PSYCHO MANTIS FROM METAL GEAR SOLID
Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid might be the most difficult boss in video game history, and not because he’s difficult to beat in the actual game. It’s how your fight with Mantis leverages the hardware of the original PlayStation—from the built-in controller rumble to the memory card on which your game save was stored.
You see, Pyscho Mantis is a mind-reader, and can predict every move you make. To defeat Mantis, you can’t win by simply attacking, you have to fool the mind-reader himself—and you can do so by swapping the port your controller is plugged into. It’s such an ingenious use of breaking the fourth wall that it caused many players to give up in pure frustration—until a friend (or the Internet) showed them the way.
LITTLE HORN FROM SUPER MEAT BOY
But there’s one level that lives in our memory as nothing but an emotional scar and what remains of a shattered Xbox 360 controller. Little Horn, otherwise known as the “fist-pounding” boss from early on in the game, has the delightful sole purpose of subverting players’ expectations. What do we mean? Let us tell you via a short poem:
He’ll slam his hands down, first left and then right,
The blow of which kills you just right.
He’ll swipe them across in a direction or two,
With even the lightest of hits instantly killing you.
And just when you think you’ve got his typical video game boss pattern down pat? He changes it up—just for funsies. Then you die some more. So fun.
GRUNTY FROM BANJO-KAZOOIE
The only thing worse than trivia night is trivia night that happens in an otherwise fun video game. Sure, there are great trivia games like You Don’t Know Jack, but there are also games where it simply doesn’t belong: like the Rare N64 classic, Banjo-Kazooie.
Though you spend most of the game collecting jigsaw puzzle pieces (like stars in Super Mario 64), exploring wide open levels with colorful characters galore, you’ll also learn a lot about the game’s world. So much do you learn that the developers thought it right fun to make the game’s ending challenge a night of trivia all about what you’ve learned.
If you get more than a few answers wrong? You start all the way over. And to make matters worse, you have to climb all the way up through the castle the game is based in, sit through all the cheesy ending dialogue, and face the trivia all over again… but in a different order. Thanks, Rare.
ISAAC FROST FROM FIGHT NIGHT: CHAMPION
But the main antagonist is seriously the worst. Not only do you have to go 12 rounds with him to win (just like Rocky), you have to take a serious beating by just playing defense to wear him out, wail on him for a round or two, then go back to defending, then take him out when the game darn well tells you to! Nothing is more demeaning or frustrating than a boxing game instructing you to not box, and punishing you if you do with a clean knockout to end the run.
Just let me hit this other sweaty dude with my sweaty dude. Please.
MEWTWO IN POKEMON YELLOW
We can recall a myriad of fond memories from the early days of the Game Boy, most notably whilePokemon was inserted firmly in the cartridge slot. Between the adventure of exploring the lands, fighting and capturing Pokemon to progress, and taking on the Elite Four at the end of the game, it’s a superb journey to experience.
But the scourge that is the game’s real challenge hath no mercy on any man’s soul. Mewtwo, the final Pokemon needed to complete many Pokedexes, is located in a deep cave just outside one of the game’s more familiar towns, Cerulean City. Not only can he nearly smite all of your leveled Poke-friends to their very grave, he’s also hyper-resistant to capture and can’t be fought again if you lose. What’s that? A Pokeball? Get that nonsense out of here. We hope you kept that Master Ball from Giovanni. Oh you didn’t? Your little brother used it on a Lvl 2 Metapod by mistake? Time to start a fresh save!