Many people argue with me that gaming has become easier, and when I look back at the 90s, I have to agree. I went through more controllers in those few years, than I did in other gaming generation, and that is because games were just ridiculously hard.
I remember snapping controllers, tossing them across the room which lead to the NES or PlayStation flying with it, and the most painful, slapping that box TV’s glass screen with my bare hand, which caused more damage to my palm than the actual TV itself.
Yes, gaming has become easy, but it is not only thanks to save data, and difficulty levels, but because developers need to cater for everyone. With that being said, lets take a look at those 90s games that were simply painful to play, both mentally and physically.
Myst – 1993
What was even going on in Myst? Maybe I was too young to understand the game, or maybe it was just above my concentration level, but Myst felt like a puzzler/exploration game that was designed by some maniac in order to subconsciously mess with people’s heads.
You would not die, which is a change from other games on this list, but rather stress yourself out trying to figure out just what on Earth is going on, and how to advance to the next gorgeous location.
The puzzles were extremely challenging, and the gameplay was just as hard to grasp, even though it was just a series of still images with a dungeon crawler gameplay.
Time Crisis – 1995
With the PlayStation releasing on home consoles, came the opportunity to bring the arcade into the lounge. Enter Time Crisis, one of the most popular, if not still the best shoot light gun shooter ever made.
The problem here is that the game released with and without the extra GunCon devices that let you shoot your TV like you would in a normal arcade, this meant you had to rely on using the D-Pad to aim if you did not have these guns.
This meant that the game was virtually impossible to get through without struggling to quickly make it to a spot on the screen in order to shoot the enemy, or pick up the gun you need, as the D-Pad speed was just so slow. It all ended in a very unhappy gaming session, and a cracked screen, well in the game anyway.
Ecco the Dolphin – 1992
When you think of Dolphins, you think of gentle creatures that peacefully swing through the ocean mind their own business. Well not Ecco, as the game proved that Dolphins have very little sense of direction, and they cannot defend themselves, well in the game anyway.
With very little direction, and a whole ocean to explore, Ecco the Dolphin was a very hard game. I remember getting stuck right at the beginning, as I swam around the small pool of water, with no idea where to go.
It was hours before I realized I could jump over a rock. Apparently there were other things I failed to discover in the game as I gave up not knowing how to control Ecco. It was not the combat that made the game so hard, it was the damn controls that were impossible to figure out.
Battletoads – 1991
Some call it a TMNT clone, but I just call it painful to play. Battletoads is probably the hardest game on this list, if not one of the hardest games ever created. It is not because it has tough controls like Ecco, but because the levels, and enemies in each level were just designed to torture you and make you feel like worthless in life.
From the platforming stages, to those darn levels where you were riding on your hover board.
It was all torture, and just a series of painful deaths. You had to be so skilled at platforming, moving around, and dodging everything, that one wrong move and it was over.
Super Castlevania IV – 1991
The Castlevania series is kind of like the Dark Souls platformer of its day, as its ruthless combat, and cleverly designed enemies were designed to kill you. Only after you had died a couple of times, would you then switch up tactics and try a different combat approach.
Not to mention the terrible tough platforming skills that were needed to survive all the tough levels. From lava, to a tower that crumbles as you race across it, jumping, and slashing skeletons apart at the same time. It was not easy at all.
Silent Hill – 1999
Maybe I was just terrible at life back when the first Silent Hills released, but I thought it was very hard to play.
Half of my time was spent crying in a corner, I was 9-years old and that school was freaky, while the other half was me trying to survive the terribly harsh city with no healing items, no weapon, just a flashlight.
Tell me if I am wrong here, but after you deplete a pistol magazine on a dog and it gets back up, you just run for you life, and even the running was slow enough that you would get pulled to the ground and eaten. Tell me Silent Hill was not hard again…
Heart of Darkness – 1998
Who remembers this classic masterpiece? It was by far one of my greatest games on the original PlayStation, but it was hard. Heart of Darkness is divided into two parts, one where you are helpless and have no defense against the shadows, and the other were you obtain a strange power and can fight back.
Do not get it twisted however, both sections were tough as you had to merge platforming, and your attacks against enemies that one-shot you all the time.
There is no health here, just one hit kills. A fireball would immediately burn you alive, and a small shadow minion would suffocate you instantly. Behind all that charm, was a relentless game.
Abe’s Oddysee – 1997
Another game that boasts a one-hit kill feature is Abe’s Oddysee. It was tough, very tough, and the hardest part of it all was that Abe just wanted to save this people, but most of the time this meant they were chipped into a dozen pieces by a meat ginder, or Abe was.
Sneaking under the shadows and you accidentally release the sneak button and get a hundred bullets loaded into you, or just running through a level to be disintegrated by a laser that just happened to turn on while you were in its view. It was tough place for a Mudokon, and we felt it while playing the collection.
Megaman X Collection – 1990 – 1999
While I was fan of the classic Megaman games, my loved the X collection. Capcom successfully took everything we loved from the classic, and turn it into a faster, more action packed Megaman game, that was twice as hard. Bosses were faster and had more combat additions to them, and levels relied more heavily on fast platforming.
If you did not have the boss’s weapon weakness for the fight ahead, you would be pretty screwed. And the trek to get to the boss room was always a struggle, so the fight was do or die, and start from the beginning of the level. Regardless of the difficulty, it was an awesome series that I hope one day will return.
Crash Bandicoot – 1996
Our favorite marsupial might be the best thing to ever come out of PlayStation, but back in the day the Crash Bandicoot games were very hard. Tough platforming that relied on quick thinking, fast movements, and most of all understanding Crash’s abilities.
As the series got older, this did not change at all, rather it got harder. Enemies were designed to get in your way, and the levels were just masterfully crafted to irritate you.
Hell, even running across the great wall of China trying to grab peaches, jewels and boxes at the same time was impossible.