Here is my list of the top five most frustrating gaming moments for the original NES. I am sure there will be people that disagree with this small list, and that's fine. This is just one man's opinion, and is meant to entertain not educate. The only hard and fast rule I had for this list was that a game couldn't make it for being a hard alone. There had to be more to the it than that.
In no particular order...Ghosts N' Goblins: Beating The Game
Ghosts N' Goblins is arguably one of the hardest video games ever. I have heard it banded up on a few message boards that some poll was put out to the game playing public to vote on the hardest game of all time, and Ghosts N' Goblins won in a landslide. Sounds very plausible to me.
In Ghosts N' Goblins you take the role of Arthur, out to rescue your lady from the evil clutches of Arathor(I believe that is his name). You are provided with a suit of armor and several different weapons along the way to aid you in your noble quest. A single hit from an enemy shatters the armor, forcing Arthur to trek forward in his undies. A second hit reduces Arthur to a pile of bones. That's it. Two hits and it will be lights out for our noble hero. Relying on your continues will do no good as they are limited.
Adding to the already difficult scenario of surveying a full level on just two hits is the fact Arthur jumps in the most awkward of ways. The best way to describe it would be to say he jumps about a foot in either direction, very low to the ground, and arch-wise. Considering a large part of this game is platforming the crappy jump can quickly grow annoying. It's not uncommon to spend all of your lives and continues trying to leap across a single gap.
Ok, so the crappy jump and two-hit deaths is enough to make this game one of the hardest of all time. So what puts Ghosts N' Goblins on this list? Easy deaths and horrible jumping shouldn't be enough to warrant making this list! Too true! In fact despite these rather glaring setbacks there have been a few brave souls skilled enough to complete the nigh impossible task of reaching and defeating the final boss. They should be congratulated, for now they have to start back at the beginning and do it all again in order to truly beat the game and see the ending. Oh, and they have to do it all with the remaining lives and continues left over from the first go around...R.C. Pro-Am: The Yellow Truck of Doom
Few would argue R.C. Pro-Am is one of the genuine classics for the NES. However, being a bona-fide classic doesn't mean a game is completely devoid of frustrating moments and spurts of pure cheesiness. R.C. Pro-Am is a classic, and also happens to be one of the more frustrating and cheesy games I have EVER played.
In R.C. Pro-Am the computer controlled vehicle speeds would adjust mid-race based on your performance. Take too big of a lead on the track and the opposing cars would speed up. Fall too far behind and they would slow down. Alright, makes sense so far...
Enter the Yellow Truck of Doom.
From time to time while racing, the yellow computer controlled truck (more accurately yellow vehicle - it wasn't always a truck) would get a super steroid shot of speed and suddenly zoom off into the distance! We're talking like 0 to Cheese in 0.4 seconds. Forget light speed, this thing went ludicrous speed! When this happened it meant an automatic 2nd place or worse finish. Even if you drove perfectly for the the rest of the race you still wouldn't catch up. The top speed in the game is 103mph. When the yellow truck went plaid it reached a top speed of 127mph.
I always wondered why this happened, and to this day I still don't have a clue. I've read on Wikipedia that the yellow vehicles would only go into ludicrous mode when you destroyed another vehicle while in the lead. I.E. you lapped them all and as you approached them from the rear and shot one with a missile. I haven't played the game in quite some time now, so I'm not in the best position to confirm or deny this. Whatever the case, R.C. Pro-Am will go down in history as having one of the cheesiest moments in video game history.Mike Tyson's Punch-Out: The Final Fight Against Iron Mike
Tyson is tough enough to knock-out thanks to his superior blocking abilities, lightning fast jabs and thunderous uppercut that is capable of sending you to the canvas if it connects. Fine. I understand that. Some of the fighters on the road to Tyson are difficult to beat, so it would be fitting that the final bout proved to be the most challenging. What sends this final fight over the top from challenging to cheese though is the bright neon green canvas on which you had to fight. Now instead of just needing to possess uncanny finger speed and reflexes to beat Tyson, you also had to try and focus your eyes on a dark foreground object against a light background for an extended period of time. Have you ever tried that? It's a lot more taxing on the eyes than you might think.
Besides constantly pulling your focus away from Tyson, the neon green canvas also has one other effect. Your eyes will start to water while looking at it. You not only worry about Tyson 's speed and power when fighting him, but you have to fight to keep your vision concentrated on him and resist the overwhelming urge to blink every second to relieve your water eyes. Argh!
Why the choice of a neon green background? I contend the programmers knew what they were doing and threw the neon green background in there on purpose. A way to increase the difficulty of the final fight without making Tyson himself impossible to beat. Why do I think this? When the game was re-released as Punch-Out, sans Tyson, the new boss also fights on a neon background - pink! Coincidence? I think not!Top Gun: Landing The Damn Plane & Refueling The Damn Plane
This damn game. Had this been a list of the hardest NES games of all-time Top Gun could have easily made the list based on its gameplay. You have to fly against what amounts to the equivalent of the entire U.S. Air-Force, armed with a very limited supply of missiles and a weak ass machine gun. Just trying to complete a mission is enough to pop more than one vein in your head. Just thinking about it gives me a headache.
But I digress. This isn't a least about hard games. This is a list about frustrating and/or cheesy moments in games. Top Gun makes this list thanks to what comes after you've already given yourself a migraine completing a mission. You now get to land the plane on the aircraft carrier! Whoopee! This would have been a novel idea if it didn't count against your lives in the game. *Sigh*. But alas, it does. So you're all stressed out from just narrowly completing the current mission, and now you have to worry about lining up the nose of your jet just right with the deck of the aircraft carrier. "A little to the left. Nope. Back a little to the right. Up. Down. A little more to the right. Too far. Left some. Up.." Failure to do so would result in
your plane crashing into the ocean in a ball of flame. Danger Zone indeed.
Top Gun isn't content to rest on just one frustrating piece of gameplay though. Oh no! Sometimes during the flight you might be required to refuel your jet mid-flight by linking up with a fuel plane. "Just a little more to the right." *Boom!* Aw damn, now I have to start the whole game over.
"Gentlemen, Goose is spelled with two o's."
**ck Goose! I'm glad he died! All Games: Getting Them To Load And Play
The end-all-be-all of hair pulling, controller throwing, red wizard is about to die of gaming experiences. Getting the damn things to work in the first place! There was the standard blow into the bottom of the cartridge fix. If that failed we'd have to resort to trying our own unique methods. Don't say you didn't have one. We all did! Some of us might wiggle the cartridge while in the system, others would opt to blow into only half the exposed cartridge bottom. For me? I would hold the power
button down an extra second to turn the system off, and then hold the button down again for another second when I powered it back on. Did our 'special' methods actually help load the games? I'd say no, but they mentally helped us cope with these all too common frustrating occurrences.
I think that will about do it for this article. Fear not I have plenty of more of games that I didn't include due to time constraints. I'll revisit this list and similar others in due time. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane!
-- The Gootch
**Honorable Mention: Rygar. 3 lives and no continues. Good luck! You'll need it