Games used to be more difficult. These now crying veteran gamers gossip whenever they come across a modern shooter or action adventure game. It’s like the same nostalgic elitism that music snobs indulge in when they criticize today’s bands for lacking the legendary qualities of yesterday’s heroes. But with games it is true.
As the industry has grown, large games have begun to reduce the difficulty to ensure that the game is comfortable for the widest variety of players possible. Nowadays, if you really want to challenge yourself, you have to choose the “hard” mode, which generally means more enemies and less ammo. But complexity is best when it is an integral part of the design – players must think differently about the game and progress.
This is certainly true for the titles on this list. Not all of them are classics, but even the clearly unfair ones have unforgettable qualities that made us persist. This is where it gets tricky – it really hurts only when you want to see what happens next.
Ninja gaiden ii
The Challenge has always been part of the Ninja Gaiden series, but the 2008 Ninja Gaiden II has reached a new peak in the frenzy. These enemies abuse the player even on the “normal” difficulty level, but when everything happens on the “Master of the Ninja” level, they mercilessly attack with brutal grabs and health-devouring projectiles. In later levels, opponents have cannons instead of weapons that fire with unmistakable precision and regularity. Sometimes it is impossible to survive, much less kill anything. Naturally, the Internet means that someone did it all in four hours without hurting themselves.
Hand of God (Capcom, 2006)
God Hand’s business failure means that many of the best ideas have yet to be stolen, one of which is an on-screen difficulty meter that depends on the player’s skill. There are four grades, from level one to the DIE level (the highest level), and if you get hit, it stays low. However, once you get good at playing this (already difficult) game, it will strengthen the way enemies attack, where they will attack from, how much damage they will do, and increase the rewards for defeating them. Few games have the demands God Hand meets, and none associate complexity and performance with such elegance.
UFO: Unknown Enemy (Mythos Games, 1994)
This is where the XCOM series start, a deep strategy game with a relentless attitude towards casual play. Designer Julian Gollop has created many great 2D turn-based games, but XCOM’s isometric perspective and Fog of War’s implementation have added a terrifying strategic dimension – many soldiers are lost in a dark corner that you’ve never tried. Aliens prey on mistakes, ruthlessly exterminate your soldiers, and return to base, forcing you to make tough decisions in a desperate battle for the safety of humanity. For that matter, we screw it up.
Going Black (Delphine Software, 1995)
The sequel to Flashback was an early attempt to convert successful 2D designs into 3D, and it underestimated the importance of precision control. Despite being a forward-thinking third-person design in some respects, Fade to Black has been canceled by many enemies who could kill in one hit; a terrifying example is a small, elusive ball that is flipped towards the player character before dissolving all of his flesh. To contact. The gorgeous developer-created videos for each possible death make you wonder if the dog is wagging its tail.
NARK (Williams Electronics, 1988)
Perhaps Eugene Jarvis is best represented by Robotron 2084, an impossible task and a much better game, but this low-fiction sci-fi shooter lacks the raw impact of NARC. NARC is a two player arcade game starring Max Force and Hitman fighting Mr. Big. flame of justice. Jarvis’ plays are always challenging, but with NARC they have taken them to a whole new level of brutal theater.
Smash T.V. (Williams Electronics, 1990).
Smash T.V. is a classic arcade game that is an example of a design school that is practically dead right now – making people desperate to see the next screen. The setting is perfect, this is a game show from the future where participants move through rooms full of horrible and disgusting things and get more prizes the longer they stay alive. Even the first room will kill unsuspecting players without hesitation, and from then on, the gloves will come off as Jarvis (again) and his co-creator Mark Thurmell squeeze as much color, shrapnel, and explosives as possible onto the screen. “Complete carnage,” yells the announcer. “I love it!”
The Simpsons (Konami, 1991)
There could be a host of beat-em-up arcade games in this place, TMNT, X-Men, even Final Fight, but in terms of gobbling up coins efficiently through great presentation and artificial complexity, the game of The Simpsons arcade is hard to beat. The visuals, animations, enemies, and settings are exceptional and clearly an act of love (as opposed to setting), but the gameplay below is a fierce slug that overwhelming players especially enjoy, when one hit leads to more others.
Takeshi’s Challenge (Taito Corporation, 1986)
Originally planned as an 8-bit version of his television show Takeshi Castle, Japanese actor and director Takeshi Kitano gave Takeshi no Chosenjo a try and created a game like no other, the package of which warned that “normal gaming skills are here. Does not apply. Loosely following an employee who dreams of finding treasure, Takeshi’s Challenge ends the game for harmless ‘mistakes’ like refusing to work with a character, not being able to divorce his wife, or not hitting the right people. You can get Game Over on the password screen. Another challenge is leaving the controller intact for an hour. All games are arbitrary – only Takeshi’s Challenge celebrates this fact.
The Thief (Michael Toy / Glenn Wichman, 1980)
Rogue is so original that it spawned a genre, it’s a procedurally generated dungeon crawler where complexity, in the sense that it decides to cast you, is a big part of the appeal. Not only will each new adventure bring new environmental challenges and battles with it, potions and weapons will also be randomized, meaning that just taking one sip is playing dice with death. Players must adapt rather than memorize specific tasks and complete a long adventure when the odds against them become part of the fun.
Dwarf Fortress (Bay Games 12, 2006)
The community motto for this game speaks for itself: “Losing is fun!” Dwarf Fortress is a game that has animated entire prosaic epics about the torment of unfortunate player settlements, most of whom are in short supply at first and then quickly fall prey to a thousand things that can go wrong. Wolves, caves, famine, suffocating fever, floods, digging demon gods … Failure is inevitable, and your dwarves not only go crazy with adversity, but often create works of art that reflect what happened. There are many challenging games out there, but creating psychological scars on fictional characters suggests that Dwarf Fortress is something special.
Little Ralph’s Adventure (New Corporation, 1999)
Destined to be a messenger due to its modest release in Japan only, The Adventures of Little Ralph looks like it was forged in the fire of arcade game design, but is actually exclusive to the original PlayStation and PSN. Focused, tough as hell, and shrouded in cult mystique, the traditional platformer is now generating triple-digit sums on the collector’s market, depriving you of the widest audience you deserve. This “rescuing a damsel in trouble” narrative may be trivial, but the fiercely demanding boss battles have reinvented TAoLR as a beating to make it mechanically great and solidify its reputation as one of the most likely platformer games ever made.