These are the hardest games ever made. How many have you played?

These are the hardest games ever made. How many have you played?

In this article, I will take a look at some of the hardest games ever made. How many of them have you played? And perhaps more importantly, how many of them have you actually finished?

Are these the hardest games ever made? Relive the suffering.

Some games are made to be fun. Others have a story to tell. Then there are those games which have seemingly been made to make you suffer. And also to provide a challenge…but mostly to make you suffer. Here are some of the hardest games ever made. First up, Contra.

1) Contra – NES.

If you’re looking for an insanely difficult shooter, look no further than Contra on the NES. Forget waiting behind cover for your health to regenerate. Contra gives you three lives to tackle the entire game. If you get hit by a single bullet, you lose a life. This game does not fool around at all!


2) Demon’s Souls – PlayStation 3.

I was a little torn about which of the Souls series to feature on this list. In the end I plumped for Demon’s Souls. Especially in NG+, Demon’s Souls can be brutal. Maneater is a nightmare. And then there is the fact that there’s no bonfires. As my first taste of this kind of game, Demon’s Souls really made me suffer.

3) Ninja Gaiden Black – Xbox.

The original Ninja Gaiden game in the 1980s was really difficult. When Team Ninja developed this modern reboot, they ensured that it was at least as challenging as its predecessor – possibly even more so. Ninja Gaiden Black is the definitive version of the franchise’s 2004 Xbox relaunch. If you thought Ninja Gaiden was too easy then good news – even harder difficulty modes were added with this version. This action-adventure casts you as Ryu Hyabusa. You must conquer hordes of demonic enemies. Good luck with that!

4) Battletoads – NES.

Kermit the Frog was right. It’s not easy being green. This hard-as-nails beat ’em up casts you as one of three mutant toad warriors (it was “inspired” by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). The NES version was really difficult. Future versions were made easier to provide a more fun experience.

5) Cuphead – Xbox One, PC.

Cuphead is adorable. It features hand-drawn animation to make it look like a 1930’s cartoon. Everything about it is just so perfect. The crackling effect with the music to mimic a record player. And the way that static crackles across the screen as you play. The jazzy music is also very cool. And all the enemies look lovely – and then they kill you. The good news is, dying so much means that you have more time to appreciate the lovely artwork on each level. I’m more than a little bit in love with this game.

6) Super Meat Boy – PC, Mac, Xbox 360.

Super Meat Boy is one of the hardest platformers that I’ve ever played. Each level is filled with obstacles such as spinning blades and lava pits. It’s charming but also incredibly difficult. There aren’t any mid-stage checkpoints. So you have to start all over again when you’re dismembered.

7) Flappy Bird – iOS, Android.

The premise in Flappy Bird was very simple. Tap the screen to make the bird’s wings flap. If you tap it faster, you’ll fly higher. So yes, nothing complicated about that. But making it past more than a few obstacles? Well, that was tough. Its infuriating difficult level was a part of what made it so addictive. And unfortunately, due to it being so addictive, the developer opted to pull it from the marketplace. I still find that decision to be quite strange.

8) Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – NES.

Compared to the first Zelda games, modern Zelda titles are fairly easy. Out of them, Zelda II was the most challenging. Even regular enemies can be tough and you’ll regularly run out of lives, magic…and possibly patience.

9) Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts – SNES.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Capcom. There are only five levels in the game, so it may sound quite simple. However, those five levels are all extremely tough. What’s more, this game wants to embarrass you for making mistakes. If the brave knight Arthur takes a hit, your armour falls off and you’re left to face the enemies wearing only your underwear.

10) Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse – NES.

All of the early Castlevania games were difficult but the third in the series was the hardest of the lot. Unfortunately, part of this difficulty was caused by the stiff controls. So it may have been a hard game but it wasn’t necessarily one of the best.

Which games do you find to be the most difficult? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Want more opinion pieces? If so, you could read Soulblight as seen through the eyes of a developer. Or you could read The best games & movies within games.


I love gaming, creative writing, the theatre, anime, watching football & spending time with friends & family. I'm also a bit obsessed with superheroes.

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8 comments on “These are the hardest games ever made. How many have you played?”

  1. Nunkuruji says:

    Contra – beat it with cheat code, in a hospital, high on a demerol drip, following major surgery.

    Demon’s – of course. blind playthrough.

    Ninja Gaiden – Sigma kicked my ass. But I did beat the NES trilogy.

    Zelda II – beat it

  2. Avatar Caradox says:

    Nice one, Nunkuruji. :) Although if the code for Contra is the Konami Code, then 30 lives rather than 3 to beat the game is a significant boost. Mind you, being high following major surgery is a significant detrimental factor, so maybe it roughly balances out.

    What’s the hardest game that you’ve played?

  3. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Battletoads is nearly impossible in parts. Played it on an emulator, didn’t like it much.

    The only one in that list that I played extensively is The Legend of Zelda II. That game… Oh that game. I had it for… 15 years or so. Played occasionally, never got far. Then I decided I would play through the whole thing (using an old school printed guidebook) and got to the last dungeon after 3 days of grinding and effort.

    Died, game over.

    The rest I’ve heard of or played a bit, but Zelda sticks out the most.

  4. Avatar Caradox says:

    Yes, Battletoads is probably my least favourite from the list, Lich180. Mind you, I didn’t really like them much as cartoon characters back then either…nor the Street Sharks. I quite liked Bucky O’Hare at the time though.

    I highly recommend Cuphead. I’m having a lot of fun playing it again with my wife currently. It’s nice to see another great couch co-op game.

  5. Avatar elnawawi says:

    The only one I played from these were Contra! I didn’t think it was "very hard" back there. Being a child, I thought I wasn’t good enough to play this game!

    But I recall another game , Castlequest on NES. That’s one impossible to complete, even my older brother who was devote to play it for months couldn’t do it too.

  6. Avatar MaskedTheMan says:

    My personal top ten of most difficult games that I’ve ever played and were still enjoyable, in no particular order:
    1. Shin Megami Tensei (Super Famicom) <—– Probably my favorite RPG of all time, tbh
    2. TMNT (NES)
    3. Metal Gear (NES, not be be confused with MGS on PSX)
    4. Demon’s Souls (PS3, definitely the most difficult Souls game, imo)
    5. F-Zero (SNES)
    6. Mystic Defender (SMD)
    7. Chakan the Forever Man (SMD)
    8. Sinistar (Arcade)
    9. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (SMD)
    10. Rampart (SNES)

  7. Avatar ScorpionGod says:

    OMG! Came here looking for some hardest PC games and it’s something else. From this list, I have played only the Contra and Flappy Bird, but yeah I haven’t beaten either of them.

  8. Nahztek-Shadowpath says:

    TMNT was ridiculous.
    I was young and only my neighbor owned it. That game….

    Played most of the older ones on the list. I didn’t own a NES and only played on friends, so no, didn’t beat most of those. TMNT was as bad or worse than anything on that list imo.

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