59 levels to play before you die: A - D

Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2) |  The first level
This side-scrolling, 2D shooter is famed for two things: being ungodly difficult, and reviving a classic code that gave you a zillion more lives but that still didn't help much because the game remained so damn... bloody... DIFFICULT.

However, the good news is that the first level is all you need to sweat through to experience the best this game has to offer. By rendering everything in 3D and making the explosions retina-searingly bright, the developers somehow created a game that was visually arresting despite the fact that 90% of it was brown or gray. Toasting mammoth mosquito-lizards with a flamethrower is still impressive today, blasting away at jet-pack-mounted chumps and burrowing mechasnakes while skiing down a mountain is just crazy enough to rock, and the boss entrance is the whole reason this level made our list.

Crackdown (Xbox 360) | Agency Tower
This superhero sandbox game was never about missions, levels, bosses... or structure whatsoever, really. The best parts come when you're simply running, jumping and climbing around the city like Spider-Man on steroids. Reaching the top of the iconic tower at Crackdown's center is the ultimate test of your freakish powers... and the Achievement you receive for diving off afterwards is the ultimate reward.

Defender (arcade) | Any level in which you lose your last human
Defender is an old time classic, with a crazy control panel and relentless difficulty that made it one of the most legendary arcade games of all time. The sky is literally choked with several threats to your life per second. There are landers stealing your humans and turning them into hyper-aggressive mutants. There are bombers which lay mines and pods that burst into swarms of smaller enemies. And if you try to dawdle and make sense of it all, crazy-fast baiters are spawned specifically to hurry you up.

Then, just when you think things can't get any more manic, your last remaining human is kidnapped by a lander and turned into a mutant. The result? The whole world explodes and the number of enemies eager to shove hot laser up your space ass roughly quintriples.

At that moment, your life expectantly can typically be measured in seconds and counted off on your fingers. Most arcade games at least let you think you had a shot at winning, but when the aliens actually brought in more help after they'd blown up the planet, Defender's message became desolately clear. It was, simply: "I am coming to kill you. RIGHT NOW."

D - G | G - L | M - S | S -Z  


  • Gingerbread - October 23, 2008 1:50 a.m.

    I've played 5!
  • dukethepcdr - June 28, 2009 5:07 p.m.

    Nice to see defender getting some love. That is one of my favorite games of all time. Like the Ninja Gaiden games after it, it has punishing difficulty, but it is so much fun you don't care that is kicking your butt.
  • UsernameAlreadyInUse - May 17, 2009 4:38 a.m.

    I pleyd the COD4 which was awesome and i killed leigion in aria of sorrow does tht count?
  • polopa - April 26, 2009 9:11 p.m.

    ive played 3 :D
  • demo117 - April 24, 2009 9:01 p.m.

    i ahve played all and im 13
  • sprog - April 17, 2009 11:37 p.m.

    39 for me. Some pleasant memories in there. Shooters like Axelay and Thunder Force, they put hair on your chest.
  • Sinsational - April 15, 2009 1:28 p.m.

    I've played 15 overall.
  • Forsakenday - April 14, 2009 11:31 p.m.

    I've played 3.
  • lorchan - June 29, 2009 4:24 a.m.

    I actually just did Acre Cathedral yesterday. It's so... It just really does deserve being on this list. I got assassin's creed about a month ago, and now that school's out I've been playing it A LOT. I plan to beat it tomorrow, actually :) Can't wait for Assassin's Creed II!
  • solsunforge - June 9, 2009 3:56 p.m.

    Sure you have demo and you werent even a thought when some of these games were around.
  • shadowdahuman - May 8, 2009 9:10 p.m.

    Here 3
  • disnayatx - April 16, 2009 10:31 p.m.

    5 in here
  • shadowleon - April 3, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    Yes but only if you played them in less then 2 weeks if not you are a gamer and a geek and remember geeks get it done nerds don't
  • RebornKusabi - February 8, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    I have played almost all of of the 59 levels- does that make me a nerd? The answer would be...
  • Bronxx - December 14, 2008 8:31 p.m.

    I've played 2!

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