Video games have been changing and evolving every year that passes, with various different tropes and themes coming in or going out of fashion as we become accustomed to them. However, one of the things that people seem to be able to agree on is that there was a time when video games were much harder than they are now, and looking at lists like this it can be difficult to disagree with that concept!
People nowadays want to know that they're going to be able to make it to a game, and developers know that adults with disposable incomes have so many different ways to get games into their lives that there's no point in scaring players away from the get go, especially with things like Steam refunds hanging over their heads. This has lead to developers moving away from making harder games.
We wanted to take a look at some games from the 90s that were legitimately difficult, to the point where a lot of people found it physically impossible to beat them. There will always be one nutcase that will plow through something whether they're enjoying it or not, but we think that most people will agree that a lot of these games were never finished!
So, if everyone is ready we think it's about time that we got started. Let's dive into some of the games from the 90s that were purposefully brutal, putting all of our skills to the test and seeing how much we would put up with!
One of the most interesting things about this game is that it was actually put together by Rare, a company that is well known for their high quality games that even younger children can enjoy with a limited amount of video game knowledge. However, back in their early days they were known for creating games like this that have since become infamous for being pretty impossible! In fact, it was actually easier for just one person to beat, and once two people got involved they were able to take each other out whether they wanted to or not.
20 Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts
What made this game incredibly brutal was the fact that it was trying to trick the player at every turn, forcing people to get through some traps that most other games wouldn't have added in, taking everyone by surprise. Not only that, but the player doesn't have any health, meaning that at the most they can take two hits. While the Super Mario games were doing this at the same time, many would agree that the Mario franchise offered up a difficulty that was fair, that ramped up slowly. This game just throws the player straight into the middle of it all!
We're not denying that people have managed to finish this game before, but what we're denying is that pretty much anybody has managed it without resorting to the use of a guide. Some of the puzzles were ridiculously difficult, relying on the player to do some very odd and obtuse things to come to conclusions that seemingly made no sense. The developers clearly wanted to create something that was brutally difficult, which is exactly why so many people just stopped playing it or started to ask around for help on what to do next!
18 Ecco The Dolphin
It's interesting to us that so many people look back on this game as bring really beautiful and calm. While there certainly were moments towards the beginning that induced a sense of calm, it wasn't long before we wanted to start screaming at the screen! Believe it or not, but the original developer of this game has gone on record as saying that he thinks he probably made the game too hard, that he actually went back over everything he had done and any level that he felt was too easy he tried to make too difficult for a child to complete over a single weekend.
17 The Lion King
It took a long time before the video game industry started making movie tie-in games that were actually any good, but one of the reasons so many people disliked this one was because of the level of difficulty on display. Yes, the game looked beautiful and it was amazing to be reminded of one of our favorite childhood movies, but there is nobody out there that can claim this game was easy. Not only was it easy for the player to perish from a small number of enemy attacks, but some the puzzles sequences were far too obtuse to figure out, especially for children.
16 Super Castlevania IV
The original Castlevania series is famed for being difficult, so it should come as no surprise that we've got the 4th installment on this list. Bringing the game into the modern world, this SNES title used the graphics to their advantage, as well as upgrading the whip mechanics that allowed players to whip in all directions. Despite this however, many players were left frustrated by the high level of difficulty, and it was only the people that were truly committed to finishing it that were able to get all the way to the end of Dracula's castle.
15 Crash Bandicoot
Many people were reminded just how hard the first trilogy of games in this series truly were when they were recently remade and put onto modern consoles. While some will say that it's not too hard to get to the final level, what they're not taking into consideration is that the game also expects the player to collect a serious number of gems to fully complete the level. The more difficult gems based on finishing a level within a certain time or fulfilling a certain set of circumstances were brutally frustrating to try and complete.
14 Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey
Oddworld has been bringing the gaming world their own brand of video game for years now, never wanting to rely on the tropes and motifs of the more popular games. However, this wasn't what turned a lot of people off trying to complete this one. It was the insane level of difficulty that many people found it hard to get over. Thankfully, the developers ensured that there was not a long time between failing and starting again, but that constant failure can easily get to a player that has just had too much to keep going on!
13 Comix Zone
For a lot of people, the chance to play a video game that lets them jump into the world of comic books is a very exciting proposition, so everyone should be able to imagine the disappointment for so many people when it turned out that this one was impossibly difficult. Beat-em-ups are supposed to empower players, make them feel as if they can take on an entire world of goons, but would seem that the developers of Comix Zone never got this memo, instead making a game that filled the player with a huge amount of frustration.
12 Super R-Type
Anybody that plays a lot of video games will know that one of the main selling points for games like this is incredibly difficult gameplay. That being said, the level of difficulty on display in games such as this one is enough to turn a lot of people away. We can only speak for ourselves, but this game made us put down the controller within minutes. They fill us with dread whenever we sit down to play one, and yet just like with fighting games, we refuse to believe that there is a niche of video games out there that we won't enjoy.
11 Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
The fans of Star Wars are known to be the most insane of all fans, so it's no surprise that people went crazy for this game when it first came out, going out to buy it in droves. Imagine the sadness on those childhood faces when they sat down to enjoy three games in one, only to find out that they were all so brutally difficult that they didn't allow people the chance to play through some of their favorite movies from the period. Really, it all just seemed like quite the cruel joke at the time, whether it was meant to or not!
10 Snake Rattle 'N' Roll
Yet another example of the humble beginnings that Rare came from, their foundation seemingly built on making sure that children were unable to finish any of their games. After platformers like this, it seems they changed their mind, wanting players to be able to finish their games but make it borderline impossible for them to collect everything hidden within their games instead. Anyone that doesn't believe us on this one has clearly never tried to play through the whole of Donkey Kong 64 and collect everything while doing it!
9 Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Being one of the most iconic video game names of all time means that pretty much everyone reading this list will have given this one a go, before finding out that it was brutally difficult. In fact, we don't think that anybody would've made it to the end of this game back in the day if it wasn't for the reality of being a child with a small amount of video games to play. Seriously, human beings can get through a lot if they're bored of everything else they have to do. It makes things more boring when we get older and start to own everything!
There was a period of time when the video game industry was obsessed with trying to create new mascots, thinking that a good character will have more people turning up to play the game. We would like to think that the industry has come a long way since then, but publishers are still trying to get people to buy their games using ridiculous methods! Not only are we sure that this mascot convinced some children out there to play this game, but it ended up being brutally difficult by the end, so that a lot of people turned it off.
7 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
Video games have come a long way, and they have been trying to move on from their foundations for a long time, but this isn't always as easy to do as people would think! Yes, there are a lot of games from this era of gaming that looked just like the arcade games that started out the whole home console trend, with this one being a direct sequel to an original arcade beat-em-up. Thankfully, the developers in charge of this sort of thing were able to start coming up with some new ideas instead of sticking with the older ones forever!
6 Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels
There's an odd belief in Japan that Western gamers can't handle difficult video games, which we imagine might be slightly true these days, but it certainly wasn't back in the day! Super Mario Bros. was a huge success across the world, so they decided to create a second one. However, the second game we got was just a re-skin of another video game, while Japan got a game that was very similar to the original Super Mario Bros. In the end, they did release this game as The Lost Levels in the West, and a lot of people did end up finding it too hard...
5 UFO: Enemy Unknown
Anybody that has played the new XCOM games knows that they force the player to really think about what they're doing with their available troops, what they should do next if they want to make sure that they make it through their mission alive. However, people probably didn't play the original games that this series was based on, since if they had, they would understand the newer games are so much easier! Yes, believe it or not, but this game really makes the player think about their actions. It is brutal!
4 Time Crisis
The greatest type of video game to play in an arcade is the type that lets people pick up a gun with their friends and try to take down every enemy that they can see on the screen, but moving these to the home console didn't go too well unless people could get their hands on a zapper or a light gun as well! For those that couldn't get one, this game was violently difficult, even when people were able to grab themselves a friend that wanted to play. The cursor moved so slowly and players couldn't take out the enemies fast enough!
3 The Immortal
Isometric games were all the rage for a short amount of time, and while some people continue to use the concept these days, there aren't many blockbusters coming out that are isometric adventures! Games like this show us just how difficult it can be to make games with a perspective like this, as the player has to know exactly where they are and what they're doing at all time. Modern games like Bastion and Transistor have shown that, with the right art direction, the isometric angle can be used to create a very good game.
2 Mega Man 4
Mega Man is a series that is known for being difficult, but that doesn't change the fact that there is a line between an enjoyable challenge and something that is just too difficult, and a lot of people felt that the 4th game in the original series crossed that line. We're sure that some players out there will have forced their way through it as they just love the Mega Man games, and those people definitely need to be saluted for making it through every single one of the bosses in this game, as they really brought the difficulty up from the last installment.
1 Zombies Ate My Neighbors
One of the things that home consoles had over PC, and still do have really, is the ability to let players enjoy a game together in the same room. One of the games that people enjoyed playing together on the SNES was this one, and while nobody is denying that it was a lot of fun, it also had a hugely difficult set of missions, especially once people made it towards the end! Even with two people going at it, there are a lot of missions at the end of the game that really do make it hard for the player, and there's a lot of levels to get through as well.