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The 21 Hardest Nintendo games ever

Circle Two: Handheld Hellions

Like a confetti egg filled with anthrax, the DS and GBA coo "come play with me," while whispering "...so I may eat your soul." Though rarely the first port of call for full-fat frustration, they've certainly had their moments.

Etrian Odyssey
Mooching through the vicious shrubberies of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth is only really perilous for those too impatient to tune up their band of warriors.

Even so, proper progress forces you into a deadly Catch-22 situation: Party-improving weapons require gold, gold is given as reward for completing quests, quests are too hard without party-improving weapons.

Doh! Death comes often and, as if to rub it in, at the hooves of deer.

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
Aside from Neotank units and a smattering of new terrain features to cower behind, Advance Wars 2 wasn't much of a change.

So how could it destroy even the most experienced COs? Thrown in at the deep end, it was as if the developers saw this as a direct continuation of the original campaign (i.e. starts at the difficulty of that title's last mission and only grows harder).

Black Hole Rising? Asshole rising, more like.

Kuru Kuru Kururin
What does the title mean? It's the sound of your teeth grinding through your chin as yet another spinning stick journey through a don't-touch-the-walls maze ends with another loss.

Sitting in the alcoves waiting to dart down the next twisted corridor is about as tense as GBA gaming gets, and with later levels designed for perfect synchronized timing, it's at moments like these that Nintendo probably regret designing such an easy-to-throw console.

Circle Three: Heart Breaking

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Alas, it takes more than a sunny outlook to craft a game, and so this circle of hell is reserved for those titles that were made all the more difficult by crummy technical flaws.

Super Ghouls and Ghosts
Super Ghouls And Ghosts had to feature somewhere - it is, after all, a genuine hardcore SNES classic that'll happily send you and your heart-dotted boxer shorts to the pearly gates within your first 15 steps.

The GBA version features here for some chug-tastic slowdown that transforms the tricky kneejerk reactions into a task of Sisyphean pointlessness.

If the wolves, skeletons, knights, demons, bats and zombies don't get you, the framerate will.

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Castlevanias have us wailing through the night. However, we reckon the prize goes to Circle Of The Moon. A GBA launch title, the dark gothic graphics were designed before the GBA's contrast specs were known, leaving gamers with a black screen which only an intense light source could interpret.

Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Along with being complete Bat-tosh, Dark Tomorrow is famous in our office for having baffled everyone, including the PR who was sent to demonstrate it.

Watching our staff members plummet down the same crevice time and time again, the accompanying PR seized the pad only to plunge the caped crusader straight into the gap himself.

Proclaiming it broken, we mentally filed the moment away for a feature just like this one.

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20 comments

  • 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.

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