I have obtained exclusive footage from an unreleased NES game prototype! I've managed to capture five minutes of never-before-seen gameplay video!
You play as an Italian deli owner armed only with a steady supply of hoagies. You must make your way through a perilous world of danger to destroy the forces of evil.
This game may have been kept off of store shelves due to its controversial title, "Hitler's Revenge". However, unlike "Bionic Commando", Hitler isn't actually IN this game. It may just be a simple translation error which was common in the mid-80s.
I believe the most likely reason for the game's demise is its intense difficulty that makes "Ghosts 'n Goblins" look like a walk in the park. I've heard that this game is so hard, the programmers didn't even bother adding a second level. A cheat code had to be used to warp to advanced locations.
There's also a rumor that a play tester went insane and died as a result of playing the game for an extended period of time. Fearing similar occurrences with home players, the game was scrapped.
I spent a huge part of my childhood playing video games... probably too much time, but that's another story entirely. I mostly played Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and old school DOS and Windows games. Like anyone, I often ran out of lives, got game overs, and lost save files from time to time (thanks to my little brother leaving the NES on for days at a time), but overall I was a pretty adept little gamer. I had beaten most of the games I owned by the age of 10, and was known amongst my friends as an above average video game player. In the end though, it didn't matter how inherently skilled I was, there were always those in-game enemies that did everything they could to ruin my day.
As classic as these games were, we can safely say that game design has come a long way. Sometimes I wonder if game designers were going out of their way to design dickish bad guys and brutally hard levels. I`m of the mind that a well designed game should not involve driving a player insane with frustration. There`s a difference between challenging a player and being an absolute jerk about the level of difficulty, but hey that`s just me. Maybe it was the insane difficulty and ridiculous moments of frustration that endeared those old school games to me though. Even if they did confound me at every turn, there was something special about that era of games and they`ll always have a special place in my heart.
As tribute to all those frustrating childhood gaming moments, I present to you my list of the ten most annoying video game baddies of all time. Not bosses mind you, just the regular run-of-the-mill enemies whose job it was to annoy the crap out of the player, until he or she turned off their console in a mix of frustration and disgust. Feel free to add your own.
10. The Football Player - Contra (Arcade and NES, 1988)
This delightful bastard from the NES classic Contra did little in the way of shooting at you (unlike every other enemy in Contra), but man did he run toward you! That was his basic attack, running menacingly toward you. Nothing says jungle warfare quite like a football uniform. Football Player and a bunch of his buddies just ran at you in wave after wave, often jumping off cliffs to their untimely 8-bit deaths in an a desperate attempt to kill Bill and/or Lance. Yes, poor kamikaze footballer, it was his lot in life to ruin your day by running into you.
9. Koopa Troopa - Super Mario Bros. (NES, 1985)
Coming in green or red variety, the seemingly innocuous Koopa Troopas didn't do much other than get in your way. Koopas were very easy to kill, requiring Mario or Luigi to simply stomp on their little heads(so violent when you think about it), but that wasn't what you had to worry about, it was their shells. Koopa shells could be used as a weapon by Mario, he could kick them and send them flying at high speed, useful yes, but safe? Not at all. Koopa shells bounce wildly in the opposite direction when they strike a solid object like a pipe or wall, quite often resulting in the self-inflicted and infuriating death of Mario. Those shells are a menace to gamers everywhere, Shigeru Miyamoto! What were you thinking!?
8. Blue Darknut - The Legend of Zelda (NES, 1986)
As my dad and I both played through Zelda back in the late 80's, we came to realize that we hated the Blue Darknut. The armoured baddie that populated the last few dungeons in the game, the feared level 8 and level 9. They chased poor Link down, and the only way you could kill them was to hit them not once, but twice on the side or from behind. A difficult feat, when all the bastards did was run at you with their sword and shield very much pointed at you. In addition to being hard to kill, the NES couldn't handle too many of them on the screen at once, and the frame rate slowed to a crawl if more than five or six showed up in a given room. I always dreaded level 8 because of them. The frame rate would drop and the music would slow, as those unstoppable Darknuts closed in on poor Link..
7. Fast Zombie - Half-Life 2 (PC, 2004)
What's worse than a slow, stupid, lumbering zombie out to kill you? A smart, fast, screaming zombie that can climbing buildings and really wants to tear your face off, of course! First seen in the Ravenholme section of the Half-Life 2, these unsettling, skinless bastards come out of the proverbial woodwork and then some. They aren't terribly hard to kill, a few blasts from Gordon Freeman's trusty shotgun will dispatch them, but it's the fact that they're so agile and come at you in groups that makes them tough. When you hear that high pitched wail in the distance you know you`ve got a frantic battle coming your way.
6. Skelerang - Castlevania Series (Multiple Platforms)
Honestly, who the $%#& gives a reanimated skeleton not one, but two boomerangs? The answer is: Dracula. What an ass.
5. Gran with Thermal Detonators - Dark Forces/Jedi Knight Series (PC, 1997)
In the Star Wars universe there is a species of alien called Gran. Gran have three eyes, and resemble bipedal goats. Hilarious you say? Yes, very hilarious, save for one thing. In the Star Wars games, these goat-bastards have a penchant for throwing thermal detonators, the Star Wars equivalent of a grenade. Gran will toss them at you no matter the circumstance or distance. Even if they kill themselves in the process the Gran will always throw a grenade your way, and barring that will attempt to use some form of alien pugilism against the player. Not too bright it would seem... as clearly only a fool would try to punch a guy with a lightsaber.
4. Garg - Commander Keen (PC, 1990)
The smaller green Martians that Commander Keen encountered would just push you and hop around like the one eyed idiots they were. What the player really had to watch out for their bigger, meaner cousin the Garg. These aggressive bastards would walk around minding their own business, but upon spotting the player they would charge him at tremendous speed. If the Garg connected with his tackle, this would of course instantly kill Commander Keen. The thing that made the Garg annoying, was that almost every other enemy in the game is fairly docile and didn't or couldn't actually kill Commander Keen. Upon first encountering the Garg, the player often assumes that that maybe the giant Garg is equally harmless... It is not.
3. Engineers - Command & Conquer Series (Multiple Platforms)
The Command & Conquer games feature a class called the engineer. The engineer unit has the ability to capture enemy buildings and place them under your control. An engineer rush is a battle tactic where you send as many engineers as you can into an enemy base and try to capture important buildings. Naturally, this is a fun tactic to use against the enemy, but having it done to you is particularly annoying. Even more insulting is having a computer opponent engineer rush you. Engineer rushing is the gaming equivalent of taking a dump in somebody's living room and then blaming it on their kid. It's a dick move, and because of this C&C engineers make the list.
2. Flying Cheep Cheeps - Mario Series (NES)
It really doesn't matter how adept a player is at Mario games, run into a Flying Cheep Cheep the wrong way, and it's game over. These flying fish dart across the screen; unimpeded by ground, water or geography, in a seemingly random pattern. If they hit Mario's body on any other part but his feet, damage will be inflicted. Nothing is more infuriating than nearly completing a difficult Mario level, only to be struck down a mere jump away from the end by a flying fish. Cheep Cheeps aren't particularly fearsome... It's just the arbitrary nature in which they fly toward and kill Mario that is the frustrating part.
1. Medusa Heads - Castlevania Series (Multiple Platforms)
From the school of thought that brought you the Flying Cheep Cheep come the Medusa Heads of the Castlevania Series. First off, who knew that Medusa had multiple heads... I for one didn't. Secondly, why is it that said heads have the power of flight? God damn Dracula, quit messing with shit for your own amusement... I know it's probably your hobby, but surely you can do something more productive with your time than designing freakish monstrosities to kill the Belmont clan.
Medusa Heads have no attack, they just fly across the screen in a wavy pattern. They can frequently be found in great numbers when ascending clock towers, or platforming above bottomless pits. Normally, they were pretty easy to avoid if you were quick, but often due to the layout of the level they were unavoidable. Killing the player by knocking him off a platform, or pounding him into a corner until death... Medusa heads were the worst. It`s just dickish game design Konami, and yet you continue to include Medusa Heads in Castlevania games! The collective rage of gamers everywhere caused by these pesky heads could power a small town or perhaps a large castle.... hey! DRACULA!!!!!!!!!!! Start the Conversation
I'll thankfully be finished my end of term tests very soon. When I returned home tonight I resolved myself to get any work I had to do out of the way so that I could enjoy the remainder of the evening, and tomorrow unhindered by studying. I finished my work and decided to take another trip into Rapture.
Rapture is the underwater utopia-turned-dystopia from the game BioShock. I finished the game pretty quickly on normal difficulty shortly after it was released earlier this year. I enjoyed my time in Rapture a great deal, despite the many shortcomings of the game. That's why I was so glad to hear about the patch for the game that just arrived. The patch fixes many of the shortcomings I mentioned; minor annoyances really. Fixing bugs is of course is the main function of the patch, but it will also give the player more options to increase the difficulty. Additionally new abilities are available to the player... ooh new Plasmids! I'm going to play through again on hard difficulty with the Vita-Chambers turned off.... hopefully that should provide me with more of a challenge. Check out the patch at The Cult of Rapture.
Don't get me wrong, I love BioShock. I will sing its praises to the highest tower... I just felt a little let down given the games pedigree. BioShock is after all the spiritual successor to one of my favourite games of all time(yes I know I say that about a lot of games, but I'm serious with this one); System Shock 2.
Like its predecessor, BioShock is a very psychological game. It knows how to get under the players skin; how to disturb and unsettle you. The two games are essentially identical in premise, save for their disparate setting and eras.... and that's fine. I would have played BioShock if it were a shot-for-shot remake of System Shock 2, but that doesn't get to my point.
The fact that BioShock was developed simultaneously for the PC and Xbox 360 cheapens the experience for the PC gamer. The two versions of the game are for all intents and purposes identical. They run on the same engine, play the same and the story is identical. But they shouldn't. Maybe this is just the jaded old-school PC gamer in me, but I don't think PC games should be ported to consoles. The very act of doing so restricts the potential of the PC version by kowtowing it to the limitations of the console version. To me, playing a console version of the sequel to one of the best PC games ever made would be blasphemy.
When 2kGames was showing off BioShock to the press, they did so with the Xbox 360 version of the game. BioShock was developed with the Xbox 360 in mind, and because of this the PC version ultimately feels like a direct port of its Xbox 360 counterpart. BioShock should have been a PC exclusive, a game that could have truly succeeded System Shock 2. Instead it was turned into a PC version of an Xbox 360 game... a bastardized version of what it could have been.
I'm not some ardent PC snob who despises consoles. I own a 360, Wii and a PS3. I probably play console games more regularly than I do PC games. BioShock doesn't challenge the PC FPS player enough, it doesn't offer the variety and choice promised by the developers, and in that respect BioShock is a disappointment. All I'm saying is that when you play the PC version of BioShock, you see a game robbed of its potential in the name of mass market appeal and exclusivity deals with Microsoft and NVidia. I'm not saying that's wrong, I understand capitalism... You go where the biggest market share is. And right now that big market share is on the consoles, particularly the Xbox 360. I just wish they had developed the game for the PC and created a game that lived up to its lineage and truly kept the flame of PC gaming alive.