Back in the days of the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 I beat all of the video games I owned, mostly due to having the free time available to muscle through lots of games (I dream of having that much free time again). There was only one game I owned from that era of my life that I never beat, a Spider-Man themed beat-em-up named Maximum Carnage, and it has been the bane of my gaming existence ever since.
For a short recap, Maximum Carnage is a game based on the comic book storyline of the same name. A supervillain named Carnage, otherwise known as the most 90's mainstream comic book villain ever, escapes custody and teams with a couple other lesser villains in order to take over New York and basically go on a giant murder spree. Spider-Man is forced to team with his nemesis Venom as well as a few other Marvel comics heroes (Captain America, Deathlok, Hawkeye, etc) in order to save New York. Iron Man and the Reed Richards, the people who have readily available tech to stop people like Carnage or Venom, are conveniently out of town and can't be hassled with saving New York. I like to believe Iron Man was too busy shoving an arc reactor into a toaster and Reed Richards was testing out his trans-dimensional cosmic bathtub.
Maximum Carnage is one of the rare LJN games that isn't total dogshit, in fact it's not that bad of a game. However, this is a game that's unfairly difficult. It's hard by beat-em-up standards and unnecessarily long, so it's a one-two punch of difficulty and war of attrition. On top of that you start the game with two lives and one continue. Yes, there are extra lives and continues sprinkled around the game, but good fucking luck finding some of them. I've played all of the Souls games to completion games multiple times, and yet I haven't even seen the final boss of Maximum Carnage. So yeah, it's that kind of hard.
Part of the problem with this game is that the later stages of this game ramp up too much in difficulty. Like most Streets of Rage-like games of that era enemies that were bosses earlier in the game show up as standard enemies later in the game, but Maximum Carnage will take that to a silly degree where you'll fight multiple sub-bosses at once and usually have a real boss on top of that. There are a few bosses that are metahumans who directly serve Carnage as well. You usually fight them one on one first, and then subsequent rematch fights with them usually result in you fighting that same metahuman plus another one at the same time. Shit just escalates too much. Coupled with some unnecessary escalation of fights, like I already mentioned the game is simply a little too long. So some of these fights are there as nothing more than padding.
One of the few saving graces you have in some of these more extreme situations are assists you can call in from other superheroes (see; the ones mentioned above). The problem is that these assists are consumable items, and finding more of them is (like lives and continues) a little too rare. So do you want to burn your last Iron Fist assist on this screen you're on right now, or save it for the potentially harder screen coming up? Oh and, according to Google, you don't get these assists for the final boss of the game. I know it's a video game, but Jesus H Christ why would Captain America only show up for 10 seconds to help Spider-Man when Carnage is literally standing right in front of him? What more important shit could Cap possibly have right now!?
Man, thinking about this game again just makes my fucking blood boil. If I had any game that was my "white whale" it sure as hell is Maximum Carnage. This game actually does have a sequel named "Separation Anxiety" which I actually was able to beat. But man, that was the most hollow victory I think I've ever had since I knew the Maximum Carnage was still unbeaten. I have a dedicated "retro gaming" area set up at my apartment now, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to put a lot of time into trying to finally get through Maximum Carnage this year.