10 of the Hardest and Most Frustrating NES Games

We’re taking a look at 10 of the hardest and most frustrating NES games ever created.For me personally, my whole love affair with video games started with the NES. At the time it’s 8-bit graphics capabilities were the shit and just about everyone I knew owned the console.

It’s pretty funny when you look back at all of the classic games and compare them to what’s on the market now. Although games are far more complex now I would argue that they are much easier and don’t present real life or death consequences. Instead, there’s always some sort of checkpoint or even the ability to save in general. On top of that, you’ll be sent a “game over” message only to start back up at the latest saved point.

Nothing can be more frustrating than actually experiencing a game over. Remember when those depressing words would come up and actually make you start your game all over again? Well, I certainly do and the memories of the temper tantrums I threw still haunt me to this day. As a result, here is a list of 10 NES games that drove me up the f*cking wall!

Mega Man 2

I would easily rank the Mega Man series as a whole to be one of the most difficult to play ever created. You have to play the game over and over in order to have any success as attack mechanics are not very precise and the enemies move quite fast. If you have the patience to continue failing until you’ve essentially memorized every single pattern then you may have a chance at completing the game, if not I’d suggest cutting your losses now and moving on with your life.

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out

First off, what a fantastic game! To date, I’ve yet to play a more entertaining boxing game and that says a lot considering it’s now 30 years old. As much as Punch Out is fun to play it certainly has its way of kicking you while you’re down. This typically comes in the form of mid-round chirps and taunts when you’ve been knocked down. On top of this, there are a few fighters that play pretty dirty such as Don Flamingo when you fight him for the second time. Not only is he trying to make you lose stamina so that you can’t hit him but he compliments the ref, aka Mario, on his hair so that he wins any potential decision vote.

I suppose the most irritating part of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out is when you finally go up against Iron Mike himself. It takes a considerable amount of skill and patience to get this far in the first place, only to be taken out by a flurry of hard punching fists that make you question why you even bothered to challenge the champ in the first place. The fun part is that whenever you lose a fight you go down the rankings and are forced to fight guys all over again. I can honestly say that after losing to the baddest man on the planet I typically throw the controller and yell at the TV “this is bullshit”.

Pro-AM Racing

Do you like racing games that have been built by a bunch of trolls who are looking to make you lose your shit? Well, you’re in luck because Pro-Am racing is the worst!

First off, 8 bit graphics and trying to control an overly sensitive vehicle through a number of obstacles using a d-pad is hard enough to do. Now throw in weapons, speed boosts, and a glitch that makes it physically impossible to win some races and you’ll have yourself wondering why the hell you even bothered playing this game in the first place. The glitch I speak of has to do with the yellow car speeding through everyone at a speed that is about double that of any other cars. Not only does this make it impossible to win a race but the game mechanics are created to end the race once the first place car crosses the finish line, making comebacks impossible.

Double Dragon 3

The Double Dragon series, in general, is a lot of fun and I have a lot of fond memories playing it with my brother growing up. I’m only covering the third installation because it’s the one I played the most.

As with most arcade style games, DD3 starts out pretty simple, only to have ridiculous obstacles later on that make you lose your shit. I can honestly say that even using Game Genie didn’t make beating this game possible in most cases. You eventually get to a level that introduces some jumping obstacles that are very unforgiving, to the point that you can lose all of your health and receive a game over almost instantly. I can understand if you were given a bunch of extra lives like in Mario Bros. Do that you could keep trying until you figure it out, however, that’s not the case here. You simply die, get mad, and then feel shame…

Mario Bros. 3

Considering the technical limitations of the NES, in comparison to what’s available today, Mario Bros. 3 was nothing short of amazing. As far as my top ranked games of all time goes, I would consider it to be in my top 25.

Now you might be thinking why I’ve included such a praiseworthy game in this list. The main reason stems from the fact that the game can take an incredibly long time to beat and there are no saving capabilities. In most cases, your only choice is to leave the console running, sometimes for days at a time, while hoping that your parents or siblings don’t go and turn the system off on you. I can only imagine that Mario Bros. 3 was the cause of many domestic disturbances over the years.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If you’ve ever played the very first TMNT game on the NES then you’ll know exactly why it’s been added to this list. It’s your typical broken NES game that many people would have owned because it was the 90s and the Turtles were considered to be pretty gnarly. That being said, the completion rate of the game must have been considerably low. I personally can’t recall how far I ever managed to get in the game but I know it was never over about 30 minutes of playing before I died.

The game had all 4 Turtles to pick from, however, only Donatello and Leonardo were any good because they had such a long reach with their weapons. The developers gave Mikey and Raph such horrible attacking radiuses that by the time it was down to them being your last characters you were almost better off starting the game over.

Mix the poor attacking mechanics with a confusing level design and an enemy displacement that regenerates all of the bad guys every time you re-enter a room and you’ve got yourself a temper tantrum just waiting to happen! The cherry on top is when you end up in the Turtle Van being run down by giant robots and lose all of your lives…

Just stick to TMNT 2, it’s a fantastic game!

To the Earth

I remember my old man randomly coming home with this game one day and everyone in the family having a go at playing it. Other than Duck Hunt, it was the only game I ever owned that made use of the Zapper. At the time, shooting games were never created to be very lengthy, instead, they were impossible to beat and escalated very quickly in regards to the difficulty level.

As far as shooters go, To the Earth was intense as hell. If you didn’t know the overall pattern in which enemies came in at the game was nearly impossible to beat. The worst part of the game comes in the form of low stamina/power. Essentially, the less health you have the less damage you can do to incoming enemies. Now, of course, this would only make sense, however, it didn’t make an already hard game any easier…

Duck Tales

The original Duck Tales game was nothing short of fantastic and I was delighted when a remake was released a few years back. That being said, I think most people can agree that Duck Tales was a pretty difficult game overall.

It’s only natural to become better at video games as you get older and I don’t remember ever getting close to beating Duck Tales as a kid. So when the opportunity came to have another shot at it with the re-release I jumped on the opportunity only to realize that it’s still a pain in the ass. Sure, I can now make out what the enemies actually look like as opposed to their 8-bit versions, however, I still threw a tantrum and haven’t touched the game since.

Monster Party

As far as weird games go, Monster Party is right up there. My assumption, without actually doing shy research, is that most people would have never played this game as I’ve yet to meet anyone else that’s even heard of it. As far as a synopsis goes, there’s a boy walking down the street and everything turns to shit. There are now monsters everywhere, the scenery looks like a monster threw up everywhere and you have to eventually fight some pretty random bosses, some of which are food… My assumption is that the main character dropped some pretty intense acid, however, he’s just a kid and kids should say no to drugs.

As with most NES games, Monster Party is made overly difficult through the lack of savings points, quick moving enemies and incredibly slow reaction time from your character. I can admit that I have managed to beat this game with the help of a certain Genie and in the end, it turns out that the main character was just dreaming the entire ordeal…

Duck Hunt

Possibly one of the most popular games of its generation, Duck Hunt was a real pain in the ass. All things considered, the zapper gun was pretty great for its time but didn’t make things any better when it came to the user’s overall frustration.

As the ducks come at you faster and faster, while increasing in numbers, it starts to become apparent that the zapper isn’t very accurate, at least that’s what I like to tell myself. Meanwhile, you have some smart ass dog laughing at you when you miss all of the ducks. I suppose if being a game developer was in the cards for me I’d choose to troll the users as well. All in all, Duck Hunt was a great game, it just caused many a tantrum for me. To be honest, I’m surprised my zapper is still in one piece…