In most cases, it’s pretty easy to tell if a game is going to be a harrowing experience. Games like Dark Souls literally told players to be prepared to die a lot, but there are just as many games that are a bit trickier with their difficulty. For some reason, many games don’t seem that difficult.
Of course, that thought changes as soon as you start the game you thought was simple, only to find that it’s one of the hardest games of its kind. Lots of different things can make a game surprisingly difficult, but it often stems from the aesthetics of the game. Sometimes a game that feels like a normal experience can hide shocking difficulties as well.
At a glance, Catherine seems more concerned with strained relationships than difficult gameplay, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Catherine absolutely delivers an engaging story with lots of fun elements, but it’s also one of the most challenging puzzle games in recent memory.
There are many different things that make the game’s unique climbing puzzles challenging, but one of the first things is simply understanding how the puzzles work in the first place. Even the most experienced puzzle game players have admitted to having difficulty with the game from time to time, making Catherine a game that people shouldn’t take lightly.
A list like this basically had to include Cuphead, right? It’s a cute hand drawn art style with anthropomorphic mugs as they take out various bosses. Most bosses don’t look like a major threat when you first see them, but even the early bosses in the game can cause a struggle.
The game itself is incredibly tight, so none of the difficulty stems from any unfairness. Instead, the difficulty comes from the erratic boss patterns, lightning-fast attacks, and the multitude of tricky attacks the bosses can pull off. Additionally, some of the boss stages also present their own unique dangers.
8 Super Monkey Ball 2
Anyone who has ever played a Super Monkey Ball game is probably already okay with its mention here. Each of the games features high-speed mechanics that will see your little monkey get thrown around the various courses.
The games get harder and harder as you progress, providing some of the toughest challenges of the consoles the games are found on. Who would have thought that a game of monkeys rolling in balls would be so difficult? However, perhaps the inclusion of the word “super” was meant to be a clue to its misleading difficulty.
seven Takeshi’s Challenge
Takeshi’s Challenge is an older game that many gamers might not have heard of thanks to it being released only in Japan. The game was released on the Famicom and is considered one of the most difficult video games of its time, despite its generally cheerful look.
It looks like the typical, happy, kid-friendly platformer of the era, but it’s anything but. Instead, Takeshi’s Challenge is a game that asks you to overcome incredibly difficult mechanics, gain knowledge that almost no one would actually have, and do it all with minimal chance of continuing after failure.
It has to be said that XCOM 2 doesn’t exactly look like an easy game at a glance, but those unfamiliar with the series may only see the average strategy game. People who enjoy strategy games often consider themselves good at tactics, so most strategy games aren’t too much of a concern.
The entire XCOM series will laugh at any misconception. XCOM 2 is a brutally difficult game that requires near-perfect strategy at every level, and even then you can still lose multiple characters just to one bad luck hit on your attack rolls.
5 Merge of essays
Another game that starts out relatively easy but quickly becomes a brutal challenge for any genre is Trials Fusion. Luckily, it’s not a case of poor design with the game’s mechanics, and instead its expertly designed levels provide a daunting challenge for players.
It’s a unique platformer that forces players to rethink how they would complete standard platformer challenges. Without mastering the tweaked mechanics and barely possible shortcomings, some players might never get this far in Trials Fusion.
4 Transmission of the Mega Man Network
There are a lot of people who love the portable Mega Man Battle Network series, and all of those people were probably excited when they heard that a game in the series was coming to GameCube. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult than any of the portable games.
The problem here is that the game itself could be cheap in many sections, creating a frustrating and difficult challenge where most players didn’t really expect it. It’s a surprisingly difficult game for the GameCube, and one that’s often overlooked when talking about difficult games from that era.
3 battle toads
The classic eras of gaming featured brutally difficult video games. Even some of the most popular titles could be considered incredibly difficult without a few well-known tricks to help you out. Battletoads is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up that pretty much set the standard for challenging games of that era.
Being able to hit your co-op partner is bad enough, but anyone who’s played the game will remember one particular hoverbike section that seems truly impossible to some people. Anyone who has managed to defeat the toad-based fighter is a real pro.
2 F-Zero GX
Racing games can be surprisingly difficult for the average gamer, but those who enjoy the genre often struggle to find a significant challenge. These folks might be interested in dusting off their GameCubes in order to play through F-Zero GX.
The chaotic, action-packed races are some of the most challenging of the genre. The whole point of the futuristic racer is to show off the immense speed they are capable of, and that immense speed can become difficult to control on expertly designed tracks.
1 Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Many people these days feel bad for parents who bought Conker’s Bad Fur Day for their kids without knowing anything about the game. It’s a relatively crude experience for the Nintendo 64, but it’s also surprisingly difficult.
It’s fair to be surprised that a game featuring a walking talking squirrel is difficult, and that difficulty manifests itself in a number of ways. The controls might feel a bit dated, which makes playing the game difficult, but not knowing how to achieve your goals sometimes makes playing the game a chore.
Next: The most difficult games on the Nintendo Switch