Gamers love a challenge, but there are some games out there that seem to revel in the fact that they’re near impossible to beat.
There are the some games out there that are the sole preserve of masochists, the kind of games that make most people want to bite their controller in two and never game again – but we still love ’em.
Will Dark Souls 3 be one such game? Since it’s released today I’m sure we’ll all find out soon enough, but to celebrate in the meantime, let’s take a look at five of the hardest videogames ever to have made us turn our consoles off in disgust and go cry in a corner for twenty minutes.
Battletoads for the NES is one tough motherfucking cookie. Obviously, back in the day NES era games were just more challenging and less accessible by their very nature, but this one was in a league of its own.
While it was undeniably a fantastic game, limited lives and the requirement of ninja grade reflexes to be able to play meant very few gamers ever made it to the finish line.
If you can play through the co-op mode with a mate and not want to stab them to death with a breadknife by the time you get game over, you’re a better man than I.
Ninja Gaiden (2004)
The first game in reinvented 3D style for Xbox was so ridiculously hard that many players (myself included) could never actually get past the first boss.
Ninja Gaiden was an eye watering hack and slasher that demanded you remain on the edge of your seat and display a near inhuman level of finger dexterity as blocked, attacked, and parried in a desperate attempt to stay alive for more than a few seconds.
Hard mode was just no fun, surprisingly.
Demon’s Souls is the predecessor to the punishing Dark Souls games, and began as a cult hit in Japan before finding its way over here to torture the rest of us.
This game walks the fine line between insanely hard, but never unfair. If you die, you die because you fucked up somehow – it’s just that the game hands you about a thousand opportunities to fuck up.
Any game that can make Dark Souls look kind of easy by comparison is no friend of mine.
Mega Man 9
The Mega Man games have a reputation for being hard, but Mega Man 9 is the videogame equivalent of a skinhead down the pub who puts cigarettes out on his face just to fuck with you. It’s a hard game.
Mega Man 9 was released for the Wii back in 2008, right in the middle of a massive retro boom.
It flawlessly called back to the NES days of sickeningly difficult boss fights, platforming with absolutely no room for error, and a main character who’s limitations were flawlessly built into the challenge.
Sometimes, late at night, I can still this game taunting me when I close my eyes.
Contra will fuck you up – that’s about the size of it, really.
In Konami’s 1987 arcade run and gun, you assumed control of a butch commando and evade an actual shit storm of bullets. One hit kills, and potentail death was everywhere.
There are a few things in your favour, at least. Powerups drop semi regularly, and you have unlimited ammo. It’s just a shame that enemies can (and do) spring from every conceivable nook and cranny. You’ll be dodging attacks from above, below, behind and in front.
It’s not so much a question of if you die in Contra – it’s a question of when.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.