These days when you want to beat a computer game, you just play it until you win. That or you get your 6 year old niece to download a cyber code from the matrix on her kindle or something. But it hasn't always been like this...Beating a video game used to require an ability to focus purely for an entire day and be fully willing to kick your mum in the face if she tried to make you go outside.
The games were designed to beat you. In computer programmer culture, beating a game they've designed is the worst kind of insult which is why many early end screens were just a pixelated picture of your family on fire.
Looks pretty cute doesn't it? You'll never ever get off this screen. I promise.
The difficulty level was off the scale. If any child completed a game first time then their computer sent a secret message to the government to come and retrieve and freeze them for the eventual future wars against the machines.
Added to this, the programming was hopeless. In my first edition of OPERATION WOLF for the Commodore 64, you could get halfway into the game until you came across a communist wearing a bulletproof vest. Killing him required a headshot. Getting a headshot required him having a head, which he didn't. Every time I'd play, I'd get halfway through and then a headless Russian would jump up and axe me to death. At the time it seemed unfair, though in hindsight I now understand that it's amazing.
Getting through a level was a buzz, but facing off against the boss at the end of that level filled you with a cold, cold adrenalin fear that can only be replicated by initiating a break up conversation with somebody who thinks you're going to marry them.
Some bosses were beatable. Some were just total wankers. This is my list of total wanker end of level bosses:
MORTAL KOMBAT II
Men remember the date they first played Mortal Kombat in the same way they remember the day they lost their virginity. This is because for most males, the end result was much the same - screaming in shock, pain and pleasure while sex fluids exploded from your body.
Everything about the game was hilarious and disgusting, which again ties in with the first time I had intercourse.
Shao Kahn was just a stone cold bastard. Every thing he did, from his ham fisted punches to his arthritic kicks took off about a quarter of your energy. But at least he didn't have a massive hammer that materialised from nowhere and exploded your head.
He did really.
HOW TO WIN
The only way to beat him was to uppercut him, wait for the computer to start the animation of him standing up and uppercut him again while he was halfway up, and helpless. It was kind of cheating, but I'd have a hard time thinking of when I gave less of a shit.
TWO CRUDE DUDES
This was similar two Streets Of Rage with two very important differences. One was that you could pick up almost all of the scenery and throw it. The other was that dogs constantly tried to shag you. Basically one of those Japanese games that somehow slipped through the net, it was riddled with bizarre traits that made the player feel unhappy inside afterwards.
ALL OF THEM
The end of level bosses for this game were really hard. One was a spider that flew down from beyond the top of the screen screaming. If you were under it, then you lost all your life. One hit, dead. It was just total bullshit in it's purest early gaming form. There were seven levels, each with an end of level boss created from broken childrens dreams.
The last level was a bit different because there wasn't an end of level boss. There were seven. Every single fucking boss you'd already beaten, in a row, with no break and no power ups. And then after that, the final boss. What a joke.
HOW TO WIN
Just play it. I'd never kissed a girl at this point and somebody told me that vaginas looked like the Predator without it's mask on, so I had nothing else to do.
DIDDY KONG RACING
Diddy Kong Racing was Nintendo's answer to Mario Kart. An odd answer, as it had already made Mario Kart. It was easy and colourful with cute characters and an adventure mode. Work your way through the different zones, beat the bosses, collect the coins and then you get to Wizpig. Basically a big running pink bastard. He was hard. Really hard. But hey, your 14, what else do you have on? With practice, he was beatable.
And that was the game done! Or was it? Drive down to the beach and beep at the old lighthouse, it turns into a rocket and blasts you into space to beat four more levels. Do THAT and you have the real showdown with Wizpig, who is now sitting on a rocket.
HOLY. FUCK. They just went way WAY over the top with this one. He was unbeatable. You had to have a flawless race. If it wasn't utterly flawless, down to every nudge of the joystick, you were effed. I first got Diddy Kong Racer when I was 17. I beat Wizpig when I was 27. That's a solid decade of not being able to win a game that was advertised for six year olds.
HOW TO WIN
Get dumped by your long-term girlfriend, move back in with your parents, wear an old hoody and shorts and play the game all day, everyday for two weeks while knowing that you need to win this...You really need to. There might be other ways to do it, that's just what I did.
Look how awesome this box is. A man with an angry skull head is kicking the crap out of Alien and an octopus. They knew what to do...how could you not want that?
The game itself was IMPOSSIBLE. Every single second of it was totally nuts. Demons flying all over, pirahna maggots climbing out of the floor, deformed babies screaming in your face. There wasn't a single safe place to stand on the screen, it was all designed to kill you. Look at the picture below, that's the first end of level boss. It's a plant that sprays acid at you while demons drop of the ceiling at you. There's no pattern to be learned, no powerups, no shield, nothing. If you finally win and stand next to the plant, WHERE YOU HAVE TO BE TO HIT IT, then it splits open and acid pours out which instantly kills you. Thanks, dicks.
Kids are gonna love this! My next project is a maze with no exit. After that a birthday cake with glass in.
HOW TO WIN