4. Ghosts 'n Goblins
Ghosts ‘n Goblins is one of the originators of cruelly unrewarding gaming (not that it's something to be too proud of). Beating GnG is a badge of honor that few players earned, mostly because the protagonist, a diminutive knight named Arthur, is surrounded by cheaply placed enemies that’ll kill him in two or three hits. Most stages can be beaten through memorization, but there are enough randomly appearing monsters that luck is a huge factor too. Should you be skilled, fortunate, and tenacious enough, you’ll finally reach your reward at the end of the game: a trip back to the start.
See, you may have thought you killed the final boss and were about to embrace the princess, but according to the game, “This room is an illusion and is a trap devised by Satan.” You’re then instantaneously sent back to the start of this painfully difficult game in the hopes that beating it a second time might finally give you some closure (you at least get a kiss from the princess). On the plus side, the game offers the helpful tip, “Make rapid progress!” Thanks Capcom, we hadn’t thought of that.