REPLY TO ALL: Hardest Games Ever?

REPLY TO ALL is posted every Wednesday. We hope to give you interesting viewpoints on different topics in the gaming industry. Each week a talking point is picked and then discussed in emails written back and forth between a few of the Cursed. This week’s topic is based on this article from Kotaku: Are These The Ten Hardest Games?

Two of the hardest games? Yes.


I’ve only played 4 of the games on the list, and of those four Battletoads and Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts definitely belong. Contra and Metal Gear Solid should not be on this list. If it was my “greatest games of all time” list, then yes. But not on hardest. Unless of course they are basing the difficulty of Contra on not using the Konami Code. But even then it’s not impossible to do, even while drunk. I don’t know exactly what the qualifications were to be included on this list but I can think of a few games that are more deserving, at least for me. Mega Man 9 anyone? I couldn’t even beat the demo to that game. There are not enough NES games on this list because those were some of the hardest of all time. Games I owned like The Adventures of Bayou Billy and Karnov were impossible for me to beat and I consider myself a pretty decent gamer. I would say that even the first Ninja Gaiden on the NES was harder than any released on the current consoles. But maybe if I went back to play those games as an adult they wouldn’t be as difficult as I remember them being.

Do you need 30 lives?


I wasn’t very impressed by this list. They covered their bases with a range of consoles and years, but I can’t help agree with Cole that there should be a lot more NES and hell, even Atari games on here. They should have limited the scope. Although, in the end Ninja Gaiden Black may still hold the title. That game is beyond brutal in every definition of the word.

Cole’s also right about Contra, as I’ve seen way too many drunks beat that without the Konami Code. That game is only hard the first dozen times you play it. Haha, think about that. How many games do you give a dozen chances? They don’t make em like they used to and we don’t play em like we used to.

I also want to make a case for Ikaruga. My case comes in the form of a video of the final chapter.


Chiming in to reiterate that Battletoads and Super G ‘n G are indeed brutal and are no-brainers on a list like this. Super G ‘n G in particular was an absolute bitch from hell. No representative from the Mega Man franchise is a bit curious…I used to love Mega Man 2 to death (and still do, mostly due to the amazing music), and was a bit bemused to find that I couldn’t even get through it when I played it again in that quasi-recent Mega Man compilation they put out. We’re so spoiled nowadays with our ability to hide behind cover to dodge enemy fire, our regenerating health bars and Vita-Chambers and what-not. I found it interesting that there were no MMORPG or rhythm games represented, which may or may not be fair considering the amount of games on the list I haven’t played.

Choose wisely.

I can distinctly remember two instances in my gaming “career” where I jumped up and fist pumped like MJ after draining that jumper over Craig Ehlo, and those were beating “Run to the Hills” on expert drums in Rock Band, and downing Ragnaros in World of Warcraft. Regarding the latter, getting 40 mouth-breathers to work together in tandem to bring that dude down is a whole different type of difficulty.


I actually haven’t played a lot of the games on this list. I did, however, own Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts and good god. I played that game a hell of a lot and I think I got as far as maybe 3/4 of the way through the game. And even that was on one of those random weeknights at 3am when I should have been sleeping because I had to go to school the next morning, so no one was around and, as such, is a completely unverifiable accomplishment. I also echo the sentiments about Mega Man, I always thought those games were damn tough. I remember some really random games being really tough though. For instance, I had a GameBoy game called Bugs Bunny’s Crazy Castle that took me forever to get through. And when you beat the game, it says (seriously) “Congraturations! You are good player!” (not joking.) Also, how about Altered Beast? The only way I ever got even close to just progressing in that game was when the arcade version was released on Virtual Console and I could “Continue” as many times as I wanted.

Also, what about Super Mario: The Lost Levels? That game was crazy tough.


Where to take this. Here’s my problem when bringing up Mega Man and Super G n’ G. You can’t debate the difficulty of the rest of the series when the original games are the hardest. I’m not sure which is more baffling, the lack of any Mega Mans being mentioned or that Super G n’ G makes the list without the original being considered. I just want to know how this list came together and what criteria was used.

Joey brings up two interesting points with rhythm games and MMOs. Difficulty can be measured in so many different ways. Hell, not only is it impossible to play WoW to any success without a group, the game doesn’t even have an ending. Yet, most of us don’t really consider it difficult. I’d like to see a revised list with classic “hard” criteria born of the arcade era, but with new games considered because games like Ninja Gaiden and Demon’s Souls need to be held to the classic standard. Yet I’ve encountered impossible moments in Rock Band that are more skill based than anything I’ve tried with just a joystick and some buttons. Throw in MMO’s or multiplayer in general and I think we’ve got about 3 or 4 measurements of a game being difficult. How would you group them?

Is this the hardest game of the past year?


Well I’ve only really played a couple of the games on this list; Contra and Ikaruga. Contra is Contra and I agree with what Cole and Justin have said about it. And Justin, there definitely IS a huge difference between games and the way they’re played now vs. the Contra era. I just finished Darksiders last night and it was a great game (even if it is a compilation of rip-offs), but I think I’ll just play it once…. not twelve plus times. Rarely do I play a game anymore that I know I will want to play through again. Maybe part of that is because I’m much more limited in the time I have to play now and new games that I wanna play just keep rolling out. My queue just keeps growing and growing beyond what I’ll realistically even be able to get to. I guess there are exceptions to that in the arcade area. Geometry Wars 2, for example will always be a “hey I have a few minutes I think I’ll play something” game that doesn’t seem to get old for me. But anyway…

Yeah. What were we talking about? Hard games…. right. Ikaruga. I don’t really think I’m even smart enough to play that game well. There are parts in Ikaruga that have way more going on than my brain can process, let alone respond to. My brain literally explodes when I play that game. THAT is definitely worthy of the list. Another one that is similar in the brain explosion nature is playing Schizoid by yourself. There are a some games that you actually have to be a genius to play very well. I think you really just need two brains to play Schizoid… I unfortunately just have one.

I almost included this next sentence in the reply, but then I didn’t… god thing: Let’s see, what else is hard?… Oh I heard there’s a really hard part in Custer’s Revenge. Haha get it? ………………. sorry.



You know, it’s true, I don’t find too many games that I realistically will play through multiple times anymore. I’ve done nearly two full play throughs of Borderlands. For that matter, my roommate and I didn’t find too much terribly difficult in the main game but some of the DLC has been frustratingly tough, which I thought was an interesting jump. I’ll most definitely play through the Mass Effect games again, because I can’t stand knowing that there was stuff I was missing but that might not be for a while since I’ve spend so much time with them recently.


It is true that we don’t play games over and over like we did when we were younger. I wonder what the young gamer does these days, beside being idiots playing Modern Warfare 2. Do they play single player games over and over again like we used to? I can’t even begin to count how many times i’ve beaten Contra, Super Mario Bros., etc. Of all the current generation games I’ve played and beaten, I’ve only beaten them once and barely pick them up again after doing so. Is that a reflection on me or the state of games today?

I can’t believe I forgot to mention Ikaruga. Even though I have never played it, all top down shooters are impossibly hard for me. Of all the ones I have played, I know I have never gotten very far in them. Ben mentioned Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels and I agree with him. That game was so hard that it wasn’t even released in the U.S. originally and that is why we have the strange but awesome Super Mario Bros. 2.


Marcus Fenix doing what he does best!

What’s the last game you beat multiple times? Can you remember why? Last game that I’ve beaten multiple times was Gears of War 2. I think I’ve beaten both games about 4-5 times, and both of them were because I loved the co-op and I had to go back to beat it on harder difficulties for achievements. I put an honest effort into replaying Shadow Complex and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but didn’t follow through. I’ve also found the games that I would have played through again are starting to have additional chapters added to them via DLC, which feeds my need, like Borderlands.

Closing Thoughts

We don’t claim to know what the hardest games are, because it is impossible to play every single game ever released. However, we do have a good idea what makes a game hard and apparently being on the NES is one of the qualifications. It will be interesting to see what moves on and off of the list as the years go by.

10 Comments REPLY TO ALL: Hardest Games Ever?

  1. coopopolopolis

    It only takes about 2-3 weeks of leaving the game on with endless continues to beat G & G. However, It’s your classic case of the final boss being cake if you can actually get to him… which is satisfying until you realize that the game only just starts right over in a harder mode that will leave you crying in the corner.

  2. Ethan

    Anyone consider point and click/puzzle adventure games, ala Kings Quest? Some of those games were hard based soley on the brainpower needed to process certain item combinations and puzzles. Another game I remember being frustrated with was a game for Playstation called Siberia, but I think it was because it sucked.

  3. Pwrglove

    I’d like to just go ahead and reveal my identity as at least one of the Contra “Drunken Master”s.

    The original Mega Man is the hardest one in the series- at least until its recent rebirth.

    Part of the old school difficulty level was the sheer amount of trial and error required to figure out the right way to do complete a stage- the old games with the modern video game tutorials thing comes to mind

  4. JDevL

    So maybe we are just more resourceful now. FAQs and walkthroughs are a lot more attainable now than hoping they show up in the next issue of Nintendo Power.

  5. colefacekilla

    Didn’t Nintendo have a telephone hotline you could call for $.99/min? I wonder how much money they made from that.

  6. endlessben

    LucasArts had one of those hint hotlines (see: jungle scene in Monkey Island 2).

  7. Pwrglove

    Yes, the hotline was where the game counselors worked. I once got in trouble for calling them without permission, ha

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