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Top 10 Hardest Video Games of Two Different Gaming Eras

FEATURE | ? Comments |

Author: Dante' R. Maddox  

Hey gang, welcome back to yet another exciting feature from your friends at GameDynamo. The other day I was getting owned by the computer in a video game and almost threw my Xbox 360 out the window. In a flash of clarity, I found myself wondering just how hard is the hardest video game, and which one it was. After chatting with some gamer friends of mine, one thing became clear: at one point in the history of this gaming industry, darn near every game was hard, mostly due to the fact that you couldn’t save, had limited lives with no continues, and enemies could kill you simply by touching you.

With that in mind, I began to look at some of the modern era games and came to one conclusion. In order to properly list the most difficult games, two lists were needed: classic and next-gen. Some of the games on the list represent an entire series, while others just focus on a singular game. 

So without further ado, let’s look at the hardest classic games of all time.

Gaming in the 80s:

5. Mega Man - 1987

Mega Man wasn’t the most successful game when it came out, but there was something about the fast-paced, difficult gameplay that hardcore gamers admired. Mega Man is a testament to how good it feels to finish a game when the odds are stacked against you. It was also one of the first non-linear games, as you, the player, got to pick which boss you went after in order, or so it would seem. Mega Man is only number five on our list because of the revelation that certain boss weapons worked wonders on other bosses, therefore reducing the difficulty of the boss fight. It also dictated a predetermined order of operation for how you completed the game. Still, even though you knew which specialized weapon worked on each boss, getting to the boss was still one of the most challenging tasks in video game history. 

Top 10 Hardest Video Games - Mega Man - 1987

4. Ninja Gaiden - 1988

When Ninja Gaiden first hit U.S. shores, it was amidst great fanfare from outlets like Nintendo Power and other early gaming magazines. The game was praised for its unique cutscenes and high degree of difficulty, to name a few aspects of it. Ninja Gaiden, developed by Tecmo, won awards for its graphical quality and presentation as a groundbreaking game for its time. Like Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden spawned an entire series of games, and almost all set benchmarks for play and difficulty ratings. The only thing that offsets the classic difficulty is the fact that the player had unlimited continues; outside of that…good luck! The main character, Ryu Hayabusa, is also a selectable character in the Dead or Alive fighting game series.

Top 10 Hardest Video Games - Ninja Gaiden - 1988

3. Contra - 1987

I know what you’re thinking: up up, down, down, B, A, select, start for two players. Without this nifty code, Contra was incredibly difficult. Imagine playing Halo and one bullet meant you were dead…one bullet? You needed 30 lives to beat this beast of a game. Contra is set (at least in the North American version) on a fictional island where two soldiers of fortune are trying to stop an alien invasion. The 3D elements (yes, there were 3D elements in the original Contra game) were reduced for the NES version of the game; the trade off was longer levels and more enemies and traps. Nintendo must have figured that 100 ways to die wasn’t quite enough!

Top 10 Hardest Video Games - Contra - 1987

2. Metroid - 1986

I still remember collecting all the issues of Nintendo Power that had mapped out every level of Metroid. Even with the maps, it took an entire weekend of nonstop play to finally beat Mother Brain. If you weren’t impressed with the difficult gameplay, then you were certainly in awe of the sheer size of Metroid. This game was certainly not for the faint of heart or the casual gamer. Metroid is also heralded as one of the first games with a female lead as the star. Another first is that unlike Mega Man, where you had an illusion of non-linear gameplay, Metroid literally let you go anywhere at just about any time. Without all the maps, I can guarantee I still would not have passed that game.

Top 10 Hardest Video Games - Metroid - 1986

1. Battletoads - 1991 

Man did I hate this game! Not because it wasn’t good or even fun to play, but because it was so freaking hard! Nintendo tapped developer Rare to make a game that would compete with the surging Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The blatant rip off they came up with turned out to be a rather superior game, especially for hardcore gamers who loved a challenge. As far as challenge goes, Battletoads had it in spades; if it wasn’t the waves of enemies that killed you, it was the super dangerous obstacle courses that meant your demise. The biggest tip of the hat to the nerdy gamer community was the fact that each character was named after a type of acne... classic. 

Top 10 Hardest Video Games - Battletoads - 1991

(Continued on the Next Page...)


Posted on: 05/27/2011 | ? Comments
Tags: Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Ninja Gaiden, Sigma, Doom, II, 2, Way of the Samurai, Contra, Mega Man, Bushido
Dante' R. Maddox

The views of GameDynamo's writers are not necessarily the views of the website as a whole. However, we support freedom of speech and enjoy diverse opinions about video games. Hopefully you do too!


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