Before the Internet ran wild and free, before Gamefaqs, wikipedia or Giantbomb could generate the answer to any video game related problem you could have, the world sat cold in a fallow of knowledge. To get past the baddest of the bad bosses. To get past the most hellish of platforming puzzles, you had to actually *gulp* interact with other people, you know, like with actual words and conversation.
Growing up, my family would never pay the dough to use the nintendo hotline or game guides so I was stuck with only having my friends and family as a resource to solving my NES and SNES based conundrums. Like many a lad, I got my first NES in the Christmas of 1988. Unlike most of those boys though, the gift was not meant for me in the slightest. I had only just turned 3 years old when my family bought our NES for my older brother. They were certain in their fortitude that I was far too young to do anything productive on the game system, that at most it would be something that could emit flashing lights I would find somewhat interesting but was years away from comprehension. Needless to say, I straight up jacked that NES. Though I could barely put together a coherent sentence, in some strange twist of fate I was some sort of Rain Man-esk idiot-savant when it came to playing platformers and memorization based games. As a kid I hated to quit anything I started so I'd just keep on bashing my head into a Super Mario Bros. game or the like until I was better then my Dad, my brother and my friends at it.
As you might well know, the logical centers of the brain when you are between 3-5 years old aren't particularly developed. While my reaction time and pattern memorization skills were well developed, I couldn't really think my way out of a problem. Problem solving was more of a joust of wills, me simply repeating a level or a boss ad nauseam until I stumbled on an effective method, so trial and error with a distinct lack of trailing other then with solutions bungled upon by happenstance or blind dumb luck. When I was 5 one of my favorite games was Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! I drained hours and hours of my life I could have spent making friends or learning a useful skill to memorize the rhythm and patterns Mr. Sandman, King Hippo and all of the other vaguely offensive boxing challengers that obscured Little Mac's path to Mike Tyson. It was always a thrill when I figured out the secret to beating the 1st Don Flamenco fight and that you could knock Piston Honda down during his Piston Charge.
But the one boxer that would always rain on my boxing for me was Great Tiger. For some strange reason I simply could not get it through my adolescent skull that pressing down button allowed you to block a punch. The other reason for my ineptitude at knocking out Great Tiger was simply that his special spirit punch knock down technique absolutely terrified me. That bastard disappears like magic and only returns after a series of the crazy *beep* and *boop* sounds emanated from my TV box. All my previously learned skills would be crushed into shambles whenever I had to face him down.
My panacea for finally knocking down that big pussy cat was my Father. This was the last video game that my Dad would help me out with in my life. Punch-Out!, Super Mario Bros. and the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game were the only games he had any experience with, until Wii bowling that is, but he was always my savior when I got to Great Tiger. I would call him in and he would quickly dispatch my turban wearing torturer, and I could continue on playing the game happily.
Oddly, I did not beat that Great Tiger on my own until I had gotten past the likes of Super Macho Man and had lost a few fights to Mike Tyson himself. That bastard even came back to haunt me in college when I signed up for a game tournament that was going on on my campus. The challenge for this Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! Tournament was to see how far you could go without being knocked down. I went in confident, having seen Bald Bull's Bull Charge take down most of my competition. I had that charge memorized thrice over in my head so I sat down ready to put on an impressive showing. But, that damn Great Tiger managed to place my world on its head again. While blocking his spirit punches I was leaning soooooo far forward in my seat that my feet slipped a little bit, an infinitesimal distraction to make me stop pressing the down button for a millisecond. As soon as I heard that little punching *bloop* noise that Great Tiger makes whenever he lands a spirit punch I knew it was over. I could only look on feebly as he smacked me again and again until I hit the floor. I sadly handed the controller the the player and made my exit. As I walked away I thought "I guess I still need to call my Dad when ever I face that SOB Great Tiger."
How about you? Which games in your life made you cry out for the help of a friend or family member to get past