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10 Retro Games That Will Make You Rage Quit

These ten retro games have the reputation of being among the most difficult ever created. They show no mercy to challengers, and codes or cheats will only get you so far. To win, you must become a master. Expect to yell a lot.

10. Ninja Gaiden 2004

Ninja Gaiden 2004

The 1988 NES classic 2D game Ninja Gaiden was tough to beat. But the 2004 3D remake just added more ways for every enemy–from the very first battle–to destroy you. When it comes to the bosses, they are downright brutal. Some require perfect play for an extended time if you hope to move on.

9. Zelda II

Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link

The 1987 sequel Zelda II: The Adventure of Link went from a top-down adventure game to a side-scrolling action RPG with some platforming. This departure from the norms of the series made it rather difficult. This definitely tried the patience of a lot of players, especially with combat. If you hope to complete it, you’ll need a walk-through handy.

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The 1990 NES release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn’t belong in the “tough-but-fair” category, more like “anything-but-fair.” Enemies could suddenly respawn. The jumps required pinpoint accuracy. Power-ups were put in impossible-to-reach locations. Worse, situations arose that were impossible to get out of without incurring damage. The difficulty is absurd. Luckily, the sequels are better.

7. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

Super Mario Bros Lost Levels

Many gamers feel that 1986’s Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is the most difficult Super Mario Bros. game ever released. It was deemed too difficult for Western audiences and wasn’t released outside of Japan until seven years later as part of the Super Mario All-Stars collection for SNES. The jumps were especially challenging, as were new hazards like poison mushrooms.

6. Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer
Arcadia Systems

Silver Surfer came out for NES in 1990. It’s notorious for its brutal difficulty. This superhero character is surprisingly weak, dying after a single hit. The Silver Surfer is unable to contact with practically any object in the game. Astonishingly, all the enemies take multiple hits to kill. A single death sends players back to the beginning of a level.

5. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!

Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! from 1987 starts easy but gets increasingly difficult. It requires a good memory. You need to recognize tells if you want to gain an advantage over your opponent in various boxing matches. The later fights will have you pulling your hair out. Even with cheat codes or other methods, Mike Tyson is nearly unstoppable in the ring.

4. Mega Man 9

Mega Man 9

Every title in this franchise is difficult, but 2008’s Mega Man 9 is the hardest game in the series to date. It’s arduous enough beating every level and conquering all bosses. But to unlock all of the game’s achievements, it requires a true master. That means defeating the game without dying or using any energy tanks.

3. Battletoads


Released on NES in 1991, Battletoads lulls you into a false sense of security with its first two stages. Then, it gets shockingly difficult. Riding the Speed Bike in the third level is wild. It never gets any easier from there. It feels like a million ways to die. Who knows how many controllers were destroyed playing this game?

2. Ghosts ‘N Goblins

Ghosts N Goblins

Released for NES in 1986, Ghosts ‘N Goblins’ protagonist dies in two hits. Enemies appear everywhere unexpectedly and can toss power-ups that can hurt you. The sadistic surprise comes when you beat the game. You’re informed you’ve fallen for a “trap devised by Satan.” You must complete the game again at a higher level of difficulty to truly win.

Read More: The 10 Best Nintendo Multiplayer Games from the 1980s

1. Contra


The 1987 run-and-gun game Contra was difficult to beat. Gamers everywhere memorized the Contra or “30 lives” code: “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, b, A.” Contra was one of the first popular multiplayer games. But even in co-op, having some help didn’t make it any easier.

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