EVERY DEDICATED GAMER knows certain levels or bosses are so maddeningly difficult they reduce you to a controller-smashing rage-a-holic. But some are so difficult that they are actually impossible, or seems so as no one you know or have ever heard of have beat them, they are the Unbeatables. Here’s a look at some of the more notorious ones:
In the early days of arcades, there were more than a couple of games which, usually due to coding errors or oversights, would eventually crash if you reach a certain level of number of points. Two of the most famous of these games would freeze on a so-called a “kill screen.”
The most famous of which is probably Pac-Man, even if most gamers have only seen photos of it. Due to the 8-bit nature of the original Pac-Man, its level-counter could only hold 256 values (0-255) so if—that’s a big IF—you made it too level 256, you crashed the game, leaving it frozen on the kill screen. Which is about a good a beating as one can give a arcade game though far less satisfying then actually beating a game and reaching an end screen.
2. Donkey Kong
The original Donkey Kong arcade, which introduced the world to our beloved Mario, had a glitch that was similar to the kill screen, only more annoying.
A coding error in the algorithm determined the amount of time a player got on any given screen, and this led to a situation in which the player would have only 7 seconds to beat level 22 (screen 117), a feat that is impossible.
In fact, it is not possible to get above the second girder in the allotted time. The screen however, does not crash, so you are forced into playing out your remaining lives as the unbeatable level restarts and times you out, eventually causing you to lose the game. And even if that loss is really just a technicality—you’ve gone as far as anyone can—it’s still a bitch to lose.
3. Ghosts and Goblins
In this classic, you’re a knight names Arthur who must fight his way to a castle to save a princess—where have I heard that before? Only unlike some other princess- saving quests, Ghosts and Goblins was rage inducing not joy inducing. One hit and your armor was gone, leaving you running around in your underwear—literally—waiting to be hit again and killed. A death that would—since the idea of checkpoints hadn’t occurred to anyone yet—send the player to the start of the level.
Many things about this game were sadistic, but two of the worst were the spastic movements of enemies you were trying to hit and the fact that when you jumped you had to respect the laws of physics and not turn around in midair—like some other, more enjoyable, princess-saving games allowed for.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This game is a bitch!
The first of many games based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have been a commercial success and named game of the year by Nintendo Power but it is hands-down one of the most infuriating games ever. Available on NES and PC, each with their own fatal flaw, the NES version had no save function so it was a one-sitting completion or bust, while the PC version had a level which could not be beat, literally.
Whenever you tried to jump a particular gap you would hit you head and land in the sewer—which would kill you.
There was so much hype around this game, so much excitement before playing that was all lost after the first couple of hours or replaying that first water level—it’s amazing this game didn’t kill the whole TMNT franchise.
Battletoads may be the most notoriously impossible game of all time.
Thousands of gamers have fond memories of playing Battletoads but few if any can claim to have beat it. And the worst part is the game was pretty innovative and fun up to a point. The hoverbike level gets most players everytime, there’s just too many obstacles to dodge—over 100—and they come almost too fast—the level is only about 2 minutes long.
And if you did manage to beat the hoverbike, you advance to the surfing level and basically have to do the whole thing over again, only with more obstacles and at a higher speed. If you love platformers and you’ve never played, it’s worth checking out just to see if you have the rarefied reaction time to actually beat it—but you won’t.