Before the days of gaming rigs, consoles, phones and tablets the technology of choice was an arcade machine. Possessing limited graphics, tonal sound and rudimentary controls game designers needed something to draw players in, and get their money. What they did was utilize psychology, making games incredibly difficult so death would be often and players would constantly need to feed in coins, desiring to win. As well as posting high scores prominently to promote competition among friends and strangers alike. Arcades made spending money fun, and set gaming down a road that it continues on today. With modern day studios creating games that pay homage to these controller destroying classics. The following are some of the most difficult games ever made.
Ghosts ’n Goblins (1985)
Ghosts ’n Goblins is a “run and gun” platformer designed by Capcom in 1985 as an arcade game, it has since been ported to computer, console and mobile platforms and is the companies 8th best selling franchise. You play as Arthur, knight of the round table, who must save his princess from Hades by getting past the innumerable amount of creatures standing between them. Along the way you can pick up armour and five different weapon types.
In a way it almost resembles Mario, with you only being able to survive a max of two hits. But the similarities end there as GnG is seen as one of the most difficult games ever made. Your character can duck, run, jump (with no in air control) and fire projectiles in a horizontal line. While enemies can move in all directions and some can fire projectiles that hone in on you. This game necessitates you have the reflexes of a fighter pilot and the brain of Rain Man to anticipate enemy trajectories. To anyone able to beat it, my hat goes off to you.
Myst is a point and click adventure game released for Macintosh in 1993, the setting is loosely based off Jules Verne’s book “The Mysterious Island”. And is different from a lot of traditionally difficult games. In Myst there is no way to attack, and no way to “die”, there is no time limit and only a few parameters in which the player can fail to win. You have as much time as you like to explore a strange, twilight zone island filled with everything from space ships to ancient buildings. No purpose is given and no missions are offered, besides what you can discover from your findings. The creators stated that they expected the game would take 40 hours to complete, but this was rarely the case. Myst doesn’t hold your hand like a lot of games do these days. What’s so amazing is that despite that fact that it’s so difficult, the puzzles actually do make sense. But the correlation between puzzles isn’t linear, with some actions not having an effect until much later in the game. And with nearly 2500 clickable items, the sheer scale of interactions is immense. This game was so fiendishly difficult that until 2002 it was the best selling computer game of all time.
I Want To Be The Guy is an homage to the classic arcade platformers and tells a story as old as time, you play “The Kid” who at the age of fifteen embarks on an adventure to become “The Guy”. On any given level only a few spots aren’t covered in spikes, and you have to jump and weave between random projectiles to land on moving or hidden platforms, with the smallest of miscalculations causing your death. The completion of some levels requires you to jump onto an area where you think an invisible platform may be, adding an element of frustrating, death riddled discovery to an already massively difficult game. Despite this it’s very fun, with interesting level design and humorous bosses, such as Mike Tyson (a reference to another very difficult game called “Punch-Out!!”).
Contra is a Konami designed, military themed “run and gun” game that was made originally for arcades. At first glance it seems like it would be a fairly easy time, your character is capable of running, jumping and going prone as well as shooting in 8 directions and is equipped with a rifle that has unlimited ammunition and can be upgraded into one of four different weapons. Then you learn that so much as being grazed by one enemy projectile, or missing a jump ends in your death. With your upgraded weapon returning to it’s basic state. After three deaths you’re back at the start. Furthermore while you are capable of shooting in 8 directions, some necessitate that you be in the air to do so. You need to be very well coordinated to play this game, and I am sure it has sat collecting dust on many shelves, but those who have defeated it know how rewarding it is.
Discworld is an graphic puzzle/adventure game based off a novel of the same name by Terry Pratchett, it takes place on a flat “Discworld” that is resting on the back of four giant elephants, who themselves are standing on an even larger turtle that swims through the cosmos. With a setting like that you could expect the game to have a few random elements, but to say that would be a vast and misleading understatement. Whereas Myst was difficult, the logic that tied the puzzles together was consistent. Each mystery led into another, it may have just been hard to realize it at first.
Discworld is difficult in a way that makes you wonder if the studio that designed it was located in a sanatorium. The puzzles require you just try everything possible until something works, with no understandable logic grounding the result.
Defeating a dragon for instance, requires you collect four items from random points in the game in order to wash a cart, which gets a donkey locked in the stocks, so you are able to cut the hair on his tail off, that way you can fashion the hair into a moustache (which every good hero needs obviously). If played comically the game is enjoyable, but I can’t see how anyone can beat it without some help.