Hard Hat

Exidy was responsible for two of the most unique games of the '80s: Mousetrap and Venture, which are widely acknowledged as arcade classics. However, not everything Exidy touched turned to gold—for instance, there's Hard Hat, a long-forgotten arcade stinker that was so hard to play, it put a generation of gamers into therapy.

Gameplay: You're a guy with a very little body and a very big hard hat. (For some reason, Ron Jeremy comes to mind.) The game takes place on a grid with a ghosted word in the center, like EXIDY or HARD HAT. Your goal is to fill in the ghosted letters with their solid counterparts. To accomplish this, you knock down scaffoldings and move the entire screen in one of four directions, so you can push the letters into place, Sokoban-style. You can also let them slide into place when the entire maze moves, earthquake-liquefaction-style.

This sounds simple, and even fun, but in practice, it's incredibly difficult, and about as far from fun as you can get without sitting in a dentist's chair. While you're trying to work on the puzzles, murderous hammers chase you, as does a deadly whirlwind that occasionally picks up your carefully placed letters and drops them on the other side of the screen. And because that isn't hard enough, Hard Hat also features solid walls, perfect for trapping unsuspecting players who will end up wishing they'd waited in line for Donkey Kong like everyone else.

Could be mistaken for: Sokoban, or that one mission in GTA: Vice City where you have to blow up the construction site with the RC Helicopter. Yes, the one we all hated.

Kids today might not like it because: It reminds them of that one mission in GTA: Vice City where they had to blow up the construction site with the RC Helicopter. Yes, the one we all hated.

Kids today might like it because: They finally have a construction-worker game to join APB and Cheyenne in their arcade homage to The Village People.

Enduring contribution to gaming history: Even though Hard Hat is too difficult to be fun, fans of Lemmings, Tetris, and Chip's Challenge should thank Exidy for blazing the puzzle-based logic-game trail.

Wil Wheaton drops the HAMMER every Friday.

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