The 15 Most Difficult (And 15 Easiest) Video Games, Officially Ranked
Today, the video game industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Between games on consoles, PCs, and phones, there are millions of games available to this day. Video games have evolved over the years to become more advanced, improving graphics and gameplay, but some of the most popular games are decades old at this point. The video game industry shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, with several different companies coming out with new consoles to give players a new gaming experience.
All video games are unique in their own way, whether that uniqueness comes from the story, gameplay, or graphics. Most games come with the option to change the difficulty so that every gamer can enjoy the game, but sometimes games are extremely difficult even on the easiest settings. This can be frustrating for gamers who want to have fun playing games, but they have no choice but to rage quit because of the difficulty. On the other hand, some games can be super easy to beat, even on the hardest difficulty possible, which is frustrating for those looking for a challenge. Most games have a good balance of difficult and easy levels, but some games are just way to difficult, while others are incredibly easy.
With that said, here are The 15 Most Difficult Video Games (And 15 That Are Too Easy), Officially Ranked.
30 Difficult: Bloodborne
Released in 2015, Bloodborne follows a character named the Hunter who defeats enemies and beasts in a city with strange blood-borne illnesses. While the game included several weapons and upgrades, there were also several different types of enemies and bosses that posed a great threat to the player.
The developers of the game purposefully gave the game a tough combat system, which forced players to not only viciously attack enemies, but also strategize as well. Despite the challenging difficulty, Bloodborne was basically universally praised by those who played the game.
29 Easy: Star Fox Adventures
The Star Fox franchise was born in the year 1993, but Star Fox Adventures was released a bit later in 2002. Upon Star Fox Adventures’ release, the game received mainly positive reviews, but one complaint the title often faced was that it was too different from the other Star Fox titles and that it was way too easy.
Everything from the combat to the puzzles were considered to be incredibly easy. Even if players did manage to get stuck, the sidekicks in the game would help the gamer out.
28 Difficult: Cuphead
Cuphead is a recent indie video game that uses animation based on cartoons from the 1930s. It also features run-and-gun gameplay that manages to make the game extremely difficult. The game includes multiple boss battles, forcing players to have perfect timing in order to defeat them.
Some may think that having a buddy play with them would make it easier, but adding a second player only makes the game harder. Even though the game is known for it’s challenging difficulty, Cuphead was highly praised by fans and critics alike.
27 Easy: New Super Mario Bros. 1 & 2
Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985, and to this day is still considered one of the greatest games of all time. There have been several additional Mario games over the years, including New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. 2, which were released on the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS respectively.
While both games received positive reviews when they were released, they are known for being relatively easy entries to the Mario franchise. Boss levels are typically hard in Mario games, but even the boss fights in both of these games don’t present much of a challenge.
26 Difficult: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
As popular and successful as Mike Tyson was in his boxing career, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that he got his own game in 1987. His game was called Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! and was no doubt a tough game to beat.
The fighters in the ring got tougher as the game went on, forcing players to memorize the boxer’s fighting patterns to overcome their opponent. Since Tyson is known for his success in the ring, it only made sense that he would be the toughest part of the game.
25 Easy: Smurf: Rescue In Gargamel’s Castle
As if Gargamel hadn’t caused enough trouble in The Smurfs TV show, he returned in the 1982 game to abduct Smurfette. The game was highly praised upon release, but compared to games today, the title is incredibly easy. The controls were very simple as players could only make their Smurf jump and move left or right.
As gamers continued the game, spiders and bats were added to make the game harder, but even then it wasn’t very challenging. Smurf: Rescue In Gargamel’s Castle is definitely one of the easier games on this list, and people can complete it in a short amount of time.
24 Difficult: Silver Surfer NES
The character Silver Surfer made his comic book debut in 1966, and in 1990, he got his own video game. The game was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and is known even to this day for being difficult. The gameplay is divided between a side-scrolling and overhead perspective, but both setups were hard for players.
Despite Silver Surfer being strong in the comic books, the character would perish after one hit, when his opponents only went down after being attacked multiple times. There were also several obstacles players had to avoid running into, otherwise they had to start the level over.
23 Easy: Pokémon Sun And Moon
The Pokémon franchise has been going strong ever since the first game was released in 1996. The series has seen newfound interest in recent years due to the release of Pokémon Go and the upcoming Detective Pikachu movie, but the franchise has released dozens of games over the years.
While each Pokémon game puts a unique twist on the series, the games Pokémon Sun and Moon are often considered to be way easier than previous titles. This was mainly due to the lack of actual content in the game, but developers have redeemed themselves since 2016.
22 Difficult: Flappy Bird
In May 2013, Flappy Bird took the world by storm when it was released on the App Store and Google Play. The game is known for its jerky controls and incredibly difficult gameplay. The gameplay was fairly straight-forward; tapping the screen made the bird fly up, while not tapping the screen sent the bird plummeting towards the ground.
The game drew a lot of controversy with many people criticizing it for ripping off the visual-style of Mario games, and even being a clone of previously released apps. Due to the controversy, and the supposedly addictive nature of the game, it was removed from the App Store and Google Play in 2014.
21 Easy: Luigi’s Mansion
Luigi’s Mansion was originally released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2001, but was also remade on the Nintendo 3DS in 2018. The premise of the game has gamers play as Luigi, who uses a flashlight and vacuum to suck up portrait ghosts in a haunted mansion.
Even though the game was loved by fans for the graphics and fun gameplay, there were a few setbacks to the game, one of which was the difficulty. Luigi’s Mansion didn’t really give gamers much of a challenge and was also very short.
20 Difficult: Battletoads
Even though thousands of games have come out since the ‘90s, Battletoads is often considered one of the hardest video games to this day. The game revolves around a group of warrior toads attempting to defeat an evil Dark Queen, which was way harder than it sounds.
The game didn’t come with a save feature and fans got very few lives, which meant that getting through all 13 levels was very difficult. The game was released after the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and was met with positive reviews, despite the tough difficulty.
19 Easy: The Karate Kid
After the success of John G. Avildsen’s 1984 movie The Karate Kid, Nintendo decided to release a video game of the movie in 1987. The game is based on the events of the first two movies, and while Daniel has a tough time training in the movies, gamers can easily breeze through this title.
The game consisted of four levels, most of which could be completed by simply kicking the enemies. Only two enemies would ever appear on the screen at one time, and gamers could even just walk away if they didn’t feel like fighting the enemy.
18 Difficult: Contra
Contra eventually got a home release, but it originated as an arcade game. The game was set around two commandos who were tasked with uncovering the secret of an alien entity known as Red Falcon. The title is considered a run and gun video game and while players had infinite ammo, that often didn’t help.
What makes the game so hard is the fact that a single hit means game over for the player. The game can be extremely difficult at times, and is often included on lists that focus on the hardest video games ever made.
17 Easy: CSI: Fatal Conspiracy
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ran for a total of 15 seasons on CBS and did quite well for the network. Given the size of the CSI fanbase, it would have been a mistake to not capitalize on the video game side of the series. CSI: Fatal Conspiracy was the ninth game in the CSI series, and like other CSI games, it was incredibly easy.
The CSI games were basically just an interactive episode of the show, as players just had to walk around and investigate crime scenes, while analyzing evidence. Not only was CSI: Fatal Conspiracy incredibly easy, but it was also met with mixed reviews.
16 Difficult: Jurassic Park NES
The Oscar-winning movie Jurassic Park was released in the summer of 1993, and the video game was released at the end of that same year. Gamers are tasked with simply surviving inside the park, while completing side objectives, which was no easy feat.
Not only did players have to shoot dinosaurs to survive, but they also had to avoid a Tyrannosaurus Rex that couldn’t be defeated, only avoided. To top things off, the game also included mystery boxes that could aid the players, but some took away energy or even a life.
15 Easy: Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. is a popular fighting game that features several iconic video game heroes and villains. The first game in the series, Super Smash Bros., was released in 1999, and the most recent entry to the franchise was the 2018 game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While each game has some type of improvement to differentiate it from previous titles, the basic concept has remained the same.
Rather than depleting health bars, the main objective in the Super Smash Bros. games is to knock the other players off the side of the stages. While the games are no doubt a lot of fun to play, there isn’t really anything too challenging since button-mashing can often lead to victory.
14 Difficult: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originated in comic books in the ‘80s, but their franchise has grown to encompass TV shows, movies, and even video games. The first of these video games was released in 1989 by Konami for the NES. The game has gamers retrieve a “Life Transformer Gun” from Shredder, which was no easy feat.
The game is known for its extreme difficulty, with many complaining that the game didn’t feel complete. That point is validated by the fact that the DOS version of the game contains a gap that gamers can’t jump without the use of a cheat.
13 Easy: The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout
Bugs Bunny is no doubt one of the most recognizable cartoon characters ever. He has been included in movies, TV shows, books, and, of course, video games. One of Bugs Bunny’s games comes in the form of the 1990 game The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout.
This game is notorious for being extremely easy to beat, with gamers having plenty of chances to regain their health and having bosses that barely pose a challenge. The title was so easy that there were even cheat codes on the Game Genie that would make the game harder to beat!
12 Difficult: Mega Man 9
All of the Mega Man video games are known for being difficult, but Mega Man 9 often takes the cake for being the hardest in the series. Mega Man 9 was released in 2008, but also included simple 8-bit visuals.
That being said, the bosses in the game are no easy task to finish off. Also, gamers would have to put hours upon hours into the game to collect all of the game's achievements, some of which make gamers beat the game without being defeated and without the use of energy tanks.
11 Easy: Super Monkey Ball 3D
Super Monkey Ball has been around since 2001, and the most recent addition to the franchise was Super Monkey Ball Bounce in 2014. Rewind a few years to 2011, and Super Monkey Ball 3D was released.
The game was released on the 3DS and was quickly criticized for ripping off Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. While previous entries to the Super Monkey Ball games have never been super challenging, Super Monkey Ball 3D brought that to a whole new level since the controls are easy to pick up quickly.
10 Difficult: Super Meat Boy
Many people might not be familiar with the indie game Super Meat Boy, but the game is notorious for being incredibly difficult. The title was released in 2010 and lets players play as Meat Boy, who is trying to rescue his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from a villain named Dr. Fetus.
Critics and fans often praise Super Meat Boy, but the game is known for being very hard. Each level has a variety of weapons designed to defeat the player including saw blades and crumbling blocks. In order to pass each level, players have to react immediately and have perfect timing on jumps, which is easier said than done.
9 Easy: Pong
Pong is by far the oldest game on this list, but is also one of the easiest. Pong was considered revolutionary in 1972 and definitely helped launch the video game industry. While Pong has an important place in video game history, the gameplay just doesn’t live up to today’s standards.
Pretty much anybody can play Pong, as the controls are simply moving a paddle up and down. Sure, the levels go faster as the game proceeds, but the game just isn’t a challenge for many people compared to other games today.
8 Difficult: Superman 64
With the popularity Superman has gathered over the years, video games were bound to include the character. One of his more notorious games was Superman 64. The game was set in a virtual recreation of Metropolis that Lex Luthor created to challenge Superman. The game is still talked about to this day, but not in the way Nintendo was hoping for.
When the game was released in 1999, gamers quickly discovered that Superman 64 was a pretty awful attempt at a video game. The game was widely criticized for being extremely difficult due to the poorly crafted controls and the many bugs that affected the gameplay.
7 Easy: Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Kirby’s Epic Yarn may be one of the easiest games on this list, but there is no denying how fun this game is. The game has received nothing but praise since its release, mostly due to its unique and charming visuals.
With that in mind, the game is so easy that it is essentially impossible to fail. Most people would agree that the difficulty is way too easy, especially since Kirby can’t really perish and instead forces gamers to finish the levels with a high bead count.
6 Difficult: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
While most people consider the 1988 game Super Mario Bros. 2 the true sequel to the original Super Mario Bros., there was actually a game released in 1986 called Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. The game was originally released in Japan under the title Super Mario Bros. 2, and is known for being way more difficult than the original game.
The game featured poison mushrooms, warp pipes that sent gamers backward rather than forward, as well as levels that were considered speedruns. Needless to say, the Mario titles that were released after this point were much easier.
5 Easy: Yoshi's Story
Yoshi’s Story may have been targeting younger audiences, but given the character’s popularity, the game obviously attracted adult gamers as well. Released on the Nintendo 64, Yoshi’s Story was a sequel to the challenging title called Yoshi’s Island. Yoshi’s Story was based in a pop-up storybook and was presented as more of a puzzle game than anything else.
While the visuals were fun to see, the difficulty was so easy that it didn’t even really present a challenge for younger viewers. The game received mixed reviews at best, and the level of difficulty is often considered the reason why it didn’t get better reviews.
4 Difficult: Ninja Gaiden II
There have been multiple games in the Ninja Gaiden series going all the way back to 1988, but the 2008 Ninja Gaiden II is often considered the hardest game in the franchise. The enemies in some levels relentlessly attack the main character, Ryu, and some levels even give his foes cannons for arms.
Of course, these cannons fire with near perfect accuracy and drain Ryu’s health. Apart from the high difficulty level, Ninja Gaiden II is remembered fondly for having way more gore and blood than previous games.
3 Easy: Kirby’s Dream Land
Kirby has been at the forefront of several games over the years, but Kirby’s Dream Land is considered one of the easiest Kirby games ever. The game was released in 1992 for the Game Boy and was developed to be a relatively simple game.
The story revolves around King Dedede stealing the Sparkling Stars and food from Dream Land, with Kirby volunteering to stop him. Kirby’s Dream Land was a side-scrolling game that really didn’t present a challenge for most players since Kirby was much more powerful than his enemies.
2 Difficult: Dark Souls
Dark Souls was the second game in the Souls franchise that came out in 2011. The title is considered a spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, which came out in 2009. The title is known for being absolutely unforgiving with the difficulty, leaving many people to replay levels over and over again.
This dark fantasy game received a lot of praise upon its release, but many people criticized it because of the insane level of difficulty. Over time, however, many people felt refreshed with the challenge the game presented.
1 Easy: The Walking Dead: Telltale Games Series
Telltale Games had developed several games prior to their The Walking Dead games, but they saw a lot of success with The Walking Dead. The main reason for their success was that their games were more narrative driven, allowing players to pick the choices their character makes.
All of the Telltale Games Series follow this same formula and while it can be fun to watch and play a “choose your own adventure” story, it doesn’t really present gamers with much of a challenge. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt last year, so gamers will have to find new episodic adventure games going forward or just replay Telltale Games’ titles.
Are there any other games that should have made the list? Sound off in the comments!