A more personal list than usual, this week, we’re celebrating the levels we love the most. The memorable moments, the challenging puzzles, the clever design, the beauty and drama. These are the moments in games that stuck with us the most. Maybe they’re not the best of all time, but we’re not historians, we’re here to share our love for the Top 10 of our favourite levels.
Everyone knows how Pac-Man plays and what Pac-Man is, but I saw that there was an official Bandai Namco app available for Pac-Man. So, naturally, I had to download it as I’m a huge fan of Pac-Man and all to do with the yellow gobbler. But, like everything in this day and age, there had to be something new the game brought along. There had to be something that separated this version of the classic maze-game and the original, so if you’ve eyed up this app, check it out in today’s review.
Level design is never an easy job, especially when you have to manage a large variety of levels and worlds. However some levels are so dreadful, that even years on, we as gamers raise our arms in frustration and say “Ah, sod this!” With all this said though, we’re not on about levels that are poorly made per se, but just levels that are genuinely bad to us.
So whether the level is downright frustrating because of how hard it is, or if the level is simply terribly designed, we’ve got you covered in this Top 10. Now it’s time for us to exit stage left and check out our best of worst levels!
10. IntelliLock – Mystery of Time and Space (MOTAS)
Ah the Intellilock, a lock that was designed to be incredibly intelligent, or so you would think. Actually, this lock is pretty smart in that it puts you through a rigorous game of “hey, press the right button!” There’s a lot of buttons you can press and when you press the right one, they all change to become another puzzle in amidst the already annoying puzzles. One moment, you could be looking at crosshairs, the next you could be given a simple number puzzle.
The issue with Intellilock isn’t that it’s a bad lock per se, or even that the level around it is bad. Instead, it makes you seriously think and it slows down your whole gameplay through Mystery of Time and Space. MOTAS as it’s affectionately known, is a flash game which you can play absolutely for free (just click this link). It’s really good fun, but when you come to the Intellilock screen, be sure to have a good memory or a strong logical brain!
9. Shalebridge Cradle – Thief: Deadly Shadows
This is a bit of an awkward one, and would have been placed far higher in the list if it weren’t also one of the best levels in Deadly Shadows. Throughout the game so far you’ve possibly walked the City streets merrily koshing or stabbing your way through a world that’s all too easily unburdened of life and valuables, and extinguishing every light that would reveal your presence, and a few you probably didn’t need to.
Welcome to the Cradle, half orphanage, half insane asylum, leave everything you’ve learned at the door. None of the lights can be extinguished, space is limited, and every occupant died a long time ago, but that hasn’t stopped them shambling the halls. If you’ve grown comfortable playing the master thief Garrett, be prepared to be made most uncomfortable, and otherwise freaked out, unnerved and generally annoyed. You’ll hate it, but it’ll make you want more.
8. Caustic Caverns – Borderlands 2
Good idea to replace all the water with acid, adds an element of risk, especially if you have to cross said acid a few times to get to essential locations. But jumping isn’t difficult in Borderlands, better make the acid bubble and splash so that it’s harder to dodge, OH and maybe if you put treasure and things in places you can only reach by jumping into said bubbles just as they burst! That’ll be great.
What else? What else? What if this is filled with creatures that can throw you great distances into the acid, or things that fly so you can’t look at where you’re going, or creatures that spend half the fight underground?! That’s sounds like a lot of FUN! PEOPLE WILL HAVE FUN! And now that we’re all having fun, let’s have a lot of quests in there, a lot more than any of the other dungeons in the whole game! Or at least let’s make it feel that way.
7. Kaizo Mario World
Kaizo Mario World is a trial-and-error game or “rage game”, I.E a game just like I Wanna Be The Guy. It’s a game where you might jump over a pit which would be an insta-kill, just to have a bullet bill fly at you JUST as you jump. Of course, this would go and kill you anyway. It’s the type of game that was made to intentionally annoy the hell out of you – and it’s pretty brilliant at it.
I’ve seen people die whilst just walking in that game. I’ve seen people die by being inactive. I’ve seen deaths by star blocks, deaths by chomps and deaths by goombas… Who appear out of nowhere! Kaizo Mario World is the ultimate test of patience. It’s not really a bad game at all, it’s rather clever in fact. But it’s such a bad idea for how a level works, that it deserved a mention. Please note: Kaizo is actually a fan based ROM Hack, so if you don’t own the official game, you’re not likely going to be able to play this legally! Still, it’s highly amusing to have a look at people dying pretty regularly on it!
6. Test Chamber 18 – Portal
One of the final phases of preliminary testing of the Aperture Handheld Portal Device, subjects are required to traverse elaborate corridor networks, and resolve a rather awkward puzzle in order to complete the chamber.
Test Chamber 18 is a bit of a doozy, and is often referred to as one of the hardest puzzles in the game, more than a few people were trapped in the little chamber for a very long time. The turrets add very little complexity, as they’re easily dispatched, but the solution is not all that obvious, and being trapped in that side room by a sliding panel, and some parts requiring rather narrow timing add little stressors that make the puzzle just a little harder.
The exit is a series of tall platforms reached by hurling oneself higher and higher, tempering your relief at completing the chamber with a little vertigo and nausea. Not to worry, there’s time enough to settle your stomach before the cake.
5. Safari Zone – Pokémon Red/Blue
Games seem to really love completely removing their own fundamental mechanics occasionally just to screw us over. The Safari Zone is just a prime example of exactly how gleefully the modern masters like to upset their fans. The whole point of pokémon is to pitch your pokémon against another pokémon and slug it out through means of tactical application of their various powers or abilities to whittle the opponent down far enough to defeat or capture it. The system works, and it would certainly be a great deal harder if you were just throwing rocks at your opponent, or if they could just run off whenever they liked.
Welcome to the Safari Zone, where your pokémon are removed from you and you have a limited time to throw rocks and/or bait at a kangaskhan until it either wanders off or actually stays in the damn Safari Ball. Oh, and your supposed to figure out that there’s a particular method when you’re 10 and don’t have a clue about strategy and just blast everything with hyperbeam until your PP runs out? Yet more proof that children should never be permitted to play children’s games.
4. Robot Masters before Dr. Wily – Mega Man games
The Robot Masters are the big baddies of the Mega Man series. Mega Man 2 is my all time favourite Mega Man, probably along with many other people. I’d always fight Metal Man first, then I’d take on Wood Man. Next I’d kill Bubble Man, followed by Air Man, then Flash Man. Crash Man is next, Quick Man and finally Er… Zippo Man. Heat Man, that’s his name! Then once you defeat all of the Robot Masters and take their powers, you can go to the middle section, which is Wily’s castle. Defeat the enemies before the big skull part and boom! It’s time to fight Wily.
Actually, no it’s not. Instead, you just find 8 doors that you can step through. Each of these doors have lights above them, indicating that they’re currently still active. All you have to do is go in and de-activate all of them. How hard can this be? Well, it can be incredibly hard if you’re only getting by with the skin of your teeth. You have to now fight all 8 of the Robot Masters all over again… And guess what? You don’t heal all of your health between fights either. Good luck, Mega, you’re going to need it!
3. Biker Tunnel – Battletoads
Have you played Battletoads? If you have and you’ve played this game with a friend, you know that most of this game is one massive mess. It’s a great mess, a glorious one at that. People only really took it seriously after it became subject to a bit of an internet meme targeting shops like Gamestop for a pre-order of Battle-Toads for the Nintendo Wii. All thanks to the above video: isn’t the internet an awesome place?
Nevertheless, it let people see the insanity that was Battletoads, inciting many people to then actually get frustrated with the games absurdly high difficulty. One moment, you’re playing a typical beat em up, with massive boots to kick the butts of your enemies. The next moment, you would be driving along a tunnel on a bike, with obstacles coming into contact with you every second. Don’t worry; that’s not all you have to contend with. Ramps are the only things that will save you from falling into the massive pits and you even have to hit those at the right speeds, else you’ll just lose. The Battletoads really had all odds stacked against them!
2. Water Temple – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
If you thought the Water Temple wasn’t going to make our list, then you were only fooling yourselves. Yes, the Water Temple clocks in at a whopping number two on our list, which is totally understandable, considering the infamous nature of this level. People go so far as to call levels “the Water Temple of this game” when referring to the worst levels of whatever game they’re playing. At least, I’ve certainly referred to levels in such a way.
Regardless, the Water Levels is interesting in that it has 5 layers, which sees you navigating all 5 layers just to get through it. If it were just a case of having to do each layer, that’d not be so bad, but you need to go back and forth between the layers just to progress. You know something’s up when they admitted they made it easier during the remake for the game on the 3DS, because they felt guilty for how hard this level was. Traps, layers, puzzles – It threw everything it had at you and only the patient would survive.
1. Rainbow Road – Mario Kart
Wait a minute, before we continue, how come we’ve got a second Mario item in the Top 10? Aren’t we only supposed to have 1 entry from each franchise? You’re absolutely correct, it’s one entry from each franchise. However, Kaizo Mario World is a fan-made ROM Hack, which does not count as part of a franchise. With this out of the way with, let me now explain why Rainbow Road not only makes it into the Top 10, but why it’s our number one pick.
Rainbow Road is infamous amongst people who have played through Mario Kart, in any of it’s various iterations. When you start playing Mario Kart, you get frustrated by the players who are throwing those red shells at you and the people who leave banana’s behind. You get frustrated that people are better at drifting than you are and you want to just give everybody the Luigi Death Glare whenever they try to pass you and you hit them with a shell.
Rainbow Road stops everyone dead in their tracks, because now instead of contending with other contenders, you’re fighting with the game itself. You now need to try to get this road, this wavy, moving, wiggling road, to treat you a little bit better. In the Wii version, for instance, the Rainbow Road has the occasional ripple in the ground, allowing you to gain speed for making a jump off the ground itself… But that doesn’t always help, as it can throw you full speed off one of the many curved sides of the road. There are no railings to save you in this exceedingly long level! It’s a nightmare to navigate and the colours can be highly disorientating.
There are so many levels out there, but to call them all the worst would be a massive overstatement. However, we thought we’d show off two more levels that at least deserves a mention; One isn’t even really a proper level!
Tomb of Horrors – Dungeons & Dragons
Omitted by a small technicality, the Tomb of Horrors is a module for D&D that is used by DMs when they are sick to death of their group, it’s veritably infamous for how cruelly it tortures those adventurers foolish enough to try its entrances. Sudden death is abundant, puzzles are difficult, and non-lethal penalties are dramatic to say the least. The place is the current final resting place of the demi-lich Acererak, and is a death trap riddled with hazards, monsters and deceptions of a most sadistic nature.
Expect loss of limbs, change of gender, altered philosophical views, and the very real possibility of just starving to death. Being a challenge for medium-high level characters, most of these penalties would be a mere setback, even death would be a revolving door. Would be! But the necromancer Acererak isn’t so polite as to let you die like normal, death is an absolute, no coming back from this one.
Kill Screen – Pac-Man
So we all know and love Pac-Man and I’ve mentioned this highly broken screen many times before on this website, however it’s interesting to note that this is technically a playable level, even though it isn’t really a proper one. What I mean by it not being a proper level, is that this level isn’t supposed to be like this, but it’s just a memory issue with the game, where it doesn’t know what you want to do with all of the fruit ever.
Rotten fruit aside, the Kill Screen is infamous in Pac-Man. Having supposedly been beaten only once before, which is seemingly unverified, the Kill Screen is basically the end of the line for the most hardcore Pac-Man players. Some modern versions of the game include it just as an Easter Egg to those who figure it out and get that far. On the plus side, at least the screen is visually different than the 255 maps that preceded it!
I’ve had enough of going through dungeons and caverns filled to the brim with krakens, because how many of these guys can fit into such a small space? Not to mention that there are fire monsters inside of this water cave, how did this even make it past play-testing!? Nevertheless, we’re done for this week’s list and now it’s once again over to you, our audience, to decide what we do for our next list.
Did we mention those levels that were so dastardly to you? What about the order in which we ranked these worst levels? Do you think we unfairly put any of them in, or do you think we were justified in our reasons? Did we miss any out?! As always, life isn’t fair, but you can help us make it right by telling us your personal worst levels in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Help us check through these games for the future of mankind’s sake: We’ve had enough of these worst levels!
It’s that time of year where ancient legend tells us that the walls between the land of the living and the dead are thinned and the dearly departed may walk among us. Many a ghost or ghoulie is bound by its past to an object, person or place of particular importance, and aren’t quite so free to wander abroad. That’s a shame indeed, how can they be expected to go trick-or-treating if they’re stuck inside all day?
Gaming is awash with its own ghost stories, not all of which were put in their by the writers. In this week’s Top 10 we’ll be focusing on the ones that were actually put in the game intentionally.
Video Games are so serious these days, from the latest in Call of Duty to the emotionally intensive games like Heavy Rain. But that doesn’t mean that some games aren’t made with such a ridiculous concept in mind that we can’t even get our heads around them. This week as voted for by you, dear GeekOut readers, we’re going to take a trip through the Top 10 Ridiculous Game Premises.
Let’s get some quick ground rules out of the way with here: This isn’t about Oh I understand i,t so it’s not ridiculous. No, instead we’re on about a concept that is utterly bizarre, which makes you scratch your head as to simply the word “Why?” Without further adieu, here is our Top 10 for this week.
10 – P.T.
You must wander around a house, seemingly infinitely, whilst ever so slight changes happen. Welcome to the bizarre mind of Hideo Kojima. Other than that, you see some nasty looking dental problems, along with more grotesque figures, such as an actual foetus in a sink. Lovely…
Don’t forget that P.T was made for what was going to be an upcoming blockbuster title in a well established franchse. Silent Hills was suddenly cancelled which begs the question… Why was P.T. ever made? As a promo piece, it served its purpose, but without the game that it was promoting, it’s now just a hallow shell of its once great self. Pity.
9 – Super Monkey Ball
Monkey? Get out of that ball! What are you doing in there? Who gave you that? Tilt the world to get the monkeys to the end goal, that’s right, move a planet to get the monkeys some bananas on their way home! And how are they even getting the bananas from inside of that bubble?
Aiai, MeeMee, Baby and Gongon have no less than nineteen games based on this exact premise, although they are wizards at milking an idea for every penny it’s worth. So for as long as you like shoving monkeys in hamster balls and rolling them around from point A to point B via banana, then I guess the series will live on.
8 – Continue?9876543210
No that’s not a mistype, that is literally the name of this game, but it makes a lot more sense the moment you look into what the game is about. It’s a strong message within a game, a powerful message, even if it wasn’t intended to be as such. It really got me out of a rut, weirdly, but the premise of the game is so bizarre it’s barely worth mentioning… But here we go.
You are a fallen hero from a video game. You are in what is basically the compilers heap, ready to be deleted by the Garbage Collector. You, however, have become sentient and do not want to be deleted. You fight, a real struggle, to survive… And you keep fighting on.
7 – Super Mario
Ok, I’m an accomodating guy, I love my fantasy worlds and I’m perfectly ok with the damsel in distress cliche. Kidnapped by a dragon turtle/gorilla in a bow-tie you say, and she rules over a race of sentient mushrooms who have been turned into cubes? This is all perfectly acceptable. BUT WHY IS THEIR SAVIOUR AN ITALIAN PLUMBER?!?!?
Now please don’t think me boring and unwilling to accept the ludicrous, I’ll accept anything if it all chimes together nicely. But Mario and his siblings seem out of place in their own world and no cartoon or awful film can make it make sense.
6 – Spintires
Ok, we deliberated hard over this. Should this spot go to Goat Simulator? No, that was quite intentionally ridiculous, that’s its’ entire purpose and it serves it well. Farming Simulator then? Sure, that’d be fine, but we can surely go one better? Oh yes we can.
How about a simulator where you drive through mud? That’s all of it, you’re driving a range of all terrain vehicles across a wide variety of muddy and rocky terrain and obstacles to get from point A to point B. No harvest to bring in, no train timetable to keep to, nothing to lick and claim it as your own.
You’re just driving. Just driving…
5 – Guilty Gear
Many years on, I’m still none the wiser what the goals in any of the Guilty Gear games really are, so I hope the audience can take part and let me know, but let me recap this by explaining that the story goes as far back as the Germans going to Egypt and the Kaiser not being very appreciative of this slayed all bar one, who became “That Man”.
Mix this with the fact you have people in this fighting game franchise being made for war, weirdly enough known as Gears (funny that), you end up with some really convoluted stories. I mean let’s not lie about this, we also have characters such as the young boy raised as a girl who fights with Yo-Yos and teddy bears… Oh and we have the doctor who fights with a giant scalpel who can use it as a pogo stick and jump in and out of dimensions… Oh and don’t forget….
4 – Typing of the Dead
Have you ever wanted to play House of the Dead with just your keyboard? I bet if you’re one of those people who adored the arcades and wanted your House of the Dead rush from the home, you have typed commands such as WASD and Left click, Alt-Click, etc. Well now you don’t need to use such an uninventive system.
Instead, we’re given and actual keyboard, which has a model in game too. The keyboard represents the weapon against the hordes of zombies and demons. Yes, you literally type words to kill your enemies, as a sort of mashup between Mavis Beacons’ Typing class software and… Well… House of the Dead.
3 – Dinner Date
Because no real-world scenario offers as much drama, as much conflict, and as many insurmountable challenges. What kind of hero can overcome the true-to-life story of waiting for your date to show up? She’s running a bit late, and the forks are at an odd angle.
Amidst a wealth of ridiculous simulators, art-house games and interactive story telling experiences, what could be more stimulating than dealing with a man’s internal monologue and torturous self doubt as he waits for a date to show? How about a tea-party for your stuffed animals? That too is a thing that exists.
2 – Super Putty
Okay, this one is going to be a rollercoaster, so just sit right there and listen to the story of Super Putty. A game originally released for the SNES, Super Putty is a game where you play as a sentient… Putty… And you have fallen from Moon Putty from your spaceship. It is your job, as Putty, to go and get some machines to help you rebuild your spaceship and make your way back to Moon Putty.
This is one of the most obscure games I know of in this day and age, although it’s worth noting that Super Putty is one of those that’ll stick in your mind forever. It’s a game many appreciated greatly as a child and I still miss it, even if it did feature a freaky as all heck evil cat wizard nemesis.
1 – Katamari
When your premise begins “The King of the Entire Universe…” you know you’re onto a winner. Katamari returns to the top 10 once again, rolling past us with a cluster of freshly gathered sheep and a lamppost, being trundled along by the son of the King of the Entire Universe.
Seriously, you’re just rolling up stuff? All the stuff, just- you’ve basically got one of those jiggling balls from the 90’s that sticks everything to it. Rainbows? Ocotpuses? Skyscrapers? And it’s just too much fun to ignore!
Really there’s very little else to talk about here. Katamari Damashi reigns supreme amongst the preposterous gaming elite.
Some games are still just weird, you know? Or they are less weird, but they are different enough to envoke a reason for you to think “What is going on?” These are the guys who didn’t make the cut, but we wanted to give a nod to these awesome games.
A classic in video games, which features a yellow pizza-like man who runs around, gets chased by some ghosts and has to survive by eaitng power-pellets in order to eat the ghosts that would consume him. That by itself is all well and good for a retro video game. However, let’s now divulge the true secrets of Pac-Man (as described in my brain).
Pac-Man, a psychopathic criminal, hellbent on destruction and terror, has decided to wreak havoc once more upon the residents of his city. The recently departed are fed up with the constant terror that Pac-Man provides the city, so make it their quest, to put a stop to the yellow rebel. With narcotics and dellusional aspirations, Pac-Man believes he can rid the city of everyone, including the already deceased. The ghosts, Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde are therefore simply trying to put an end to the reign of terror of the viscious yellow beast.
There are other stories that people have made up over time, so I invite you to share with us your stories of Pac-Man.
Tim Schaefer makes weird concepts and then milks them for cash, and Costume Quest tops the odd pile he’s built for himself. As a trick-or-treater you adopt the powers of costumes you wear, in order to battle the mysterious forces that stole your brother or sister!
It’s not fully explained how, but it’s a cool idea that could only have spawned from a particularly weird mind. Ridiculous? Yeah, sure! But it’s still awesome.
Have you had enough of our ridiculous games? I sure as hell have, as I’m still struggling to understand what has happened with half of these games. But hey, why not let us know your thoughts in the comments and tell us if we missed a beat? In the mean time, why not decide what we write about next week? Choose between one of our three Top 10s and we’ll write about it.
Whilst you wait, hanging on our every word for more information, get involved in the comments below by saying if you felt our ordering was justified. Do you think we missed a game we should have included? Could YOU join in with a future Top 10? Let us know and we’ll see you all again next week for another Top 10!