30 Hardest Video Games of All Time

We challenge anyone to beat every game on this list.
Ash Ash (341)
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Video games are for everyone these days and with a wide selection of demographics comes a wide range of difficulties. Some games are simple enough for small children to complete while others are so ruthless they're rarely beaten at all. In this list, we're taking a closer look at what are arguably the most difficult video games of all time.

These titles aren't just hard, they're considered the most challenging video game experiences a gamer can encounter. If you've beaten even just one of these titles, you have our praise!

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Silver Surfer
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We're kicking things off with one of the hardest X-Men games around—Silver Surfer for the NES. The game alternates between an overhead and side-scroller type gameplay. For each stage, a mini-boss appears, leading up to a final confrontation with an unnamed purple villain with a gun. This game, while recognized for its extraordinary difficulty, is often praised for its quality soundtrack.

Silver Surfer Stats

Silver Surfer
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Developer: Software Creations

Release Date: 1990

Console: NES

Publisher: Arcadia System

Final Boss: Purple Alien With a Gun

Mega Man 3
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Mega Man 3 for the NES is one seriously tough game to beat and also a notably iconic title in the Mega Man franchise. This is the first game to utilize the slide maneuver and also introduced the character Proto Man. Mega Man 3 isn't the hardest game in the franchise but the final boss with Dr. Wily is one of the most brutal fights we've come across.

Mega Man 3 Stats

Mega Man
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Developer: Capcom

Release Date: 1990

Console: NES

Publisher: Capcom

Final Boss: Gamma (Dr. Wily)

Flappy Bird
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If you had a mobile phone in 2013, you probably had Flappy Bird or at the very least knew someone tapping away at the side-scrolling hair puller. Players must guide Flappy Bird through green pipes without touching them. Every tap will cause the bird to flap, elevating him slightly. Using no taps will cause him to lower. Hitting the pipes will lose the game. The game sounds simple enough but takes serious skill to get a high score.

Flappy Bird Stats

Flappy Bird
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Developer: Don Nguyen

Release Date: 2013

Console: Mobile

Publisher: .Gears

Final Boss: Mario (unlicensed use)

Ghosts 'n Goblins
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Ghosts 'n Goblins is hands down one of the hardest NES titles ever. The main character is Arthur who can find useful armor power-ups to wear but it only takes one hit to lose the armor, leaving Arthur with only a pair of boxers. Once the game is beaten, players must play through each level again at a harder difficulty to reach the actual ending.

Ghosts 'n Goblins Stats

Ghost n' Golblins
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Developer: Tokuro Fujiwara

Release Date: 1985

Console: NES

Publisher: Capcom

Final Boss: Astaroth

Dwarf Fortress
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This game led to a whole subgenre of games inspiring titles like Minecraft", but when Dwarf Fortress* first released in 2006, many average players weren't ready and struggled to flourish within the complex albeit game-changing mechanics. It didn't help that there were no visual graphics beyond colored text, like many older PC games. In the game, players must direct a team of dwarves to use materials in the construction of a custom fortress.

Dwarf Fortress Stats

Dwarf Fortress
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Developer: Bay 12 Games

Release Date: 2006

Console: PC

Publisher: Bay 12 Games

Final Boss: N/A

GIRP
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GIRP is the free in-browser sequel game to QWOP. In this game, players must control a rock climber using a unique control system that relies on random letters. Movement sounds straightforward but players often find the struggle to be just as difficult as actual rock climbing. It's still available to play for free in-browser as of writing on the official Bennett Foddy website.

GIRP Stats

GIRP
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Developer: Bennett Foddy

Release Date: 2011

Console: PC / Browser

Publisher: Bennett Foddy

Final Boss: N/A

Mega Man 9
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Mega Man 9 is arguably the most difficult game in the Mega Man franchise. It was released in 2008 and features some of the most well-designed yet grueling levels in all of Mega Man. The final boss is, of course, Dr. Wily but the entire collection of levels leading up to him is guaranteed to test your patience.

Mega Man 9 Stats

Mega Man
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Developer: Capcom / Inti Creates

Release Date: 2008

Console: Wii / Xbox 360 / PS3

Publisher: Capcom

Final Boss: Dr Wily

Bucky O'Hare
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Bucky O'Hare was an arcade success but the NES port was far from identical. Despite having no need to consume quarters, this at-home version of the game was overhauled to kick your butt to Wednesday and back. The game follows Bucky as he rescues his crew members who each become playable characters as they're found, which is great—you need a party of characters to see this game through.

Bucky O'Hare Stats

Bucky O’Hare
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Developer: Konami

Release Date: 1992

Console:NES

Publisher: Palcom Software Ltd. / Konami

Final Boss: Magma Core

Cuphead
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Cuphead isn't just eye-catching, it's a controller-gripping beast of a game and you'll be hard-pressed to beat it on your first try. It's visually inspired by 1930's cartoons with most of the character animations have been hand-drawn. The game might be tough but at least you're guaranteed to have an incredible visual experience.

Cuphead Stats

Cuphead
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Developer: Studio MDHR

Release Date: 2017

Console: PC / Nintendo Switch / Xbox One / PS4

Publisher: Studio MDHR

Final Boss: The Devil

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
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Arthur is back and he's brought his boxers! Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins and it's everything gamers who crave challenge could ask for. Players not only fight baddies while collecting suits of armor but now also have the ability to double jump around the screen. Does this make the game easier? You might think so but we beg to disagree. This game is still one of the hardest titles we've ever attempted.

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts Stats

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
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Developer: Capcom

Release Date: 1991

Console: SNES

Publisher: Capcom

Final Boss: Sardius

Takeshi's Challenge
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Takeshi Kitano is a Japanese comedian with a very unique sense of humor. In 1986, he developed an interesting action-adventure title known as Takeshi no Chōsenjō or Takeshi's Challenge for the Famicom. This game required players to complete specific tasks in order with little to no direction. One incorrect decision can cost you the whole game.

Takeshi’s Challenge
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Takeshi's Challenge

Developer: Takeshi Kitano

Release Date: 1986

Console: Famicom

Publisher: Taito

Final Boss: N/A

Contra
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Remember the Konami code? This secret pattern often gave players extra lives in select Konami games. Contra was one of the first games to use it and we can see why players needed it! Contra is an incredibly difficult game in which players fight bad guys with the option of a player 2 for multiplayer. Despite its notorious difficulty, many still regard Contra as one of the best NES titles you can play.

Contra Stats

Contra
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Developer: Konami

Release Date: 1987

Console: NES

Publisher: Konami

Final Boss: Kimkoh

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!
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Mike Tyson's Punch-Out is often recognized as one of the best (and most difficult) boxing games ever. It was released for the NES in 1987 and has allowed Mike Tyson to digitally whoop thousands of collective gamers for decades. Later renditions of this game have replaced Mike Tyson with Mr. Dream as official licensing ran out for the Mike Tyson name.

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! Stats

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Developer: Nintendo Integrated Research & Development

Release Date: 1987

Console: NES

Publisher: Nintendo

Final Boss: Mike Tyson

The Oregon Trail
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The Oregon Trail is one of the oldest on our list having been first released in 1971. In this game, players make careful decisions to guide a caravan of settlers across America along the Oregon Trail. The game is beyond treacherous and one of the hardest ever. It and modern releases are seemingly installed on almost every public school PC. This game might be ready to kill your party with dysentery, but it's still incredibly fun.

The Oregon Trail Stats

The Oregon Trail
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Developer: MECC

Release Date: 1971

Console: PC

Publisher: Brøderbund / The Learning Company / Gameloft

Final Boss: The Pacific Frontier

Ski Free
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If you've never played Ski Free, you probably didn't have a Windows 3.1 computer. In this ridiculously tricky game, players guide a skier down a dangerous mountain filled with obstacles. Even if you manage to reach the finish line, good luck avoiding your fate as the abominable snowman's lunch.

Ski Free Stats

Ski Free
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Developer: Microsoft Corporation

Release Date: 1991

Console: PC

Publisher: Microsoft Corporation

Final Boss: Abominable Snowman

Super Meat Boy
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Super Meat Boy was made with difficulty in mind. It has over 300 levels of mind-crushing, over-the-top mayhem. Players get an infinite amount of tries for each level but death means starting the level over from scratch. The main protagonist is Meat Boy who's on a quest to save Bandage Girl, his girlfriend. If you can save her, one thing is for sure—you're a fleshy legend of a hero.

Super Meat Boy Stats

Super Meat Boy
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Developer: Team Meat

Release Date: 2010

Console: Xbox 360 / PS4 / Switch / PC

Publisher: Team Meat

Final Boss: Little Horn

Marble Madness
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Looking for a new kind of challenge? Marble Madness is here to drive you mad but it's at least driving you to potential victory! This game was first released in 1984 and was programmed using C. Players guide a marble through an isometric maze with each level getting progressively harder. It sounds easy enough, but actually playing the game is another story. This game is often regarded for its difficulty.

Marble Madness Stats

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Developer: Atari Games / Midway Games

Release Date: 1984

Console: NES

Publisher: Atari Games

Final Boss: Ultimate Race

QWOP
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Learning how to move your character is usually the most basic step in starting a new game. When it comes to QWOP, moving is the game and it's hardly intuitive. Players must move their character using the Q, W, O, and P keys but finding the right rhythm is far from easy. This game was made by Bennett Foddy as a free-to-play browser game.

QWOP Stats

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Developer: Bennett Foddy

Release Date: 2008

Console: PC / Browser

Publisher: Bennett Foddy

Final Boss: N/A

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
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This game is based on the 1886 novel of the same name. Players control Dr. Jekyll who becomes angrier and angrier as he encounters obstacles. He doesn't have much strength as Dr. Jekyll but if his anger meter fills up, he becomes Mr. Hyde—capable of actually taking out a few baddies. This game is known for its difficulty but it wasn't designed intentionally to be a challenge. Many players found the game to be lacking quality with poor controls, lending to its unfavorable reputation.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Stats

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
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Developer: Advance Communication Co.

Release Date: 1988

Console: NES

Publisher: Toho / Bandai

Final Boss: Ending Varies

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice first appeared in 2019 but is set in an alternate version of the Sengoku Period. Players endure some of the most intense challenges throughout this action adventure. This game was considered so tough when it first released that players complained until the devs released an update to help players looking for an easier experience.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
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Developer: FromSoftware, Inc.

Release Date: 2019

Console: PC / PS4 / Xbox One

Publisher: FromSoftware, Inc.

Final Boss: Isshin the Sword Saint

Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening
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When it comes to the Devil May Cry franchise, Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is usually regarded as the most difficult title in the entire series. This was a PlayStation 2 game first released in 2005. Despite the notable difficulty, the game was very well received and was ported to several later gen consoles.

Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening
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Developer: Capcom

Release Date: 2005

Console: PlayStation 2

Publisher: Capcom

Final Boss: Vergil

Spelunky
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Spelunky first illuminated the screens of thousands around the world in 2008. The game featured some seriously challenging randomly generated levels. Players explore intricate caves, fight enemies, and avoid traps to progress through levels. Reaching the end is seemingly impossible but definitely satisfying. Both the original and sequel game, Spelunky 2, are available on Steam.

Spelunky Stats

Spelunky
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Developer: Derek Yu

Release Date: 2008

Console: PC

Publisher: Mossmouth, LLC

Final Boss: King Yama

Myst
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This classic puzzle game was released in 1993. Players find a book titled Myst which transports them to an island of the same name, hence the game title Myst. The puzzles don't take long to complete with a walkthrough but when the game was first released, players were left totally in the dark, earning its reputation of notable difficulty.

Myst Stats

Myst
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Developer: CYAN

Release Date: 1993

Console: Mac OS

Publisher: Broderbund

Final Boss: N/A

Battletoads
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This game features four toadally awesome protagonists. This was one of the hardest games released for the NES but also one of the most beloved—especially with time. In fact, fan demand managed to bring the series back after more than a decade. Call your local Game Stop and ask if they have a copy of Battletoads in stock.

Battletoads Stats

Battletoads
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Developer: Rare

Release Date: 1991

Console: NES

Publisher: Masaya

Final Boss: Dark Queen

Bloodborne
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Bloodborne isn't called Sugarborne for a reason. This action role-playing game is way beyond tough. It was developed by FromSoftware and released in 2015. The gameplay and setting are both similar to Dark Souls but many in the community argue that Bloodborne is the tougher series. The game has a distinctly dark aesthetic and tons of deadly dungeons to explore.

Bloodborne Stats

Bloodborne
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Developer: FromSoftware

Release Date: 2015

Console: PlayStation 4

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Final Boss: The Moon Presence

Ninja Gaiden NES
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The entire Ninja Gaiden series is known for being difficult but we're going to highlight the NES version for adding to our frustration while gaming in the late 80s. This edition also is known for adding crucial game elements like Ninja arts and cutscenes. Ninja Gaiden might be tough but also well-received among the community.

Ninja Gaiden Stats

Ninja Gaiden
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Developer: Tecmo

Release Date: 1988

Console: NES

Publisher: Nintendo

Final Boss: The Demon Sculpture

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stats
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If the underwater level of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't capture hours of your childhood, you're seriously missing out on some of the most frustrating childhood memories. Even though this game sold millions of copies it definitely wasn't everyone's favorite. This game was tough, making it hard for many younger fans to complete.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stats

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
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Developer: Konami

Release Date: 1989

Console: NES

Publisher: Konami

Final Boss: Shredder

Dark Souls
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Dark Souls has a well-earned reputation as one of the hardest video games of all time. This game was made to break spirits and encourage hours of grinding—but the community really seems to like it. The game design has been praised in many regards from its battle system to the user interface.

Dark Souls Stats

Dark Souls
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Developer: FromSoftware

Release Date: 2011

Console: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / PC

Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

Final Boss: Gwyn

The Legend of Zelda II
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The Legend of Zelda might be known as a children's game franchise but that didn't stop the developers from putting their best foot forward on The Legend of Zelda II. This was the only Zelda game to feature a side-scrolling perspective and had a unique battle system that didn't work well with tactics from the first game. Players were met with a notable challenge when adjusting to this Nintendo sequel.

The Legend of Zelda II Stats

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Developer: Nintendo EAD

Release Date: 1987

Console: Famicom / NES

Publisher: Nintendo

Final Boss: Dark Link

I Wanna Be The Guy

I Wanna Be The Guy is a free-to-play platformer game released in 2007. It's no longer maintained by the original developer but a remastered edition was released in 2020. This game was designed to be nothing but a continuous pain in the butt, requiring players to memorize practically every single step of the game. If you want to check out this game, you can still download it for free from developer Michael Kayin O'Reilly's website.

I Wanna Be The Guy Stats

Developer: Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly

Release Date: 2007

Console: PC

Publisher: Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly

Final Boss: The Guy

Easter Eggs aren't just for April.
Tayler Tayler (59)
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Since video games first began capturing our attention during the 1958s, creators and developers have been pouring their hearts, imaginations, and time into the creation process.