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That One Level / Simulation Game

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These levels are almost as hard as they are in Real Life...if not harder.

  • Even Cooking Mama has examples:
    • In the Hot Dog and Taco recipes of Cooking Mama: Cook Off, you must catch the ingredients in the bun/taco shell, which would be fine if it wasn't for the fact that you can only hold it on the sides of the screen. And the meat falls down in the middle, so you must time it so that it falls on the bun/taco shell in the middle of moving from one side to the other. Hard enough to pass, hell to get a Gold Medal on.
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    • The Popcorn recipe— that is, the actual cooking part. Imagine this: there's a bar with a meter that slowly moves right. Shaking the Wiimote moves it to the left some. Getting any bit outside of the bar fails the part. Sounds easy? Now here's the catch: the bar's acceptable area slowly shrinks, and as time winds down the shrink rate accelerates. Passing normally is extremely difficult.
  • Ace Combat primarily has these in levels where the mission/parameters have nothing to do with the difficulty setting; the "game stopper" is Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War's "Four Horsemen," mission 12b. It's only one of the two paths, but you're given no clue that your answer to a wingman's question in mission 10 will have any consequence. Things aren't so bad on the other path, or even in the other mission on this path, while this mission requires you to perform four consecutive timed destructions of radar sites, which means that you have to take into account your weapon's travel time and your own travel time — go past the radar site and you fail, while if you get in position too early you'll have to break/slow down, which can cause a stall or wasted time (especially if you have to turn around to reposition yourself for another attack run), and you have less time between each radar site. Did I mention that your wingmen may mess up their approaches against their own targets which you don't see and cause everyone to have to abort their attack run and try again? Making things worse, if you want the Flanker line of aircraft or the FALKEN, you have to play this mission at least once.
    • There are a few other standouts in The Unsung War, particularly "Lit Fuse", which is problematic thanks to its gimmick. You're sent to support a marine force as they move in to take over various enemy bunkers, gradually rendezvousing with each other until they're fully grouped up to take on the final part of the mission. The problem is those bunkers cannot be destroyed by your weapons - they have to be knocked out temporarily by your weapons, then stormed and captured by the ground forces. What makes this a problem is that the game doesn't adequately explain exactly when you need to fire so that the ground forces have enough time to get in and capture it before it starts firing on them again and they're forced to retreat - sometimes you'll shoot the target the instant it pops up, but that won't be good enough. "Fortress" is a lesser offender simply because there are far too many targets for you to take out with just missiles with the amount of ammo the planes available to you at that point in time have; at the very least, its gimmick is being a Timed Mission where you tell the allied forces to stop or go at specific points, which is less prone to randomly failing through no fault of your own.
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    • All of the 21st-century console Ace Combat games have a mission that involves flying through a tunnel, but other than 04 and one of the operations in 6, there is another complication to make the mission harder to complete than it sounded:
      • Ace Combat Zero has "Valley of Kings" which makes you brave a gauntlet of Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Surface-to-Air Missiles and Pillboxes just to get to the tunnel. Flying above 2000 feet leads to a missile warning: if you don't get below that in time, you'll have a missile launched at you from out of nowhere and automatically hit you. Did I mention the bridges in the way? Finally, if you're not using the FAE Bomb or the MPBM note  you'll need to make multiple tunnel runs since you have to destroy all of the joint locks for each V2 controller before the controller itself can be hit. At least if you enter the tunnel through the south, the named ace in the tunnel who appears after you destroy the first two controllers is flying away from you and thus makes possibly the game's easiest non-bomber kill.
      • 5 introduces the twisty-turvy tunnel later used in Zero, but with multiple altitude changes along the way (not just at the entrance and exit of the tunnel), has enemy fighters in the tunnel in front of you headed in your direction, and whereas you can just slow down in all other tunnel missions and use autopilot to stabilize your flight path, here you have an enemy fighter hot on your tail the whole time! Fortunately, it's generally the widest of these tunnels, so crashing isn't the real issue.
      • These go back to Ace Combat 2, which has a similar final mission to 04. Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere has a similar mission, with altitude changes and closing doors which serve to make it a "twisty" tunnel, with the added "bonuses" that, like Zero, you have to fly all of the last set of missions with whatever craft you picked for the first mission in that set, and that sequence comes right after you unlock an aircraft that looks useful (the XFA-36A) but turns out to be barely maneuverable in comparison to what you already have.
      • In "Chandelier" in 6 you have to travel a long way to the action with nothing going on before then having a ton of heavy anti-aircraft fire tossed into your face on top of some ships (including missile boats!) and the last of Strigon Team, ace pilots one and all; after you destroy all of the targets (which will take quite some time since some require multiple hits and from particular angles) your wingman goes down and even heavier AAA appears in the form of a double-stacked line of gun towers; only after you destroy those can you go after the remaining targets. The very end has you flying into the tunnel which itself can attack you by firing a cruise missile into your face. And this is assuming that you got this far, as unlike "Valley of Kings" which gives a definite time limit, you have to complete the mission before too many cruise missiles are fired and can hit Gracemeria, so you'll have to guesstimate how much time/cruise missile launches you have left based on the dialogue. (Fortunately if you manage to survive the AAA on the way in, there's a conveyor belt underneath Chandelier that carries the cruise missiles to its rear; destroying the cruise missiles before they can be loaded will buy you some time depending on how you're balancing it with destroying the targets.)
      • That's nothing compared to "The Liberation of Gracemeria" and the horrific boss battle against Ilya Pasternak. Even if you're flying the Nosferatu, it's still extremely hard.
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    • Missions with insta-kill missiles above/below a certain height are almost always reviled, as are those that force usage of guns only or have radar jamming in play.
      • The 'don't fly above (insert low altitude here)' missions are annoying, but in some games in the series the missiles don't spawn so close to you. This enables you to outrun them (or at least keep them from hitting you till they detonate) while flying the overpowered MiG-25/31. Unfortunately, this creates an Unwinnable situation, since they respawn one after another—so after descending back to an altitude that will let you complete the mission, the speed that's required to outrun the one that inevitably spawns above you prevents you from maneuvering through the narrow confines of the level. That the dragster-like MiGs were built for intercepting versus dogfighting doesn't help.
    • The first game (Air Combat outside Japan) has possibly the worst canyon mission of any, and a lot of that is Fake Difficulty due to terrible graphics. It's an incredibly narrow canyon, and it is very very difficult to tell the two walls apart, so every turn is an opportunity to crash due to inability to judge distance.
    • Ace Combat X brings us "A Diversion", where you have to escort six helicopters to a location... but there are infantry-wielded RPGs along the route that don't appear on radar until the helicopters get close enough, unlike what the briefing says about luring them out. Plus, some of the bastards appear in locations that are inconvenient to target if you stick too close to the helicopters, and trying to stay behind them can backfire if you end up falling too far behind. On top of that, once you actually reach the location the helis need to get to, you find it's also defended by SAMs and triple-A, so you can't take a breather yet. And you can lose only one helicopter if you want to get a S-rank, with all of them being One Hit Point Wonders. Did I mention that if you want to get the ace for this mission, you need to run ahead of the helis to take him down, and almost certainly will lose at least one trying to get back to them?
      • X also has "End of Deception II" with the Alect Squadron-piloted Fenrirs, a shitty boss fight if ever there was one. Fortunately, it gets better after they go down.
    • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon seems to LOVE this trope. From the mission where you need to destroy an ICBM while it's in the air, to the navy mission that requires the usage of attacker aircraft (which have been badly nerfed compared to previous iterations), to the final mission where you take on Akula, it's astounding that the game has actually been beaten on Elite.
      • And they just get worse if you go for rank, which requires Ace difficulty for nearly all the missions. You've been relying on regenerating health for the entire game thus far. You don't get it in Ace. Suddenly, the bombers in Dubai are critical threats, the enemy navy is damn near impossible to handle due to the gatling fire, and Hinds are an even bigger pain in the butt, as if they weren't enough to begin with.
    • All of these levels blush when compared to Ace Combat: Joint Assault's Grand Flight. It's a canyon mission where you're flying an airliner, which means you are unarmed and have no means of fighting back against the metric ton of anti-air. If you somehow make it through the canyon, there's also an ambush on the way out. Remember, airliner = no weapons. Oh, and it has the steering of a brick and can't be tuned, either. Good luck.
    • Area 06-D in Ace Combat 5's arcade mode (Operation Katina). The mission is to destroy 24 air targets (most of them fighters, with one large transport plane that takes a lot of hits to destroy - thankfully this is optional). Sounds easy enough, right? But you are only given 20 regular missiles and 4 XMAAs (with longer range). It takes 2 missiles (or 1 XMAA) to destroy a fighter. Usually in arcade mode, there are special targets that you can destroy to replenish your missile supply. In this area, there are none of those targets, so you will eventually run out of missiles before you can destroy every target, which means that you will have to manually aim your machine gun (which has infinite ammo) to shoot down a target. All while several other fighters are on your tail, firing missiles at you. All of which are also highly-skilled and highly maneuverable. On top of that, you start off with a 30-second time limit, which can be extended by killing targets as in every other area in arcade mode.
  • Collecting all the paintings in Animal Crossing. Other rare sets can take literally a year or more to complete, but at least you can't forge a bug or fossil. Damn you, Crazy Redd! In New Leaf you can actually look for the mistakes in the forgeries yourself, making it a little more justifiable, but how many gamers (not to mention the percentage of little kids playing) are masters of art?
  • Trauma Center: Under The Knife, as an Atlus game, is hard — so much so that literally every mission could be That One Level to some players. However, most fall into the "tough but fair" category, with several exceptions:
    • Deftera. While most missions are ultimately tests of skill primarily, Deftera is nearly 90% luck. If two pairs of Deftera hit like colors at the beginning of the second stage, you might as well just quit and start over. Either the tumors will kill the patient outright, or you'll finish with the tumors just in time to fight MORE tumors when like colors meet AGAIN- never having the opportunity to attack Deftera itself. Deftera can be blocked off by antibiotic gel spread in its path like a wall. This is hinted at in one sentence in the manual that doesn't even directly reference Deftera — only that the gel can repel parasites. Good luck making that connection when Zombie Cancer is eating your patient.
    • Level 5-2. You know it's going to be a pain since it's called "Under The Knife", which implies a certain epic climax. Your enemy is the parasite Kyriaki, who is annoying, but usually pretty straightforward. This time, however, you have to treat five patients in a single mission, with only ten minutes on the timer. Making matters worse is the fact that getting through a Kyriaki mission requires nothing so much as skill with suturing. The stylus motion for suturing is not only undetected by the game half the time, but it's the first thing you start screwing up when your hands start to get tired. The final insult? That ticking ten minute timer hanging over your head isn't an automatic Game Over like with all previous operations. The game does throw you a bone by letting you advance if you've finished at least 2 patients but run out of time, with the only cost being the player's rank and score. Problem is, by then you're too focused on the bottom screen and the timer to notice when Angie tells you backup has arrived, and may just restart in a fit of rage when you notice you're short on time.
    • Also, while not unfairly difficult, the last chapter of the game is simply uncreative. Having defeated (or, actually, redeemed through a version of Combat Therapy) the Big Bad, you have to fight through a Boss Rush to get to The Man Behind the Man- the same seven strains of GUILT you've been fighting for half the game, just requiring faster action. A shameless retread which is made more aggravating by losing what forgiveness these missions had previously.
      • Most annoyingly are the missions 5-9 and 6-8, which are literally impossible to beat if the player uses the Healing Touch at any other time than at the VERY end of the level. Worse still is the fact that if you did use the Healing Touch when you shouldn't have, the game tells you nothing. You just hit that point in the level, and if you don't know about this beforehand, the game will just "hang" until you fail the mission.
    • While technically Bonus Levels, the X Missions also deserve mention. Though they're not named for difficulty in Under The Knife, they are in every succeeding sequel... under Extreme difficulty. While all of the X Missions are indeed beatable, they all border on Fake Difficulty given that you have to have memorized the pattern for defeating the offending disease down to freaking muscle memory.
  • "Awakening" is almost evil in its difficulty, especially since it's still in the game's early chapters. Basically, a patient has a whole bunch of aneurysms in his intestines, five of which all decided to try and burst at the same time. You're meant to burn a Healing Touch and try to fix him up, but if you're after rank, you have to take all five of them out without it. Unless you balance them just right, at least one will burst, taking the S with it. This one is so notorious that Second Opinion for the Wii simplifies it. On Normal difficulty, only four appear at the end. If the patient's vitals are near-max, he'll survive all of them exploding, leaving you to clean up and head out. Your rank will take a hit, but you'll pass.
  • "Fallen Heroes", the penultimate story operation of Second Opinion, can be surprisingly brutal. It's a multi-stage GUILT operation, and because you alternate between two doctors, you have two Healing Touches at your disposal for different parts of the level. You'll probably need both of them. Here's why:
    • The first part of the mission is Triti, which is That One Boss among the initial GUILT strains. If you didn't already know how to efficiently treat it, you might end up wasting Derek's Healing Touch to entirely trivialize this part, giving up an asset that could help for the next portion of the level.
    • The second part is Kyriaki, which is trivial by this point in the game, but third patient has Deftera. What makes this GUILT more annoying is that blood regularly pools over the field, forcing you to drain it so you can treat what's underneath. If Deftera is going berserk and blood pools over it, you'll waste a bit of time getting it out of the way - enough time for more tumors to appear and for vitals to plummet.
    • The final part is Paraskevi on the heart. One entire Paraskevi. You cannot afford to let a single one escape, or it's an immediate Game Over.
  • There are four challenge missions in New Blood that involve treating a series of patients in a simulation. The final one involves one patient with that is infected with Kyriaki, Cheir, and infant Savato, and the one before that involves a simultaneous Deftera and Soma infection.
  • New Blood chimes in with "Lost in the Flames", an operation to treat a burn victim. The mission isn't particularly hard in theory, and there's nothing that will lower the patient's vitals apart from gradual attrition and player mistakes. The greatest threat here is the time limit. What makes it tough is that the player has to cover a burn with four piece of donor skin to treat each one, when a) the skin is time-consuming to produce, b) if the burn starts bleeding (at random) any skin already there will fall off, and c) it's painfully easy to put a piece of skin on the wrong burn, virtually guaranteeing the target burn will start to bleed before the player can get more ready. It's virtually impossible to let the patient die here, but even a perfect run will run down the clock horrifyingly fast.
    • Under the Knife 2 one-ups this with "Hall of Shadows" in its final chapter. The burn treatment process is similar with all the accompanying problems. Only this time, you've got three patients... and five minutes to treat them all.
  • In the main storyline of New Blood, there is an even harder mission, "Strike Force", that involves three patients. The first one is a Brachion infection, which is the Puzzle Boss of New Blood. It's not particularly hard, but it eats up a large amount of time and can get nasty if the heads regenerate. The second operation is a simultaneous Cheir and Soma infection, a nasty combination, but one that can be overcome with the right strategy and a little luck. The final operation, though, is on a patient infected with both Soma and Onyx. Onyx is not mentioned until you either ready the magnifier and spot its shadow, or it first attacks while you're treating Soma. Treating Onyx invariably means taking your eye off Soma to find the hidden Onyx, and a red tumor is almost guaranteed to harden while doing so. The kicker for these multiple patient operations is that when you lose, you have to start from the beginning, making it all the more annoying considering the Onyx/Soma combination is intricate enough to be its own mission.
  • In Trauma Team, Tomoe's final mission is searching through a collapsed mall for people trapped in the rubble. The way the stage is set up, it's very hard to keep track of what you're looking for, and every time you find one, you get sent back to the start - at which point the level changes shape. It's essentially a 3D maze from hell.
  • Any mine in any Harvest Moon game ever—excluding the Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life mines, which are just little sites which are extremely easy.
    • Harvest Moon DS and DS Cute aren't as bad in the fact that dropping a level doesn't kill most of your stamina. It just gets annoying when you have to drop ONE LEVEL AT A TIME through digging up stairs, like you have to in Island of Happiness and Sunshine Islands. They also just had to have animals trying to kill you, and hundreds upon hundreds of levels. It's especially bad if you want to marry Keria.
    • The Magical Melody mines aren't that bad.. If you exclude the random times when you go up instead of down (which happens a lot once you reach a certain point), and the rocks having nasty effects sometimes.
  • Blazing Angels has Top Secret, where you're flying through a narrow fjord, in a fast (yet thankfully maneuverable) plane, and have to get through the fjord in a limited amount of time. At parts you have other planes shooting at you, and if you hit any of the walls, you're likely dead.
    • Then, in the sequel, Secret Missions of WWII, there are lot of infuriating levels (especially where you have to use a tailgunner), but "Flashlight to a Gunfight" is the most annoying. You have no weapons at all, so you have to use a weapon that blinds enemies and leads to them crashlanding into an iceberg. But the big problem is, you have to practically almost crash into an iceberg for them to even think about crashing. It basically turns into a Luck-Based Mission, and you've got to kill at least 10 enemies with this "weapon". Obligitory mention goes to "Target: Red Square", since it's a defense level that includes an army of enemies, followed by a boss that can easily destroy the Red Square very quickly, and "Rendezvous", where you have to kill 10 enemies while you're under watch, who shoot you if you do anything, followed by an Escort Mission with tons of turrets to take down. note 
  • MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries has Talon/Wernke - Night Op. You're meant to pilot a light, fast 'mech, trying to be as stealthy as possible, trying to sneak past several 'mechs that can stomp you in a heartbeat, and there's generally enough enemy 'mechs that it's suicide to take anything heavier. For contrast, there's a ludicrously easy stealth mission elsewhere in the game. Of course, it's quite possible to just load up a badass assault mech and blast your way through the level, but if you're going for the special bonus for not being detected...
  • The first RollerCoaster Tycoon and its expansions each have one of these:
    • The original has Rainbow Valley, the penultimate scenario. It pales in comparison to many of the expansion scenarios, but at the time, being unable to remove trees or alter the landscape makes it by far the most annoying original scenario, much harder than final level Thunder Rock.
    • Corkscrew Follies raised the bar for scenario difficulty overall, but Fiasco Forest easily takes the cake. Though scenarios where you had to clean up the mess and turn a bad park into a good one was nothing new, the aptly named Fiasco Forest takes it to ridiculous extremes, with a water slide that's about to crash the moment you load the scenario, unfinished path layouts, and for some reason, inexplicably charging for toilets. To top it off, the win condition is to have as much as 900 guests at the end of the first year, and you're not allowed to advertise. Fiasco Forest isn't even among the final scenarios of the expansion.
      • Even Fiasco Forest is easier than Harmonic Hills, which is pretty much Rainbow Valley turned up a few more notches. You still can't change the landscape at all, but now there is the added difficulty of not being able to build above the height of the trees. Oh, and just to make things extra fun, this park has the smallest number of starting rides in the game. How many do you get? Three. Three measly rides and two measly shops and stalls, ensuring that you'll have to do a sizable amount of research to get an even half-decent selection. Good freaking luck with this one. It doesn't even show up that late in the scenario list (being the 18th of 30), and it's far more difficult and frustrating than pretty well all of the ones following it.
    • Loopy Landscapes introduced several new scenario types to the game, like finishing a set of pre-built, half-finished coasters, or having infinite money but never letting the park rating drop below 700. Micro Park, the very final scenario of the expansion and also the game as a whole, is the only Loopy Landscapes scenario to use the old park value win condition, which means you have to keep your park's value up by building lots of rides and other attractions. This is made harder than usual because Micro Park lives up to its name, being a 15x15 square of land and nothing more. Enjoy!
    • Consider the third game, and La La Land. It's not even intended to be that difficult, falling squarely in the middle of the Vanilla level set. However, due to the way the game handles how Peeps perceive area theming, among other things, it's downright hellish. Consider this: There are two VIPs you have to impress, both with a themed area they'd really like to see—sci-fi for Clint Bushton, and adventure for Joe Sluggerball. Now, you might ask "How are we supposed to do that?" Well, first, you have to get one or two themed rides (and only themed rides) close to each other, surround them with a fuckload of themed plants, and make sure those VIPs stay in that area without leaving (which, if you haven't figured out how to make Peeps go to certain rides, is a crapshoot). It's already aggravating to do it once, but doing it twice is torturous. All this is after you've dealt with the awful firework display-making system, which should take you forever to get working, and then another forever to get Clint Bushton to pay any fucking attention to the fireworks even if they're right in front of him. If you think the strong language is unnecessary, then you clearly have never played this map before because it's unbelievably infuriating. It should be noted this is the only map in all three mission sets (vanilla, Soaked!, and Wild!) that requires you to have themed areas or use fireworks displays, and with good reason.
  • SimCity: Despite appearing first in the list of scenarios, Dullsville is the hardest, requiring you to learn concepts of rapid growth on an extremely limited budget.
  • The Sims:
    • The Sims 2 DS has a mission that requires you to get 5 mechanical skill points. They spawn only once in certain places. Good luck finding them all without a guide.
    • Looking for fireflies in The Sims 2 Castaways is this to many players. Fireflies are found at random and only appear at night.
  • In Catherine, getting the true freedom ending is hell—not only because keeping your karma meter in the direct center is difficult, but also because you have to answer the final three questions based not on the actual answers, but based on the side of the rope you're required to pull. Not mention the damn hard puzzles.
  • If you really want a challenge in Aces of the Pacific, volunteer to fly in a US Navy TBD Devastator torpedo plane squadron during the Midway campaign. The TBD is easily the worst airplane in the game: it's very slow, almost totally unmaneuverable, and you have only a single small-caliber machine gun to defend yourself with. Your missions will involve flying into the teeth of the Japanese Navy, hitting one of their ships with a torpedo, and making it back to your carrier without getting shot down by anti-aircraft fire or the swarms of enemy fighters protecting the fleet. Good luck!
  • While Dwarf Fortress doesn't have levels in the traditional sense, there are areas where building a fortress is much harder (read: more Fun).
    • Aquifers are a common environmental obstacle that turn an otherwise perfect embark site into an undesirable one. The layers of damp soil conceal an infinite reservoir of water, which when dug into can flood a fortress. And to add insult to injury, the pre-aquifer layers are mostly soft soils that give no rocks for masonry. Puncturing the aquifer, draining it, and getting to the rocky layers underneath requires tons of labor and devices.
    • Evil biomes. Any animal that dies while in an evil biome will most likelynote  rise up as an undead monstrosity, scaring and killing any nearby dwarves. Even the hair and skins of butchered animals will come back to life in a reanimating biome, meaning having a meat industry of any sort, unless the waste is managed very carefully, is almost suicidal. Evil biomes also come with their own set of animals— nasty ones like beak dogs and ogres that can quickly rip apart a dwarf. Finally, evil biomes have unique weather. Sometimes it'll be rain made of slime, blood or some other nasty substance. At worst, they can cause some debilitating syndromes like vomiting and dizziness. However, they are a blessing compared to the other form of evil weather— clouds of scarily-named materials like "hideous gloom" that drift on the wind. These can either immediately kill any living thing they touch, or transform them into ravening monsters called husks/thralls that seek only to kill everything and/or spread the contagion.
    • Glaciers are a well-known example of a hard location to survive in. They tend to be an extremely thick sheet of ice on top of bare rock, leaving you with the twin concerns of no soil for growing crops (and brewing booze), and no easy source of water. The latter also makes the former worse, as the normal method of making farmland without soil is muddying up rock with water. And finally, there's the obvious risk of freezing to death.
  • IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey's Hornet's Nest mission. Prior to this, the game ramps up nicely in difficulty. Hornet's Nest tosses you into a night battle seeking out transport planes and preventing them from landing at the airstrip while avoiding the wings of enemy fighters and the A-A guns on the ground. If a single transport lands, you fail.


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