Circle Four: DIY Hell
Blunted by all the other titles featuring in our inferno, some souls are left with no choice but to craft their own masochistic titles, in a desperate attempt to wring something, anything, from their desensitized fun synapses.
Super Mario World: Kaizo Edition
Born in the twisted mind of a Japanese games developer trying to test a pal's hardcore credentials, this Rom hack of Super Mario World is the hardest game on our list.
Super Impossible Brothers
No, no, no, this is the hardest game on our list. It's another Rom hack, this time of Super Mario Bros. Platforms are removed in favor of screen-wide leaps of faith, and enemies are deliberately located to create pixel-wide margins of error; trial and error is the only solution.
How is this tougher than Kaizo SMW? Well, because here you're spawned directly over a bottomless pit. If you don't leap for the platform straight away, you're already dead meat. Cripes.
I Wanna Be The Guy
Wait a second; this is the hardest game on our list. Not a Rom hack but a completely new title, IWBTG may pluck textures and sprites from Super Mario Bros, Mega Man, Tetris and Street Fighter, but the challenge is very much a new breed of evil.
After a solid 30 minutes' play we couldn't get off the first screen. Our only salvation, from an unavoidable spiky wall of death, came from YouTube and the Print Screen key.
Circle Five: Sins of the Fathers
The next level in our cathedral of pain is home to those young tykes that follow in their parents' footsteps to offer a stinging taste of Old Testament in these modern times.
There's more than a smidgen of guilt in developer Mobile 21's decision to include a hints feature in their GBA take on Konami's space-shooter classic.
By offering exact routes for each section of the game, they were admitting that (as with all Gradius games) you just have to learn the set paths of every bullet in the game - all eight billion of them. While in space no one can hear you scream, sitting on a bus surrounded by old people is a different matter.
Yes, yes, Contra's hard, blah blah blah. But while craggy oldies insist that Contra III is tougher, we're happy to champion Contra 4.
Contra's calling card has always been the sheer number of fat red projectiles winging their way towards your entirely non-bullet-resistant form.
With that extra DS screen of enemies, the death-potential doubles. The alien lab of the second stage is a particular chore - eye the aliens in the vents above and their chums on the ground will gut you in a second.
Mega Man and Bass
Like Contra, the trickiest Mega Man is open to debate. Victims of the original will claim it the hardest, but only because the experience was so horrible that it prevented them from playing another game since.
Modern times brought a modern enemy: this GBA reworking of Japan-only SNES title Mega Man And Forte, breaking you with both stilted platforming and entirely unfair health regeneration. Feel the GBA crumble like old paper.
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