Hardest game you have beaten

get real subjective with this if you want. describe your experience with the visual novel that tragically requires you to lead a benevolent character to the grave, if you want.

for me it's just Zelda II, i beat it on a famicom disc system which did not work 25% of the time, on a little Sharp (I think) LCD screen, maybe 14 inches, obtained from a junk shop across the street.

encounters in that game are like the pre-eminent example of psychotic NES enemy AI, where a bad guy will be jumping, at all times, on insane diagonal angles, while flinging projectiles at you. IIRC you can block the projectiles if you have your shield on the same plane (either standing or crouching), so all the game really demands of the player is that they master their instincts and rise/crouch to meet the thing as it comes in. i never really got this down (natural cowardice) but somehow beat the game. my spouse was out of town for several months and i had nothing else to do.

@tapevulture#22704 I have a pretty consistent record of abandoning games when I meet a bit too much friction. Occasionally I’ll just bump down the difficulty and power through, but often they just end up in the perpetual backlog zone. However, this thread made me think of one very shining exception: Bangai-O Spirits for the DS. Finishing the main campaign of this game will probably remain my personal gaming high water mark for the rest of my life! I finished it so long ago that the details are hazy, but one stage in particular left quite the impression. Spawning in with countless missiles directed squarely at your tiny bot right in the center of the screen, it’s one of the only gaming experiences I've had where hesitating for even a split second at the beginning of a stage would mean essentially instant death. If I recall correctly, the only way I was able to prevail was with a quick dodge and then a whack with the oh-so-satisfying baseball bat (a mech with a missile repelling baseball bat is pretty freakin' rad). I love that game…

I‘m going to say Metal Gear Solid 4, on the run where I attempted to get the Big Boss Emblem, which requires playing on the hardest difficulty, not dying or getting any alerts, or killing a single living enemy, and also beating the game in less than four hours. It was a living nightmare, particularly the fight against Crying Wolf, where the battlefield is full of normal enemies looking for you while you’re also being hunted by a sniper mech that can track your scent. I‘m never doing it again. Except I actually might, because I replaced my PS3 since then and I kind of want to have the Big Boss facecamo on my save file again. I can’t help it. Enemies immediately fall to the floor and start screaming the second they see you. It's hilarious.

Is the Witcher 3 on Hard mode considered hard?

ps2 shinobi, dos x-com. Some of the tougher semi-self directed paradox game scenarios eg surviving WWII as republican spain (win civil war, stop axis advance in pyrenees, take part in allied counter offensive ). Never been able to keep poland intact… I don’t know how “hard” that stuff is but definitely spent a high proportion of limited brainpower on the paradox insanity

I too will abandon games if there‘s too much of the wrong kind of friction, and mostly do. I dislike a certain kind of difficulty so much that the concept of “difficult” games turns me off a thing entirely. You’ll see my response to that in the next game we do!

So I'm not sure I've got anything here - I've beaten difficult challenges by beating my head against the wall, and I've cheated my way through tough games like Adventures of Batman and Robin (beat that with a Game Genie last week), but in terms of taking the challenge seriously and learning to properly do it, there's maybe no time in my game history where I've done that. I'm gonna keep thinking about this because it's an interesting question, but I think my answer is I've never beaten a game that a large number of people would consider hard. Hmm, that can't be right though. Let's say I've never done it properly. I've beaten loads of shooters, for example, but I use a heck bunch of continues to do it!

For me, the answer for PHYSICALLY HARDEST has to be Space Quest for the Apple II. I ended up at a point where the disk got slightly damaged and would not read correctly at a point where you‘re supposed to flip the disk. After what felt like a hundred tries to get the game to load, I left it on overnight and tried again in the morning. For some reason it worked in the morning and I somehow managed to finish the game (using a walkthrough). I don’t dare try to load that disk again…

I've beaten Super Meat Boy and Cuphead, but never did all the extra challenge stuff. I beat Sub-Terrania for Genesis, but not on the hardest difficulty. But I'd say the game that felt like the biggest accomplishment to beat, EVEN THOUGH I USED GAMEFAQS FOR THINGS, was probably The Dark Spire for the DS.
The Dark Spire is a BRUTAL throwback to Wizardry, a simple first-person dungeon crawl that can be overwhelming. Having your entire party die in the first random battle isn't out of the question. I'm convinced that the game is impossible without looking at GameFAQs; to get to the ending, you need to raise all of your base stats (ie strength, dexterity, constitution, etc) really high. Most stats can be raised as you keep playing, but for charisma, you need to find a secret room hidden in one of the top levels and pay a large quantity of gold to a demon beautician. I'm pretty sure it doesn't even work reliably every time you pay and you just lose the money. You have to get charisma to the highest level and then step onto a square that you've probably walked over a dozen times without realizing it's the endpoint-square and THEN you win the game. You don't even fight the last boss, the game just describes your battle with text.
But let me tell you, playing that game is an experience!! Even looking up answers for puzzles, it's hard to convey just how brutal that game is.

Some day when I have enough space for my Apple II to be set up properly again, I'll get a disk drive emulator and play through the original Wizardry. THAT will probably end up being the hardest game I'll ever play.

It may be the Pantheon of Hallownest in Hollow Knight: a boss gauntlet that contains nearly every boss. It is hard but also tedious to get back to the hard part after you die, since the whole thing is probably like 45 minutes.

I also did all the bosses individually on "Radiant" difficulty which means you die in one hit. Doing that really shows how the game is balanced around healing... the true final boss was especially demotivating to die to. I was really proud when I did it.

this dumb thing


Don't know if playing with a 360 controller was the worst way to go but it certainly wasn't the best. Took three hours.

@Nemoide#22722 I was very interested in The Dark Spire when it came out, mainly because of the aesthetic and the cool wireframe mode gimmick. Reading this, however, it’s probably for the best that I never played it…I most certainly would not have had the mental stamina to finish it.

@kory#22727 Yeah, it is a game for very few people who can deal with its difficulty, to say nothing about its near complete lack of story. I‘m honestly surprised that it’s become as valuable as it has in recent years because its appeal is definitively narrow!

I feel like it‘s the generic answer, but I played through and completed Demon’s Souls on the PS5 finally. I've tried to play quite a few of the Souls games before and always ended up dropping them after a boss or two. I had always gone in to these games blind, and decided that maybe it was time to do a little research before fully getting into the game. I spent a lot of time reading on fextralife and really learned the stats system, which made all the difference. I fully understood how to build my character, what my strengths were, and how to improve their power in combat. The actual gameplay, and exploration of the labyrinthian levels ended up being a lot more fun once I learned all the systems. I still died a bunch, and had a few bosses give me some issues, but I actually enjoyed it and felt accomplished seeing the credits roll.

I beat Ninja Gaiden Black, and Ninja Gaiden 2 back in high school one summer. I used to love that kind of hack and slash gameplay and enjoyed the challenge. I don't know if I could beat those again though.


I have such a love hate relationship with that game. I have purchased it and sold it back out of frustration at least 3 times, each time I buy it back thinking "it'll be different this time." I love the concept but just can't git gud.

I quit playing mass effect because I couldn't read the tiny menu text on my twenty-something inch standard def CRT when it first came out... My wife beat the first 2 games on her 12" CRT screen that was in her room. When I asked how she possibly accomplished this she just said she really like the games.

I too will typically just stop playing a game if it gets too hard. Sometimes I'll get to the final boss and just get so frustrated that I'll watch the ending on YouTube and pretend I beat it. I did this with yakuza 3 or 4, can't remember which. I really don't care about the personal achievement if I'm not having fun doing it.

Funnily enough I love the Souls series. I've beat all of those, except sekiro and demons souls (working on it). I think the difference in that game is that everything is so mechanical that if you lose, it's usually pretty apparent why and what you can do better to overcome a challenge. For that reason it's easy for me to keep banging against it until I prevail.

i really have not played very many ‘difficult’ games, i‘m realizing as i scan my brain… it might actually be Celeste, which had a few sections that i had to replay so many times that the game ceased to be at all enjoyable for me. tbh, i really do not find it in any way enjoyable to get stuck on a single boss or area or challenge or puzzle in a game for hours on end. it does not give me positive vibes. i’ve been putting off playing any of the Souls games for this reason, although i suspect that i will enjoy them otherwise.

Celeste is an interesting one for me. When I first got it a couple years back I bounced off it pretty quick, it just felt a little inscrutable and I got frustrated trying to even work out basic moves. I came back to it last year and fell in love with it and finished the whole thing without getting too frustrated.

So it makes me reflect on what changed. I mean I was shocked at how quickly I got turned off it at first. I consider myself a platform-liker for sure, SMW was my favourite game as a kid and I love Mario games to this day. I guess the first big difference between my first and second attempts was my frame of mind as a player. I've become more confident in my ability to play challenging things over the past few years as I've gotten into playing modern games - even a year ago I would've described myself as a casual player, and now I wouldn't say I'm a hardcore gamer or anything, but gamehugger? Sure.

The other big change, and just as important as mindset, was technical: I got the Hori split pad pro thingy. You know, this guy:
I cannot express what a huge difference this made. And it was less about the d-pad than I expected - I still found myself using the left stick without realising a lot of the time. It was the ergonomics of the controls and the feel of the buttons. SO much more comfortable and intuitive than the joycons for handheld play. I honestly think without this I never would've finished Celeste.

So for me, persisting with a difficult game means the stars have to align - mindset, the right tools, and of course the third thing I haven't mentioned which is that apart from a couple of screens I think were a little longer than they needed to be, Celeste respects the heck out of your time. Instant restarts on the current screen is at the core of this game's design brilliance.

I have some thoughts about difficulty settings too, because there's other games I consider difficult that I've finished, but only because they had difficulty settings and I'm perfectly happy to drop to Easy when things get too much if I'm otherwise engaged by a game (I finished Celeste on normal though, for what it's worth!). Might come back later and talk about difficulty stuff!

That Hori split pad is so awesome. Oddly enough my favorite use of it is using the turbo features in Animal Crossing.

With regards to hardest game, I guess its technically _Cuphead_? I am having trouble thinking of other hard games I've even taken a shot at. Maybe some of the Halo games on the 'legendary' difficulty, but I think _Cuphead_ was ultimately more difficult.

This also unearthed a memory of my parents letting me rent _Mario is Missing_ before I was really at that reading level, the clerk at Video Update even said I was probably too young. I remember bumbling through that with great difficulty, but I didn't beat it.

This is an interesting topic to think about! I‘m sure I have plenty of examples from my early gaming days – I would refuse to be defeated by games and would always turn them up to the hardest difficulty (thinking it “is the only real way” to play a game). Nothing from that era particularly stands out for me, however. I’m sure Enemy Unknown and Terror From The Deep count, first play through of Doom was, of course, on ultra-violence. I‘ve long since abandoned those ways, however. I will always select whatever the default or “normal” mode is in a game now. I don’t have anything to prove, I just want to play through a thing and have some fun. I figure “normal” is most likely to be whatever the intended design is.

However since the OP suggested getting subjective instead I would like to mention a different kind of difficulty I once mastered:

For a while, I was a world record holder for a best lap time in Wipeout 3 Special Edition. I have since been beaten, I haven't looked in quite a while so I don't know if I have slipped to third or perhaps even lower or not by now.

W3SE is certainly a skill based game, but it is not a typical example of what one thinks of when imagining a "hard game". Going for the record, however, is an entirely different experience than regularly playing through the game. For about three quarters of the time I was doing so, I didn't even realise I was competing for worlds fastest! I would play the game with a close friend, we would allow each other 3 attempts and then have to pass the controller over. Our friendly competition with each other drove us to improve, and it wasn't until well in to this process that I discovered there was an online community of W3SE players tracking times on a centrally administered database. I saw the times and realised that we were not very far off! We'd managed to push each other to what would have been a top 5 position just on our own, but with that new goal seemingly not unrealistically far off I decided to keep trying.

I've certainly played _harder_ games than W3SE, but for my very subjective and interpretive take on "hardest" and "beaten", I think this has to be the one for me.

I found the final battle sequence in Final Fantasy VIII very challenging. Even with very fine tuned lvl 100 characters it's a slog. Anyone else get owned by Ultimecia a lot?

@GigaSlime#22708 I did the ol' MGS4 no deaths, no kills, no alerts in one play through. Probably on normal mode, so I didn't experience the excruciating pain you did. However it was still quite difficult. I believe I did it to unlock the stealth camouflage and bandanna in one satisfying hit.

On a related note, I once attempted the no deaths, no kills, no alerts and no saves in MGS3, managed to get all the way to the Shagohod base and my dang PS2 froze up. ***sadbigbossnoises*** :(

@Syzygy#22788 Ah, it all makes sense now haha.

Desert Bus