16 Incredibly Difficult Video Game Levels and Moments

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by MandieM

It's time for another fabulous list of sentimental video game information! 

This time, we're going to take a look at some of the hardest video game levels and moments from games released before 2005. This list is not limited to these games; go ahead and add your own in the comments below if you'd like to see them added.

You'll notice that this particular list doesn't really have many newer games in it; there's a very good reason for that. Newer games have a much higher complexity level and are really more difficult than a lot of these earlier games. Putting them in the same list felt a bit like pairing up a tangerine with an orange--similar, but really not quite the same, because one is much easier to peel.

Another list is forthcoming for newer games. Happy reminiscing! 


Hey..psst. Image from Dave's T Shirts.

Super Mario World Tubular

The only thing "tubular" about this level was the pipes. Appropriate words for the rest of it include frustrating, maddening, horrifying, rage-quit-inducing, and annoying. Tubular frustrated gamers everywhere.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Grandmaster Galaxy) -- The Perfect Run

Easily the most frustrating part of the entire game, overcoming this was a little like reaching personal Nirvana.

Mike Tyson's Punch Out - Mike Tyson Round 

This classic NES game was considered one of the hardest games available for years. It was the Mike Tyson round at the end of the game that was the most maddening.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl -Stage 31- The Great Maze

There was just so much going on in this level that it was difficult to navigate. Throw in plenty of little explosions, and a flashy background and it's difficult to pay attention.

Great Palace -  Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link 

While video game players today may find the Great Palace a cake walk, it was also a very difficult game for its time.

Sonic Unleashed - 360 - Eggmanland

When it comes to Sonic games, Eggmanland was the be-all, end all for difficult levels. The constant movement, enormous gaps, and required button combinations made this heavily practiced by many.

Battletoads (NES) co-op 

This one is more so the entire game, as it is played on Co-Op--but no warps allowed! Battletoads is still one of my favorite games in spite of this.

Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels C-3

I'm actually pretty sure the developers got to C-3 and basically decided to just troll the crap out of every player on Earth. There's absolutely no way they didn't experience a bit of schadenfreude with this level. 

GoldenEye 007 - Aztec - 00Agent

GoldenEye was the golden age of video games. Unfortunately, this particular level was tricky, sneaky, and damned near impossible to beat without dying.

Ninja Gaiden Black - Alma 2 - Hard

While the regular setting wasn't so bad, hard should have been renamed to "mind-bendingly, screamingly difficult."

Mega Man 9 - Galaxy Man Stage

There are a few Mega Man levels that could qualify for "overwhelmingly difficult." Of all of the potential levels, though, the Galaxy Man stage was definitely the most difficult.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) - Water Dam 

It's the most bizarre thing--of all of the video games I've ever played, this game and this level stuck with me the most. I can remember it clear as day even if I haven't played it for many years. It was difficult, but also really fun and it stood out at the time.

Devil May Cry (PS2) (Legendary Dark Knight) (Dante Must Die!) Speed Run

Whoever made this video was a brave soul. You didn't even need to run this level as a speed run in order to make it incredibly difficult. You could even take your time and it would make you insane.

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time: Water Temple

Just how many times did you have to run this level before you were able to successfully beat it? I lost count. The Water Temple was also one of my favorite levels; Ocarina of Time was one of my favorite video games of all time. I couldn't make this list without including it.

Super Monkey Ball - Expert 

This is yet another "entire game" selection. As long as you turned it onto expert mode, it took at least several practice runs...if not many more.

Contra (NES)

It's known as the hardest game of all time to many, even up there in the running with Mike Tyson's Punchout. Contra still defies me to this day frequently--although that doesn't mean I don't attempt it regularly.

Published Mar. 17th 2014

Featured Correspondent

MandieM is a gamer girl with a double-life. In the day, she masquerades as TaskHeroGirl, a valiant freelance copywriter. At night, she turns back into the mild-mannered MandieM, gamer extraordinaire. She likes games that are packed full of great stories, filled with inspiration and meaning, or even just good, clean, silly fun. When she's not writing at GameSkinny or working, she's probably tucking into the newest Steam game or finding her way through some distant dimension.


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