If you’re of a certain age, you might be reading the word “Arcade” and wondering what the heck that is. Well, we are here to tell you a story. A history of state-of-the-art video game machines that outperformed their players. With games that were so ahead of their time that, to this day, most of them are genuinely beautiful. But not everything is great. There was a seedy side to these majestic video game obelisks. They needed to get your grubby little rooms.
And so some of these arcade games were built from the ground up to be devilishly difficult in order to empty your pockets. And how that difficulty arose is interesting in itself. Some of these games achieved greatness, in part, because of their difficulty; other titles were just twisted and evil, and that difficulty held them back. But while we strive to present a wide variety of unique titles here, there is one thing that ties them all together. These games are terribly difficult!
9 X-Men: The Arcade
X-Men: The Arcade Game is a much-loved beat ’em up. It’s remarkable how much chaos is on screen at one time. But boy, trying to play that game without backup is HARD. Hitstun barely exists in X-Men: The Arcade Game and enemies hit like a truck. More worryingly, using your power means giving up your health. Oh, and there are armies of thugs to fight. They keep coming and fill the screen. If the machine is on the expert difficulty setting, you are going to die. Much.
We’re putting this classic at the bottom of the list for a reason. Technically, if you bring enough coins, anyone can beat X-Men: The Arcade. Even on the hardest difficulty. But wouldn’t you rather use that money for a down payment on a house?
8 dragon’s lair
Dragon’s Lair is a Machiavellian arcade game that’s just brutal, unfair, and largely a matter of memorization. You know those notorious quick-time events that took games by storm for a hot minute? The ones that everyone decided they essentially don’t like anymore? Well, Dragon’s Lair is a QTE series… but without directions. You have five buttons, corresponding to four directions and a sword move. You’ll have to figure out which button is most likely to help you in any given situation.
Some of these make sense, but a lot of them seem to rely on you making an educated guess. The timing here can be adjusted, and once again, you’re not given a clear indication of when you’re supposed to react to a given obstacle. Fortunately, animation is a joy and dying is part of the fun. However, beating this thing in the arcades would have required you to take out a second mortgage.
7 Donkey Kong
There’s a reason Donkey Kong remains, to this day, an active, competitive game. That’s because Donkey Kong is a incredibly difficult game to master. Most people can go through all four stages at least once, but to get to the elimination screen, you’ll need to go through twenty more times. Every time you get wrapped up, the enemies get faster and faster. And yes, that includes that spooky spring.
It will take hours of continuous play, without the luxury of continuing, to be able to read the elimination screen. Beating Donkey Kong is not for the faint of heart. To put things into perspective, despite being the most popular arcade game of its era, an era where arcades were exploding in popularity, it took someone a year and a half to get to the elimination screen. yowza!
6 gunslinger bird 2
You know, one thing you have to love about Gunbird 2 is that it’s a game with a lot of charm, that it has a lot of tools for the player to use, yet it’s endless, relentless and relentlessly brutal. this game does No go easy on you. Of course, if you’ve played games in this genre before, then you know exactly what you’re getting into. They don’t call them bullet hell shooters for nothing
However, here’s the thing: Gunbird 2 is considered difficult among bullet shooter enthusiasts. When you have the masochists of the gaming world saying something is pretty hard, you know you’re dealing with a game that’s downright diabolical. It’s stayed relevant in those circles because of how well made and charming it is, but it’s its difficulty that makes it legendary.
5 ghosts and goblins
Ghosts N’ Goblins is an absolute legend. If you’ve been around, you know the score. You win the game and then as a gift you have to win it again. But, you know, it’s harder the second time. This series is absolutely brutal. It requires a degree of mastery that will seem unfair at first glance. Especially when you get to the later stages. It’s it is overpowerable, so if you’re good enough, you’ll absolutely be able to beat him, but it’ll take a lot of time and money.
If you want to experience this game in all its glory, we recommend that you choose the excellent remake. It provides a million ways to mitigate the difficulty in a fun way, while still allowing you to enjoy your masochism and play the game in a state similar to that of the original title. God help you if you go for the full experience.
4 Enchanted castle
Castlevania is a series known for being quite harsh. That’s right! The titles in that storied franchise are legitimately tough. But compared to Haunted Castle, the first game in the Castlevania franchise, they’re all an absolute joke. The game gives you three lives and we guarantee that unless you have injected hundreds of quarters into the machine, it will not be enough.
Maybe you think we are exaggerating. Well, this game has been released on all modern consoles, so we recommend you to search for it. Haunted Castle is a game that requires several games to master. You will have to memorize the layout of the stage and figure out the tricks to beat the bosses in order to progress. Play, die and learn. This is how you beat Haunted Castle. The difficulty here is absolutely twisted.
3 Dance Dance Revolution Franchise
Of all the titles on this list, DDR is the only one that requires physical stamina and genuine dexterity. Being good at DDR doesn’t simply require pattern recognition and memorization. You need to physically train your body to complete songs on the hardest difficulty.
While it’s conceivable that some of the most difficult games ever made can be practiced and completed in a short amount of time, we don’t think the same can be said for DDR. You will have physical limitations that you will have to overcome. Most of the hardcore games require you to be a dedicated gamer to complete them; the DDR franchise requires you to be a fucking athlete.
two ultimate mortal kombat 3
Hey, you know what’s really, really fun in a fighting game? When the AI magically uses the best possible counter for your attack a single frame after you use yours. FUN!Many of the games on this list are great, but it just pushes the player. That’s not the case with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. That’s right, you heard it here first. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is a fucking cheater.
The game flagrantly reads your inputs. Playing Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is an exercise in learned helplessness. You will win rounds, but it doesn’t seem like you did anything different to win them. When you take a match, it’s almost as if the CPU has decided to let you have it. Otherwise, it’s a series of blowout losses. Pump in the quarters and pray. That is your only hope.
1 Tetris: The Grandmaster 3 Terror-Instinct
Tetris: The Grand Masters 3 is Tetris taken to another level. This game has credits, and reaching them is not a piece of cake, but the real The challenge comes from finishing the game with top honors. If you want to earn the honor of ever finishing the game with a Grandmaster ranking, you’ll need to play Tetris at breakneck speed while scoring multiple Tetrises.
That’s not so bad, right? Well… the blocks are invisible once you place them. No, you didn’t misread that; at one point, if you’re chasing Grandmaster ranking, the final leg will conclude with the blocks becoming invisible. On its own, Tetris: The Grand Master 3 Terror Instinct is already extraordinarily ruthless, but reaching Grand Master rank makes things much, much more brutal. Oh sorry, we forgot to mention that you have to do this MULTIPLE TIMES on the same account to reach Grandmaster rank.
Next: The best cooperative arcade games