Nintendo dominated the video game market in the late 1980s with the NES, and then came 1991, when they released its successor, the Super Nintendo, or SNES. The console continued its predecessor's success with a huge library of games that most know about today. Likewise with the NES, the console has its own library of difficult games, although somewhat easier overall compared to the NES library. These 10 games are some of the hardest on the system.

As with my last list, I'm aware of a rating system on the site, but this will not influence the list to an extent. There will also not be any games released only in Japan, and any games that were difficult because of shoddy controls, such as The Wizard of Oz, for one example, will not be in this list.

This list will also not be covering any ports of games from the NES to the SNES, so that takes out Ninja Gaiden Trilogy and, again, Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels (Part of Super Mario All-Stars).

Get your controllers and prepare to launch them at the TV, because we're starting the list.

Ah, yes, Earthworm Jim. If this game doesn't scream "1990s", then nothing will.

The first game was tough in itself (especially considering the demographic that it was appealing to), the sequel took a much different turn on the difficulty and then some.

While the game had very fluent and easy-to-use controls, it often required multitasking with them. For one example, you would have to shoot down an enemy while trying to hook onto a ledge at the same time, and failing resulted in either taking damage or losing a life.

Sure, there are many checkpoints throughout the game, but the surreal nature and everything that can be done in this game is what makes it so difficult.

Difficulty: 6/10 - Very Hard

The 7th Saga (Elnard in Japan) is an Enix RPG, and a fair one, too. However, this one is largely considered to be the hardest RPG on the SNES.

Now, in all RPGs, most bosses can be beaten by grinding, which is expected. However, this game's difficulty spike was seriously cruel from the get-go. The first boss alone would kill you in 2-3 hits under a normal playthrough, and the enemies get very tough, very quickly.

You only get one ally to join you, which can be changed at certain points in the game. In some circumstances, you have to fight them in a somewhat cheap duel. One of the allies you can use, however, turns traitor on you late in the game. That's real fun...

For a game that can be beat in about 40 or so hours, at least 6 will be because you're grinding your ass off just to beat a boss.

Difficulty: 6/10 - Very Hard

In terms of control, this game is the successor to Castlevania III, which was on the last list I made. Super Castlevania IV was easier overall, considering you had many new moves that could be done. In this game, it goes back to its NES roots, where you could whip in only two directions and you're more limited in what can be done with Richter.

In the previous games, you could predict what would happen next to some degree, but this game has enemies continuously appearing and attacking out of nowhere. On top of this, you've got platforms that fall through your feet and certain enemies having a larger attack range than yourself (the spear-users, especially). The bosses of the game are also very fast-paced and unforgiving. One screw-up and you'll most likely have to start the stage again.

The final boss battle is insane in terms of difficulty. In both fights, you have to struggle against Dracula's attacks and defeat him while on poles that just barely allow Richter to stay on top of.

The game is possible to beat, but expect a couple of anger issues. Even though this is a shoddy port from Rondo of Blood, this was all we had in that sense at the time.

Difficulty: 7/10 - Rage-Inducing

The famous difficult run-and-gun series takes a spot in this list with its third game in the series.

This game featured many new moves and abilities given to the player, such as hanging from certain objects and new power-ups. The game also introduced the difficulty setting, something that would be added for every Contra game since.

However, even on Easy, the game will still pummel you with its large array of enemies and the attacks they can do. Like usual, one hit, and you lose your power-ups. Unfortunately, in the Western releases, the Konami Code for 30 lives doesn't exist; you had 7 at the most.

Beating the game is frustrating depending on which difficulty you take. Unless you play the game on Hard, you have to play the game twice. So, it's basically picking a poison; play the game twice or play the game in Hard mode, where you'll be getting killed quite constantly.

The game is cruel, and punishing, and fun. That's why its here.

Difficulty: 7/10 - Rage-Inducing

This game was a bit disappointing compared to its predecessor, as it didn't have the city-building simulations. However, it still maintained the side-scrolling action it had before, but boy, was the difficulty high!

The game looked amazing, but also allowed for enemies to attack in any direction at any time. Many of the boss battles were also inconsistent with their attacks, making it frustrating to beat certain enemies and clear the area. Oh, and there's a time limit to clear the area, which means you'll need to pace through with dying in an embarrassing fashion.

In a way, it's just hoping you make it farther on the current life than you did on the last one. It's brutal, but not impossible.

Difficulty: 7/10 - Rage-Inducing

Honestly, both R-Types on the SNES get a mention, as both were just ridiculous in terms of difficulty, plus they are similar games overall. R-Type III was much harder than Super R-Type, though.

Just like several shoot-em-ups at the time (Gradius III, for example), if you got hit once, you lost all of your power-ups and had to go back. In R-Type III, you had checkpoints, but Super R-Type made you start all the way from the start of the stage. Both games were hard as nails, especially if you lost your power-ups and speed. You pretty much need to keep your speed, as most enemies move and attack faster than your own R-9.

The amount of enemies attacking makes it hard as nails to complete later stages. It's just...crap...flying at you relentlessly. Not just in the stages, but the boss battles were also throwing projectiles everywhere. Considering your Force works as a partial shield does help to a degree, but a shot in the wrong direction and its useless.

You needed the reflexes of a panther and the patience of a saint in order to get through either two games. In terms of 16-bit shoot-em-ups, the R-Type games stand as among the hardest.

Difficulty
Super R-Type: 7.5/10 - Outrageous
R-Type III: 8/10 - Controller-Demolishing

It's Battletoads. Do I really need to say anymore?

Yes? Okay, well, the difficulty is what you expect from this franchise, with only two continues and no passwords. Unlike the NES game, where it punished you heavily for having a second player, this one doesn't have that problem.

Defeating enemies is made much harder, as it requires special combos for some enemies. Apparently, just wailing on their face until they're down isn't enough for this game. The precision needed to get through certain stages is also a chore in itself. The difficulty of the NES game returned to this one, and was amped up to Super Power.

Regardless, this game, and the series in general, will always stand as a testament to the term "difficult as f***".

Difficulty: 8/10 - Controller-Demolishing

The Super Star Wars series as a whole is hard as can be, but it's been generally agreed upon that The Empire Strikes Back is the hardest of the trilogy.

Don't get me wrong, all the Super Star Wars games were great, especially considering that this was a movie-licensed series (something that never really went over too well in earlier years). All of them had three difficulty settings, but they all were harder than steel.

You have a huge amount of enemies and projectile attacks everywhere, similar to what you'd see in Contra, but you also had a lot of power-ups to help you for a time. However, you'll mostly be killed by falling through pits, as they don't give you a sense of where to go.

The boss battles were just absurd! The amount of health they had on occasion went off the screen, resulting in long and seriously drawn-out fights.

Even with cheat codes, this game is unforgiving in so many ways. This is all just a trial-and-error-and-game-demolishing game. Speaking of which...

Difficulty: 9/10 - Game-Demolishing

Ghosts 'n Goblins is to NES as this game is to SNES. This was gonna be on the list without any dissent.

Compared to the NES original, there isn't much difference in terms of gameplay; two hits to get killed, a megaton of enemies and attacks, and you have to beat the game twice. Yep, just like on the NES.

There is some major differences, though. Arthur gets a nice amount of new power-ups to help him out, but they also come in random chests. Some enemies require being killed by certain weapons or power-ups and will not take any damage except it. Because of the randomized chests, it's hard to tell whether the playthrough will be easier or not.

Clearly, the feedback to the original was unfazed, and the game kept its outrageous difficulty, because let's be honest, why fix what just isn't broken?

Difficulty: 9/10 - Game-Demolishing

I know what you're thinking. "How is this game over #2?" Well, this one isn't as known to most (considering the game was only a Blockbuster retail game, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't), but it is still absurd in terms of difficulty. Think Ninja Gaiden combined with Strider, and then make the setting a mechanical world. That's what this game is like.

Almost every button on the controller is an attack of some kind, some of which look overpowered. However, you'd think that kind of power would allow you to bulldoze through the game. Nope!

From the very first boss, the game will throw every kind of attack and obstacle it has to pin your cybernetic ninja down. There is also a decent amount of platforming, as well. The fast-paced action and level design is enough to keep you on your toes, and it never lets up for even a second.

The difficulty is so high, it's close to the verge of unfair, but doesn't cross it. It's unforgiving, heavily punishing, and fun. All at the same time. That's why it holds #1 here.

Difficulty: 9.5/10 - "WTF, DEV?!"

Likewise with its predecessor, there a ton of games that could've made this list. It's all part of the general opinion of the GameFAQs community, as well as several different outside sources. Here's just a few honorable mentions that could also make you wanna crush your SNES controller.

Prince of Persia
The Lion King
Dungeon Master
Nosferatu
Gradius III

The Super Nintendo was a console many remember from the 4th generation, and its library of games had been ported to many consoles over the years (well, most of them anyway). A lot of these games had a start on the NES and kept it's roots of toughness, while some were SNES-exclusives and have remained there since. It has challenged many a gamer in 25 years, and the next console Nintendo put out didn't stop the challenge right then and there.


List by ZeroType-X (06/01/2016)

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