help that the boss in the area is the Running Man, who is also really boring - you don't even get to shoot him, and you beat him by running in a circle quickly enough to lay mines before your O2 meter runs out.
    • The very insanely, long stairway in the communications tower of Metal Gear Solid. You CAN'T avoid getting spotted by a security camera, even when the "Throw a chaff grenade before entering new doors" worked before, forcing Snake to run up an insanely long flight of stairs, being chased by a shitload of enemies—in a game where it's usually suicide to take on more then three or four enemies at a time. Oh yes, there's also the Guide Dang It! that if you ran out of the room with the camera instead of rushing for the stairs, you're stuck in an infinitely respawning chamber with no way out (it's probably a glitch, but unwinnable until you reload). Even after mowing all the enemies down, the towers are still irritating for the insanely long time it takes to go up and down it, even when Snake's running.
      • Made even worse in the Gamecube remake, The Twin Snakes. Try making a "no kill" run while being chased up the stairs by an endless swarm of mooks. At least it averts Cutscene Incompetence by forcing you to go through an unavoidable laser detector instead of using chaff-proof cameras.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the worst part of the game is when Raiden gets his clothes taken away and has to sneak through Arsenal Gear while avoiding Arsenal Tengu (who are ten times more alert and dangerous than the Gurlukovich mercs).
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has Act 3, an Eastern European level that focuses on the player tailing a resistance member. Instead of a normal sneaking mission, it plays like an Escort Mission where the escortee will run away and spend a good while hiding if he sees the player but will gladly approach any PMCs just to make sure the player stays busy. The resistance member tends to take a strange route in any case, and will resort to backtracking or running in circles if disturbed by anything. The entire process is going to take a while.
      • Averted if you use any of the masks other than Young Snake with the civilian outfit. The resistance members won't regard Snake as hostile, and if you let any of the PMCs pat you down without weapons equipped, they'll ignore you as well, which makes that part of the level loads easier.
      • While the aforementioned escort segment is frustrating, on The Boss Extreme it pales in comparison to the bike chase that follows it — especially when going for a no-kill Big Boss Emblem run. It requires an absurd combination of precision, memorization, timing, and luck.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has a few.
    • Mission 16. You have to extract a truck from a convoy. Sounds pretty simple. With two armored vehicles protecting it, plus an escort jeep. Still not too bad. But sneak around the vehicles or reach the target before they arrive? The Skulls show up the moment you get close to the truck. Their attacks can easily ruin your Fulton extraction attempts, and they will not hesitate to smash and shoot up their own truck trying to reach you, resulting in mission failure. And even if you do manage to Fulton the truck out, have fun dealing with them or escaping from what you thought would be just a quick mission involving a couple of vehicles.
    • Mission 45. You have to go to Afghanistan to retrieve Quiet after she leaves your base and is captured by the Soviet soldiers. Normally you'd think this would be a mission that would emphasize stealth and equip yourself accordingly. You'd be completely wrong. Instead you get hit by wave after wave of soldiers, gunships, and tanks, while being equipped with a weak Grom the game forces on you, forced to survive long enough for supplies to be dropped in. And if you didn't bother researching more powerful weapons and body armor? The game won't let you quit and start over from your ACC to do so, not unless you fulton yourself out on top of a container, which is neither easy to do under those circumstances nor something the game makes clear to you. It becomes a bit easier if you have forewarning and the right equipment, but you'll still have to face those waves of increasingly accurate armor.
  • Thief had "The Haunted Cathedral". You're exploring ruins of an abandoned section of town filled with irritating undead, and any valuables worth stealing are very well hidden and difficult to find. You're likely to finish the main objectives within twenty minutes, and then spend the next hour or two searching every nook and cranny of the quite large level for enough loot to trigger the end, while constantly having to deal with zombies (which are not nearly as fun to work around as human guards). In general, any level in which you're dodging undead tends to be annoying, but at least loot is generally easier to find in them.
  • Second Sight has Entrapped. Part Sewer level, part Escort Mission, all painful, especially if you are trying to do it stealthily and with no kills. Checkpoints are few and far between, the enemies are heavily armed soldiers that come in large groups and tend to spawn in behind you, the level is linear with very few hiding spots and full of water puddles that will make you leave footprints and give away your position if you are invisible, and you have to escort Jayne the whole way through, who, unlike the other escorts in the game, is completely unarmed. At least she doesn't have to be calmed down every time she is saved, unlike the previous escort mission with her.
  • Splinter Cell series:
    • Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow has Jerusalem. For most of the level, you aren't allowed to be seen or kill anybody AT ALL. If a civilian or police officer so much as catches a glimpse of you, it's a instant game over, and the level is also full of light sources which make getting through it a nightmare. Even once you get to the part where you are allowed to be seen and kill enemies, three of them are waiting right outside the elevator for you as soon it opens and will quickly ventilate you if you don't knock out or kill them immediately. Even once you get past that, depending on if you kill Dahlia or not, you have to deal with either snipers who can kill you in 2 or 3 hits and alert very quickly, or more police officers you aren't allowed to kill or be seen by.
    • Pandora Tomorrow also has the following level, Kundang Camp. It starts out in the daytime, which naturally makes it much harder to remain unnoticed. It doesn't help that the vast majority of the level is spent outdoors in wide-open areas with sparse cover, placed in such a way that you have to be perfect with how you time your movements between the shadows. No less than two minutes after the level begins, you're also faced with a section where you must use your thermal vision to navigate around incredibly fine tripwires hidden by the grass that are hooked up to instant-kill landmines, while simultaneously avoiding more guards. Then the entire second section of the level has you following the Big Bad all over a mazelike compound, and like Jerusalem, you're not allowed to be seen by anyone. The level seems to get easier once you head into an underground bunker, but once you get back outside it ratchets back up again as you are faced with more wide-open areas, now with lasers all over the place. On top of all that, the level goes on for an eternity, with checkpoints few and far between, so any mistake is liable to make you re-do up to five or ten minutes of gameplay.
    • The third part of the penultimate level of Chaos Theory, the Bathhouse, is particularly difficult, even when compared to the rest of that level. The entire level has a confusing layout with well-lit rooms connected by narrow hallways, but as soon as Shetland and the ISDF betray each other, the level gets much harder, as he's accompanied by Elite Mooks with thermal vision goggles that renders stealth pretty much useless around them. At first, they're occupied enough to bypass them, but you eventually come across a room full of them and you cannot sneak around them - and while you could just run past them instead, there's a wall mine that'll kill you if you rush through the hall you have to go through - but you can't slow down either, or else the mooks will shoot you in the back. After this exchange, there's a Timed Mission with bombs you have to defuse. They're difficult to find, and after you've finished that, there's more Elite Mooks to fight.
    • The level immediately preceding the above, Seoul, is no slouch either. The entire level takes place in a warzone, meaning that all the enemies are automatically on high alert and will start shooting if they so much as see your shadow, and there is no alert music, so you won't know when they've seen you until they are actively shooting you. The first part of the level is actually fairly easy, but then it pulls a Bait-and-Switch and unexpectedly segues into a whole second part. Here you are introduced to UAVs, floating death machines with chainguns which are likely to blindside a first-time player, though mercifully they're not that hard to avoid - destroying them outright requires precision aiming, but they fly in easily-predictable fixed patterns and can be temporarily disabled with your OCP attachment. The level gets really hard once you run into soldiers shooting each other across a street, with the enemy side boasting a tank with a machine gun that can snipe you from a mile away, and sneaking along the ledges to the other end of the street without being noticed by it seems to be a Luck-Based Mission. Furthermore, the only way to permanently disable them and complete a bonus objective for doing so is to chuck a frag grenade down the gunner's hatch, which requires a surprising amount of accuracy and is likely to provoke at least one reload, though fortunately you don't have to disable them - yes, them. There's another one right at the very end.
    • The PC/360/PS3 version of Double Agent has the Sea of Okhotsk, especially when going for 100% stealth. Even though you are in a blizzard and can barely see anything five feet in front of you, due to the the enemy AI not factoring in the blizzard, it acts as if you are running around in broad daylight and so the enemies can see you at ranges you can barely even see them at, if you can see them at all. One objective requires you to hack and activate a brightly lit detonator in the middle of a camp to open the way up to the next portion of the level, and another forces you to knock out or kill a certain amount of enemies once you get aboard the ship. Also, once you get to the Captain and have to knock him out or kill him, he wanders around with a flare on a metal catwalk above a ton of oil and tends to turn suddenly, and you have to grab him from behind without making him even so much as suspicious. If he catches even a glimpse of you or you eliminate him without grabbing him from behind, he will throw the flare into the oil and kill you instantly in a huge explosion.
    • The same game also has its own penultimate level, Kinshasa. The first section of the level at the hotel is doable if challenging, but once that's done you leave the hotel and enter the warzones outside. The rest of the mission plays out like a rehash of Seoul mentioned above, except it takes place in broad daylight and nearly every part of the level is mired in heavy fighting, forcing you to rush from cover to cover - and specifically-placed cover at that - lest you get slapped in the face by an enemy that just ran in from out of nowhere. You can skip a fair amount by hitching a ride on an army truck, but the game gives no indication you can actually do that. Then you wind up in a government camp where going completely unnoticed is pretty much impossible. Finally, if you choose to save Hisham rather than shoot him, you have to slog through another section of the level that you would have skipped otherwise - and saving Hisham is mandatory if you want the Golden Ending but are running low on NSA trust or you blew up the cruise ship in the last mission.
    • The Gamecube/Wii/PS2/Xbox version of Double Agent has JBA HQ Part 2. Most of the mission consists of exploring a bunker full of narrow, well-lit tunnels with guards patrolling through them. This is already tough enough to get through, but the Red Mercury room in the Xbox version is by far the hardest part of the game to do 100% stealth. There are two guards patrolling the room in really tight patterns, one in Emile's office, which you have to sneak into, is well lit, and the cabinet is against the window which the other guard can see you through, and another on the ground level who sometimes go up a left ramp. You have to get a sample of Red Mercury from the center of the room, which requires first either hacking the keypad or using a password from the computers up the left ramp, then actually going up to it and scanning it. The problem? The ENTIRE CENTER OF THE ROOM IS FULLY LIT WITH NO COVER EXCEPT A THIN CABINET ON THE LEFT SIDE and the scanning takes a good 7 seconds to do, during which you are standing still and are fully exposed to the two guards in the room, and you have to quickly escape the room through an air vent on the right side as the front door closes and the room fills with gas. If you don't have the reflexes and timing of a god, you WILL get seen there. And it's not over after that if you are going for the good ending, as you'll have to defuse two bombs under a time limit. The one on the roof is easy to deal with, but the one in the docks has 4 guards patrolling the area who get suspicious really quickly, and the area is rather well lit and has some security cameras to deal with. Also, chances are that after you defuse the first bomb, your NSA trust will go completely to the right and will force you to report to Emile at the beginning of the level, wasting some of the precious time on the bomb timer. Good luck beating this mission with nobody knocked out.
    • Blacklist has Swiss Embassy, Charlie's second mission. Unlike the other Charlie missions which are at least decently large, open and have some good hiding spots, Swiss Embassy is small, linear, and has very few hiding spots, so enemies will quickly detect you. Enemies also tend to come in larger groups earlier in this mission than other Charlie missions, and the later waves are a absolute nightmare to get through, with Dogs and Heavy Infantry everywhere in small, well-lit and enclosed spaces, which even includes Heavy Infantry HVTs with riot shields. Even worse, the enemies tend to spawn on opposite sides of the map from each other in this mission, so if you want to get a mastery in the first five waves through comboing (Possible in each of Charlie's missions) before all the painful stuff comes in, you better have some good reflexes and luck.
  • Tenchu 2:
    • There are two mandatory stealth missions, one with Ayame and one with Tatsumaru. While stealth is an important aspect of the series as a whole, a skilled player can still hack and slash their way through most levels. Not these ones : if a guard spots you, he will blow a whistle and it's an instant Game Over for you. Even if he notices you right as you bury your sword in their throat.
    • Tatsumaru's final mission: you are on a huge warship, and your objective is to kill every single enemy soldier aboard. Problem is, you have absolutely no way to know how many enemies there are, which means you will spend a lot of time running around looking for them, hoping with every throat sliced to finally see the next cutscene after the body drops. But that's not the end of it! Once the ship is cleared, you get to the Final Boss: a fully armored, Dual Wielding samurai who hits like a truck and has more health than every other final boss in the game. And if he kills you, you need to start the whole level over again! And since there is no way to restock on healing items once the level is started, hopefully you didn't get hit too much clearing out the enemy soldiers on the boat.

Survival Horror

  • Alien: Isolation:
    • Mission 5, The Quarantine. As the first serious confrontation with a xenomorph that will relentlessly stalk you everywhere, the insidious layout means that many players met an impressive spike in difficulty the first time they played it. The level is divided in two areas: the first one has very few hideouts, most of them have an exposed side, there are wide pathways where the alien can easily see you, you are forced to move and turn around corners and spend time digiting a passcode; the second areas on the contrary has a lot of good spots for hiding, but it's really narrow and claustrophobic, and you can't easily see where the alien is going or how much it's close, chances are that if you slow down you will trap yourself because you hide in a point where it's difficult to get out without crossing the alien. There are however one Easy Level Trick and a shortcut for more advanced players.
    • Mission 9, not for its difficulty but because it's an interactive flashback without action or enemies, it's long, you can't skip it during a full run and it becomes boring after you replay it for the umpteenth time.
    • Mission 15 is probably one of the most, if not the most nerve-racking moment in the game. Although the xenomorph is gone, you have to make your way to the reactor core of the Sevastopol Station to find out what's wrong with it, on various paths that are crawling with either Working Joes, hostile humans, or both. At one point, you have to leave your firearms behind, practically leaving you defenseless, and most if not all the Working Joes you'll encounter then wear hazmat suits, making them immune to EMP grenades and the stun baton. You eventually get your weapons back, plus a new one that can dispatch even the hazmat Joes in one shot, but then you get to the base of the reactor. The base is crawling with hazmat Joes and, depending on the difficulty, you'll might not have enough resources to dispatch each of them. Things go From Bad to Worse when you finally actually get to the reactor core itself, in which it turns out there's a whole hive of xenomorphs down there.
  • ObsCure: The Aftermath sort of does this with Mei's sister, Jun. It's almost painful enough to just let her die before she goes into it.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 0 has the segment where you must rescue Rebecca after she's left dangling above a Bottomless Pit from a zombie monkey attack. You have to run through an area you've never explored before, fight your way through a pair of the monkeys who you've yet to fight (which are Demonic Spiders to boot), and spot the well-camouflaged path to the right that's difficult to see in favor of a door right in front of you that leads to a dead-end. It doesn't help either that it's a Timed Mission (which, admittedly, you probably wouldn't know about since the time limit is pretty generous).
    • In Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, there is a sequence where you're forced to run away from a giant mutant zombie chasing you down a hallway while swinging a giant axe. It's extremely difficult to avoid getting hit, and if you're low on herbs/first aid sprays, it's practically impossible to pass this part since one hit knocks your health from "Fine" to "Danger", and you move slower as you get hurt. Restarting the game is painful as well since this sequence happens late in the game.
    • Resident Evil 4 has several of them:
      • The pathway towards the village, and by extension the village itself, can be this to inexperienced players. All you have is a basic pistol and a knifenote , and you'll find yourself being attacked by whole groups of enemies for most of the level (two of which have chainsaws that can One-Hit Kill you). Did we mention this is also the very first level?
      • The cabin fight. You're bombarded by an endless horde of enemies coming from six different directions in a tightly spaced cabin, and the battle will literally only end once forty enemies are killed. You have Luis to provide some backup, but that, unfortunately, won't be enough.
      • The chapter immediately following the cabin fight is a pain as well, since you'll likely be drained of all your ammo. You're given the option of trekking between two areas: one area is absolutely crawling with enemies and includes a mini-boss fight with the chainsaw-wielding Bella Sisters. The other area is just one single pathway with little huts full of ammo and money. The catch, however, is that you'll have to deal with El Gigantenote . Lastly, to get out of the village, you must battle Bitores Mendez to obtain his glass eye.
      • You get the "Water Room", a water-themed, three-part Platform Hell which you must navigate from one end to another while fixing a bridge you shouldn't have to in the first place and sniping respawning enemies from afar who will otherwise provide you with a sudden game over should you fail to protect the president's daughter, which you have to do at all costs, at all times. Oh, there's also the Ganado cultists throwing instant death at you. Everything is quite literally trying to kill you. The fact that the level is water-themed may qualify as an Under the Sea level, considering how infamously difficult those are.
      • There's also the first fight against Jack Krauser, which is one big Quick Time Event that results in instant death should you press the wrong button combination at the wrong second. Although you frequently deal with these throughout the game, this fight strings so many of them together that the result is an arduous Unexpected Gameplay Change. The fact that the buttons are randomly generated each time doesn't help much.
      • The wrecking ball room. You must use a wrecking ball to destroy a wall that's blocking the exit. However, while doing so, you must face up against a seemingly endless horde of enemies that either wear armor, having crossbows, are the ones who can spawn the plagas, or a combination thereof. Combine that with having to protect Ashley the entire time and the room itself being slightly cramped.
    • Resident Evil 5:
      • From the ending of chapter 5 onwards, changes from "Majini" to "Majini with assault rifles". Which is especially horrible since you can't run with a gun but the enemy can. Good luck.
      • There's lots of difficult parts in this game that can cause you to get stuck for an hour or two. One part that stands out is a section near the end of the game, where you have to fight two Reapers that attack at the same time. They both have instakill attacks and require you to aim at specific body parts to kill them. And a few moments after the giant insects appear, two Gatling Majini (who have massive hitpoints) and a huge amount of melee Majini come to attack you, and it's mandatory to kill the two Gatling Majini. Better kill the Reapers quickly or you'll have to face all of them at the same time.
      • You are required at one point to navigate through underground tunnels, and if playing single player and you don't know you can have the AI partner carry the lantern, you get stuck with it instead. You will find enemies in these tunnels and you will need the lantern to see them, but to kill them, you need to put down that lantern to use your weapon.
    • In Resident Evil 6, you not only see zombies, but also gun-wielding enemies, without being able to run and shoot. The highly irritating J'avo form the main enemies of two campaigns, and most of Ada's campaign — plus, they have Adaptive Ability to make them even more of a threat.
      • The second mission in Jake's campaign. First, you have to find three data chips in a snowstorm where, guess what? The visibility will frequently drop out due to the swirling snow. Some of the enemies faced include very stealthy flying enemies, who don't need the snowstorm to hide from you before attacking. This gives way to a retread of the siege from 4 that then triggers a tricky downhill snowbike race ahead of an avalanche. And then there's the Paranoia Fuel chapter, where you have to find your way through caves filled with tracker-bugs that will summon the Ustanak for an instant-kill game over if they spot you or an asshole/idiotic player-controlled partner uses their firearm instead of stealth-killing the tracker-bugs, then ultimately fail to hide in the dumpster before Ustanak arrives to the last place a tracker-bug/firearm went off, and even then hiding won't always save you if you exploit it too much as Ustanak connects the dots after hiding three or more times in the same dumpster in the same area...
      • Then there's the infamous "Catwalk Escape from Haos" event during Chris' campaign which seems that the one ahead of another partner seems to heavily influence the rate at which Haos uproots sections of the catwalks you'll be running on. Hope you're good to race against a very mean ai-controlled/player-controlled partner, otherwise you'll be dying a lot.
    • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has the segments where you play as Mia, thanks to encountering enemies before you can even find a weapon, the lack of plentiful health items, and having no absolute way to tell how much damage you've taken. The flashback seqeunces aren't too bad since you actually start off with weapons, but said weapons aren't particularly strong and you'll be encountering perpetual waves of enemies along the way.
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room famously leaves players stuck in the "Water Prison" level because of That One Puzzle, which is light-based and requires the use of improbable logic to solve it. Throw in an Escort Mission, a Puzzle Boss and the invincible ghost of an undead vicious serial killer during a revisit and it nicely sums up the appeal of the "Water Prison". The fact that half of it seems to be buried underwater grants it an Under the Sea difficulty setting.
  • The Thing (2002) has a stage almost identical to Metal Gear Solid's staircase sequence, except you're going down, there are automatic turrets on every level (that can take up to five grenade hits to destroy), scalding steam vents, seemingly endless streams of scuttling creatures that pop out of dead bodies (and attack you from front and behind), and the medic, your only hope of surviving the stage, turns into a monster at random points. If you don't have enough health packs on you, or enough firepower, it's impossible to get through the stage. And at the end of this stage there's a bomb that kills all of your squadmates, and destroys their gear. If you don't have a flamethrower at the end of the level, you will NOT be able to complete the game.
  • Penumbra has Chemical Storage in Overture. It's not just because you'll be chased by a worm through doors you'll have to shut behind you, through barriers that will make you stop and take time to break them down, and over pools of deadly acid that require jumping and box pushing to avoid injury. It's that there's Schmuck Bait in the form of a metal barrier that tempts you into thinking it can hide you from the worm. Worse, at the end of the area you might think it's possible to have enough time to turn the valve and open the steel door, but in reality you're supposed to cause a cave-in.
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent:
    • The infamous Water Part, mostly because it's the first area of the game where something is relentlessly pursuing you and where you could most likely die your first time. Other than that, it involves platforming on boxes to prevent the monster from chasing you, using a lever that will open a gate for a limited time that you have to rush through. And a mad dash through multiple flooded hallways, shutting doors behind you to stall the monster for a few seconds.
    • Also the prison has annoyed some people due to it being full of intersecting dark hallways where a Servant can ambush you. Also there are multiple Servants in this area.
    • For first time players who made it past the first two Suitors, Amnesia: Justine has the Dungeon, and it will mostly likely be the place in which they die. Remember how easy it was to sneak around before due to the Suitors being blind? Guess what? The area is completely water-logged, so good luck trying to be quiet! The game forces you to move quickly as well due to the timing required, and there's literally no room for error, especially if the player wants to save the hostage. What makes it even worse is that the game's official ending is literally minutes away at that stage and that dying will mean starting over since there's no saving the game.
  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors has several. Not levels, but level types:
    • The water levels (Look Who's Coming To Dinner, Creatures Of The Blue Lagoon, etc,) after level 18 is when The Fishmen start getting fast, able to catch Zeke/Julie easily when they swim, and NO, you can't use weapons while swimming. Oh, and The Fishmen can kill The Pool Guy, with ease.
    • Levels with only one victim to save. This turns the level into a savage game of tug-a-war between Timed Mission and Luck-Based Mission, since if that victim happens to die it's an instant game over and it's not only possible but likely that an enemy will happen to kill them before you get there even if you make a beeline toward them the second the level begins. Worse, is that since the number of victims in a stage depends on how many you saved in the last one (letting two die in the last level means the next one has two less victims to save), it's entirely possible to have to deal with the water levels above with only one victim to save. While you can reset the number of victims to save by loading from a password, this also costs you all of your weapons and items save for the starting level load-out of 300 water pistol shots, 2 first-aid kits, and 5 decoys. Pick your poison.
  • Dead Space: Chapters 3 and 4 both have stages where you will wish you could just be throwing down with a swarm of Leapers. In 3, there's the gravity centrifuge, which when engaged means you need to run through it - and if you're out of a niche when the blade comes along you're reduced to a red smear on the ground. In 4, at one point, there's an objective where you need to run from cover to cover in hard vacuum and zero-gravity to avoid an inconvenient meteor shower. The hint you get for this is vague and unhelpful - it talks about "the walls" but it's not actually the walls that save you - and being caught out in the open means you get a warning about meteor impacts about, ooh, one second before you get torn apart by one.
  • For a game that is already Nintendo Hard if you have no idea what you're doing, part IV of Lakeview Cabin Collection is by far the most difficult of the levels. First off, the rooms in the house are randomized (but not crazily so). Secondly, while the enemies are weaker than most of the other levels, they make up for it by having alarm switches and traps. And last, any room with a vent has a likely chance for a giant rat to pop out, which move quickly and severely damage any survivor just shy of being a One-Hit Kill.
  • Corpse Party: The one where you, as Yuka, have to run from Kizami.
  • Alone in the Dark (2008):
    • The insanely frustrating driving level down 59th Street in , because the steering is lousy. Though some believe the look and sound of that level make up for it.
    • The driving section with the bats, coming soon afterwards, where they drag your car up (possibly to your doom) and/or stop sticking to it completely at random; the black goo, which might or might not react to your flashlight, eating you up; and that final driving section, timed, where it's plenty possible to miss the right turn at the end.
    • Fixed in the PS3 Inferno port. While the 59th Street driving section is still unlikely to be beat at first try, the improved controls, Sarah's giving you directions as well as there being checkpoints along the way actually render the whole sequence somewhat fun if still challenging.
  • Five Nights At Freddys VR Help Wanted has the Plushbaby level, where you're tucked in the Prize Corner and have to fend off the eponymous murderous plushie with your flashlight. The problem? Oh, there's a number of them.
    • There are multiple Plushbabies going after you, sometimes at the same time.
    • There are over a dozen places they can spawn, and the only indicator that a new one had appeared is a sound that doesn't necessarily come from their direction.
    • The Prize Corner is filled with toys they're hiding behind.
    • The flashlight - the only source of light in the level - has limited battery life. Let it run out in full, and you have to wait precious seconds for it to recharge before you can use it again.
    • And that's not to mention the Hard Mode version of the level, where all the toys in the Prize Corner are Plushbabies, and you have to look for the ones with no iris in their eyes, as they're the only ones going after you.
  • The Evil Within has three of them in a row no less:
    • Chapter 9, though regarded as the best level in the game, is notorious for the fact that that's the chapter where Ruvik actively hunts the player down. Though Ruvik is slow, any contact with him is instant death and his AI is smart enough to teleport instantly towards you depending on the occasion. The worst part? His encounters are completely randomized; there's absolutely no indication when or where he'll appear outside the screen turning blue and the background music changing.
    • The following chapter, Chapter 10, has you slog through a dark maze-like setting that feels like a combination of all the worst parts of the game. Death traps are everywhere, enemies can get the jump on you when you least expect it, you'll have a few encounters with the Traumas (including a pair of them simultaneously), and eventually fight not one but two bosses that both extremely difficult due to their fast attacks and instant kills.
    • And the chapter following that, though not as long, is absolutely annoying since there are enemies just about everywhere you go. Many of them are armed with melee weapons, crossbows, molotovs, dynamite, guns and some of them wear bulletproof armor. Then you'll have to face enemies where you can't necessarily fight back, such as dealing with a fish-like monster who will kill you the second it comes in contact with you.


  • Tom And Jerry In House Trap, a Tom and Jerry, a "Trap-Em-Up" based on the Spy vs. Spy games, has the penultimate level, "Mechani-cat", widely considered to be the most difficult level in the game. For most of the game, the player plays as Jerry and goes up against Tom, who possesses the same abilities and attacks Jerry does. In "Mechani-cat" however, Tom is replaced with Mechano (from "Push-Button Kitty"), who possesses two incredibly powerful attacks: getting too close to it results in it biting Jerry, while trying to run from it results in it shooting at Jerry with cannonballs. Both attacks will shave off large portions of Jerry's health if they connect, and Mechano also runs faster than Jerry does, meaning it's very difficult to avoid taking damage. The only way to get it to stop chasing Jerry for any period of time is to distract it with mechanical mice, but you wouldn't know to activate them unless you've watched the episode it's based on. It's so difficult that "Oodles for Toodles"note , the actual final level of the game, is considered a Breather Level in comparison.

Tower Defence Games

  • Bloons Tower Defense has its own article. Ninja Kiwi loves themselves a challenge.
  • Level 20 of Cursed Treasure 2 has two lighthouses (requiring seven cut-outs each to turn from Mook-aider to Mook-bane), two Mook Maker pirate ships (requiring ten cut-outs each to sink), and only two tiles for ultra-powerful crypts (one of which needs the forest removed with cut-out and a nearby sacred stone removed with three cut-outs before you can build on it), and two waterlanes for flying and swimming foes (especially the unfrightenable Iron Guards which you probably won't have enough Mana left to take out with a meteor because of all the cut-outs, unless slain foes dropped a lot of mana potions). And the original version had no mana pool.

Visual Novel

  • Yes, an example in a visual novel. Specifically, the beginning of Hate Plus Day 3 on *Hyun-ae's route requires you to make a cake, whether it be a proper cake cooked in an oven for tens of minutes, or a cheap 5-minute cake like she offers. And we don't mean a cake in-game, we mean a real-life cake. For those who have the ingredients and equipment on hand, or cook things regularly, this shouldn't be a problem. For those that don't, this becomes a problem because your only other options are to either fake it, causing you to wait around, or admit to not making a cake, which *Hyun-ae will chew you out on. You can Take a Third Option and buy a cake instead of making it, but you don't get to explain this to *Hyun-ae until enough time passes that *Hyun-ae thinks you've been making a cake.
  • Being such a long-standing series, Ace Attorney has a few disliked cases among its many installments.
    • "Turnabout Big Top" from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All is the least liked case in the entire Phoenix trilogy (and possibly the entire series). It barely connects to the main storyline, almost all the witnesses are unhelpful as well as downright rude to Phoenix, and a couple of the testimonies are tough to cross-examine; one witness is extremely chatty, causing Phoenix to be penalized if the witness goes into a random tangent, and this witness' last testimony will penalize you with an instant game over if you merely press the witness on the wrong statement. The fact that this case features one of the more convoluted murder methods and doesn't even have a satisfying breakdown animation for the culprit is just icing on the cake.
    • Much like Turnabout Big Top, "The Adventures of the Clouded Kokoro" from Dai Gyakuten Saiban is an equally absurd case. A mostly pointless investigation that only results in 2 pieces of evidence, coupled with a trial where you spend most of the time frantically trying to come up with a plausible alternative murder method with some Closing Arguments that feel like they're only there to pad out the trial makes most of the case feel pointless. The case also suffers from a mediocre cast, 2 of which being noteworthy for having overly drawn out animations and also the culprit being highly unlikeable and one of the worst in the series.
    • "Turnabout Serenade" from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is a close contender to "Turnabout Big Top" for worst Ace Attorney case thanks to one glaring flaw that nobody in-universe acknowledges: it is physically impossible for a small, slender 14-year-old boy to shoot a grown man with a .45 revolver without breaking both his arms, made even worse by everyone ignoring that the boy and his associates assert that he's blind. Despite this contradiction, the player has to endure the entire case out while ignoring that fact, proving the culprit's guilt via more convoluted means. There's also an unskippable video the player must watch repeatedly throughout the case.
    • "The Monstrous Turnabout" from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is the least liked case in the entire second trilogy. It barely has any relevance to the main storyline, only introducing a couple of important characters. The case has absurd logic, such as claiming that the victim woke up after being impaled by a spear so that he could attack the defendant before dying. The murder method isn't much better, being overly convoluted with the culprit's actions not making any sense with his motive in mind (the reasoning behind his motive somehow being even worse). To round things off we have a poor selection of minor characters, most of which get old before the case is over and a rather dully written script which makes the case itself quite monotonous to play through.
    • "Turnabout Ablaze" from Ace Attorney Investigations for having the worst case of That One Boss in the franchise. It takes two full gameplay segments (potentially spanning one to three hours) just to even begin taking down the final suspect through cross-examinations. It is the last case of the game, but it still shouldn't take so long.
    • "Rise from the Ashes", a bonus case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, is known to be the longest case in the game and possibly the entire series. The case uses 3 days of investigations and trials, but unlike previous cases, this one is padded out as long as possible with tons of areas to explore and very long trials. On top of your usual methods of finding clues, you'll also have to deal with finding faded blood splatters and dusting for fingerprints. Not only that, there's a trial segment where you'll instantly get a guilty verdict if you present a certain piece of evidence sooner than you were supposed to. Your defendant in this case also refuses to help you and continues insisting her guilt, even if the facts are staring at her in the face. This is justified by the fact she's also being blackmailed by the Chief of Police to take the fall, so her ratting him out isn't an option.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has Chapter 4. The murder seems to make absolutely no sense since first, you have to figure out what is the secret of the Funhouse in order to be able to even understand how anything could have been done.
    • The fifth trial in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony can easily qualify as the most frustrating trial in the game. The murder victim is unrecognizable, the culprit of the case is stuck in an Exisal and continously alternates between themselves and the victim, and you have to change your opinion on who you think the victim is. Looks like Kokichi got his wish: he orchestrated a nearly-impossible murder case that stumped even Monokuma.

Multiple Genres

  • WhoIsThisGit has a series called Worst Levels Ever, where he goes through these.

Mobile Games

  • Ingress: That one portal. The one located in the middle of nowhere. In that one valley where only one cell phone user in 100 is able to get a useful signal. That person is a member of the other faction and visits that one portal every other day to recharge it and to harvest more portal keys. Portal keys they eagerly and freely share with their opposition faction friends who all keep that portal remotely charged and linked with other cross-aligned portals.

Non-Video Game Examples

Live-Action TV

  • The Great British Bake Off: The technical challenge is often this for the bakers, it being the one out of three they aren't allowed to practice for in advance. The subject is often an obscure and/or foreign recipe, pretty much guaranteeing that most of the contestants will have never even heard of it. Even when it's something relatively simple, they're still expected to carry it off on sheer baking knowledge and instincts, so the instructions for the recipes are often deliberately left very vague, e.g. "Make the pancake batter".
    • This proved to be particularly true of Series 7's Rav, who finished bottom in the technical challenge three weeks running and started to openly bemoan his bad fortune; the third time his Bakewell tart was ranked lower than Andrew's, in spite of the fact that Andrew had taken fifteen minutes to notice that his oven wasn't on.
    • Occasionally averted when a contestant turns out to specialise in making the particular recipe—as per James and jam doughnuts in series 3—or, in the memorable case of Chetna during series 5's Bread week, have just made the exact same recipe for the signature challenge. Both easily cruise to victory.
    • At different times during Series 6, all three of the eventual finalists struggled with puff pastry. What's the technical challenge for the final episode? A dessert made with puff pastry. Paul freely admitted that he picked it specifically to see whose puff pastry skills had improved, and the bakers recognized what was going on as well.
    • Oh, how delightful the "Forgotten Bakes" episode of Season 8 was...
  • The most dreaded challenge in Forged in Fire is the first round for its sheer physicality. The Forge is generally quite a bit hotter than most home forges (since it has 4 gas forges going at once), you're hitting metal with a hammer for 3 straight hours, and that's not even considering various alternate locations with their own conditions. If a smith is going to be medically disqualified, it will be in the first round.

Tabletop Game

  • Sentinels of the Multiverse has the Rook City environment deck. While most environments are fairly neutral, Rook City is overtly player-hostile, with almost all of its cards hampering the heroes in one way or another. While there are two friendly cards that directly help the heroes, the villains or the rest of the deck are almost certain to destroy them before they can be of much use. And just to add some Schmuck Bait to the mix, it comes in the same expansion as The Chairman, and the theme tempts you to play the two together - something that is widely considered one of the hardest setups in the game.


Web Video

  • TierZoo, a web series that explains biology through gaming terms, has several cases.
    • The African Savannah is consistently referred to as one of the most brutally competitive and dangerous servers thanks to the multitude of excellent builds available— to the point that both the Secretary Bird and the African Wild Dog are S-Tier because they excel at thriving in it.
    • The Arctic Server constantly deals cold damage to everyone in it, and has the Polar Night world event that removes sunlight for photosynthesis and solar heating entirely for months at a time. In addition, very little loot (i.e., plants) spawn there, meaning herbivore players must rely on loot like lichen to survive.
    • The Deep Sea Meta on the Abyssal Server, is stated to have "by far, the most unorthodox, unintuitive, and unforgiving meta in the entire game".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Scrappy Level


Arin vs. The Pachinko Level

Arin nearly beats the infamous Pachinko level of Super Mario Sunshine, only to fail at the last possible hurdle. Rage ensues.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThatOneLevel

Media sources:

Main / ThatOneLevel