Level 8-2. That is really all I have to say and anyone who knows this game knows what I mean. Level 8-2 is the entire reason this game makes this list. Oh sure the rest of the game is challenging enough, but level 8-2 has probably driven at least one gamer to break a controller in half (and that might have been me...). The level was created by the Great Satan himself and there is a special place in hell where the damned go and play this game for eternity. Level 8-2.
And it's really not fair. Adventure Island lures you in with its whimsical themes, colorful graphics and simple game play. You'll start out thinking, "oh my, what a charming little game, and how fun!" And then, somewhere in level 6 the difficulty switch gets thrown and things start to boil. What was a fun little platforming game slowly becomes a vicious son of a bitch. And then you get to 8-2.
The only way anyone has ever even reached level 8-2 is by virtue of the Hudson Bee, hidden inside an invisible egg right before the end of Level 1-1. This magical little fellow grants you the only saving grace to be found in Adventure Island: infinite continues. If you fail to find the bee, you won't the second time around. Fortunately, the instruction manual hints at the existence of this bee, so it is a valid aspect of the game that does not disqualify it from this project, and I think the good people of Hudson decided to tell you about it because they knew eventually you would get to Level 8-2 and need that bee.
|I'm not kidding, you don't get this bee, you may as well play something else.|
Like I said, the rest of the game is challenging enough. Master Higgins has very little resilience and apart from his skateboard cannot really take much punishment. Furthermore, he must keep eating fruit, the fat little bastard, to stay alive, so you cannot dilly-dally around on the levels, you must keep pushing forward. Thankfully, the games many power-ups give you plenty of opportunity to succeed. The level design is a bit repetitive with the areas repeating and only the addition of more enemies or different obstacles to make your trek increasingly difficult. The boss fights are actually some of the easier parts and you'll be praying that you win each encounter for the sole purpose of not having to replay the previous level.
It takes time to learn the rhythm and pacing of each level, and those infinite continues come in handy. Of course, those infinite continues also mean that you'll be playing Level 8-2 for the rest of your life. However, once you beat it, the game will fall to your mighty powers because few levels in a video game are more frustratingly evil than 8-2. At the end of the day, though, those endless continues will pay off and your patience will reward you with that one glorious run that puts you through 8-2 and on to 8-3 and 8-4 which aren't exactly cake. Look at it this way, I left Adventure Island on for 8 consecutive days trying to beat 8-2, and I nearly did it!
Trust me Adventure Island would be a top 5 contender no questions asked were it not for the infinite continues granted by that happy little bee. Its humble home down here at 18 is probably deceptive, particularly for someone who is not a platform gamer, but rest assured, there are many, many NES games easier than level 8-2 on Hudson's Adventure Island.