The 21 Hardest Nintendo games ever

From the stinging paper cuts delivered by their early Hanafuda cards, to their dual screen scream maker Contra 4, Nintendo have been responsible for a downpour of tricky titles to douse even the most resilient gamer's spirit.

Join us as we descend Jacob's ladder through the circles of hell, into the belly of the Game Over beast.

Circle One: Curved Learning

There are few things crueler than a game that promises easy pickings for the most part, before impaling you on difficulty spikes and leaving you to rot.

Metal Slug 3
With its propensity for lobbing out insta-kill poisoned apples, the final mother brain boss in Metal Slug 3 is a graduate of the same school of evil as the Disney stepmothers.

Naturally, having survived helicopter attacks and close encounters of the bite-your-face-off kind, you'd be foolish for expecting SNK to just let you win at this final hour, but the random patterns of the golden delicious airstrikes make for a violent hike up in deaths.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
The beauty of Monkey Ball is Sega's ability to offer both obvious routes to the finish line and 99% death-guaranteed shortcuts that beckon like sirens.

Not so in world 10-5. With the route coated in a ball rejecting spiked texture, it's down to pure chance whether or not your spherical simian will fall off the edge when you land.

Bad news: there are six jumps between you and your goal. And that's the obvious route.

Super Mario Galaxy 
A walk in the most delightful astro-park for 119 stars, there is one particular challenge that almost put an end to our sanity. You probably know the one: Luigi's Purple Coins in the Toy Time Galaxy.

A field of panels stretch out beyond you. Touch one and it'll disappear. The conundrum? How to ooh, ahh, waa-hoo to the scattered 100 coins without destroying your route back to where the star appears. Fast forward to 7:36 in the vid below to see what we mean:

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  • ShokuaHyuga - December 19, 2010 6:36 a.m.

    I remember Luigi's Purple Coins; it took me like 30 tries.
  • erenelliekush - December 5, 2010 7:15 a.m.

    yay! after 10 years i'm finally to world 5 of SMB Lost Levels! I'm playing GBC version though.
  • gamermatt89 - October 14, 2008 7:29 p.m.

    I actually beat F Zero GX on very hard. I don't know how I did it either but I did... hours upon hours of frustration but in the end sweet victory.
  • midna365 - October 7, 2008 10:30 p.m.

    i want to be the guy is the hardest fing game ever!!!!!!
  • ileowen - September 17, 2008 11 p.m.

    After Cliffs of dover on my Wi, I pee'd the 5 colors for a week! I'm a westerner yet i DO have copy of The lost levels somewhere up in my attic! Dunno a lot about the rest though, sonds like liquid hell.
  • Amnesiac - September 17, 2008 1:31 a.m.

    Megaman and Bass is tougher than the original, IMO.
  • thephntm - December 2, 2008 6:47 p.m.

    i've beat zack and wiki. its not that hard, except for the last level.(i had to print out an ign walkthrough.)
  • noofer7 - October 16, 2008 1:24 a.m.

    hmm never played any of these either... except for 1 Guitar Hero 3 song, Vacation in Cambodia, at a friend's house.
  • crazycrazy83 - October 14, 2008 1:24 a.m.

    yeah i remember the super mario galaxy one. i went through 20 tries tring to plot the "strategic" way to do it. another 5 trying to get back to the star. WHY DONT THEY PUT IT IN FRONT OF YOU! its appearing out of nowhere anyway!
  • Patius - September 22, 2008 12:23 a.m.

    Metroid two was EASY. It wasn't even as open spaced as the others. And like all of the Gameboy Metroids, you didn't really have the ability to go to new places thanks to weapons or such, just cause it opened up. These are all tough, but I think that X3 might have been harder than Megaman and Bass. Just maybe. (unless you get the Z-sabre)
  • Yellowhat17 - September 21, 2008 2 a.m.

    What about Meroid 2? It's not nearly as hard as all the game listed but on the Gameboy color it used to drive me crazy.
  • ileowen - September 17, 2008 11:02 p.m.

    O wait, I did complete f-zero GX just not on very hard. srry for the doublepost xD
  • JoeMasturbaby - September 17, 2008 12:42 a.m.

    the F-Zero GX game IS impossible. i gave up after one try, and im glad i did.
  • Roic13 - February 13, 2009 3:31 a.m.

    I remember F-Zero GX......horrible, regretful, terrible,....expensive times....
  • TheeMaddGod - January 2, 2009 6:26 a.m.

    I got to Mike Tyson on I Wanna Be the Guy....a complete waste of 3 days of my life...I hate that game....
  • musashi1596 - December 31, 2008 7:14 p.m.

    Come on, Black Hole Rising wasn't too much of a challenge...
  • dreamgor - August 18, 2009 9:25 a.m.

    "sees the list and starts crying while shrieking in horror and looking for the closest way to suicide" that's all i can say really they are that tough only the thought of it makes me wanna do that:( especially IWBTG waaa the torture device of doom!! recaptcha: Feldman dowelled
  • FlamingChaos35 - August 15, 2009 12:05 a.m.

    I loved F-Zero GX. Racing at 400 mph is awesome. Nintendo needs to make a sequel
  • gangjute8 - July 29, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    I wanna be the guy... I'm around 200 deaths and can't get past the 7th screen
  • lightsideluc - January 19, 2009 7:52 p.m.

    I never managed to beat the first level of F-Zero GX, ButI HAVE beaten The Lost Levels :D.