Last week I visited with some of the toughest enemies in video games. This week I want to explore the bane of every gamer’s existence: the water level. From Super Mario Bros. to today, water levels have teased us, taunted us, and cost us several controllers. Let’s take a look and see why these evil creations plague us so.
Most gamers experience their first water level in Super Mario Bros. The serene music lulls you into a false sense of security as you are accosted by Cheep Cheeps and Bloopers. Real world science also need not apply as Mario is able to breathe underwater for the entire level, as well as shoot fireballs. In order to pass these levels unscathed, you need patience and good timing. It also doesn’t help that the developers were sadistic enough to play off your greed and place coins extremely close to chasms.
Speaking of chasms, why is it Mario dies when he falls in one in a water level? Is there too much water pressure? Obviously, he doesn’t have issues breathing. Pressure would have to be the only explanation. It’s a good thing the water levels in Super Mario Bros. aren’t too difficult. Actually, they make for good training for the levels to come in future games.
You can’t talk water levels without at least mentioning the notorious Water Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There was no time limit to this stage, but Link did have to breathe, and that complicated things unless you had the blue tunic. It also didn’t help that the level contained a convoluted puzzle requiring raising and lowering the water to get to different passages and doors. And don’t get me started on the obnoxious jumping evil clams with spiked rears. It did have a pretty cool boss battle with Dark Link. In all honesty, when I played through it on the 3DS it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I remember from years past. It was still a royal pain, but not as difficult.
But, no amount of training could possibly prepare any gamer for the hellish water level in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) game for the NES. This was by far the toughest, most obnoxious water level in any game; or at least it was for me when I was a kid. The turtles were tasked with saving a dam. The level was a maze of sorts. It came complete with electric barriers that turned on and off, electrified seaweed, some spinning fireball type mechanism, and bombs that needed to be disarmed. Oh, and you have just over 2 minutes to disarm these bombs?
This stage was the source of a lot of undue childhood stress. The entire TMNT game was a source of undue stress, but this level didn’t help matters at all. Luckily, you could switch between all four turtles, provided you have them all still available. Did I mention you have just over 2 minutes to complete this stage? It’s enough to make any gamer, young or old, cry profusely.
Enemies that fly may be tough. But when the stage itself is a death trap, that’s when you know you’re in trouble. Water levels have never been easy. That trend doesn’t seem to want to end any time soon. And I say that a good thing. Developers have a tendency to want to hold my hand and they seem afraid to make games as challenging as they used to. But that’s a topic for another time.
Just In Bailey –an homage to the secret code from Metriod, which allowed you to play as Samus Aran without her suit– is an editorial column at Vagary.TV brought to you by Joey Alesia. Each week Joey will challenge you to look at a different perspective of the characters, gameplay, and/or plot in your favorite games. Chat up your thoughts below, or send Joey an e-mail at Joey.Alesia@vagary.tv and remember to follow him on Twitter @wrkngclsswrtr.