Ten "FUCK YOU" Moments In Polly NES History
by Polly

Illustration by Kaz

I've been playing the good ol' Nintendo Entertainment System regularly since December 25, 1987. I'd played it a year or two before at family friends' houses here and there, but my true and completely ridiculous addicting to all things NES began the year I received my own for Christmas. Me n' good ol' NES, we've had such wonderful times. In the near 20 years I've been playing NES games, I can't even begin to count the number of great games that have kept me up at night, completely addicted, not wanting to even THINK about putting the controller down. I couldn't forget the gaming buddies that have come and gone over the years, who struggled with me laying waste to everything in Alien's Lairs, defeating ruthless Robot Masters, and saving yet ANOTHER fucking princess from the clutches of another ne'erdowell Hell-bent on taking over a kingdom full of mushrooms. Yep, me n' the NES are fuckin homies. Homies for life.

But like all our homies, sometimes we just don't see eye to eye. Our relationships have rifts in them from time to time, and though we'll duke it out and end up with busted lips and black eyes, we know deep-down we're still homies and we'll be laughing about it in a month or so. Or 20 years later when we're writing about it on our poorly-written, yet fiendishly sexy websites.

I like to call those instances in my relationship with the NES "Fuck You" Moments. When something so obscenely cheap, outrageously unfair, or just plain stupid happens...that's when I have to say "Fuck you, buddy."

A "Fuck You" Moment isn't necessarily when a boss or a stage is too hard to beat, or some enemy cheaps you out and hits you 20 times in a row. It's the first time you get to the last level and some enemy cheaps you out and hits you 20 times in a row costing you your last life and there are NO CONTINUES LEFT and you just spent all of 5 hours getting there. THAT is an example of a "Fuck you" moment.

My entire gaming history is filled with "Fuck You" Moments. I could never count them all. What I'm doing here, is I'm recalling some of the more memorable "Fuck You" moments from my NES history. Or at least the ones that jumped out at me the most when I started writing this. From 1987-2007, these are some the moments and things that have done absolutely no good for my bloodpressure at all for the past 20 years.

I'm more than convinced that the NES is what taught me to swear...

1.) You Want Your Password? Here's Your Fucking Password!
G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor

Passwords were pretty common for saving your progress back in the day. Backup batteries were most common in RPGs and the like, so us action junkies were shit out of luck and had to write down stupid passwords for games that let us and hope we didn't lose the paper.

G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor may not be the worst offender...well maybe it is, I don't know. When it comes to really stupid password setups, this game went fourteen football fields for some kind of fucking record and ended up screwing me and a friend over as we were making our way through it. It's bad enough that the game's fairly long, but it's also dirt cheap as hell in a lot of areas and when you finish one you're just fucking happy you made it out alive and never want to see the area EVER AGAIN!

You see those 14 grids with random numbers, letters, and the lonely © symbol in them over there to the right? That's how the password system is set up. Every grid contains one character in one of the nine squares. You can't just memorize that shit, and no matter how you try and write it down it's either going to look confusing, or you'll be spending entirely too much time just writing it down period. Inputting the shit is pretty freakin annoying, truth be told. I wanna know who dreamt up this shit.

The first G.I. Joe game from Taxan used NINE CHARACTER PASSWORDS to save your progress. I can still remember the last password the game gave me. NZDB9N8X1. Plug it in, it fucking works. The Atlantis Factor (sequel published by Capcom) plays on almost the SAME EXACT FUCKING ENGINE (oh big shock for Capcom there) and gameplay is essentially the same. Why then, did they need to go out of their way to create such a ridiculously stupid password system?

I also have a suspicion that the game just spits out random shit most of the time that doesn't do a fucking thing.

I'm God damn meticulous when it comes to copying things down. My OCD is so ridiculous I sextuple check everything! Hell, just two hours ago I was on the phone with my ISP's support and had to gaze over my modem's MAC address 7-8 times before I was absolutely sure I had it right. Which is why, when suddenly a string of 4-5 of our passwords didn't work when a friend and I were trying to resume our game, we decided the system was bullshit and just stayed up all night to beat it.

Congratulations, Capcom. You made it to the next level! Here's your password!

2.) Death at FUCK YOU MPH!

Fuck you, Battletoads. My God...

Battletoads is famous...or rather infamous for being one of the most annoyingly frustrating games ever made. There's an almost innumerable amount of ways to die in this game, and if you try and stick it out more than 3 stages, you will experience every single one of them. Over and over without question. Until you fucking PUKE. Battletoads is a wonderful game for you to play if you wish to hone your cursing ability.

Now, this game did bring a lot of neat ideas to the table. There's a really good variety of gameplay and environments to fuck around (read: die) in. You just probably won't see that many of them unless you have adamantium-fucking-class patience.

There were a lot of frustrating stages in this game. Whether it involved annoying platforming, the first two hours you spent trying to navigate down the Wookie Hole (Yeah, I'll just let you have fun with that one on your own) or enemies that could completely annihilate you with one hit no matter how much energy you had left, there was a guaranteed "fuck you" at the ready. But I don't think any of the stated annoyances have erupted more "fuck you"s from me than any of the fucking Speeder stages.

At first, it's a neat idea! Lookit me, I'm cruisin along on a vehicle! This is as cool as riding a skateboard in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... only with way more "FUCK YOU!"

They really went all out with putting the "speed" in "Speeder" with these sections of the game. They're GOD DAMN fast, and if you fuck up even once it's back to the start to try that shit again. I'm cool with it being hard, but the shit that pissed me off more than anything was jumping over gaps. More often than not, there'll be a ramp before a huuuuuuuuuuge jump that you have to hit in order to clear the gap and make it to the other side. I know it's not just me, because I've played this game with a ton of people, but there are times when you 100% without a doubt in the fucking world CLEAR THE GAP, but you'll fall through the land anyway. What the fuck is up with that? I've died way more to falling through the ground on the other side of a jump for no reason, than smashing into enemies or walls. That's some real tight fucking coding there!

What more can you say about it other than it's fucking cheap and lame? Well have a video, then.

So, though it's already been said by many others throughout the years....Fuck you, Battletoads.

3.) Ironknuckle Sammich!
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

They're not the toughest enemies in Zelda II. Oh HELL no! Not even close! Ol' Scott will let ya know that much. But to an unskilled ten year old, who'd only just mastered Super Mario Bros. these little shits were the fucking DEVIL! DEEEEVIL! Making matters worse is the fact that they appear in the VERY FIRST PALACE IN THE GAME! Not even 20 minutes into the game and it'd already started throwing what I considered to be the hardest enemy in a videogame ever at me!

What makes these guys so tough, though? They certainly don't look like much, do they? They look like typical run of the mill armored doods with shields that you'd find in almost any fantasy-esque RPG type game. So why would they be on a "Fuck You" list? Because they're quite "Fuck You"-worthy for a beginner.

These bastards play rough right from the get-go. They're damn-near impervious to all frontal assaults with that fancy shield of theirs, and they always seem to counter every one of your attacks perfectly should they end up blocking you. Trying to fight these guys with a blow-for-blow strategy isn't going to work. You can't run away, because once you're grabbed their attention, they're all over you like stink on decoy. You can't jump over them, because they adjust their movement backward as you move forward. So what's a little girl to do when the big orange knight is whomping up on her little green elf man? Well, I can tell you, after about 30-45 minutes of trying to fight these guys head on in a fencing style of block, slash, block, slash, she gave up and went back to Mario.

It wouldn't be until much later when I was watching a neighbor play the game, that I would learn the trick to landing more successful hits was jumping and slashing at them on the way down.

With big, orange, and ugly finally defeated I was feeling pretty sure of myself. That is, until later in the game when these guys get EVEN MEANER. Not only do they get prettier colors, but they get even more fucking evil with each new brand you encounter. THROWING SWORDS AT ME? YOU FUCKER! YOU CHEATING, CHEATING FUCKER!

Fuck you, Ironknuckle. Fuck you. Play fair, you bastard. My inner-ten year-old hates you so much.

4.) Here's Your Lucky Numbers!
Taboo: The Sixth Sense

Taboo: The Sixth Sense is an oddity among NES games. First off, it's not even a game. Noooooooo gameplay whatsoever. None. Nada. Zilcho! Secondly, it somehow skirted by Nintendo's North American content guidelines and was not only a tarot reader, but featured nudity and tons of religious symbols. All of those were a big no-no from the big N at the time.

The game consisted of the player inputting their name and birthdate and a question. The game then dealt out tarot cards and gave you some kind of stupid nonsensical reading. That's all there was to it. The readings made no sense, and if you say you can make sense from them, you're a fucking LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE. Kill yourself.

After your reading, the game asks you to input the state you live in so that it can give you "Lucky Numbers" for your local Lottery drawing. This was total BULL FUCK SHIT. I've never won a God damn thing from any of the numbers this shit has spewed out of its asshole. That's right! I'm enough of a fucking idiot to have played numbers this thing has thrown out, no doubt subconsciously thinking to myself "My NES would NEVER lie to me!"

So, there ya go. You're reading the website of a fucking moron who has admittedly taken lottery advice from a fake tarot reading game. I guess in the end it's all gravy, because both tarot reading and the lottery are both FAAAAAAAAAAKE! LIKE THE ECONOMY! FAAAAAAAAKE! AND THE GOVERNMENT! FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!

Here's your lucky numbers, dipshits!:

Fuck you, Taboo.

5.) Mr. Big n' Fucking Stupid!

Get a real good luck at that mugshot over there. That's the face of possibly one of the most annoying and ridiculously stupid bosses videogames has to offer. That's Mr. Big of the Midway arcade hit NARC ported over to Good Ol' NES. Mr. Big is supposed to be some kind of evil-doing drug lord and is basically the source of any and everything bad happening in the city. You're part of an elite task force (comprised of TWO PEOPLE!) sent to eliminte him and his group of fine young drug-pedalling gentlemen.

Now, I'll give credit when credit is due. NARC made for a pretty damn good home conversion of a fantastically shitty and cheap ass arcade game. NARC was one of the first ultra-violent games to hit the arcade, featuring quite a bit of gore, excessive referencing of drugs, and fully digitized characters. The NES version retains a lot of the graphical flair (minus the digitization obviously) and violence which is pretty surprising given Nintendo's harsh regulations back then, but most of the drug references were cut. The difficulty was also scaled down so that it at least seemed fair most of the time. It didn't necessarily play like a dream, but even today it's still an impressive job even if it's absolutely fucking grating at times.

Now, back to Mr. Big. After you've blasted your way through nine ridiculously challenging stages of drug pushers, pimps and mafioso types, you'd probably expect Mr. Big to be quite the intimidating bastard himself, right? With a last name like BIG, you'd better be packing something or at LEAST be some kind of 20ft giant with rocket launchers for arms that shoot exploding chainsaw rockets. You've probably already guessed that since he's on this list, none of that applies. So, let's just get this shit out of the way and have a look at good ol' Mr. Big...

Wait for it....

Now... If your first reaction to that was "What the fuck?", then CONGRATULATIONS! You are normal! If you'd played this bastard game for about two or three weeks to get to this point and saw this, your first reaction would be a little more like mine. Something along the lines of...


Now the "Fuck You" comes for many reasons. First of all, I mean...what the fuck? Look at him! Mr. Big...drug lord, pimp, mafia-guy...he's just a...HEAD on a...what the fuck is that? A... THING! Now let's rewind for a sec.

In the picture there...I may be absolutely [REDACTED]ed by some peoples' standards, but it looks like he's got a little more than just a head to me. So, what the hell happened here? Furthermore, if the guy really is just a fucking head on a... THING, for God's sake let the guy have his drugs. Things can NOT get any worse for this man.

Appearance aside, Mr. Big may just be the easiest, frustrating, and cheapest boss around. How can he be all three? Well, let's break down the stages of the fight.

This is how the fight starts. Me vs Stupid Head thing. All he does is chase me around the screen spitting tongues at me. Spitting tongues...did they even think about this shit? God damn... Anyway, I begin plugging rocket after rocket into him. I wasted 45 or more on him to no avail. The first time I actually got to this point in the game, I had no more lives left. I was out of rockets, I had no more ammo, and all I could do was just die. Nothing fazed him at all!

I return to this point in the game about an hour later, hoarding every rocket and bullet I could, pumping nearly 60 into him this time and STILL NOTHING! It wouldn't be until two or three days later, when I came back and managed something completely strange.

What the hell? I knocked his sunglasses off? How in God's name did I manage that? It turns out I somehow got incredibly lucky and managed to plug a rocket into the "sweet spot" to knock off his glasses advancing the fight to the next stage.

There's a problem with actually trying to consciously do this, though. With the game's controls it's almost absolute luck that you can put a shot directly into the glasses. You see, the arcade version of NARC had 4 buttons: Jump, Crouch, Gun, and Rocket (which is still a pretty stupid setup if you ask me). The NES version had to condense these actions to TWO buttons meaning you have to tap B to jump, hold B to crouch, hold A to fire your gun, and tap A to fire a rocket. Trying to pull off a jump and rocket at the same time is ridiculous because of the delay. The area you HAVE to hit with the rocket is very small and hard to hit and more often than not your rocket will either fire too high, too low, or if you're EXTRA lucky, it won't even go off at all!

Once the Gods of Luck finally smile upon you, it's time to deal with Mr. Big's new glasses-less form. Which is basically the same as the first only he's a little faster and he shoots lightning beams from his eyes. This part can be exceptionally annoying, because once you're hit he just doesn't let up and you can kiss that life goodbye if he's close enough to fire 5-10 beams into you in under 2 seconds. If you accidentally touch him, it's pretty much over as well as you have almost no time to try and recover from the stun. The trick (as you'll see in the video below) is to just hang around the very top of the walkable area! None of his projectiles can touch you AT ALL. How's that for some awesome programming?

Figuring out you knock the sunglasses off by hitting the "sweet spot" pretty much made it easy to figure out the rest. It was actually executing this feat which took some time to master. The real shitter? If you run out of rockets, you're fucked. You HAVE to lose a life to gain 5 more rockets, because there's no way to replenish them AT ALL in this area and bullets do not work. If that's your last life...."FUCK YOU!"

And when you hit the "sweet spot" one last time what do you get?


This thing's about as threatening as...Pat. It just kinda chases you around the screen aimlessly and doesn't do anything else. He spits 800,000,000 tongues in the arcade version and it's nigh impossible to live through it, but that's remedied here. This time, rockets are ineffective and all you have to do is continue firing at the little spiney bits until you've reduced him to nothing. The problem is you don't even know if hits are registering on them or not. Sometimes a spiney bit will go with as few as three shots, sometimes you can waste an entire life's worth of ammo and not eliminate even one. It's bullshit. You can run out of machinegun ammo and still fire one shot every 2 seconds, which means you can still plausably beat him on zero ammo, but it's still bullshit that there's no way to replenish your ammo. If you're on your last life here and run out of ammo, have fun plugging away at this thing 1 shot every 2-3 seconds.

I've recorded this stupid boss fight in its entirety so you never ever have to play it:

And for your efforts?

Yeah...I'll get right the fuck on that. Fuck you, Mr. Big!

6.) Have Some Unnecessary Platform Jumping!
Double Dragon II: The Revenge

I love Double Dragon II. I think it's one of, if not, the best beat em ups the NES had. Extremely varied locales, lots of colorful and challenging enemy types to beat the snot out of, a pretty decent-sized moveset to do so with, and home to the most utterly unnecessary platform jumping EVER! I'm talking like, Turok on the N64 having platforming bad. It's about the only bad thing Double Dragon II has going for it. And sadly, there's a LOT of it.

When I play a Double Dragon game, I wanna beat the seven shades of shit out of some random street hoods, take their weapons to beat up ridiculously-dressed and mohawked girls, and get my shit fucked up by Abobos! This isn't Mario! Get that platforming shit out of here!

Now, I'm not against mixing elements from other genres. Games would be pretty boring if everything was the same ol', same ol' everytime popped in a new game. The problem is that Double Dragon II just doesn't do it right at all. You see, Double Dragon has ALWAYS....ALWAYS had horrible jumping mechanics. Since A and B buttons are assigned to your Punch and Kick actions, in order to jump you have to press both A and B together. It only takes a little while to get used to, but it still feels unnatural. Add to this that Billy and Jimmy's jumping gravity look and feels all wrong and you've got yourself MAAAAAANY lost lives due to the engine simply not feeling like it was built with jumping mechanics in mind. You also get a load of "Fuck You"s.

Everything's peachy keen and the game is a hell of a load of fun until you reach Stage 5. From Stage 5 to Stage 7 you'll be swearing up a shitstorm as Double Dragon II turns into Billy and Jimmy doing their best "It's-a-me, Mario, look how I die when I fall into pits and spikes" imitations.

I knew something was terribly wrong the first time I got to this little waterfall area with 3 platforms and wasted EVERY FUCKING LAST LIFE I HAD trying to cross to the other side. "Oh come on now, surely you must be exaggerating, that doesn't look too bad!" These are words from a person who has never played this game and should shut up before I add some more aluminum to their diet via aluminum baseball bat vitamin. It took me forever to find the right alignment you needed to hit these jumps. As you'll notice in the video, my character seems perfectly lined up for the jumps everytime, yet somehow still plunges into the water.

Even worse is the final part of this stage. Once again, you'll see in the video that I have to try and make my way up to the top of that bulldozer tank whatchamacallit while it's moving on and off the screen. It probably looks easier than it actually is on video. The steam pipes at the middle have complete fuck you over potential (as you'll see) and can completely ruin the run you were making to the top by continually hitting you as you get up. Then you get to make more shitty platform jumps to try again! Lucky you!

Moving onto Stages 6 and 7, which are the real root of the problem, we find that there are hardly any enemies in these stages. It's all just a bunch of tricky platform jumping that can take forever to figure out.

In Stage 6 we get Mega Man-esque disappearing blocks. Once again the shitty jump gravity fucks you over as it's difficult to really gauge where you're going to land and if you'll do so in time. Odds are your first time here will entail you doing multiple face plants on the bed of spikes trying to make your way up to that God damn door. Making matters worse is you don't get a lot of time to try and line yourself up for the next jump. Once you're on the platform, you'd better be ready, because half a second later the platform you're on will begin phasing out. There's no grace period during this animation, so you just fall directly down from where you were. If you jump too soon, you miss the next platform as it's phasing in and die on the spikes. If you jump too late, you either don't get credit for the jump at all and just fall, or you'll land on the next block just as it's about to phase out and once again introduce yourself to the spikes below.

Stage 7 adds conveyor belts and rotating gears to this annoying as The Hutch section of the game. Don't worry, your spikey friends down below are still there, so at least you're with familiar company. I don't even need to tell you how annoying this stage can be. You can see it in the video. The gear room had me stumped forever. Even now I still have problems with it because of all the falling hazards which almost always lead you down into that oh so lovely pit of spikes below. And if the fall doesn't take care of you, they got some weird Mexican Jumping Spikes popping up from the bottom of the screen to knock you back down so the gear can roll you on over into your hole-y demise.

So, fuck you, Double Dragon II. I Like you n' all, but you drive me batshit insane when I'm having a bad Mario Bros. day.

7.) Tonight I Dine on Pygmy Turtle!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II on NES was a good game. It was a hard game and it was a loooooooooong game. Way longer than it should have been in my opinion. You're thrown to the wolves with 3 lives, 3 continues, and about 200 Foot Soldiers per level and after that a boss that likely isn't playing very fair. I say they're unfair to a point, because more than a few erupt into simple "you hit me, I hit you" bitchslap fests that you can't win without losing a life or two. They're programmed to counter every-damn thing you throw at them.

Needless to say, finally reaching the last stage of the game, The Technodrome, was a bit of a nerve wrecking experience. Two lives, no continues... This was to be the epic showdown I'd worked all afternoon for. I'd gotten one-hitting Foot Soldiers down to a science, so taking damange throughout the level wasn't much of a problem. There were a few generously placed pieces of Pizza laying around to replenish my dwindling health as well. So, other than the damn freezing ice traps, I didn't have much of a problem working my way through.

the rock soldier boss before the final room claimed one of my remaining lives, sadly. I'd fallen out of my spamming the shit out of the jump kick pattern and in that ended up on the business end of some nasty, nasty counter attacks. But the Rock Soldier would not triumph this day!

Moving into the next room, my heart was racing. I knew this was the last room! It HAD to be! The doors open and out comes....KRANG? WHAT? NOOOOO! THAT IS NOT FAIR! Palms sweating, heart racing, I managed to spend the next 5 minutes or so attacking only with calculated jump kicks and miraculously avoiding attacks from a boss I'd never fought before. As he began to glow all the colors of the 8-bit rainbow, indicating that he was almost dead, my heart raced even faster! He finally fell moments later, managing to only nab a few hits off the health bar of my remaining life. But there was no time to celebrate...I knew what was next and, yeah buddy, I was ready for it to be ON!

Shredder makes his appearance at long last, the fucking coward! But what the fuck? He just split into two? WHAT? WHY ARE THERE TWO OF HIM? And JUST before I could ask myself another stupid question...

What the fuck kinda cheapo bullshit thing is that to do to a kid? Go ahead, watch it again, because that's how fast it happened. All that fancy dodging and conserving of life I'd done up to this point to try and at least get a decent PEEK at Shredder was all for naught. He needed only ONE HIT to deplete my entire lifebar and end both my life and my game entirely. After spending an entire afternoon getting to that point, can you imagine the rage? CAN YOU IMAGINE THE RAGE? BOTH Shredders can do that too! One right after another if they want!

Fuck you, TMNT II! You almost made me cry that day. Almost!

8.) This One Doesn't Even Need An Explanation
Mike Tyson's Punch Out

Yep. Fuck you, Mike Tyson. Fuckin prick.

9.) This One Doesn't Need An Explanation Either
Contra Force


10.) Cruel And Unusual Punishment
Ninja Gaiden

Alright, alright...Just watch. Note the stage number at the top right while you watch this particular piece. I'll explain it when you're done.

Now, if you don't understand what's going on here, let me just assure you that what you're seeing should be considered cruel and unusual fucking punishment. If you didn't know, Ninja Gaiden is likely one of the most difficult games from the NES-era. Seriously, there's far more "fuck you"-inducing moments in this game other than the one I'm about to display, but this is the one that takes the cake. As I've mentioned time and time again, I'm not one to bitch about difficulty. I liked that Ninja Gaiden challenged me to do my best. The reason I liked the level of difficulty in Ninja Gaiden games was because, though it was excruciating at times, it was fair and never felt like it was going out of its way to cheat me. When I finally overcame an obstacle it was really something to be proud of because my skills had gotten better.

The final stage of the game demands nigh perfection of the player. You're not given much room for fuck ups whatsoever. Adding to the pain is that the stage is ridiculously long. Much longer than any challenge the game had thrown at you up to this point. It's the last stage, it should be tough, right? I agree whole-heartedly.

The final stage of Ninja Gaiden contains five areas (the last two being boss fights) that are roughly 1-3 screens in length. Should you die in any of these areas, the game plops you right back on the screen at the start of the screen you just died in. If you lose ALL of your lives and continue, you start back at the first screen of the new area you just entered. Not so bad, right? Pretty par for the course as far as NES games go.

The absolute mother of all "FUCK YOU"s comes when you reach those final two boss areas. Dying at ANY boss doesn't plop you back outside the boss' room to try again. Nooooooooo. This is when the game decides to bend you over the table and give you an ass-reaming worthy of any porn star performance.

When you die at a boss, you're thrown ALL THE FUCKING WAY BACK TO 6-1! Does that strike anyone else as JUST A FUCKING TAD UNREASONABLE? My God, can you even imagine the level of frustration of getting to the boss areas of this stage for the first time after hours of FINALLY making it through this bitch whore of a stage, only to be SHOT RIGHT BACK TO THE BEGINNING? WHAT THE UNHOLY MOTHER FUCK?

I've just never been able to wrap my head around how the game can be so forgiving and fair all the way through, then decide to completely fuck you over RIGHT AT THE END. It is nice that after you complete each boss fight they refill your lifebar completely, but it was nowhere near enough to stave off the frustration and damn near heart attack I almost had with how tense my body was just getting there and then dealing with the frustration of being told "DO IT AGAIN, FUCKER! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

So, one unimaginably large FUCK YOU to Ninja Gaiden.


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