Let’s go back a bit, to the days of yore. If you’ve been reading my articles this year, you know I adore the 80s. I think the best games are the old games—NES and Super Nintendo, mostly. A lot of those games are HAS (Hard as Shit), and the programmers knew it. Games then were developed by only a few people, so generally they’re somewhat short and lack an extensive story. But that’s all gravy, because the gameplay’s simple, but sleek and badass. Two buttons was all you needed, brother!
To make up for their short length, games were created to be hard as shit, and I’m surprised they did not frustrate young gamers, such as myself at the time, into not playing games anymore. Sure, I may have bitten a controller here or there, but something kept me for playing many, many hours.
And now, I’d like to rant about a few select games that are definitely HAS and made me wonder just what the crap the programmers were beaten with as a child to make such an infuriating game. Sadistic bastards…
Let’s start off right away with Ghosts ‘N Goblins and its sequel, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts. The sequel sports a slightly easier difficulty and shiny new graphics. You play the role of Arthur, a generic knight dude from the days of yore. His attire consists of various plates of armor overtop boxers with hearts on them. Doesn’t that heavy metal hurt against his pale skin? Arthur faces many monsters that always have the same effect when they touch him: They instantly rip off Arthur’s outerwear, exposing his cute little shorts. I guess Arthur has no shame? WTC.
Anyways, this game is hard as shit. Wave after wave of killer beasts approach you, especially those winged red fuckers that swoop down with crazy-ass patterns. Jesus, that game is so fucking hard. There are two places in the whole game that have an extra suit of grey armor in case you lose your shirt, and one is in level 1. What a waste! I can’t think of how many quarters this game ate in the arcade days.
The SNES version sports magic-enhanced weapon upgrades and magic, but it still is HAS. I can’t tell you how many times I slapped someone silly when I saw Arthur turn in to a pile of bones (because that’s what happens instantly when you’re touched in just your boxers in this game).
Let’s travel over to the Mega Man world. The little Blue Bomber’s a load of fun, isn’t he? Jumping, shooting… uhh, sliding in #3…. Yeah, how fucking repetitive.
When you start off a new Mega Man adventure, you have a 7/8 chance of coming to the boss and getting fucked. Why? Even though you spend many careful times jumping, shooting, avoiding pits and those goddamn disappearing block tricks areas (WTC was that all about? Fucking bullshit!), you find that you went to the wrong boss! Generally, you can’t beat a boss unless you have the correct other boss’ weapon that it’s weak against, unless it’s weak to Mega’s basic weapon or you have mad skills (again, these games are HAS and require much skill).
Oh, then there was that annoying password system. It’s pretty hard to copy a grid when you’re fucking 6 years old. I love NES games that have battery backups. It’s like fucking Tivo for Nintendo, bitches!
Have you ever played Battletoads? Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team isn’t too hard, but man, the original one is fucking nuts. I’m not even going to get in to it. Just go play that game. I got frustrated with it when using save states on an emulator; it’s that fucking hard.
So yeah, there were countless HAS games in those days beyond these: Metal Gear 1 and 2 (not MGS), Metroid, Excitebike, Double Dragon 3 (no extra lives). We can speculate as to What the Crap the programmers were beaten with to make them create such painfully hard games.
But what was it that kept us going? Was it that the games were in our living room and we didn’t have to go to the arcades? Or was it bragging to our friends when we finally mastered a game? It’s nice to spend hours and hours of play on a few levels to fully master them and have bragging rights. But then there are those bastards with their Konami Codes and whatnot (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start… I still got it). When I beat Contra with only three lives, I was the shit, and all my friends knew it.