Ahh video games — a beautiful magical escape from reality; a safe space to pretend for a while that you’re a stout Italian plumber or a perpetually shirtless bandicoot. All is well… until it’s not. As if life wasn’t stressful enough, bloody game life starts getting hard too.
Some levels and bosses hit you on a deeply spiritual level, their torment lingering for months and even years after you slay them, or give up like a lil bitch (me, I’m the lil bitch). Here’s a few that particularly live in my head rent-free.
Ripper Roo, Crash Bandicoot (1999)
This crazy kangaroo from Crash Bandicoot haunted me as a five-year-old. Still does. Ripper Roo simply refused to be beaten. Fuck me, all I can think of is his maniacal laugh. It haunts me some nights as I drift off. I hear it now. It is always with me.
Hades, Disney’s Hercules (1997)
Disney’s Hercules on the original PlayStation was like catnip for my tiny pre-school brain. I couldn’t get enough, and I got fairly decent at it, but never decent enough to beat Hades in the final boss fight.
Ice Path, Pokemon Silver (1999)
This ice cave man. I got Pokémon Silver in Grade 1 or 2, and was obsessed, but I was legit stuck on this ice cave for a week until one of the older kids who lived down the road did it for me. If you’re reading this, thanks Ryan.
The Valkyries, God of War (2018)
The Valkyries in God of War. One of the best games I’ve ever played, but I straight up just deleted the game after dying over and over and oh my god who has the time for this punishment? (Relax nerds, I’d already beaten the main story).
The High Road, Crash Bandicoot (1999)
But I think the one that still haunts me the most, hands down, is The High Road level in the original Crash Bandicoot — I was playing this on the original sans-analog stick PlayStation controllers, so the movement was already janky, and fuck me, do you know what torture is? It’s this. I spent half my childhood falling off this bridge.
My colleague Lauren also had a hard spot for this particular genre of Crash-induced frustration. “The High Road and The Road to Nowhere levels in the OG Crash Bandicoot made me want to die — and I did many times.”
Glad to hear I’m not alone. This sparked my curiosity, so I decided to ask my friends and some ppl around the PEDESTRIAN office to share their gaming nightmares, here are some of the highlights.
Thick Jungle, Ape Escape (1999)
“Ape Escape — the fish in the thick jungle is so fucked and if you land in the water it shocks you. It’s not hard just… traumatising.” — Leah
Chemical Plant Zone, Sonic 2 (1992)
“Sonic 2 — Chemical Plant Zone, because the Sonic drowning animation/music/sound is absolutely gutwrenching.” — Cam
Gingerbread Man level, Shrek 2 (2004)
“Shrek 2 on PS2, the Gingerbread Man level — literally impossible. 10 years later I bought the game again and man, turns out it wasn’t that hard.” — Tess
Tabuu, Super Smash Bros (1999)
“Super Smash Bros. Once I got to Tabuu in the story mode I wanted to kill myself. Fuck that guy. Also why does he have wings like a tramp stamp?” — Cal
GLaDOS, Portal (2007)
“I spent two days trying to defeat Motherfucking GLaDOS in Portal. Ended up buying a new mouse and keyboard because I was struggling so much. Cried when I finally did it. Like, proper sobbed like a baby. Other end of the spectrum, Fallout 3 ended so abruptly that I switched off the game in panic because I wasn’t ready for it to be over.” — Claire
The ghosts, Super Mario All Stars (1993)
“Also, the bloody ghost on Super Mario Bros, where if you run away it’ll follow you but if you turn around it’ll stop. Serious whiplash and anxiety rolled all into one. Not to mention the one with the sliding angry brick that’ll smash you if you don’t time it well.” — Chantelle
On A Rail, Half-Life (1998)
“The original Half-Life is, to this day, one of my favourite games of all time, but the ‘On A Rail’ chapter still absolutely shits me to tears. It’s a lengthy sequence that involves an underground train tunnel with multiple blockages, so you ride the stupid little rail cart to each of these points, which is usually chock full of soldiers, and spend a good 10 minutes dying because you’re already low on health and can’t seem to make it to cover without getting smashed. I hate this chapter so much and I’m glad they made vast improvements to it in the Black Mesa remake.” — Matt
The bear, Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015)
“Trying to attack the bear in Rise of the Tomb Raider. I looked up tutorials and videos and literally tried for half a day and never picked up the game again since. The rage I feel for this bear.” — Shantelle
The Radiance, Hollow Knight (2017)
“The Radiance from Hollow Knight, worst boss I’ve ever had to face. This boss completely frayed my nerves for days! Every time I got to a new phase my hands would sweat and shake, I was so excited about getting closer to beating her. It definitely took an emotional toll — I can’t even begin to explain the relief and surge of emotions upon beating her.” — Alex
Andy’s Neighbourhood, Toy Story (1999)
“The Toy Story game on PlayStation. There was a level where you had to climb the tree, and fuck that tree man, I always fell off.” — Robbie
Shadow Riku, Kingdom Hearts (2002)
“I lost my mind and grew heartless over it. He was just so fkn hard. It wasn’t until years later when I played the remastered edition as an adult and used a wiki that I could beat him. Felt like I had finally beaten my video game bully.” — Julian