27 Hardest Video Games of All Time That Are Still Fun to Play

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Hardest Video Games

Some of the hardest video games of all time are from this decade, while some of them are from the 90’s and decades back. 

Usually, we play video games to relax. However, if a game is too easy, it becomes boring.

Hence, some players love playing games that are hard and challenging, something that will keep them and their brains occupied. 

Well, there are a lot of video games that are difficult. Some look easy but are, in fact, difficult. While some look difficult but are quite easy.

Thus, this article will list some of the hardest video games of all time.

Table of Contents

1. Dark Souls

Platforms:  Xbox 360, PC and PS3

Dark Souls is one of the hardest video games of all time. Moreover, this game is the 2011 version of FromSoftware’s 2009 Demon’s Souls.

Even though dying in this game is part of the journey, a learning curve. 

The screen showing “YOU DIED” still leaves an imprint on your brain. Besides, the most basic enemies get to murder players severally.

2. Ghosts n Goblins

Platforms: NES

This game is one of the hardest video games of all time and it was released in 1985. This game is so hard that most players never go beyond the first stage. 

Even those that manage to get to the end, either fail to bring the holy cross, meaning that they have to replay the last two levels.

Or they fell victim to the “trap devised by Satan”, meaning they had to do the whole thing over again on a higher difficulty level.

Thus, this game is one of the hardest video games of all time. The enemies in this game are unpredictable and can spawn from anywhere. 

Also, power-ops can be traps and Knight Arthur, the protagonist dies with just two hits no matter the armor he has on.

The first reduces him to his heart-patterned boxers while the second kills him..

3. Ninja Gaiden II

Platforms: NES

The next hardest video game of all time is Ninja Gaiden II, which was released in 2008. This game got an absurd demand from customers due to its difficulty. 

Even the “normal” difficulty setting on the game tends to be rough to play. However, if you put the settings at Master Ninja, the enemies attack relentlessly with brutal health-chewing grabs and projectiles.

Later, enemies attack with cannons for arms that are fired with great precision and regularity.

4. God Hand


Platforms:PS2

God Hand is another one of the hardest video games of all time, and it was released in 2006. Besides, no game has been able to tie difficulty and performance together with the elegance God Hand does. 

The game has four levels, from level one to level DIE (which is the highest level). When you are being smacked around, the difficulty remains low.

However, when you start getting good at the game, its difficulty increases.

This means the enemies’ attack will increase, they start attacking from various angles, there is an increase in the damage they can cause, and you will be rewarded more for defeating them. 

5. UFO: Enemy Unknown

Platforms: PS and Amiga CD32.

Another one of the hardest video games of all time is UFO: Enemy Unknown, which Mythos Games released in 1994. 

Besides, this game is one of the hardest video games of all time because of some of its features.

For instance, it has a fog of war which adds a terrifying strategic dimension to the game, and many soldiers are lost to the dark corner that you never checked. 

Also, the aliens exploit mistakes and cut back on your soldiers ruthlessly. While the back at base forces you into making hard choices in your desperation to keep humanity safe. 

6. NARC

Platforms: Arcade, PS2, Xbox, NES, Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum.

NARC was released in 1988 and was one of the first games to truly glory in gibs and ultra-violence. Basically, the game is a two-player arcade game featuring Max Force and Hit Man who are out to take down Mr. Big. 

Even though Eugene Jarvis’ (the creator of the game) games are always difficult, NARC takes it to a new level as several thugs, punks and junkies explode into gory gobbets, making it one of the hardest video games of all time. 

7. The Simpsons

Platforms: Nintendo DS, PS3, Wii, PS 2 and PS Portable.

The Simpsons is one of the hardest video games of all time. Even though the game was released in 1991, it is still hard to think of an arcade game that is better than it. 

Moreover, the animations, enemies, scenarios, and visuals are all clearly a labor of love. However, there is brutality hidden beneath all that as the game enjoys stun-locking players, one hit in the game leads to many more..

8. Takeshi’s Challenge

Platforms: Famicom.

This game was released in 1986 and we can rightly state that it is one of the hardest video games of all time like none other. Literally, the game warns people with conventional gaming skills not to play it. 

Moreover, you can get Game Over over innocuous mistakes such as not quitting the character’s job, not hitting the right people, or not divorcing the character’s wife.

You can literally get Game Over on the password screen. 

Additionally, one of the challenges of the game is leaving the controller on for one hour. Although, all games are arbitrary, only this glorifies the fact. 

9. Rogue

Platforms: Amiga, Commodore 64,Atari 8-bit, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, CP/M, ZX Spectrum, DOS, Macintosh, TOPS-20, TRS-80 CoCo and Unix.

Rogue is one of the hardest video games of all time and led to the creation of a genre of video games. Besides, this game was released in 1980, and its difficulty is a huge part of the appeal/fun of the game. 

Moreover, the game features new environmental challenges and fights on each fresh adventure. The potions and weapons are random.

Thus, players have to adapt to each adventure instead of memorizing specific challenges. 

10. Dwarf Fortress

Platforms: PC

This game’s slogan is “losing is fun”, so you can rightly guess how it came to be one the list of the hardest video games of all time. 

Besides, failure is inevitable in this game as it involves thousands of things that can go wrong in settlements, such as cabin-fever, famine, cave-ins, wolves, flooding, burrowing down to a demigod, etc. 

Furthermore, this game is so difficult that it generates psychological scars for its fictional characters. This means that after people of short stature go mad in adversity, they end up creating a work of art to show what happened!

Lastly, this game was released in 2006. It led to the creation of a sub-genre of games like Minecraft.

11. The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble

Platforms: Microsoft Windows

This game is one of the hardest video games of all time because of its test of semiotic nous. Instead of testing the player’s ability to control with precision and react at speed like other games. 

Besides, this game is a post-apocalyptic tale that is told with an abundance of made-up words. The conversation in this game is very confusing because it  is without context and many of the words do not have a definition. 

Moreover, be ready for a painstaking process if you want to use trial and error to crack the puzzles because there are many inventory items and illogical quirks. 

12. Mushihimesama

Platforms: Arcade, PS2, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows

This game was released in 2004 and if the name does not tell you it is one of the hardest video games of all time, then the fact that it is an arcade 2D shoot-’em-up should. It is well known that arcade 2D shoot-’em-up games are synonymous with difficulty. 

However, this game’s ultra-mood takes it to a new level. Besides, the sheer amount of bullets that fill the screen in this game makes it bewildering to watch as well as demeaning to play. 

13. In The Groove

Platforms: Windows, PS2, Mac OS X and Arcade.

Any arcade music game can be difficult. However, the Single mode of the game makes it one of the hardest video games of all time. 

When some of the tracks of this game is played on the X setting, it seems it requires movements from the player’s body that human evolution can no way cater for. Furthermore, Roxor released this game in 2004. 

14. Trials Fusion

Platforms: PS4, PC and Xbox One.

Trials Fusion is one of the hardest video games of all time, which was released in 2014. Initially, the game seemed like a meditative experience, then, suddenly, the difficulty curve shot to the sky. 

Basically, it is a nightmarish physics puzzler that is dressed as a driving game. Furthermore, it leaves players wondering how they can get over the vertical wall, how many degrees of rotation are needed to land on the upside-down ramp, among others. 

In order to get to the closing stages of this game, you have to be intimate with every nuance of a bike’s suspension and weight and this takes many failed attempts..

15. Battle Garegga

Platforms; Xbox One, Sega Saturn, Arcade and PS4.

Battle Garegga looks like a more difficult 2D shooter game as compared to others on a first glance. However, a closer look on the game classifies it as one for the hardest video games of all time. 

Moreover, the game adapts to the way the player plays, making it more difficult as the player plays.

Besides, to tell you how hard this game is, the current world-record holder, Kamui has held and uttered her leader-board position through an estimated 18 years of devoted play. 

This shows how difficult Battle Garegga is and the commitment it needs. 

16. Rick Dangerous

Platforms: MS-DOS, Amiga, Sam Coupe, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Acorn Archimedes, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.

This game is a 1989 Core’s homage to Indiana Jones. Besides, this game includes the player edging forward a few pixels at a time to see what to kill next. 

Moreover, there are pits, boulders, and spikes at every turn, making failure the only way to learn and move forward. Additionally, the player’s inventory is quite limited, while the game requires a certain level of precision in some particularly cruel and frustrating sections.

Although Core Design developed another tomb raider in later years, Rick Dangerous still makes it on the list of the hardest video games of all time.

17. Shadow of the Beast II

Platforms: Mega-CD, Amiga, Atari ST, Mega Drive and FM Towns.

This game was released in 1990, before YouTube. Although, Shadow of the Beast was quite user friendly, the sequel Shadow of the Beast II, was insanely difficult. 

Normally, with guidance the game would have been demanding, but the game provided no guidance to players. 

Players had to figure everything out themselves, with no help from YouTube or walkthroughs, making it one of the hardest video games of all time. 

18. Time Crisis

Platforms: Arcade, PS, PS2, PS3 and iOS.

Seeing this game on this list might come as a shock to most people because anyone who played it felt nothing but joy. 

However, try playing and completing the first Time Crisis properly, clearly in a single credit. That is, when you  realize its difficulty, the lack of a hit indicator makes it difficult for you to respond appropriately.

19. Weaponlord

Platforms: NES and Genesis

This game was supposed to be a straight-to-console beat-’em-up game. However, the developers entered from the left field making it one of hardest video games of all time. 

They decided to use a range of weird button combos and d-pad swipes which is too complex and demanding for most ordinary players.

Also, the computer-controlled characters were too good at their own game and made it very difficult for players to beat them.

Literally, this game is the first fighter game designed with online play in mind. Lastly, this visual concept was released this game in 1995. 

20. Flywrench

Platforms: PS4, OS X and Microsoft Windows

This game is a game Messhoff released in 2015. This game looks like a simple game where all the player has to do is guide an abstract spaceship through minimal mazes that change colour as you pass through. 

However, when you start playing the game you will realize that it is very different from what was advertised. There is constant dying and restarting, making it one of the hardest video games of all time.

21. Cuphead

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Cuphead is one of the hardest video games of all time that is sure to give you an incredible visual experience while frustrating you. 

Moreover, this game has eye-catching visuals because the 1930’s cartoons inspired the character animations, which were hand-drawn. Additionally, it is almost impossible to beat this game on your first try. 

22. Contra

Platforms: NES

This game was released in 1987 and it was the first game where players used the Konami code, which gives extra lives. Yes, the game was so hard that they truly needed that extra life code. 

Although, Contra is insanely difficult, many players still regard it as one of the best NES titles you can play.

Besides, the game requires players to fight bad guys with the option of a player 2 for multi-players. 

23. The Oregon Trail

Platforms: PC

This game is one of the oldest hardest video games of all time. It was released in 1971. Moreover, the game involves players carefully making decisions that will guide a caravan of settlers across America along the Oregon Trail. 

The treacherousness of this game makes it one of the hardest video games of all time..

24. Ski Free

Platforms: PC

This game is one of the hardest video games of all time. It was released in 1991. It involves the player guiding a skier down a dangerous mountain filled with obstacles. 

Although, you might manage to get to the finish line, the abominable snowman can still eat you as lunch. Basically, it means getting to the finish line does not mean you win. 

25. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Platforms:  Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

This game was so hard that players complained to the developers and they had to release an update that provided an easier experience. 

Moreover, this game is set in an alternate version of the Sengoku period. Besides, this action adventure game takes players through some of the most intense challenges. 

26. Battletoads

Platforms: NES

This game was released in 1991 and is one of the hardest video games of all time. Even though it is one of the hardest video games of all time, it is fun, and players loved it. 

In fact, it is so loved that players are demanding for it to be brought back after many decades. 

27. Bloodborne

Platforms: PS4

Well, the name Bloodborne is given for a reason, and that reason puts it on the list of the hardest video games of all time.

Moreover, some people say Bloodborne is similar to Dark Souls, but others say it is way more difficult than Dark Souls. 

The fact that people are arguing that it is more difficult than the first game on this list tells you its level of difficulty.

Besides, this game has a unique dark aesthetic and several deadly dungeons to explore. Additionally, FromSoftware released this game in 2015 and is available on PS4.

In conclusion, these are some of the hardest video games of all time. However, the fact that they are difficult should not scare you from playing them. 

Besides, when something is too easy, it becomes boring. Thus, these games are games you should check out as they are challenging and fun to play.

As we have seen, players are demanding for some of them to make a come-back. 

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