In the beginning there was the word. And the word was 'argh goddamnityouevilgame'. Yes, ever since the serpent challenged Adam to a game of 'dare you pluck from the tree of knowledge' - a Kerplunk prototype - man has obsessed over challenges of soul-destroying difficulty.
The number one peddler in frustration? That would be Nintendo. From the stinging paper cuts delivered by their early Hanafuda cards, to their dual screen screammaker Contra 4, Nintendo have been responsible for a downpour of tricky titles to douse even the most resilient gamer's spirit.
Join us as we descend Jacob's ladder through the circles of hell, into the belly of the Game Over beast.
Circle One: Curved Learning
Beware ye, weary traveller, for ye be entering the peaks of insanity. There are few things crueller than a game that promises easy pickings for the most part, before impaling you on difficulty spikes and leaving you to rot.
Metal Gear Solid. With its propensity for lobbing out insta-kill poisoned apples, the final mother brain boss in Metal Slug 3 is a graduate of the same school of evil as the Disney stepmothers.
Naturally, having survived helicopter attacks and close encounters of the bite-your-face-off kind, you'd be foolish for expecting SNK to just let you win at this final hour, but the random patterns of the golden delicious airstrikes make for a violent hike up in deaths.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. The beauty of Monkey Ball is Sega's ability to offer both obvious routes to the finish line and 99% death-guaranteed shortcuts, that beckon, siren-style.
Not so in world 10-5. With the route coated in a ballrejecting spiked texture, it's down to pure chance whether or not your spherical simian will fall off the edge when you land.
Bad news: there are six jumps between you and your goal. And that's the obvious route.
Super Mario Galaxy. A walk in the most delightful astro-park for 119 stars, there is one particular challenge that almost put an end to our issue 18 walkthrough. You probably know the one: Luigi's Purple Coins in the Toy Time Galaxy.
A field of panels stretch out beyond you. Touch one and it'll disappear forever. The
conundrum? How to ooh, ahh, waa-hoo to the scattered 100 coins without destroying
your route back to where the star appears. This is the real reason that Greener left.
Circle Two: Handheld Hellions
Like a Kinder Egg filled with anthrax, the DS and GBA coo "come play with my dainty curves," while whispering "...so I may eat your soul." Though rarely the first port of call for full-fat frustration, they've certainly had their moments...
Etrian Odyssey. Mooching through the vicious shrubberies of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth is only really perilous for those too impatient to tune up their band of warriors.
Even so, proper progress forces you into a deadly Catch-22 situation in that - now, bear up with us - party-improving weapons require gold, gold is given as reward for completing quests, quests are too hard without partyimproving weapons.
Doh! Death comes often and, as if to rub it in, at the hooves of deer.
Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising Aside from Neotank units and a smattering of new terrain features to cower behind, Advance Wars 2 wasn't much of a change.
So how could it destroy even the most experienced COs? Thrown in at the deep end, it was as if the developers saw this as a direct continuation of the original campaign; ie starts at the difficulty of that title's last mission and only grows harder.