A couple of years ago I discovered through a couple of different avenues a concept known as “platformer hell”. As you may or may not know, a platformer is a video game where you have a guy and he jumps around, often on platforms. The prototypical one is the Mario games, but until the 3D age it was the dominant form of video games. Platformer hell is a specific genre of these games that has come along with the advent of the internet. The idea is that it’s a platformer game that is so hard that it crosses the line from brutal and becomes hilarious. TV Tropes has a pretty good working definition.
Now’s a good time to state that I am way behind the curve in discovering these games. They’re quite well known in the right circles, but that’s mostly in connection with forums like Something Awful. I’ve never actually met a live person who knows anything about them, but I have a suspicion that if they had existed while I was in college they would have been the kinds of things you gather around so you can laugh at other people failing. That’s really the main draw of the games, actually. They’re a bizarre sort of schadenfreude, as manifested in Let’s Play videos on Youtube. For maximum effect, you need to watch these with the sound turned on to hear the repeated cries of frustration from the players. Adult language may ensue.
There are a lot of permutations of this kind of game, perhaps the most famous one being “I Wanna Be The Guy.” That screenshot above? That’s an actual one from the game. You just have a guy with a single gun and a double-jump, and it’s ridiculous. I haven’t actually played IWBTG, because I still haven’t figured out how to beat Heat Man in Mega Man 2. When I’m done typing this I’ll probably download it and get my butt kicked for a while. I watched most of this particular Let’s Play by HypersonicX2. There are a ton of videos, but it must be seen to be believed. It’s a real treat to watch if you are a fan of old 8-bit games at all.
The other one that is almost better to me is known as Kaizo Super Mario World, a hack of the best 2D Mario game ever, Super Mario World. You know how that game works, so this is just a version of that created by an evil person. This one is a little funnier to me because I’m so familiar with the original game. There’s a certain personality to the enemies in the game that is captured so well in this version. Of course the football guys are everywhere. Of course there’s a giant Bullet Bill blocking the only pathway. The Let’s Play of this one that I enjoy is by SirRonLionHeart, whose Strong Bad/Cheech Marin voice might grate a little, but it’s a pretty terrific series all the same. Notice the liberal usage of save states on the emulator.
I’m not sure if other people will find them as funny as I do, but they make me literally shake with laughter.