Top 17 Most Aggravating/Hard Games

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Keeping the extra controllers industry in business since 1985.


Now before you go ranting about how X game should have been ranked at X place and I should go light my pants on fire, many, if not most, people have not played every one of these games. So please feel free to give your feedback to elaborate on any that I may have missed. With that being said, onto the list!

17. Smash TV


A perfect example of a quarter munching game. You are one of two contestants on a game show where they send hordes of robots, missiles, and baddies at you. All it takes is one hit and you go down. Most of the bad guys are only one hit as well… but there are hordes of them pouring in. In just a few seconds the screen can go from completely clear to about 30-50 guys… and they just keep coming. Add in bullets whizzing by, mines on the ground, and big bosses trying to crush you, and it can take your allowance away pretty quickly.

16. Out of this World (Another World)

In OOTW, you can die from just about anything. The game starts by transporting you directly into a body of water. If you fail to swim up immediately? You get pulled down by a tentacle monster. Dead. You get out of the water and take a moment to gather yourself and take a look at your surroundings? Tentacled again. Dead. You run to the right and an alien jaguar thing comes running after you and if you don’t run off and swing away just in time? Dinner. Dead. It usually takes a number of lives to get past any given section, but there are only continue points every so often.

15. Contra


You’ll be hard pressed to find somebody who hasn’t played this game. You may even find people who claim to have beaten it. Ask them if they did it with the default 3 lives though. Everybody I know personally that has beaten the game had to use the famous Konami code to get the 30 lives first. Even then this game is not a walk in the park. Although playing with a friend can help double the firepower to clear out the alien menace, you then add the difficulty of having to time your jumps so you don’t advance past your partner and instantly kill them.

14. Zelda II: The Adventures of Link


A far jump from the previous installment of Zelda, this game had a side scrolling element and experience points that could level you up. It also added in magic spells and sword strikes you could learn from wizards and warriors. In this game are some of the meanest regular bad guys as well as bosses. Blue knights that throw an infinite amount of knives and block 90% of the sword strikes you send at em, and jousting bosses that give you fractions of a second to hit them in a weak point only so many pixels wide.

13. Mike Tyson’s Punchout!

In the magazine Nintendo Power they had a strategy guide for how to beat Mike Tyson at the end. It consisted of DODGING AND HIDING LIKE A LITTLE GIRL FOR THE ENTIRE FIRST ROUND. The only clue to your impending lack of teeth being a simple wink from Mikey. And you only get to face him after you break over a dozen other challengers’ fists with your face.

12. F-Zero GX

With the tracks being made by a cruel and unforgiving deity, the high speeds of this game create a bit of a problem. It’s hard to keep yourself on a track when every other turn has jumps, damaging walls, and cliffs to drop you to your doom let alone other drivers pushing you out of the way. Add in the disorienting levels like the cylinders and you may find yourself dead without realizing what just happened.

11. Castlevania NES


For some reason Simon Belmont moves like a tank. He’s slow, must stop to attack, and is just all around, hard to control. Luckily they give him a health bar instead of instant death upon impact with an enemy. Oh, but wait. That doesn’t take into account the bottomless pits or spikes that you can get knocked into. So you can go through an entire level with nary a scratch and then get bumped by a little bat or Medusa head which would normally only do 1-2 bars of damage, and instantly die.

10. Devil May Cry 3


When they imported this game to North America, they must have thought we Americans knew what we were doing, because they somehow decided it would be a good idea to change the difficulty levels around. The Japanese Hard mode became the American Normal mode. Not really a problem if you just change the game to Easy mode, but I know few people willing to accept the blow to their ego. They re-released it later in a special edition that turned the difficulty back to normal.

9. Shinobi (PS2)


You’re a ninja. Ok, cool. You have a sword that feeds on souls. Awesome. If this sword doesn’t get fed often and fast enough, it starts eating your soul. Wait, what? So not only are you dealing with enemies attacking you, you’ve got this little leech of a sword that hurts you too. Not cool. There are even some areas that have pretty much no floor whatsoever so you are now having to wall run and bounce off the bad guys like some demonic version of leapfrog.

8. Mega Man (most of em)

We looked back fondly with memories to Megaman… that is until we ever went back to play them or tried out the newest one that went back to its roots with Megaman 9. Then you realize that it was a platformer with some pretty mean tricks. You usually had to memorize the stage pretty darn well to be able to avoid the baddies so you’d have a chance at the robot master. You fall and choose one of two sides to go through with one being covered with spikes and the other, a nice easy section with a life capsule. Then came the giant game of rock, paper, scissors to the nth degree with the 8 robot masters. Is the power you got from the last boss the weakness for this boss? Only way to find out is trial and error (or the internet).

7. Demon’s Souls


This is considered by many to be one of the hardest games to hit shelves in the next gen era. Your only clues as to the dangers ahead being signs others left and blood stains from the places of their demise. To upgrade your stats, abilities, or equipment, you pay for it with souls you earned by killing enemies. If you die, you lose all your souls you’ve earned. To pile upon the hardness level, you get one chance to retrieve them from your corpse in a corporeal spirit form. If you die as a spirit, your hard earned souls will all be gone.

6. Super Meat boy

The goal of this game is much like older games where you must get to the girl held by the baddie. But instead
of a plumber, you are a slab of meat… and instead of a princess, she’s a slab of bandages… and instead of a koopa/dinosaur thing, he’s a fetus in a mechanical suit…? Ok. The platforming is quite hard with spikes and meat grinders all over the place. If you are likely to break controllers, this may not be for you. At least with this game they make dying fun so when your character falls into a grinder, it doesn’t just bump him and he shrugs and falls off the screen. No, he gets turned into a red smear across the whole of the blade. With the inclusion of infinite lives, you can tell they fully expect you to die hundreds of times in this game. After completing it, the level will show every instance of you playing the level all trying to run through at once showing a swarm of little meat boys all running through losing more and more as they dodge each obstacle leaving only one that gets through to the end.

5. Ikaruga and other bullet hell games

These games just make me whimper and cry in the corner. Ikaruga has the classic top-down shoot ’em up styling with a twist, you can absorb either black bullets or white bullets, but only one at a time. So as you see the hundreds of missiles flying towards you, you need to swap your colors accordingly. It can get quite hectic.

4. Mario Bros: The Lost Levels

(In enters a crazed hobo) Super Mario Brothers 2 was a sham I tells ya! They jus’ threw dem Mario fellers into another game and sold it as number 2! (Tosses him a sandwich and throws him out) Despite sounding like a raving lunatic, the hobo is correct. This was not the original Mario 2. They had the opposite idea with this game as they did with Devil May Cry 3. They thought it was too hard and similar to the original for us silly Americans and therefore just redesigned another game with the likeness of Mario and his pals. They finally gave it to us in the form of The Lost Levels in Super Mario All-Stars. The game is Mario on steroids. All those warp pipes you used to exploit? Replaced with reverse ones. They send you BACK a number of levels instead of forwards. All the jumps have become harder and sometimes require special timing.

3. Ninja Gaiden

Although many consider the newer versions to be hard, they do not compare to the originals for the NES. Specifically, the stupid birds. The game has a slightly delayed spawning time sometimes so you’ll make a jump just to have a bird appear and fly right into you, sending you careening into the pit below. Like many games of the time, your attack is stuck on the horizontal plane at a specific height. So all those birds flying around trying to murder you from above are just out of reach of your blade. With a game genie I turned on infinite lives and it STILL took me forever to beat this trilogy.

2. Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts

I first saw the end of this game by the hands of my brother due to the difficulty. I watched him die over and over trying to master the jumps and dodging the hordes of undead. You can’t control your movement once you’ve committed to a jump causing you to see your impending doom but have no way to avoid it. After watching him play for days, he finally reached the end boss who has stolen your girl. After a huge fight he defeated Sardius only to get slapped in the face with the greatest “princess is in another castle” of all time. You have to start the entire game over and find a specific weapon to defeat the final boss for real this time. Never have I heard more obscenities in my life. Montage time!

1. Battletoads

Played by many. Defeated by few. Luckily, the game is pretty awesome even with all the horrible stuff. It’s funny, rewarding, and has an awesome soundtrack. The section most people relate to this game and the toughness therein is the speeder bike level. Even with the help of infinite lives cheats on game genies and Nintendo Power walkthroughs telling you which side the barriers will be appearing from you still need some pretty crazy Jedi powers to pull through. But that’s just level 3. After a brawl through ice and snow, you then have another obstacle level where whirlpools and logs float down and you must avoid them. Then comes another horrifying level where you have to ride on giant snakes through areas filled with floating spikes and you must time your jumps accordingly to move from one slithering transporter to another before they sink back in their holes leaving you plummeting to the spikes below. Even if you can somehow get past all of that without becoming a quivering mass of antidepressants, there are still 7 more levels!

This of course, is just my thoughts on what I’d consider some of the most difficult games that I’ve ever had either the pleasure of not playing or the distinct displeasure of actually playing. This really isn’t meant to be a definitive list, but I do welcome other suggestions in the comments below.

What say you?

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