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The Hardest 1st Level Ever


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Member · Posted

Post a commentary on the Toughest 1st Level that you've ever played in a Video Game.

So I was playing Cliffhanger for the Sega CD recently and it struck me somewhere during the snowboarding that this has to be the most insane first level of any game that I've ever played.  The level starts out as a beat-em-up which is not difficult but quickly changes things up to a 3rd person snowboarding-down-the-mountain-before-the-avalanche-catches-up-with-a-near-endless-onslaught-of-stuff-coming-at-you...     There are checkpoints every time you go through a cave and every time, you'll find yourself thinking 'that's it right?, this's gotta be the end', but no, it is not.  Every time you think the level couldn't possibly throw even more strenuous and awkward crap at you it manages to do just that.  The whole level (not counting the cut-scene intro) takes about 11 minutes and I can't think of anything else I've played that even compares.  Also, it's wicked cool and awesome fun provided you can keep from getting overly frustrated.

I've often wondered what percentage of people who purchased this game new in its heyday resold it without ever seeing the 2nd level.

For attention to detail, I've included a snap shot of the game's manual which clearly indicates that the first bout of snowboarding is in fact part of the first level.

 

Cliffhanger level 1.png

cliffhanger 1st Level Desc..png

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Transformers on Famicom. I put that on for my friends at a party once and bet them they couldn't get past the first enemy, it went something like this: Attempt 1: Haha! Attempt 2: Ha! A

Image Fight on PC Engine.  Technically the first level begins after the 3rd level (the first three are considered training stages).  However, the kicker is, if your hit ratio is below a certain thresh

Show of hands: How many people on their first time playing Q*Bert jumped off the top of the pyramid?

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Transformers on Famicom. I put that on for my friends at a party once and bet them they couldn't get past the first enemy, it went something like this:

Attempt 1: Haha!

Attempt 2: Ha!

Attempt 3: Oh.....

Attempt 4: Wait a minute......

Attempt 5: No, I can definitely do this.....

Attempt 6: What the fucking hell kind of game is this?

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Member · Posted
5 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

Attempt 1: Haha!

Attempt 2: Ha!

Attempt 3: Oh.....

Attempt 4: Wait a minute......

Attempt 5: No, I can definitely do this.....

Attempt 6: What the fucking hell kind of game is this?

That was my experience more or less, the couple of times I've sampled it.

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Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) and Driver both kick your ass out of the gate, I guess to get you ready for the game. Sonic 2 on Game Gear also has a strangely cramped boss on a sloped floor with one hit deaths from balls that bounce on and off the screen. As an adult it’s not that bad but as a kid it might as well have been the final boss.

Maybe not the hardest ever but those are the nostalgic ones for me.

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A lot of early NES games had front-loaded difficulty, like Kid Icarus, where the initial levels are much tougher than anything else in the game because you've just started out and don't really have any good weapons,items, armor, etc at your disposal, which seems backwards for a videogame, but, if you think about it, actually makes a lot more sense than having shit get harder and harder the more powerful your character gets...

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The Adventures of Bayou Billy is notorious for most of its levels being near-impossible, including the first stage. I remember renting it back in the day and not being able to finish a single stage. Thankfully, the game designers apparently realized this and give you a level select options right out the gate. Sheesh.

I don't know that the game even deserves to be mentioned but I can't even get past the first few enemies in Cheetahmen II. You can't jump over them. You can't shoot them. You just tank four hits and then die. I'm sure if I stuck with the game long enough, I'd figure out some kind of trick or pattern to get around them...but who honestly wants to give it that much attention?

I've also never been able to finish the first god awful stage of Dirty Harry for NES. It just goes on forever and I lose patience and refuse to resort to looking up a walkthrough.

I don't think I've ever beaten a single stage in Silver Surfer either, although to be fair I haven't really put in more than about 15 minutes at a time. I'm sure it's something I could manage if I really buckled down and memorized the enemy spawns. I just haven't been that motivated yet.

The NES has some obnoxiously difficult/broken games...

Edited by Webhead123
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Member · Posted

I’m bad at video games so maybe I’m not qualified to answer this but I feel that Kid Icarus mentioned above is a really good answer. You’ve just escaped your prison cell and ascending from the Underworld, so it makes sense that you’re ill equipped and surrounded by Medusa’s minions. Plus you’re going up instead of sidescrolling so the platforming is even more crucial.

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Hard to compare games with eachother, but some games where the first stage might just be the hardest in the game could be Contra Hard Corps, Gun Force, and definitely Kid Icarus. Though there are much tougher games in general out there, which would often also make for harder first stages as well.

If we're counting individual modes, Mushihima Futari's Ultra mode is obviously one of the hardest shmup challenges out there altogether, but to add to that, the very first stage of the game is also one of the hardest in that mode, and notably harder than the final one (not counting the end boss, which has its reputtion).

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Image Fight on PC Engine.  Technically the first level begins after the 3rd level (the first three are considered training stages).  However, the kicker is, if your hit ratio is below a certain threshold (90% iirc), you get sent to a punishment level!  It literally looks like some guy just threw every sprite on screen at once, with lasers and homing missiles firing at you...

imagefight_pce.jpeg.c302299b4e8425ec8cf251713f7808f1.jpeg

I was considering resetting the game at this point, but I pushed onward and managed to clear it somehow. I eventually made it to the final stage but the game became very stale at that point.  So, yeah, this is an introductory stage to the "real" levels of the game (if you miss the threshold). Brutal, lol.

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I won't claim it's the hardest level ever, but one that is surprisingly difficult is the first level of Tomb Raider II.  This level either assumes that you mastered the original game, or spent a ton of time in the training stage at Laura's Home.  The first level does not mess around and definitely doesn't qualify as a "training" level.  

Edited by TDIRunner
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17 hours ago, Webhead123 said:

I don't know that the game even deserves to be mentioned but I can't even get past the first few enemies in Cheetahmen II. You can't jump over them. You can't shoot them. You just tank four hits and then die. I'm sure if I stuck with the game long enough, I'd figure out some kind of trick or pattern to get around them...but who honestly wants to give it that much attention?

......

I don't think I've ever beaten a single stage in Silver Surfer either, although to be fair I haven't really put in more than about 15 minutes at a time. I'm sure it's something I could manage if I really buckled down and memorized the enemy spawns. I just haven't been that motivated yet.

The NES has some obnoxiously difficult/broken games...

If you treat Cheetahmen II like a shmup (essentially like you detailed Silver Surfer, above) and advance the screen slowly to deal with each enemy as it comes, it is definitely do-able, but it still counts as having a really hard first level since you can't do the "jump in mid-air" glitch that you can do with the Cheetahman in levels 3 and 4...

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OMG, I remember having Ikari Warriors back when I was a kid and despite all my best efforts I couldn't even get close to getting past even the first level (I honestly wondered if the level ever ended)...this was of course early-mid 90s (pre-Internet era) loooooong before I knew about the ABBA code...you know the one that gives you gives you gives you more lives after dying...won't that code help me chase the game over away? 😄 

 

Edited by Estil
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3 minutes ago, Estil said:

OMG, I remember having Ikari Warriors back when I was a kid and despite all my best efforts I couldn't even get close to getting past even the first level (I honestly wondered if the level ever ended)...this was of course early-mid 90s (pre-Internet era) loooooong before I knew about the ABBA code...you know the one that gives you gives you more lives after dying...won't that code help me chase the game over away? 😄 

 

Ooooh yeah. Ikari Warriors without the cheat code is the winner here by a mile.

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Member · Posted
1 hour ago, mbd39 said:

Yes, I think so. I do, I do,  I do, I do, I do.

That's what me and my old lady said 15 1/2 years ago in front of my first cousin once removed judge! 🙂  I didn't know the B boys could play sax!

And this couple has been together for 30 years with a soon to be 20 year old daughter 🙂  And as it turns out, the Clintster's old lady is only sixteen days older than my old lady! 😄 

 

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