[Midnight Rant is a new Game Rant feature brewed in the the darkest moments of the evening, and served appropriately during the midnight hour (where rants belong). The Midnight Rant is meant to promote discussion, and should always be taken with a grain of salt. In other words, it's simply a rant written at midnight. Share your thoughts in the comments!]
Browsing the interwebs today, as a proper gaming nerd is wont to do, I came across an interesting article over at Dorkly.com. The article is titled ‘The 15 Most Annoying Levels in Video Game History’, and it touches on a good variety of classic levels that are frustrating beyond belief. I’d recommend giving it a quick browse before I move on.
Browsing through the list, it became quite evident that I had a different opinion of each and every one of these levels. In fact, each level I’d played on this list (about 12/15) I recall as the most memorable and enjoyable portions of the games they’re from. Most of them I spent time actively searching out, just so I might experience them again. Are they inherently annoying? Certainly, due their difficulty they can be construed that way. So then why do I feel like these levels are so damn important?
Of course, I have a theory about that. I don’t want to go through each of Dorkly’s levels, but I do want to touch on a few that I think stand out the strongest:
- Battletoads/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Turbo Tunnel and the Dam level are easy to remember if you’ve played the games. Since both of these levels take place early on in their respective games, and because both are ridiculously difficult, you’re likely to spend more time on them than in any other part of the game. They’re important because they take their respective mundane game mechanics and do something unexpected. Difficult to be sure, but unarguably original as well.
- Mario Kart/Guitar Hero: Both of these games could be completely ignored in the history of games, since they’re both just iterations in larger franchises. Instead, Rainbow Road and Through the Fire and Flames will make them to live forever. When a friend and I decided to dual in Mario Kart, Rainbow Road was always the ultimate battleground. Similarly, any true Guitar Hero had to prove themselves in Through Fire and Flames. These aren’t just levels, they are symbols of these games incarnate.
- Street Fighter IV/Mike Tyson’s Punch Out: Oh, how many time have I fallen at the hands of Seth or Mike Tyson himself. I likely don’t even need to explain the importance of these levels. They’re tournament games, and what’s the point of a tournament game if you don’t play the best in the final round. Imagine your disappointment if you had to fight Ken, or King Hippo in the final bout. Or imagine if these bosses were determined to be too difficult, and in order to appeal to a more casual crowd were simplified. They wouldn’t be those important games in you past, hell, they might not have even been memorable at all.
What I’m trying to say is that none of these games would have been anywhere as successful with their own Water Temple. Levels that take the game’s mechanics, break them, shove them back in your face and ask, “Are you willing to continue?”
Of course, there will always be those that are not willing to continue, and won’t consider anything lost due to the experience. Those that gallantly move forward though, they have something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. These games ask more from you, only so in the end you feel that your efforts held meaning.
So the next time someone someone tells you, “I loved Ocarina of Time, but that Water Temple almost ruined the experience,” you look them in the eye. Look deep into their soul, then sigh, and educate them on how Ocarina of Time without the Water Temple wouldn’t be Ocarina of Time at all.