In Honor Of Dark Souls: The 10 Most Difficult Games In Video Game History
Most games, regardless of genre, strive simply to be challenging enough to stay interesting, but only just so. Then there are games that say “Screw fun. You’re going to have to work for my love.” Games whose developers pride themselves on having made a frustrating, horrendously difficult time suck that only the most dedicated gamer dares confront. Sure, they might leave half of their customers screaming profanities at the TV screen and the other half in therapy for the next decade, but for every guy who still complains about head and hand trauma, there’s another who still brags about having made it to the bitter end and then went back for more.
Next week’s hotly anticipated Dark Souls claims to be such a game and indeed, its main selling point is that it is apparently the most difficult game you’ll play in 2011. If true, than it’s in good company, because we absolutely love a ridiculously hard game. So long as no one minds if the controller ends up smashed against a wall. Dark Souls may just be the most difficult game of 2011, but it has serious competition if it wants to stand among the hardest games in history.
To explain what we mean, in honor of Dark Souls, here are GameFront’s picks for the 10 most difficult video games of all time.
10) Mega Man (NES)
It almost doesn’t feel fair including this game on the list; Mega Man‘s famed difficulty is kind of the appeal. But boy is it hard, even now, in 2011. It isn’t the enemies – most of them can be dispatched with one shot and you can even shoot through walls! And it isn’t the environments – even the deadliest have platforms within jumping distance. And it isn’t having to start at the beginning of a level when you die, since the game is helpfully divided into several boss-specific sections at the beginning, and you can fight them in any order. But there’s something about the way enemies and environmental obstacles are spaced out – maybe it’s the blinking blinkiness of the typical Mega Man Game – that takes just kills players dead.
It’s probably the amazing soundtrack music distracting you.
09) Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out (NES)
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out is what happens when a game is designed specifically to both cash in on the tremendous popularity of a public figure, and sate their ego at the same time. Released to arcades in 1984, the game was originally just called “Punch-Out”, a superfun boxing simulator in which the player battled increasingly ridiculous fighters who resembled pro wrestlers more than boxers. But by the time the game was ported to NES in 1987, Mike Tyson had become World Heavyweight champ and a global pop culture phenomenon. So Nintendo raced to cash in by adding “Mike Tyson’s” to the title and inserting Tyson himself as the game’s new final fight.
The other boxers in the game were well balanced, increasing in difficulty from the hilariously easy Glass Joe to the very challenging (and hilarious) Super Macho Man. Each Boxer had a unique fight style and a ‘tell’ that allowed players some small advantage to compensate for player character Little Mac’s tiny size and low health. But they were fake boxers. In real life, Tyson was known for a string of one round knockout fights. To simulate that, Nintendo just made him next to impossible to beat. Sure, Little Mac can dodge, but his hits take almost no damage. Tyson’s, on the other hand, knock off a third with every punch.
Watch this footage and you’ll see what I mean.
08) Contra (NES)
Contra for NES equal parts a Rambo-meets-Predator rip off and the first true couch co-op game, deserves its status as one of the most beloved games of all time. It had an iconic soundtrack, solved the problem of arguing with your friend over whose turn it was to play, and gave players truly excellent weapons with which to kill alien bad guys. it is also one of the most difficult tasks in the history of video games, a test of player patience and skill as well as their willingness to delay sleep and melt their NES Console.
Made in the era before saves and continue codes became routine, Contra asks a ridiculous commitment from players: you start with only three lives, 1ups are ridiculously hard to come by, and if you run out of lives, you have to start over from scratch. But worse, you die instantly if an enemy bullet so much as grazes you, there is no armor, and enemies come at an astonishing pace.
No wonder then that it’s also the game that made the Konami Code – up up down down left right left right a-b-a-b select start – famous. Use of the Code in Contra got you 30 lives at the start. That made completion possible, but only just barely.
7) Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening (PS2, PC)
The only thing you need to know about Devil May Cry 3 is that it is insanely difficult for no good reason other than an evil, behind the scenes tweak pulled on US gamers by Capcom. It seems that what is ‘normal’ difficulty in the North American version is hard difficult in Japan. That nasty little change caused no end of pain and suffering when the game dropped in 2005, and even glowing reviews complained about it. The issue was eventually corrected with the special edition but people traumatized by the great balance cock up of 05 will never forget. Neither will we.
6) Demon Souls
Dark Souls’ spiritual predecessor, one of Demon Souls‘ selling points was it’s ridiculous difficulty. Numerous reviews mentioned that you will die multiple times just trying to figure out the game’s basics – words like “masochistic” and “negative reinforcement” peppered most of them – and it only gets harder from there. The difficulty is so emphasized that if you choose to do another playthrough upon completion, the difficulty jacks up 40%. Subsequent replays add an additional 8% difficulty per playthrough.
It doesn’t help that the soundtrack literally bores into your brain.
Read on to find out who made the top 5…