To dream the impossible level

I was doing some reading to try to get past a hard level of True Crime: Streets of New York.

Hard levels are always the bane of any gamer. There's always that one level of a game that gives you all the trouble, and the enjoyment of progressing through the game is limited by your difficulty in that one level. Sometimes its the last level of the game, other times its some level in the middle, occasionally even an early level. So in this posting, as I try to avoid watching Team Canada suddenly ahead of the USA by only 2 runs, I'll go over a few of these. Readers (as they may be) are welcome to contribute:

  • True Crime:Streets of New York: (X-box)
    In this game the level that's giving me all of this trouble is the Shadow Tong mission where you have to fight your way out of a goth club and then shoot down pursuing cars. The goth club part is easy (and luckily you don't have to repeat it every time you fail the second half), but the second part you are shooting the cars turret-style while some asian goth chick who doesn't look asian drives. Using the left-trigger to auto-aim helps a little, but sometimes it actually locks onto cars that are on fire, and it locks onto motorcycles rather than the drivers. Also, the driverless bikes sometimes still pound against your car! What the hell is with that?

  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Crimson Skies:High Road to Revenge: (X-box)
    This is one of those rare games where the impossible-to-finish level also happens to be the last level: the defense of Chicago against the weather-creating super-zeppelins of Die Spinne. The Von Essen zeppelin at the end shoots out electrical zaps at you even as you're leaving (or worse: approaching) the repair bay, the Die Spinne attack planes shoot at you while you're going through the turbines in search of the internal generators, and you usually start off the last (way too long) rally with almost no health. That level is brutal. Brutal.

  • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary Edition: (PC)
    From one extreme to the other: this game's hardest level for me was the first level! Demon World, the first "episode" of the game, requires you to use McCoy on the Klingon hand on the workbench in one of the huts, in order to fix the hand and allow access to the underground bunker. Nowhere in the manual of the game does it say you can do this... in fact, in most other parts of the game don't let you do just this. I had this game for months before I could move on, back in those pre-internet days with no gamefaqs.com I had to wait until we went to Parkland Mall in Red Deer and I could buy a hint book for the damned game. After finishing Demon World, the other levels were all far far easier until you hit the second-last level where you had to think to punch a variety of numbers into the Enterprise computer to find out how to express them in Base 12. I found the last level combat fairly easy, all things considered.

  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: (N64)
    Another example of everybody's difficulties. This girl with ass-hair that was big into the game had 2 parts she couldn't get: the "Count Batula" level where you have to fly around as a vampire squirrel, and the very last level where her PC didn't have a joystick with a omni-directional paddle and therefore couldn't do the "rolling controller" move that was so necessary in many N64 games (ie. Super Mario 64) and was the bane of people using N64-emulation. My own two levels with the difficulty was the "Countdown" level where you have to escape the Teddiez compound with the razor wire along the beach (damn that was hard), and "Frying Tonight" where you had to swim your way out of a maze of electrical traps. Of course, I got to finish the game, since I have a PlaystationOne-style controller (Logitech Wingman Pro) for my PC. Take that M_______! (no relation to M_____)

  • Star Trek: Klingon Academy: (PC)
    This game is one of those where the one level keeps you away from the game. In this case, the level is the second level where Chang sends you "live" (ie. not part of his Academy simulation) in a cloaked Bird of Prey to spy on a Klingon traitor holding a secret meeting in an asteroid field. The rest of the missions are fairly easy. This one is impossible! You can't go around through the asteroids, you are detected. You can't go in from above, or from below (as one website assured me "its easy"), and the "wide sweep around from the far side" doesn't work either. I ended up having to download a savegame file off the internet where somebody had finished that level, and then carried on from there. The rest of the game was very fun and enjoyable, and this is pretty much the definition of "impossible level syndrome". It's the bane of all gamers and programmers.

  • WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness: (PC)
    The Battle at Darrowmere, the 9th level of the human campaign, is way too difficult. Why? Because you don't get a town. I hate the "no town" levels of Warcraft/Starcraft/C&C games. This level stumped me for a very long time, and made me very angry. But now time for my favourite Warcraft II story...
    Back in residence, we had ethernet throughout our dorm, and it was perfect for playing multiplayer games. One day, we all had conspired to beat "Binky", since he was a bloody multiplayer gaming master and we thought the combined power of 6 of us would possibly be enough to defeat him. I lucked out and was located directly above him on the map, and then I proceeded to wipe him out. As soon as I took him down and typed a triumphant message to the crew, I received the horrible news...everybody else had also conspired to take down the leader of the get-Binky conspiracy... ME! They all declared war on me and swooped in to eliminate me. They decimated my town and only a single peon/peasant (I forget which race I was playing) was left alive to scramble to the far corner of the map and rebuild my town. As I played, Binky (who lived across the hall from me), came into my room to observe my rebuilding. Suddenly he runs out of my room screaming "he's still alive! _____ is still alive! Get him!". The little snot. They descend upon me again and eliminate my town, and again only a single peon escapes. Again I rebuild my town forgotten, and as the rest of the guys fight to take each other down I rebuild a massive army of ogres (oh yeah, I was the Orcs) with a small number of Troll escorts, and when the guys found out about it this time it was too late: my hordes swept across the map, eliminating all resistance, and I won the game via complete elimination. Yes, that's right, that day I defeated 6 other players (including an Ace) even though all had conspired to work against me both within the game and without. That was awesome...

  • Deus Ex: (PC)
    Like Crimson Skies, the hardest level was the last one: Area 51. The Helios merging ending was relatively easy, but the other two endings involved taking down UC-created animals which were a bitch to kill and very efficient at killing you. I ran around that bloody chamber for hours shooting aliens and rhinos to no avail. All said and done though, Deus Ex was a very good game at being challenging consistently throughout: The Osgood & Sons level was another particularly difficult one.

  • Super Mario Brothers 3: (NES)
    I never did finish Super Mario 3 (though this guy did in 11 minutes (with emulation assistance), but the part that really pained my ass to complete was World 3, the water level. I just never could get the hang of swimming in a Mario game. World 4, by contrast, was so brutally easy it made me want to cry.

  • GoldenEye 007: (N64)
    Another early level issue: the "Runway" level is damned near impossible on any difficulty above "Agent". The only guns you get are shitty, guys come way too often, and even the tank is no match for all those turrets along the runway. Ugh ugh ugh how I hated that level. The 2nd Bunker mission is also extremely difficult, as is the Jungle level. Meanwhile, the train and frigate missions are extremely easy (and fun). Go figure.

  • Sky Shark: (PC)
    The third stage, where the gunboats start kicking into high gear, is so hard I never did finish it, and never again returned to the game. Ah well.

  • Seawolf SSN-21: (PC)
    I can't find a walkthrough or anything, but the 3rd(?) mission, where you have to protect the transports along the Iceland coast is way too hard...the enemy attack subs kill far too quickly to allow you any sensible counterattack. Luckily, you can skip ahead to other missions. That's a handy feature.

There are a few other games I'm likely missing, and I'll try to re-post when I think of them. In the meantime, there's my rant, take it as you will.