One awful level doesn't make for a terrible game. In fact, it's often quite the opposite. Many classics include at least one conniption-inducing section, presumably to level out the sheer awesomeness that is the rest of the game. Here's our tribute to 8 levels that almost made us give up on our favorites.
Battletoads' infamous hoverbike run is the level even your older brother couldn't beat for you. Let's get something straight first, Battletoads ain't easy. Where other brawlers were content to let you spam the throw button, Battletoads demanded tight combos and well-placed huge-fisted punches. The game would never let you get comfortable, either, changing up game mechanics faster than most people change something that people change quickly. But there's hard, and then there's hard. And then there's Turbo Tunnel, a level designed with the sole purpose of getting controllers from one side of the room to the other at speeds upwards of 90 MPH.
Even if you somehow had the stones to make it to level 3 with all of your lives intact, all of that could be stripped away in twenty seconds by a few wrong twitches. Turbo Tunnel reminds gamers of the harsh reality that life just isn't fair, a truth most people use video games to escape from. Sure, there are YouTube videos of people playing it perfectly in one go, but there are YouTube videos of monkeys drinking their own pee, too. I don't know what point I'm trying to make. F**k the hoverbike level.
Indie sleeper hit Psychonauts did a lot of things right: It was laugh-out-loud funny and endearingly weird, had some of the most original and mindbending level design in gaming, and featured a level inside the mind of a gigantic mutated lungfish named Linda. As a platformer, though, it left a little to be desired; the controls were just a little too clunky, the camera a little too imprecise. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Meat Circus, a psychic amalgam of the minds of protagonist Razputin (raised in a carnival) and antagonist Coach Oleander (raised by a butcher).
The Meat Circus somehow makes meat, one of nature's best things, into an object of revulsion. Tasked with defending Oleander's inner child against mutated rabbit creatures, you're forced to endure repeatedly failing at platforming while listening to the little fat kid whine (Hearing "Ow!" and "That hurts!" bring my blood to a boil almost as quickly as "Hey, listen!"). Somehow, the Meat Circus managed to combine all of the most frustrating elements of video games: escort missions, rising water, relentless, high pitched voice overs, and endless boss battles. Plus, even the name is terrible: Meat Circus sounds like the name of a dirty magazine that I definitely don't own a few copies of.