In this era, it can be hard to remember where video games came from. There was a time where you were expected to spend stacks upon stacks of quarters just to realize that it still wasn’t enough and you were going to lose anyway. Today’s games seem to be designed more for the experience and to ensure every player gets to see every stage. So let’s flash back to a time where video games still wanted you to work for every tiny peace of satisfaction you got.
7. Ninja Gaiden
There’s difficult and then there’s Ninja Gaiden difficult. Ninja Gaiden is one of the rare occurrences where the entire series has remained relentlessly difficult despite the trend of games getting easier. It’s tough to place which installment of this franchise should be on this list since there are so many that belong here.
If you’re in the mood to shed some tears and stress yourself to your breaking point, then it’s as easy as popping in any of these classic games. If you think you’re good at video games then Ninja Gaiden will let you know quickly and painfully that you are wrong.
The Original Battletoads first debuted on the NES back in 1991 and was created as an attempt to rival the success of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Launching this game, you might be confused why we would include it in this list. The first couple stages aren’t much more than some good old button mashing 2d beat-em-up.
Where this game really stakes a claim as one of the most difficult around was the Level 3: Turbo Tunnel. Almost every player will be immediately greeted to this stage by a brick wall and a loss of a life before they can even process what happened. It’s a rude wake up call to remind you that you are still playing a game that wants to see you lose.
5. Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts
Revered as many as one of the hardest SNES games ever made, Capcom’s Super Ghouls and Ghosts made it’s debut in 1991. Right off the bat you’re treated to a choice of upgradable weapons which makes players believe there’s some sort of armor system or health bar. Nope.
One hit and your player loses all armor and weapons and is now stuck in his underwear. And you’re exactly as helpless as you’d imagine someone fighting demons in their underwear would be. This game is full of dirty tricks to make you feel like you’re incompetent. Such as trick treasure chests containing wizards and even a fake boss of the game that tell you you’re only half way done once you beat him.
The original Contra was first released on console on the NES in 1988. Contra is known as one of the hardest games you could play, and for good reason. The sheer difficulty of this game makes way more sense when you realized it was originally an arcade game. In other words it wanted you to fail so you’d have to drop more quarters into the machine.
This is one of those classics that really wasn’t ever meant to be completed. In an age where gamers are used to being able to take a few bullets and still truck on through a slew of checkpoints and health packs, Contra is a shocking throw back to when getting shot meant you died.
3. Super R Type
Super R Type was a pioneer in the bullet-hell genre of games that came out for the Super Nintendo in 1991. The most frustrating mechanic in this game is that it only takes a single hit for you to die, leaving you wondering what you could have done better. The answer is simple; never get hit.
This game takes an inhuman amount of focus simply to avoid the wall of a thousand bullets coming towards you in hopes that an opening makes itself apparent. With the lack of check points or do-overs it’s clear from the start that the R Type devs Irem aren’t here to hold your hand through this journey. They’re here to watch you fail.
The original Megaman game first appeared on japanese nintendo consoles under the name Rockman in 1987. It was the ultimate test in pattern recognition and trial-and-error learning. There’s multiple points in the game where players are expected to die just so that they can learn in the future what not to do.
Every boss fight was an intense exercise in pattern recognition and learning exactly what to do and when to do it or risk restarting the whole process. Megaman was the kind of game that made you understand why the booklet came with a notes section.
1. Super Mario Bros. – The Lost Levels
A lot of people would be surprised to know that the Super Mario 2 that they know and love was actually a completely different franchise called Doki Doki Panic that got retrofitted to replace the Japanese Super Mario 2. The original Super Mario 2 was deemed “too difficult for Americans” and released as a bonus in the Super Mario All-Stars collection under the name Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels.
This game was designed for players who have mastered the first already difficult Super Mario Bros. game and were craving something even more difficult. Beyond the raw difficulty of this game there was also cruel tricks such as warp pipes that actually sent you back worlds instead of forwards. So, for those who claim that Nintendo games are too easy, please point them in this direction and start filling up that swear-jar.