A common criticism of modern games is that they’re too easy and I guess that’s true to an extent. Games of the past had to be difficult, so people would keep playing them, as arcade games were made difficult specifically to get players to keep putting quarters. Modern games are made with the intention to appeal to as many people as possible and have it be enjoyable to people who wouldn’t normally play video games. Or instead of being too easy, modern games get padded out. For example, Grand Theft Auto IV and V are guilty of being too easy. They’re fun games with a compelling story, don’t get me wrong. But the GTA series tends to be pad itself with useless stuff. I guess it makes the world feel more alive, but who really wants to go bowling in a video game? These games are repetitive because the developers couldn’t think of enough content to fill up a whole game. So they stretch it out.
Of course, there are outliers. The Dark Souls series takes its inspiration from old school games. Dark Souls doesn’t apologize for its difficulty and if a player can’t beat it, then too bad. Dark Souls was lauded for its difficulty as it reminded people of the games of the past. So, below what I have are the most difficult, if not impossible to beat, Sega Genesis games. The thing about most of these games is they’re a ton of fun to play. They offer a good challenge to players in a good way, for the most part. However, some of the games below are difficult in the cheapest way: bad controls, confusing gameplay, or impossible difficulty.
15 Kid Chameleon
Let’s start off with Kid Chameleon, a game that claimed it had 100 levels... which is only sort of true. A good chunk of those 100 levels are bonus levels and you don’t need to play every single level to beat the game. There are warp points that skip levels and entire worlds, but even then, the game takes a while to beat. The levels aren’t short and they're packed with a lot of content. All the levels are complex and have different power ups that change how the game is played. If all the levels are played, Kid Chameleon takes around four to six hours to complete. And there’s no save feature in the game, so you have to beat the game in one long sitting. But after a while, the game preys on boredom and its own monotony to beat players. Take a break while playing this game, cause you’re in it for the long haul.
14 The Adventures of Batman and Robin
Prior to Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Adventures of Batman and Robin was held up as one of the best Batman games ever made. It was also considered an instance where the Genesis version was superior to the SNES version. The Super Nintendo tended to have better versions of shared games since it was a more powerful machine and was able to do more. So, developers had to make do and, in a moment of art through adversity, Konami made a great game. The game has different play modes: a beat-em-up (where you throw batarangs like a mad man), a top-down driving segment like Spy Hunter, and a flying segment like R-Type. The game has an arcade style of difficulty, meaning there are going to be a lot of cheap deaths and starting the game over, making this a tough one to complete. And get a turbo controller for this game, you’re gonna need it.
13 MUSHA: Metallic Uniframe Super Hybrid Armor
M.U.S.H.A. is a top down shooter kind of like Spyhunter, but way more intense. As your robot cruises through levels, flaming skulls charge at you and enemy ships zip around trying to get a shot in. Cannons send a steady stream of cannon fire at the M.U.S.H.A. and you can’t take a break. There’s always something flying at you and these games aren’t generous either. One shot and the robot explodes. And that’s just the first level. Other levels have giant robots that take forever to kill and oni heads flying at the speed of sound. You'll also need a turbo controller for this game, because your thumb is going to feel exhausted and like it’s about to fall off at the joint. Finding a copy of M.U.S.H.A. is a problem because they aren’t a lot of copies out there and copies are pricey. The game is also available on the WiiU virtual console, but at this point, I don’t think people are going back to the WiiU.
12 Streets of Rage 3
There’s debate among the fans of the Street of Rage series on which entry in the trilogy is the best. I say Streets of Rage 2 is the best entry because it was the most balanced of the trilogy. The game play was response and smooth, the hit detection felt fair, and the difficulty was incremental. The difficulty never spiked and Streets of Rage 2 had a good learning curve. Streets of Rage 3, on the other hand, throws you into the furnace from the get go. Enemies rush from every angle and team up to take you down. Even if you play the game with a buddy, the game can still take your ass down. Zan is the strongest, but he’s slow, so enemies overwhelm him easily. Weapons can break at the worst moments, leaving you surrounded by a gang of thugs. Rage is a fitting title.
11 The Revenge of Shinobi
The Revenge of Shinobi is the oldest game on this list and one of the worst. What makes Revenge of Shinobi so difficult is the controls, which is the worst way to make a game difficult. It's one thing to make a game challenging through level designs or enemies, but when you do it through removing power from the player, that just sucks. Other elements of the game’s difficulty comes from enemies suddenly appearing from any angle and the background. But, the enemies jump in fast, so it’s hard to slash them without the enemies getting a shot in. Another issue comes with Shinobi being so slow. For a master ninja, Shinobi isn’t very agile and he feels like he’s made out of wood. Bosses are no easy task either. Sometimes they’re huge and have a big range of attack or require you to hit a small and specific spot. Admittedly, the Revenge of Shinobi is pretty fun, but frustrating.
10 Comix Zone
I love and hate this game. On one hand, I love how fun and creative the game is. The combat is fun and responsive, and the art style looks great to this day. The graphics look cell-shaded before that was even a thing. Sketch Turner, the hero, is sucked into this own comic book and has to survive to the end. The difficulty does spike, but nothing the player can’t handle without practice. Now the reasons where I hate this game are that you hurt yourself when you attack and you only get three lives total in this game. You start the game with one life and earn up to three lives total, but that’s it. But by the time you get three lives, at some point you would’ve died already and lost a life or two. It’s a pretty hardcore handicap to give players for a game this challenging. And, as we said earlier, punching a enemy drains your health. As a player, you have to decide whether or not this enemy is worth fighting or how you can defeat the enemy when the game offers no other options. It’s a love-hate relationship.
9 Robocop Versus The Terminator
A fan fiction come to life, Robocop Versus the Terminator is a dream come true. Surprisingly, Robocop doesn’t move like he does in the movies, as he doesn’t lumber around like a tank. Robocop moves quickly, can shoot in 8 directions, and can climb ladders with ease. He’s actually a lot more mobile than Shinobi. Now, this may seem contrary to the character of Robocop, who’s a walking tank, but he really needs the mobility. Enemies come from everywhere and you have to react quickly to them. Robocop has to fight a bunch of different Terminators, ranging from the regular human T-800s to Terminator dogs. Levels have side missions, but you most likely won’t get to them because the levels are so damn hard. The Terminators are bullet sponges with machine guns and grenades. The game has some awful boss fights and they go on forever. Good luck with this one.
8 Chakan: The Forever Man
Okay, this game is pretty badass and it's truly a Genesis classic. So you play as Chakan, a man who became immortal after defeating The Grim Reaper in a sword fight. But he was cursed to become the Reaper’s servant and to fight monsters in order to cleanse the world of evil. When all the evil has been cleansed, only then is the curse lifted and Chakan can die. The producer of the game, Ed Annunziata, had the reputation of making games that were hard to beat because he didn’t want kids beating them in a weekend and never thinking about them again. He accomplished his mission with this one. It’s a well designed game with intuitive level design meant to challenge players, as Chakan gets a bunch of different weapons and powers to fight his way to the end. The game is set up like Mega Man with a hub where you can choose the level. It’s like the Dark Souls of its time and it's incredibly hard.
7 Contra: Hard Corps
This game is as awesome as it's difficult. Here’s the first level: you choose your character and immediately start running down streets where robots are trying to slaughter you in a post apocalyptic world. The city’s been destroyed, everything’s in ruins and you’re the only hope for humanity. The moment you start the game, you’re immediately pressing the fire button. Weird Terminator bugs are coming at you, the ground is rising, and robots infest the streets. Once you get a breather, you face the mid-level boss, a giant robot. Once you kill that giant robot, you continue until the end where you fight another giant robot. From the get-go, Contra: Hard Corps is throwing everything at you. The sink, the tub, and the entire house; absolutely everything. And this game is super creative. I can’t even describe any of the bosses because of how bizarre they look. I can say with confidence they’re robots for sure, but they're really weird ass robots. The picture above is one of those bosses and I’m at a loss for words. Contra: Hard Corps is an insane game in difficulty and content.
6 Target Earth
Target Earth is a cool game. It’s a platformer with some elements of horizontal shooters like R-Type and the game is only eight levels long. That may seem short, but Target Earth is a busy game. Enemy robots are always flying around you and the game never settles down. Controlling your own robot suit is difficult, as it lumbers, and there are enemies taking potshots at you. Each level has different goals within them. Some have you protect allies, some have you destroy a enemy ship, while others have you survive an onslaught of robots. And because of the different level goals, you have to utilize different weapons and abilities to achieve them. It’s an intense experience and as difficult as it may be, it’s still a lot fun.
Gaiares is another side scroller, shoot em up for the Genesis and one of the best, if not the best of the system. The game is like a mish-mash of other shoot-em-up titles rolled into one. The game borrows from Gradius and R-Type in terms of mechanics and the little orb that acts as a shield. Unique to this game is the random enemy placement and usage of ship speed. Enemies are never in the same place twice. Every time you replay a level, enemies change positions and will come at different angles. Your ship can change speed from Slow to Medium to Max. As the player, you have to decide whether you want to go fast through a level or take your time, which depends on the situation. Gaiares is as tactical a game as it is an action game. Speed and weapon usage matters a lot in this game. On top of the tactical part from the regular levels, this game has some tough bosses like the one you see above, meaning this is one tough game.
4 Shadow of the Beast
This game is really damn weird. The game has you play as some goat-lizard-man monster called Aarbron as he goes on a revenge quest to kill Maletoth for turning him into a slave. It’s kind of like Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey. The best way to describe Shadow of the Beast is if you take Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey, Salvador Dali, H.R. Geiger, H.P. Lovecraft, and a nightmare and you put all in a blender and hit puree.
As for its difficulty, it turns out the American version had an error in it. Long story short, the game was made in Europe where TVs are different and the developers tried to compensate for that difference. For some reason, the American version was made 16% percent faster, making the game really janky to control and had enemies come in faster than most players could respond to. You really need to play this game to experience its weirdness. Also, a remake of Shadow of the Beast came out last year for the PS4. I haven't played it, but it did get some decent reviews. Let me know what you guys think of the remake.
3 Fatal Labyrinth
Fatal Labyrinth is an RPG that gets it inspiration from other old school RPGs and dungeon crawlers like Ultima and Gauntlet. Fatal Labyrinth sets itself apart by being equally mean and cheap. First, the hero starts off with nothing, but a knife. He has to descend the dungeon with whatever he can find down there. Swords, armor, magic spells, whatever. But, if you don’t find anything, the hero stays as fragile as a newborn baby. Then the game starts to play dirty. Food is necessary in the game to survive. You can starve to death, so you have to find food in the dungeon. What the game doesn’t tell you is that you can die from overeating. Eat too much and the hero dies on the spot. You can also die from carrying around too much gold around, which is hard not to pick up, since its everywhere and you think the gold might be useful. But the gold is never useful. And to top off this cruel sundae, there’s no save feature either, so you have to beat the game in one sitting. Fatal Labyrinth is available on Steam if you're up for the challenge.
2 Ghouls ‘N Ghosts
You knew Ghouls ‘N Ghosts had to be on this list. A game this legendarily difficult had to be on this list. The Genesis version is the same as the Super Nintendo version, as the levels are littered with death traps, bottomless pits, and enemies with a vendetta against Arthur. And it can’t be Ghouls ‘N Ghosts without its infamous health system. Even if Arthur has his gold holy armor on, all it takes is a couple of hits to kill Arthur. There is truly no rest for the righteous. Then, the whole game needs to be replayed in order to get the Goddess Bracelet to formally defeat the Devil. Play the Super Nintendo version though, as the music on the Genesis version sucks and Ghouls ‘N Ghosts runs smoother on the Super Nintendo too.
1 The Immortal
The Immortal is similar to Fatal Labyrinth. It’s a difficult dungeon crawler where you descend to find treasure at the end. The worst aspect of The Immortal is that it leaves players in the dark. The moment you enter a room you have to instantly be worried about traps. A wrong step ends in a game over and you have to start at the top. The game has you clutching at straws when it comes to puzzles. It’s all trial and error and if you screw up on a puzzle, then that’s it. It’s game over and you have to completely restart the game. Sometimes you have to combine items and if you use the combined item at the wrong time or combined the wrong items, those items are gone forever. The game preys on players losing interest and track of the game. Everything looks the same and you easily get confused. Of all the difficult games on this list, The Immortal is almost completely impossible to beat...