The 10 Hardest Games Ever is a peculiar list. It includes triumphs of game design that manage to be spectacular despite their abnormally high difficulty, as well as games that were designed so poorly that you fight more against the controls than the game itself. It includes indie games, as well as huge AAA titles that jacked up their difficulty just for the heck of it. But don't worry. You won't be pulling your hair out or breaking your controller as you read our list of the 10 Hardest Games Ever.
One word describes why Oregon Trail manages to get on the list of 10 Hardest Games Ever: Dysentery. Of course, drowning while fording the river or starving to death are also perfectly valid ways to go when playing this incredibly difficult edutainment game. The primary thing that I learned from Oregon Trail was, “Being a pioneer sucks.”
Adventures of Bayou Billy was pretty cool, being that used both the NES light gun and the NES controller. It’s just a shame that every enemy in this game took a million hits to die. Then there were the driving sections which loved to punish you with death for taking a second too long. The light gun sections were the only fair parts, but even managing to get there was its own tiny miracle.
The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the NES was unfairly difficult for a number of reasons. The fact that it had water stages that would kill you for swimming too high or too low in a corridor of electrified kelp was one. However, the game also had tons of cheap deaths due to poorly constructed jumps, enemies that took a lot of hits to kill, and off screen dangers that hit you before you had a chance to realize it. Sure, you had four turtles, or lives, but if you lost Donatello, it was basically over.
Some of the games on this list were genuinely good titles that used difficulty as a way to boost replay value. Silver Surfer, unfortunately, is not one of them. This game was saturated with poor hit-detection, traps that you couldn’t see, and stage hazards that killed you even without touching you. It was glitchy and poorly designed and it was incredibly difficult because of it.
Modern day games are frequently criticized for being far too easy. Not Ninja Gaiden Black. To this day, it may be the hardest action game since we switched to polygonal graphics. In fact, the game’s Ninja Dog mode was added specifically because fans were complaining that the game’s normal difficulty was impossible. Of course, along with that mode came the Master Ninja mode, which was specifically for people who enjoyed punishing themselves.
I Wanna Be the Guy ushered in a new era of fan made games that were hard for the sake of being hard. It’s likely that you will walk three steps and die from a random spike appearing out of nowhere, even when starting on its easiest difficulty level. The only way to eventually be the guy, is to memorize the location of every insta kill trap the game has to offer. No wonder it made it onto the list of 10 Hardest Games Ever.
Who would have thought that a walking simulator would end up on our list of the hardest games ever? Nevertheless, it deserves to be here because few people have ever managed to play QWOP without breaking their neck or worse. It’s a testament to how much our brains multi-task subconsciously that we are easily able to walk in real life, but given a simple four button interface, we cannot even come close to walking in the virtual world using our conscious mind.
We put these two together on our list because frankly, they are kind of the same thing and we didn’t want a game and its own spiritual sequel taking up two slots. That being said, the Souls franchise is incredibly hard! It’s one of those games that loves to punish you simply for thinking about taking on gigantic monsters. Heck, they actually use your death as a mechanic to send you to other worlds! They pretty much single-handedly created the modern day genre of ultra-hard RPGs.
Ikaruga is easily one of the most difficult bullet hell games out there, but also one of the most fun. There are literally points in this game where the entire screen is filled with bullets. The only way you can possibly survive is by taking advantage of the color shielding mechanic and making yourself immune to either red or blue bullets. Still, nowhere on the screen is actually safe.
Finally we have the game that has become synonymous with difficulty itself -- Battletoads. Anyone who has played this game remembers the speeder stage, which was one of the most frustrating tests of human memory ever devised. That alone is enough to make it take slot #1 on the 10 Hardest Games Ever list. If you ever manage to make it through the speeder bike level, you’ll also have to contend with long pit drops lined with scissor enemies that can one hit kill you. Oh, and then there’s the floors which randomly turn into insta-death panels when you step on them. Don’t forget the levels that put you in a tube and chase you down with gears and sawblades. Curse you, Battletoads!