12 Most Maddeningly Difficult Games of All Time

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Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is the managing editor at Tom's Guide. When he's not managing the site's day-to-day news coverage, best picks pages, and covering the latest gaming trends, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.

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  • bskchaos
    Some games in this list were destroyed in Awesome Games Done Quick 2014gamesdonequick.comPunch Out was played blindfolded!!!http://www.twitch.tv/speeddemosarchivesda/b/494222408?t=8m50s
  • zeig_101
    "There are hard games, and then there are titles that are just plain unfair. Role-playing game "Dark Souls" falls under the latter, " I'm guessing that you had no fucking clue where to go, so you tried fighting the skeletons first? Talk to the guy in chainmail enough, he tells you to head up the stairs on the cliffside. That is where you are supposed to go, and where you are more suited for right off the start. As someone who has played through dark souls multiple times, I can tell you that it is ENTIRELY fair.
  • AGx-07_162
    There's difficult and then there's difficult because it's poorly a designed game. Flappy Bird is the latter. People need to stop talking about this game like it's good.
  • Slatteew
    Glad Zelda 2 made the list! That is one of my favorite Zelda's, and it was so hard........took me years to beat the final boss, because the last dungeon is so big, no map, and invisible drops.........but i love it to this day. :) Great design for its time.
  • SinisterSalad
    Where the heck is SMB 2?
  • cypeq
    Dark Souls is called Unfair? It's very fair and with pretty easy combat(enemies have very narrow move pool). I guess author was expecting another god of war button smasher out of it... where you can just run carelessly ahead into every combat scenario. Whenever you do that in DS you get hit overhead with a club.This list is broken because 80/90 arcade games were all insanely difficult and extremely long also. Good old pac-man was beaten by only few people on the world. Beating Mario Bros also takes a lot of sweat and tears. You could go on and on with list like that for ever if you decide to include 80's and early 90's.
  • Vorador2
    Dark Souls and Demon's Souls are hard and unforgiving, but not unfair.Unfair is I Wanna Be The Guy, which is chock full of cheap traps.
  • Gzav
    I remember Ikari Warriors on NES as being one of the hardest games I ever played!
  • bootsattheboar
    N (the game) should have been on this list. It gets maddeningly difficult quickly, but it is addictive. Go try it: http://www.thewayoftheninja.org/n_downloads.html
  • energygugy78
    I am surprised Top Gun for NES did not make the list. Make it past the first mission and I would be surprised.
  • jpishgar
    None of these games come even close to E.T. for the Atari.

    This game was so bad, so difficult, so mind-numbingly painful.

    But still not as horrific as Desert Bus, the game within Penn & Teller's Smoke & Mirrors game.
  • Cali Dude
    I agree with both Top Gun and E.T. (on Atari 2600). I would like to add the original Prince of Persia on PC...but SO GOOD!!
  • Kdub53
    I am shocked the original TMNT (nes) didn't make the list. That was a hard game
  • MarkDuganJr
    Marble Madness and Gauntlet were the two hardest games I ever played.