Some games are fun because they’re casual, like Pokemon and Mario. Others are.. a bit more brutal. They provide a challenge and make sure you’re determined enough to overcome it. If you don’t, you can find yourself in a world of mental agony. These are the games that don’t take it easy on the player and at times, cost you some money while you buy a new controller.
The Dark Souls Franchise
Synonymous with challenge, the Dark Souls games are only around to test how dedicated you are to completing them. The question isn’t “How many times will I die?”, the question goes more like “Will I ever stop dying on the same boss?”. Gamers the world over have broken controllers, consoles, TV’s, and probably relationships in their seemingly never-ending pursuit to beating any of these games.
Probably the most frustrating aspect of these games is the ‘currency’ system. Souls are used to upgrade your armor and weapons. Fine right? Until you die and see all 20,000 souls you were saving up explode from your body.
Don’t worry though, you can get them back. Just gotta make it back to the point of where you died. Unless of course you die on your way… In which case the souls from the previous death are now gone. Now your only option is to put the controller down, curl up into a ball, and cry yourself to sleep.
Battletoads came out in 1991. Luckily, I got to grow up on Mario, Pokemon, and Sonic. But for gamers from the 80’s, into the 90’s, they had games like Battletoads. Not much can be said about this game besides the fact that you had 3 lives, no checkpoints, no saves, and a very memorable wind tunnel level to get through. If you use up your 3 lives, you get to start the entire game over.
Legend has it, people are still in their basements trying to beat it to this day. To those, we salute you.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Alright, so you probably have some friends. It’s safe to say that if one of them.. out of nowhere.. got their head exploded by an Alien, you’d feel pretty bad, right? Welcome to the world of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You get to build your crack team of super soldiers and take on a bunch of dimwitted Martians!
But that feeling of losing one of your team members, permanently, really stays with you. Especially considering you get to name each one..
So what happens when you lose all your team members, and it’s just you crushing Alien skulls in? Surely you get some reinforcements, right? Nope! When you look around and realize you’re the only one left, it’s probably a good time to restart.
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!
If you went to school around the late 80’s, and you were one of few who managed to beat Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!, you were probably the most popular kid around!
Okay, maybe not. Still though, getting through all the previous fights and then getting KO’d by Tyson over and over again will stay with you forever. Good thing they had a cheat code to skip right to Tyson so you can get some practice in, but who knew about that back then?
Fire Emblem Awakening
Not the hardest game in terms of gameplay. This game messes with you differently. Emotionally. Like XCOM, you have characters that you care for. But only some of them can make it to the end with you. Making decisions on who should live or die feels almost real.
By the end of it, you look back and realize, “Oh yeah.. it was just a game.”.
Mega Man is a classic. Most of us have played a Mega Man game because there’s literally over 100 different titles for the franchise. But we’re looking at the original because of its limited checkpoints and challenging levels. Dying in Mega Man was frustrating because you really had to memorize enemy movements and where their projectiles went in order to beat it. They didn’t make it easy for you to just breeze through a level like Mario at times. Each one was uniquely challenging and rewarding.
But really.. Couldn’t have added a few more checkpoints?
Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels
This isn’t like any ol’ Mario game. The Lost Levels released in Japan as ‘Super Mario Bros 2’. Weird, since our release was much different. Nintendo decided that Japan’s version of SMB 2 was too difficult for western gamers, hence our version being vastly different.
In 1993, we got a chance at Japan’s SMB 2, newly titled ‘The Lost Levels’. Admittedly, the game was very difficult and could have hurt the franchise if released in the West. The levels were extremely challenging and of course, when you died, you restarted the whole level. Brutal.
Honorable Mention – Dying Light –
It’s another game which punish you every time you die. It gives you a death penalty which results in your survival points being reduced and you respawn into a safe house. Not that harsh but still a penalty nonetheless.