Video game developers and players adhere to the tenet of “replay value,” the idea that a game should continue to be enjoyable even after the first session of gameplay. While there are many contributing factors to replay value, among the most important is the degree of challenge the title provides.
Some releases are too easy and branded as “kiddie” titles. Others, perhaps more unfortunately, are remarkably and frustratingly difficult. A variety of reasons can potentially account for this discrepancy in difficulty level, and there are several stand-out examples, each from a different console, which is added in parentheses. In no particular order, these are ten of the hardest video games of all time.1. E.T. the Extraterrestrial (Atari 2600)
Rushed into the populace by a greedy organization bent on capitalizing on the success of the film, this cartridge suffered from countless flaws, from the goal that was implausibly rough to figure out to the infamous pit you encounter near the beginning of the game yet, if you fall in, is impossible to get out of. In fact, this selection was so notoriously bad that millions of unsold cartridges were buried in the New Mexico desert.
2. The Adventures of Bayou Billy (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Perhaps inspired by Crocodile Dundee, the NES brought its own gritty similar character to the small screen in Bayou Billy, a modestly popular title that even landed its titular protagonist on an episode of Captain N, a cartoon featuring Nintendo characters accompanying a boy on gamer adventures. Despite these appearances, Bayou Billy was criminally difficult. A platform beat’em up title, like so many other popular choices such as the Double Dragon or Ninja Turtle franchises, Bayou Billy’s character was simply not well-equipped to beat up baddies. His movements were slow, jerky, and even the traditionally trust jump-kick was limited. His reach was short, unless he had a knife, then it was extended; but, what good is a knife when half your opponents are wielding whips and chains?
3. Tetris (Game Boy)
The falling-block phenomenon was outrageously popular and boasted millions of fans desperately trying to improve on their last level or high score. The catch was brilliant, though, as the set-up was so seemingly simple it led people to believe that improvement was inevitable, rather than impossible. Although there are certainly capable players out there, the vast majority of Tetris addicts failed to reach the famed level 10.
4. Altered Beast (Sega Genesis)
The concept was interesting: Within a wistful mythical setting, your character strides forth to annihilate all monsters. At key points, he himself will transform into a stronger being, similar to a werewolf writ large. Being one of the earliest Genesis releases, many owners grabbed this title as they awaited further to be released. They would soon discover that their controlled character was slow, both in movement and response time, and ill-matched to face the relentless hordes of creatures that swooped in quickly and powerfully. Infamous for its steep difficulty level, Altered Beast was conquered by only the most dedicated of individuals.8. The Clocktower (Sony Playstation)
Resident Evil was a perfect example of the survival horror genre, and its release on the PS paved the way for future survival horror titles to succeed, such as Silent Hill. One of the games in the mix was Clocktower, which ironically was massively difficult because it achieved exactly the sort of terror it set out to accomplish. Stuck in an immense tower you spend the entire time figuring your way out of, your character must avoid being killed by a deranged freak who carries an oversized pair of shears. Constantly opening and closing them, the distinctive noise travels throughout the halls and rooms, alerting you to exactly how near or far away he was. This was an excellent way to build suspense and horror, especially when the loud sound would be accompanied by him bursting into your room. You usually had a chance to try and hide, but imagine your frustration when the game implies you can hide under the bed before he approaches; then, when you do so, he simply walks in and stabs you to death by penetrating the bed altogether.
9. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Game Boy Advance)
A hexagonal strategy role-play romp in the spirit of the original Final Fantasy Tactics on PS1, FFTA proved to be more challenging than its predecessor. Games of this type already face the obstacle of presenting a steep learning curve, with an interface and battle format that are difficult to master, but FFTA had a few unique quirks that made it even harder. One prominent fault, without spoiling the plot, were six of the important boss battles. Each one adds an unforeseen element to the fight, each of which may up the difficulty level impossibly high if your party is unprepared. For instance, in one of these battles, your main character must fight alone! Considering that you are not required to use him in every encounter throughout the game, it is certainly possible that he or she is too weak to win the war alone, in which case you are doomed from the start. Also, the entire game features a seemingly unnecessary “laws” system, where during every battle, certain aspects are outlawed, and punishable by different means; these aspects may be the use of magic, longswords, team-up attacks, or others. The problem is, the farther you advance, the more laws there are to keep track of, until you are either juggling the responsibility of tracking a half-dozen new rules every encounter or you master the art of bypassing them!
10. Call of Duty (XBox)
Several Call of Duty games have been released, but perhaps the most memorable remains the original title in the franchise. Each game strives to present a first-person shooter with a realistic wartime twist. In the case of this first game, your first mission is to storm the beach at Normandy. Yes, your very first task is to endure what is arguably among the most difficult tasks accomplished or undertaken by humankind at large, much less within a mere video game. The difficulty remains throughout, as your ammo is limited, your allies few and far between, and the enemy cunning and deceptive.