Every so often, we come across a level in a game that is infuriatingly unpassable. In the early days of video gaming, this could have been chalked up to inexperienced level design. Yet despite the industry’s many advances, plenty of games still contain glaring points at which the player’s progress grinds utterly and completely to a halt. Whether the stoppage is due to poor design choices or thumb-wounding difficulty, it can last hours, days, weeks… or forever.  Websites like CheatPlanet and GameFAQs serve as a last resort for getting through impossible spots, but even a great game’s spell is broken when its’ flow is interrupted thusly. If you’ve ever had your face flattened against the brick wall of idiotic game design, this article is for you.

The Game: Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox, PC, Mac)
The Level: The Library
The Brick Wall: Room after identical room with no sense of purpose or progress, just wave after wave of Flood (and the Monitor’s moronic humming.) Let the Covenant have the Index, for chrissakes.
Stuck-o-meter: Medium; The Library is more a test of will than anything else.

The Game: Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
The Level: Fifth Colossus
The Brick Wall: Trying to grab ahold of this flying colossus while balancing on pillars above a giant lake is a real challenge. Missing and falling into the water adds frustration; it’s a real time-waster trying to get back into position for another go. 
Stuck-o-meter: Medium; once you’re finally on the big bird, finishing the job is a cinch.

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  • JosefMotley - January 5, 2010 11:27 p.m.

    "but people who like Ico seem to thrive on that ‘wandering hopelessly lost’ feeling." - first time i've ever seen ico mentioned as anything less than classic. and i like it. i hate ico. so much.
  • plagueoftruth - December 9, 2009 2:29 a.m.

    A couple of levels worth mentioning: FINAL FANTASY XII - THE GREAT CRYSTAL. You travel from circular platform to circular platform to platform and it's very easy to get lost. To add insult to injury, your map is disabled. There are no save points so if you want to quit, you have to go all the way back to the beginning (good luck even doing that.) The level is filled with some of the toughest regular enemies in the game and the second major section has you activating crystals which you then have to backtrack to find which gates they open (and there's a timer running out) while you fight the enemies. I started this level one day before I had to go to work. Four hours before I had to go to work. I eventually had to go and left my PS2 on all day as to not lose my progress. Eventually I grabbed a pen and paper and started mapping the place out myself. FFXII is horribly punishing as it is (with a special boss battle that literally takes eight hours to defeat) but this level is ridiculous. SUPER MARIO GALAXY - LUIGI'S PURPLE COINS The purple coin levels are the biggest challenge in this game but when you play the game a second time as Luigi, you have to play the game's toughest level while having to deal with Luigi's sliding around everywhere. As this level is made of platforms which either start flipping or disappearing as soon as you touch them, it's pretty difficult. Added to that is the fact that you need to plan your path in a circle so that you have a way to get back to the star near where you start and this is probably the toughest level I've played in any Mario game.
  • ZombieAmmy - December 8, 2009 10:25 p.m.

    Omg. That god damn library level. I still remember wandering away from the cube and getting lost of over an hour with my brother. Good times.
  • AA95mp - August 31, 2009 12:33 p.m.

    what about spider man 2 when you have to destroy all the mirrors in mysterios appartment and if you go in front of them you get cloned and they gang up on you and there's no health around i only got through that part once.
  • AA95mp - August 31, 2009 11:51 a.m.