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 lard pirates dawt cawm  §  Top Ten Hardest Video Games / by Spoony Spoonicus
 
 
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 ~Spoony Spoonicus on 02:38pm 12/31/11 (11:34pm 03/30/10) in 1h56m51s  §  5026 eyeballs
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There are a lot of really tough games about there, and endless debates about which are the toughest of all. Well, having played far too many games in my free time and spent a lot of time thinking about them in my non-free time, I've decided to chip in my personal picks for the ten hardest video games ever. So enjoy, and feel free to chip in your own contributions, or even write your own list to counter mine!

And yes, I'm sticking with games that are actually GOOD; I could fill up the list with crappers like Bart Versus the World, Friday the 13th, Superman and othes that are nearly impossible just for their terrible programming and nonintuitive goals, but nah, that would be far too easy. Not to mention that there's way too many of those to even count.

10. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (Playstation 2)

Ultima 5 was formerly my pick for the hardest RPG I'd played, perhaps followed by Baldur's Gate 2, but this one now takes the cake. From beginning to end, you'll be hanging on by the skin of your teeth. Enemies constantly use debilitating status effects like Confuse, Charm and Sleep (which, unlike most RPGs, won't be canceled when that character simply sustains an attack), dungeons are lengthy and convoluted, and the bosses are downright diabolical. One in particular will boost his speed to maximum (ensuring that he dodges almost everything and can hit you nearly 100% of the time), bombards you with powerful wind spells and randomly-striking physical attacks (with 2-3 consecutive hits resulting in death), and gets two moves each turn, so he can easily cancel out any de-buffing spells you put on him and still have a turn left over to bombard you with. Oh, and the guy I just described? He's the third boss in the entire game. It only gets harder from there!

9. Castlevania (NES)

One of the NES' earlier hits, it's ballooned into a franchise with over thirty games since its debut and still shows no sign of stopping. But few, if any, have ever topped the challenge the original presented. At first you'll primarily run into enemies knocking you backward into pits, but this is only the least of your worries - before long, you'll be encountering enemies that take four units of health with each hit and can take 7-8 hits themselves, zig-zagging enemies that are difficult even to hit, and bosses that, even knowing their attack patterns, you'll have to have flawless timing to avoid and counterattack. Dracula in particular is a pain, as there's really little strategy to his second form outside of the brute force method - hope you can whittle all of his health away with your whip and sub-weapons before he tramples you to death. A standout game for its time, but it will always be remembered as one of the hardest games in the NES library. Thankfully, most of its sequels were more forgiving, and reliance on brute-force tactics for bosses became much less common.

8. Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones (NES)

The first two games were no walk in the park, but Double Dragon 3 is perhaps the most hated of the series in both its arcade and NES iterations. The arcade game was infamous for its rather clumsy hit detection, high enemy damage, and the fact that you had to put extra quarters into the machine to get sub-weapons and refill health. The NES version thankfully did away with these flaws, but was still widely disliked for one reason - the sheer difficulty. Unlike the last two games, enemies were smart, fast and utterly ruthless - you could start in a combo on one character and another would simply jumpkick you to the ground, hit you with a bottle when you got back up, and launch the guy you were just beating on with a jumpkick aimed at your spine just for good measure. Oh, and you got no extra lives and only a single continue to make it to the end. You needed to be absolutely relentless with your characters' special moves and have the enemy's attack patterns down to a T to get far in this game.

7. Ninja Gaiden (NES)

An entire trilogy that drew us all in with its stylish presentation and energetic gameplay, then proceeded to unleash one of the most brutal and hellish of all platforming experiences. You're under constant attack from every concievable threat and hopping across narrow platforms over bottomless pits, and enemies are very fond of respawning if you scroll them even the slighest bit offscreen (and sometimes you don't even have to do that - kill one and another will immediately appear). But perhaps the worst part of all the final boss - if you die at him, you don't restart at the boss, or even the middle of the stage - you get to do the entire final stage again!

Ninja Gaiden II and III had some tough challenges to overcome, such as blowing winds, completely dark levels (with the only light coming from occasional lightning flashes) and stages that are steadily sinking into lava, but those at least gave you some useful extra powerups to get by. Ninja Gaiden just forces you to tough it out.

6. Battletoads (NES)

You probably predicted this one, and it shouldn't be a surprise for the third stage alone. But even if you did manage to get past the Turbo Tunnel, you were only in for more unpleasant suprises, as it only gets tougher from there. From the nerve-wracking platforming stages to the tough bosses to the numerous instant-kiling death traps, this game was utterly ruthless. It only got worse with two players, too - not only could your attacks harm one another, but if either of you died on an obstacle course or lost all your lives, you'd both have to redo the entire stage! Many games of the era became significantly easier when they were ported to gamers overseas, but this was one of the rare exceptions - the later-released Japanese version was actually toned down in numerous ways.

5. Radiant Silvergun (Arcade/Saturn)

So what happens when several of the guys who worked on Gradius, Contra and numerous other difficult Konami games decide to put their own spin on the shoot-em-up genre? Radiant Silvergun, that's what. Many shooters only give you two or three options in terms of weapons, and even fewer of them allow you to use all of them at any given time. Well, Radiant Silvergun has seven standard weapons and an eighth super attack, and you're going to need to figure out when and where to put all of them to work to get very far. But going in guns blazing is probably the worst thing you can do - you'll have to carefully employ strategies to destroy enemies of like color without destroying any others. This will allow you to gain more points in order to power up your weapons - ignore this and the enemies will rapidly come to outclass you, taking dozens of hits to destroy even one of them, and making most boss fights nearly impossible. And if you've ever played a Treasure game, you know that there will be a ton of bosses, and that going in unprepared against them is never, ever a good idea. It's rare to see any shmup involve this level of dedication on the player's part, but it makes for one of the most unique and compelling experiences I've ever seen.

4. Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? (PSP)

Made by a company that prides itself on making strategy RPGs that involve borderline-ludicrious amounts of grinding, item collecting and random elements, Prinny is their attempt to make a platforming game for the hardcore audience. Well, they certainly succeeded, bringing a game that employs numerous elements of the Ghosts n' Goblins series - sluggish movement, difficult jumps, awkwardly placed enemies, and bosses that can best be destribed as "sheer torture", requiring you to head-stomp them numerous times before you can dish out any significant amount of damage. Oh, and you die in three hits*, assuming you don't simply get knocked into a pit and die instantly. There's a very good reason this game arms you with one thousand lives.

*That's on Normal. On Hard difficulty, you die in ONE hit. Have fun!

3. Ghosts n' Goblins (Arcade)

Ever a difficult series, but the one that will always be the most notorious in my mind is the series' arcade debut - nearly every enemy moves faster than you and tends to swerve out of the way of your attacks, most special weapons are actually a detriment (arcing downward instead of flying straight ahead), there's always a strict time limit, and far too many times to count you'll get clipped by a cheap shot while jumping across platforms or climbing ladders. But perhaps the most diabolical trait of this series is its ending - once you defeat the final boss and reach the end, you're ambushed by a message telling you that you need to go through the whole game again and defeat the boss with a specific weapon to see the real ending! If you lose that weapon at any point, you can't complete the game! Augh!

2. Gradius III (Arcade)

Another series that was always tough, but there was one game in particular that always stood out as its most hellishly difficult point. In Gradius' case, that would be Gradius III. From the very first stage on, you're never given a moment of rest - enemies are always attacking from strange angles and in huge quantities, and losing a life at any point is practically a death sentence, as you'll be forced to run through a huge gauntlet of enemies and obstacles with only your basic gun, which will only make it that much easier for them to overwhelm you. Most Gradius games get really difficult three or four stages in, but here you'll be lucky to even survive level one. Thankfully, the SNES port was much more forgiving in this regard.

1. Contra: Hard Corps (Sega Genesis)

Contra on the whole is regarded as a difficult series, but generally manageable with the right blend of pattern memorization, practice and twitch reflex. Hard Corps, however, is one gigantic stomp-fest from beginning to end. The action is lightning fast and relentless, you're given almost no advance warning when an attack is coming, bosses can take a ton of damage but can kill you in an eyeblink, and worst of all the US version removes the health meters and unlimited continues that were present in the Japanese version. Yep, you die in a single hit, and all you get is three lives and five continues to try and tackle the entire game. It's a monumental feat to even stay alive long enough to encounter the bosses, to say nothing of learning their patterns and reacting quickly enough to dodge their frantic attacks. Hard Corps is, without a doubt, the toughest game I've played to date. Hell, I'm lucky to even complete the first stage most days!
 
 
 rawks  §  rad comments, dogg.
 ~Azul Rojo  §  at 01:11am 03/31/10
 
I've seen playthroughs for Ninja Gaiden and Battletoads. Just fucking mean, some parts. Treasure and Atlus also have some nice pain in the ass games, too.

I don't see the original Super Mario Bros. 2 here. When a game makes my mom cuss, you know it's going to be hard.
 ~Spoony Spoonicus  §  at 01:14am 03/31/10
 
Ah yes. Tack that one on as an honorable mention, for the backwards warp zones if nothing else! (And there is plenty else.)

Ah, and add on God Hand and F-Zero GX as well. Very fun, well-designed games, but they're utterly ruthless from beginning to end.
 ~Washuu  §  at 01:38pm 04/05/10
 
God Hand on Die level is insane fun. Amazing challenge and it does need a lot of real life dexterity to pull off some of the shit you need to do in order to not get wasted, especially by guys with weapons.
 
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