Not every video game was made to be played in a leisurely manner. For decades, certain games have demanded a higher level of mastery for completion. Out of all of those, these are some of the toughest to date.
Super Meat Boy (2010)
Developed by Team Meat, an independent game company, this platformer takes the traditional model to the next level. You play as Meat Boy who must save his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr. Fetus. In the game itself, you come across multiple friends with different abilities to make traversing the levels easier, but not by much. With over 300 stages in the game, each course takes precise character control and timing to navigate. The game definitely intends for you to fail multiple times, each of which is archived, by the way. You'll get to enjoy all your previous deaths simultaneously via the replay feature at the end of every level.
The Konami run-and-gun game puts up to two players in charge of soldiers that must shoot their way to victory. At first, the game seems very simple and with unlimited ammunition at your disposal, it appears to be a walk in the park. However, if you take one hit from an enemy, you lose a life instantly. You also lose a life if you cannot complete a base stage before the time limit, or you disappear into the bottom of the screen. To top it all off, you only start with three lives.
Ninja Gaiden (2004)
The Ninja Gaiden series began in 1988 with the release of Ninja Gaiden for both the Nintendo Entertainment System and as an arcade machine. With the move to Xbox in 2004, the already difficult series took an even more challenging turn. Adapting the playstyle from a side-scrolling platformer to a hack-and-slash adventure game, players saw the need to master various combos as a necessity for the completion of the title. This includes being able to precisely time all counters, dodges, blocks and so forth to defeat hordes of enemies at once. Luckily, the difficulty of the game can be adjusted accordingly. Now with multiple releases, Ninja Gaiden is one of the most popular stealth series to date.
Ghosts 'n Goblins (1985)
This Capcom-developed series has over a dozen games published to date. In the original title, players can only be hit twice before losing a life and must return to either the starting point or the half-way mark of the stage. Additionally, each life only lasts a certain period of time. And, to make matters worse, even after successfully completing the game, it must be replayed from the beginning at a higher difficulty level in order to unlock the "true" boss battle. The most difficult game in the series? That's definitely Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, released in 1991 for the NES.
Demon's Souls (2009)
The beginning of the Souls franchise marks the start of a dark and brooding chain of titles that has become known for creating a feeling of isolation while playing. Like Ninja Gaiden, this role-playing game requires an intense amount of combo mastery, in addition to trial-and-error gameplay. In these titles, you are expected to fail and die multiple times, and eventually learn from those mistakes in order to complete the game. With the release of multiple games since 2009, the franchise has received high praise not only for its dark game design and adaptive style of play, but also its integration of something truly challenging.
This incredibly popular beat-em-up game made its mark in the early 90s as perhaps the most challenging game published, maybe even to this day. You only have three lives to beat the game with no checkpoints or save features. Each level is unique from the other, meaning some have more combat than others or are based heavily on dodging obstacles with increasing speed. The game is cooperative and you have a much better chance of success with the assistance of a partner. Getting through each level requires memorization of specific tips and tricks, but even reaching, let alone studying, the further points is insanely difficult and requires hours of practice. The popularity of the game did allow it to thrive, even sparking a cross-over with Double Dragon and its own TV show.
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