The 7 Games You Play in Hell

Whereas Belinda Carlisle conclusively proved Heaven to be a place on Earth, Hell is a trickier beast. Some have it be hot, some have it be cold, and others like Dante have it be both depending on the particular circle into which you tested.

This feature is about the seven games you play in Hell.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this is a feature about the worst games of all time.

It is not.

Satan, Orcus, Hel, Ah Puch, or the underworld overlord of your choice wouldn’t be so banal as to make you spend your after-days playing E.T. on the Atari 2600. He (or she or it) isn’t going to give you a copy of Home Alone 2 on the NES. Devils are cleverer than all that jive. Can you imagine Ol’ Scratch taking pleasure in saying, “Here, play this game with sub-par camera angles and unresponsive controls, BWAHAHAHAHA!”

Hades could’ve just starved Tantalus. Where’s the fun in doing that thing? I mean Tantalus killed and cooked his own son. Plus, he stole Ambrosia from Zeus. That bitch needed to pay. So Tantalus thirsted while standing in water he could never reach to drink, and starved while fruit hung just out of his grasp. All the while a boulder stood poised to crush him.

That Hades, he knew what he was doing.

The 7 Games You Play in Hell is therefore not about awful games. It’s about good games, sometimes great games, that are cruel and sadistic by their very nature. They are games that punish us, and yet we return to them.

Game, the First
The Adventures of Bayou Billy

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Beat ’em Up/Driving/First Person Shooter
Release Date: June, 1989 (NA)

Nineteen years after it’s release, I still haven’t beaten this stupid game.

This owes nothing to lack of effort. As a kid, I gave it everything I had. I played the hell out of this game, mastering the nuances of the stages in practice mode even before I would get to them in the real game. I’d read up on strategies whenever I could, everywhere from Nintendo Power to Gamepro. I even broke out the Game Genie, and yet I still NEVER beat the game, ever.
For this piece, I decided to break it out one more time; I figured an older, more experienced Chris could have better luck, even with reflexes dulled with age. This game can’t be THAT hard, can it?

It was, it is, and I’ve been sufficiently humbled. Once again.

Bayou Billy was one of those games that tried to do everything; it was mostly beat-em up, with some shooting stages and a couple driving stages as well; the shooting stages even let you choose between the Zapper (Game A) and using a controller (Game B); and pulled it off much better than other games that let you use either or (Operation Wolf comes to mind). All of this was revolving around Crocodile Du– I mean, Bayou Billy’s having to rescue his girlfriend Annabelle from Gordon by going from Lousiana swamps through Bourbon Street to Gordon’s huge mansion, with Gordon taunting you the entire way as the object of your lust appears behind him, tied up between stages. The plot was uninspiring, and by themselves, only the Zapper portion would stand out. What makes this game stand out above the cut is it’s insane difficulty.

By myself, I’ve only seen stage 8 of this game, and that’s when I was a kid who had most of the patterns down and was as “in practice” as I could get, and even then, I barely made it to stage 8 on my last continue. Each part of the game has it’s own quirks that make the experience hellish. The Zapper portion is the easiest of the game, by far, and even then, you’re going to be subjected to cheap hits when you get to the bosses that can fire at whim; if you’re not a bad shot with the Zapper, this portion is actually easier, and gives you the benefit of keeping a bullet if you hit an enemy; a good thing, as you wouldn’t get nearly enough of them (50 with the Zapper, 100 without) to get by otherwise. The driving game is frustrating due to obstacles popping up in the road, poor depth perception – obstacles are usually closer than they appear – and an infuriatingly frustrating timer.

The beat ’em up portion is where you spend most of your time, and is the cause for more broken controllers than all my games of Tecmo Super Bowl, Super Mario Bros, Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden combined, and to put that in perspective, just stage 6-2 of Ninja Gaiden should be an Honourable Mention in “Games You’ll Play In Hell” by itself. You get a kick, a punch and a jump kick by pressing both buttons almost simultaneously (I say “almost” because it’s more of a “roll” that you have to do; instead of A+B together, you “roll” your finger from A to B. It’s hard to describe, but the timing is sublime for those that got it from this or other Konami games such as TMNT II: The Arcade Game). That in itself isn’t bad, but the problem is that if you are in one spot for too long – say, longer than .3 seconds – you’re going to take a hit. And enemies in this game seemingly have as much life as you do, so you cannot just stand there and trade shots; you’ll be dead in no time. I’m not just talking bosses or hard enemies, either; regular joes take anywhere from 7-10 shots to take down sometimes, and if you don’t hit them and move out of the way ASAP – or if you jump kick into their range of motion – you’re going to be down half your life by the time you move from one piece to the next. There are power ups that can help you out, from sticks to whips to bulletproof vests to life-replenishing chicken – but not nearly as many as you need. In addition to all of this, large men throw stones at you, birds fly at your head, and you’re required to stop a few times to fight alligators.

Now keep in mind that everything I’ve mentioned above happens in the first stage. The enemies in later stages just get faster, stronger, and have attacks that have better range. Making things worse is that if you have to burn a continue, you start the stage from scratch, and you only get a couple continues; after that, you’re done. You do get an extra life after every 20,000 points, but scoring that many points per game is a challenge to itself. The key to advancing in this game is having the patience to do a lot of hit-and-move fighting, and setting up your location to be strategically advantageous to get a hit in without getting hit; simply put, most gamers don’t have that level of patience to walk around that much, and apparently, neither do I.

The saddest thing is that while this game’s gotten a reputation for being entirely too challenging – I mean, Captain Fuckin’ N couldn’t beat Bayou Billy, and he’s so awesome he gets to nail Princess Lana every night – it didn’t have to be, and actually wasn’t. The Adventures of Bayou Billy is the Americanization of a game by the name of Mad City that Konami released in Japan, and unlike companies such as Nintendo and Squaresoft, Konami apparently never got the memo that the American audience was “weaker”, and made Bayou Billy about three times harder than Mad City, a habit they kept with their Castlevania releases as well. I have a feeling Bayou Billy would have been better received in America if it’s difficulty was somewhere in the middle between what it was, and that of Mad City, which is a touch on the easy side.

When my agnostic self ends up in Hell, I’m going to have Bayou Billy greeting me there. And I’ll have nothing more than a stick I broke on someone with a bulletproof vest, two bars of health, and about to fight that big motherfucker at the end of stage 3.

In other words, just like Earth.

– Christopher Bowen

Game, the Second
Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna

Developer: Sir-tech
Publisher: Sir-tech
Genre: First Person RPG
Release Date: 1986

Honestly, any gamer worth their salt should not be surprised to see this making this list. Not only is Wizardry IV universally considered the hardest RPG ever made, but most video game historians consider it the hardest video game ever made, bar none. This thing is a merciless piece of pure unadulterated EVIL. Yet it is still one of the most original, innovative and yes, FUN RPG’s ever made.

Here’s the thing. At one time Wizardry was the biggest RPG series in the world. We’re talking Final Fantasy, Pokemon and Dragon Quest levels of insane gibbering fanboy popularity. Yes, even bigger than Ultima.

In the first three Wizardry games, you played as a party of brave heroes who have entered a dungeon to slay the evil magician Werdna and his seemingly endless horde of monsters, or the dragon L’Kbreth. These dungeons were small by today’s standards, as they were only a few levels deep, but they were huge in size and the opponents within were tough.

Wizardry IV however, was the first video game ever that had you play out right as the bad guy. Not just any bad guy, but the almighty end boss Werdna himself. Every games in the mid-80’s instantly took notice of this title and thought it was just about the coolest idea ever. You were going to play as loathsome utterly evil. Even better you were able to summon hideous creatures bent on rending human flesh to do your bidding. Then came the supreme announcement. If you send in your characters to Sir-Tech, they would appear as wandering monsters in the game for Werdna to fight. Yes indeed folks. Instead of random battles with monsters, you had battles with random adventuring parties. This was huge.

The actual game itself? Well it actually surpassed the hype. Not only was it the most innovating idea for an RPG story at the time of its release, but Wizardy IV‘s gameplay still remains one of the most original video games ever made, and is why the game is considered the pinnacle of gaming difficulty.

The first clue that something insane was up was when you read the box itself. Please take note of the pictures I have provided. On the front is the big red label “For Expert Players ONLY. Experience with Proving Grounds Required.” Proving grounds was the first Wizardry game, and as gamers would eventually discover, there is a puzzle towards the end of the game that can only be completed if you are very familiar with that game. Ouch. Now let’s look at the back cover. Oh look! Another warning. “Warning Expert Level Scenario. The Return of Werdna is an EXPERT level scenario for experienced Wizardry players ONLY! Novices will rapidly become totally frustrated – this game is VERY difficult! ” Oh my god, was it true.

First of all, Werdna is no longer the almighty creature of doom he once was. Your powers are drained, your magic amulet is gone, and you are trapped in a 10 floor dungeon. You set out on your quest to regain your power and well, the first time through, you are going to die exceptionally fast, even if you are experienced with the series. Now here’s why.

First of all, you don’t get experience in this game. Nope. It doesn’t matter how many battles you fight – your character will not get stronger. The only way to gain more power is to find the hidden pentagrams on each dungeon level. The first time you touch a pentagram on that level, you will rise in power. Any other time you see a pentagram on that floor, all you can do is summon monsters to do your bidding. You would think that because of this your best option is to run from battles. Well, no. That will actually hurt you. You see, there are a specific number of opponents per floor. Running just means you’ll encounter them later. If you kill them immediately though, you don’t have to face them again…unless you save your game.

Oh yes, you read that right. Saving your game revives every opponent on every level of the dungeon. This means you not only have to be damn good at this game, but you have to be smart enough to know when to save.

If that wasn’t enough the game allows you only a limited amount of keystrokes with which to beat the game. This is a DOS/AppleIIE game after all. I’m going to let that sink in for a bit. YOU HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF KEYSTROKES WITH WHICH TO BEAT THE GAME. Do you know this number? Of course not. But the game does keep track and if you do manage to beat the game, it gives you your score, which is based on your keystrokes. Smart gamers figured out how to lower their numbers. One example is to type in only the first letter of a spell and then let then select the spell from a menu. Bam. TWO KEY STROKES. Less astute gamers would type in the whole name of the spell and hit enter. LOTS OF KEY STROKES. Whoops.

It gets meaner. You also have to deal with the ghost of Trebor, another major Wizardry villain. The longer you meander around dungeon floors, the closer he gets. The more keystrokes you use, the closer he gets. The long you just sit there and have the game doing nothing because you went to the bathroom or make a sandwich, the closer he gets. Even WORSE Trebor moves in real time while your characters are turn based. Ho ho ho. As a ghost he can also move through walls thus allowing him easier instant access to you. If you ever encounter Trebor – you are dead. Seriously. One hit instakill with a 100% chance of hit happening. Good bye Werdna. This is all the more reason not to dilly dally and explore. Thankfully Trebor does not move when you are on a pentagram or in battle, so you are safe there.

If you can survive the challenge, you can get one of five endings. There is the “Good” ending, where Werdna becomes a do-gooder happy sappy kind of guy. There are three “Evil” endings, that are based on which sword you choose at a crucial point in the game. Each of these has a similar “Werdna is a bad ass god of pure evil” feel. Then there is the “Grandmaster” ending. This is the hardest ending in the game to get, and is considered the true ending for the game. To get this requires a lot of puzzle solving, knowledge, and skill. It is considered the hardest thing to do in the hardest video game ever made. Only a fraction of people have ever accomplished this without cheating or using a walkthrough, and the game does indeed record if you do either. IT KNOWS. I remember one of the biggest thrills of my prepubescent childhood was getting the grandmaster ending without cheating which gave you a special number to call Sir-Tech themselves and you could give them your score to prove you did it the honest and thus awesome way. Somewhere in an old box at my parent’s house is that old Computer Gaming World with my name listed as one of the very first people to do the nigh impossible.

And the current generation of gamers wonder why the older kids complain about how easy games today are. Compared to Wizardy IV: The Return of Werdna your Ninja Gaiden remakes or your Baroques are child’s play compared to the sheer grueling torture of games like this.

HARDEST VIDEO GAME EVER. Yet it is also one of the most groundbreaking and revolutionary titles in the history of the industry. It might not have aged well over the years with graphics, sound, and plot, but the challenge still remains intact and deserving of both your fear and respect.

HAVE I FORGOTTEN SOMETHING….?

– Alex Lucard

Game, the Third
Eternal Champions


Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Genre: 2D Fighting Game
Release Date: 1993 (Genesis), 1994 (Sega CD), 12/03/07 (Wii Virtual Console)

Oh man.

Alright, preface this with a small backstory: I never actually bought the original Eternal Champions (I was something like twelve at the time, gimme a break). A friend of mine purchased it and, in absence of actually being able to play the damn thing, offered to let me borrow it, but he lived a considerable distance away for a kid to travel without a car. So another friend of mine and I hopped on the old public transportation bus to go over and pick it up, and half an hour later we were at his house to borrow EC.

In the middle of an ice storm.

Yeah. I am was an idiot.

But in the end, it seemed like a great idea: I loved fighting games at that point, even if I wasn’t specifically good at them. Three or four days out of the week, I’d be over at a friends house or have friends over to play whatever fighters we could get our hands on, from Street Fighter 2 Special Championship Edition to either of the Mortal Kombats to Fatal Fury to Slaughtersport (I rocked as Buff and Stump, suck it) to Brutal (yes, Brutal, as in the fighting game with the anthropomorphic animals beating each other up) to, well, you get the idea. Eternal Champions was highly desirable, due in large part to the fact that it was a fighting game, but also due in large part to the fact that it was supposed to be bloodier than Mortal Kombat.

This was an amazing thing at the time, honest.

But for someone of my limited skill at fighting games, Eternal Champions was, metaphorically speaking, the equivalent of running downstairs on Christmas morning, opening your Red Rider-shaped package, and finding that the entire box was instead filled with reindeer crap.

Oh, not that the game was bad; Eternal Champions has certain stiffness issues and the characters are a little silly, but it’s certainly playable and enjoyable against multiple players. It’s essentially something of a Street Fighter clone (again, sort of; the moves often revolved around charges and pressing multiple buttons at once instead of the normal Fireball/Dragon Punch motions, though those did exist) with Fatalities stuffed in (though most of said killing moves were so much of a pain in the ass to pull off that to this day I’ve probably only seen about half of them; many of them were stage dependent rather than character-specific and often required the character to be in a certain location, thus meaning you were more likely to pull them off BY ACCIDENT than by any sort of strategy) and an awkward Art of Fighting special move meter (that essentially meant I was jump-kicking the opponents more than actually doing special moves), and it played well enough for what it was. The Sega CD sequel was even better; aside from adding in a bunch more characters and stages, it had FMV intros, which at the time were mighty impressive. It also had a ton of extra unlockable characters beyond the advertised new additions, including a green beret soldier, a US Senator (ha ha), and a fighting owl and chicken, among others. It was wonderfully absurd and entertaining as hell when playing with friends.

But when playing against the computer, the game was rougher than a sandpaper enema.

The other characters generally weren’t all that bad, mind you, oh no; while they had their skills, and beating them wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, it was all about the Eternal and Dark Champions. You think SNK bosses are bad? How about fighting a guy who has FOUR DIFFERENT FIGHTING STYLES, that you have to fight IN SUCCESSION, each with its own FULL LIFE BAR, and if you die you lose and have to start all over?

That was Eternal Champions for the Genesis.

What’s worse than that? HAVING TO DO IT TWICE.

That’s Eternal Champions for the Sega CD.

And these guys were pretty rough in either case; the Eternal Champion worked off of strange animal-styled martial arts that were generally pretty difficult to appropriately defend against in a lot of cases, while the Dark Champion used powers based on natural disasters that can charitably be described as “a cast-iron bitch to survive”. And while actually BEATING them really only came down to actually figuring out what sort of attacks they could use and how to properly avoid/counter them (surprisingly, a lot of bosses today are worse insofar as pure screen-filling bullshit is concerned), the fact that you were going to be fighting them for an inordinately large amount of time coupled with the fact that losing equaled death with no retries, well, basically meant that you were going to be playing the games for a LONG time to figure out what you were supposed to be doing AT ALL, let alone what you needed to do to win.

To this day I’ve only ever beaten the Eternal Champion with Larcen Tyler, I’ve never beaten the Dark Champion, and I hope both of them die in a fire.

But Larcen Tyler and Midknight were pretty cool.

– Mark B.

Game, the Fourth
Stargate (A.K.A. Defender Stargate)

Developer: Vid Kidz
Publisher: Williams Electronics
Genre: Scrolling Shooter
Release Date: 1981

“. . .It is Stargate Defender, a classic arcade game from 1981, the glory days before the 16 bit processors!”

“Anyway, I think the idea is to kill off all the spaceships.”

“No, the idea is to save the humanoids! That is, if the Yllabian Space Guppies don’t get to you first.”

“Really. Oh cool, so you’ve played this game before?”

“No. . . . It just seems like common sense.”

“Hang on. Were you one of those guys in high school who spent every day at the arcade, hunched over the controls of a simulated spaceship with all the other pale, friendless virgins? “

Long pause.

“Don’t be silly. “

**********

The classic arcade games were hard.

Balls hard.

Those frightening lunatics in The King of Kong, got that part right. Back then, challenge was one of the few things that a game had to offer. There was no escapism in pretending to be Pac-Man. You didn’t have “sandbox” games where you could wander around town and bang hookers. You didn’t meander around mostly empty rooms looking for random shit to put together into a bigger piece of random shit. You didn’t even get a “congratulations, you’ve beaten the game” at th end. The games had no true endings, just “kill screens” where the system would freak out if you made it too far.

The old games were all about memorization and reflexes. It was about how long you could last on a single quarter.

The answer, in most cases, is “not very long.”

For me, Donkey Kong might as well be called “get killed by a big, fucking-ugly, monkey”. Asteroids kicks my ass (and gives me hemorrhoids? That ain’t right. . .). I think I’d be better at Joust in real life.

Galaga I can do.

But then, then, there is Defender. You will not survive Defender.

Defender will always beat you.

In Defender you fly your spaceship around in a large cylindrical, rocky landscape. At least at the beginning, ten humanoids are on these mountains. It is your job to defend these humanoids. They will die if you shoot them, so be careful.

Evil “Landers” are everywhere, trying to abduct the humanoids. You have to keep them from catching the humanoids. If they do abduct the humanoids, shoot them before they get to the top of the screen. If they make it to the top of the screen, the Lander turns into a “Mutant”, an enemy which is much more dangerous. If you shoot the Lander before it turn into a Mutant, make sure you catch the humanoid.

You see, if all the humanoids die, the planet explodes and ALL the Landers become Mutants. (Read as: you are so fucked.)

There are also Bombers; they lay mines in the air to dead-ify you. Then there are Pods; when you shoot those ones, they turn into a bunch of tiny, hard-to-shoot Swarmers. The Landers, the Mutants, the Swarmers, well, they’re all shooting at you.

If you kill all those bad guys, you get to move onto the next level. BUT if you take too long, the Baiters come after you. The Baiters are hard to hit, are super-fast, and very good shots.

Gamasutra once called Defender “quite possibly, the hardest significant game there is[.]”

And yet, Eugene Jarvis and company managed to make its sequel, Stargate, MUCH HARDER.

In addition to the previous enemies, now you’ve got to deal with Firebombers who shoot fireballs, Yllabian Space Guppies who home in on you, Phred and Reds that shoot Muchies at you, and Dynamos that are made out of Space Hums. Sometimes the Space Hums break away from their Dynamo to try to kill you by themselves. Look at their mightiness, and tremble!

Okay, so maybe they aren’t so terrifying here, but trust me: Stargate is not for beginners.

“Look, once you put your first quarter in that thing, it will consume your every waking moment. It will haunt you in your sleep. It will irreversibly ruin your life.”

If the colored quotes in this section are confusing to you, I will explain. The show NewsRadio devoted a good chunk of an episode to Stargate. It even featured a cameo by Eugene Jarvis, creator of Defender. You can watch it on Hulu.

– ML Kennedy

Game, the Fifth
Chakan: The Forever Man

Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Action/Platformer
Release Date: 6/8/92 (US)

I wish this game wasn’t so goddamn hard, because I want to love it so much.

Chakan is a badass character, partly because he’s effectively a warrior so strong that Death himself could not best him in armed combat, partly because he’s cursed to roam the Earth destroying every evil thing on it so that he can eventually experience Final Death, and also because

So perhaps you can understand why I say I want to love his game, because as a character? Chakan’s pretty cool.

But Chakan: The Forever Man is one giant, long punch in the face as far as difficulty is concerned, which is pretty amazing considering it’s a game where YOU CANNOT DIE. You can’t. Failing a stage kicks you out to the group of portals, but it’s not the end; you can just go back and try again. And Chakan is given a bunch of neat weapons to play with (including a grappling hook which doubles as a long-range weapon, an axe, a scythe, and a mallet) and several alchemical spells to use that can heal him, make him invincible, imbue his weapons with elemental damage, and so on. In short, he’s well equipped to destroy everything he faces down, and death is not the end since he’ll just come back to kill everything all over again.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that while you can’t die, you can still be defeated, AND THIS WILL HAPPEN OFTEN.

Enemies respawn constantly, and any enemy what takes more than one hit to kill WILL hit you and hurt the crap out of you. Platforming puzzles are common and are as hard as they were in the old Konami TMNT game, which means falling to your demise is frequent. Bosses are often hideously over-powered and cheap as shit, and will often wreck you several times before you figure out what you need to do (and in some cases, no matter what you do), and oh yeah, every stage is timed, and if you run out of time, START AGAIN.

And this is just in the first sections of the game, where things are EASIER, if you can believe that. Once you get to the later levels, you find yourself facing down itty-bitty platforms and precise jumps that often spawn multi-hit enemies while you’re in mid-air, which essentially means you’re falling to your death way more often then you might like. And even with the benefit of alchemy potions the game is no picnic; running out of clear potions just before a hideously painful boss battle means you ain’t healing a damn thing during that fight, bucko, unless you want to go hunt for more potions in another level prior to that battle, and without healing? Good luck.

And Chakan sounds like a dying boar every time he bites it, which is a sound I became all too familiar with as time went on.

The thing is this: the game was very amusing and very entertaining, the depth of weaponry was fun to play around with, and the various levels were interesting and imaginative. The game had (for its time) acceptable visuals and a really swank soundtrack, and even if some of the sound effects were ass, an awful lot were pretty solid. In short, it was a game that would have been easy to love if it gave you half the chance to do so. But thanks to the fact that the game is, quite literally, “I Wanna Be The Guy” lite in most respects, and it often surpasses many true “Nintendo Hard” games with its epic and horrendous controller-throwing cheapness, well, let’s put it like this:

Chakan is worse than Ninja Gaiden (the old NES one). Chakan is worse than Ghouls and Ghosts. Chakan is worse than the Genesis version of X-Men, Target Earth, and Ex-Mutants. It’s a big old punch right in the kidneys followed a swift kick right in the ass, and even if you swear you beat the game fairly without cheating your appropriate genetic parts off, I’ll never believe you.

God bless you Chakan The Forever Man, you shriveled gothic bastard

-Mark B

Game, the Sixth
Enemy Zero

Developer: WARP
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Survival Horror
Release Date: October 31st, 1997

Imagine if you will, an E3 conference in the mid-nineties. WARP is previewing their latest Playstation game. It features Laura from their game D in a situation not unlike Ripley’s in the film Alien. The graphics wow the crowd of Playstation supporters, arousing a round of cheers. Then, just after the last clip of the game is shown, the Playstation logo morphs. . .

. . . into the Sega Saturn logo.

Even before it came out, Enemy Zero had proved itself to be sadistic.

Now Enemy Zero never really shied away from aforementioned Alien vibe. You played a female protagonist in space who is awakened from hypersleep only to discover a nasty alien creature is killing your co-workers. You must navigate convoluted corridors where the creature could be lurking around any corner.

Like other survival horror titles, there are puzzles and that sort of thing. But that’s not really where the challenge lies.

Where should I begin?

When you start the game you don’t have a gun or any means of defending yourself. The alien can pretty much kill you at a whim, if you wander down the wrong path, and there are a lot of wrong paths.

There is quite a bit of stuff to do before you find a gun and when you do find a gun, it breaks almost immediately in an elevator accident. In fact, the gun breaks before you have a chance to fire it.

The guns in the game, by the by, are a pain in the ass to use. They can only shoot once at a time, after being charged for a couple of moments. If you hold the charge past it’s maximum, the gun shuts down on you and you have to try again. It can’t hold a charge, so whenever you need to shoot something you better know in advance.

And you better not miss, because the alien usually doesn’t give you time for a second shot.

Oh, and did I mention that there is more than one alien? I should’ve said that thing.

Oh, and the aliens just happen to be INVISIBLE. Yup, you’ve got to intuit the location of the monsters by means of a motion detecting hearing aid. It makes a high pitched sound when something is in front of you and a low pitched sound when something is behind you. When it is on the side of you, it makes a middle-pitched sound. The noise gets louder the closer the baddies get.

So, you end up wandering around corridors, stumbling upon dead bodies with a bunch of nasty, invisible brutes that can kill you just as soon as look at you. And you’re lucky if you have the questionably useful gun.

What’s that Hecubus? Did I also mention that after a few shots, the gun needs to be repowered?

~Evil!

Actually, the first gun you get breaks before you get to power it, and the second gun you get needs to be repowered after every discharge. That’s right, you’ve got to go to a gun recharge station between shots.

And that’s the only gun you get for all of disc 1.

(It’s a 4 disc game. The first is disc 0, which features movies about the game’s story and creators. It also trains you how to use your shitty gun and magic hearing aid.)

You eventually get a decent gun on the last disc. Whoo hoo!

So, all in all, Enemy Zero makes you more paranoid than a pan of pot-laced brownies. It’s the sort of thing where you want to save after accomplishing anything at all. Unfortunately, you save via a Voice Recorder with limited battery power. Save too much, and you won’t get any more.

What’s that Hecubus? Did I mention that the battery in the magic hearing aid dies during the final disc? Thankfully, you receive assistance from one of your dead comrades. You speak Japanese, right?

No?

Well, you’re dead comrade does, so you better learn!

Enemy Zero and I shared an interesting relationship. Perhaps it’s an unrequited love, or perhaps it is something dark and rooted in S&M. It never gave me back the love I gave it. All I know is that I enjoyed this game, and this game enjoyed watching me suffer and squirm. I don’t think I ever made it past disc 1 without a FAQ.

Enemy Zero is rivaled only by Dracula: Unleashed when it comes to games that despise me for liking them.

– ML Kennedy

Game, the Seventh
Battletoads

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Tradewest
Genre: Beat “Ëœem Up
Release Date: 1991

There are hard games, and then there are hard games. And then there are games so hard they make you want to break the game in half in order to expel the pure evil that dwells within. And then, there’s Battletoads

It’s like Super R-Type or Silver Surfer; the difficulty is staggeringly high, and yet you can’t put the controller down. You have to beat this game. This game is calling you out, letting everyone know what a loser you are, and you have to shut it up. STOP MOCKING ME!!

Battletoads is the story of two giant, badass toads, on their way to save Princess Angelica and their other toad friend Pimple from the Dark Queen. The Dark Queen shows up in between levels to talk some trash, mostly making fun of the Battletoads’ names like some Batman villain (ex: “Cattle Loads” – that bitch!). The gameplay is the usual sidescrolling beat “Ëœem up fare, with some variations thrown in. Particularly evil are the Turbo Bike levels, in which you’re expected to dodge and leap over brick walls at mach 9. There are even some 3-D-ish levels like in Contra.

Part of the game’s legacy is the manner in which enemies are defeated. Using your GIANT fist, GIANT foot or GIANT head, you blast the enemies completely off the planet. I’m not kidding. They don’t just disappear, they don’t just get thrown off screen, they are sent straight to the moon. Unless whatever planet you’re on doesn’t have a moon. Or maybe you are on a moon.

But the problem with this is, it takes a few hits to get to the GIANT hand/foot/whatever. During this time, you’re liable to take a few hits of your own. The enemies themselves also have a PWNING hit that takes some time to charge up, but you can dodge this if you’re fast enough. While there are recovery items here and there, it’s pretty easy to die in this game.

Much of the game’s difficulty comes from the fact that you only have a limited amount of continues to go by. There are no passwords, no save slots; if you lose all your lives and continues, you start all over again. The constant barrage of enemies and high reflex situations would be manageable if you could continue. At least they had the decency to respawn your character on the exact spot it died, also like in Contra. I guess it’s the least they could do.

Is this game bad? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s awesome. The problem is, you can’t get very far in it without a Game Genie, and even then it’s still tough. If you can get through this game without any help from third party game modifiers, you have my respect.
– Charlie Marsh

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