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10 Most Notoriously Frustrating Games of All Time

Sometimes the game feels like it’s actively trying to kill you inside. For these games, it worked.

Arthur Collins

May 12, 2023

We were looking at an interesting infographic about the most complained about games on Twitter for modern games. Looking at it closely, you can see the reasoning behind a lot of the ire. Some of the entries, like Halo Infinite or Angry Birds, come down to complaints with the developers more than the games themselves.


But, there has to be other reasons behind it all. It got us thinking about all the reasons why games might be complained about. One glaring reason is them being frustrating to play. 

Then, we thought hard about what would be the most frustrating games of all time. Sure, some of these games are modern. But, there are a lot of games in the history of gaming that induce the kind of primal rage that could break a computer or console.

Here are our top 10 most notoriously frustrating games of all time. They’re all doozies.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)

Let’s start back in a simpler age, back when the Nintendo Entertainment System was the king of the market. It was also during the era where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere. This game, albeit trying to capitalize on the lighthearted cartoon where turtles love pizza and most of the bad guys were robot ninjas, held a dark secret.

Looking at the box art for the game should have been our first clue. The turtles in the art weren’t your loveable scamps from Saturday morning. They were the gritty, violent, trained assassins from the comics. It should have been our first clue that this game wasn’t going to be easy. This game wasn’t for kids, even if it was marketed toward them.

The game, back when it was released, was a commercial success. But, looking back at it, it’s hard to play. Levels can get downright brutal, if you’re off by a single pixel in your movement. This game naturally made this list.

You can play it on the TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection right now, on every major console and PC. Good luck.

Dark Souls

FromSoftware knows how to make a game very well. They also know how to make you want to punch a wall. Coming hot off their already-difficult Armored Core games back in 2011, Dark Souls amps the difficulty to 11.

Notoriously known for being both a well-made game, and one of the hardest games in the modern era, Dark Souls had to be on this list. While the entire series of Dark Souls games is difficult, it spawned its own genre of games, known as “Soulsbourne” type games. It shares the name with Bloodborne, another game made by FromSoftware. This genre included games like Elden Ring, made also by, you guessed it, FromSoftware. There might be a connection here.

Dark Souls has become the standard of “difficult games”, becoming the generic term for it. If something is difficult to do, someone may say that it’s “the Dark souls of” whatever genre they’re talking about.

You can play the remake of the original Dark Souls on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.


Cuphead is the Dark Souls of platformer games. There is no denying it. This charming platformer game brings the aesthetic of 1930s and 40s cartoons into a rich, glorious game. It’s beautifully made and is a fan favorite among modern gamers that pays homage to classic Disney and Looney Tunes. Why’s it on the list?

If you’ve played it, you already know that answer. It’s hard. Like, stupidly hard. Cuss at your screen until you’re blue in the face hard. The game gives you three difficulties: Simple, Regular, and Expert. Players can unlock Expert after beating the game once on either available difficulty.

Each difficulty level affects the amount of phases that bosses have. Simple, obviously, gives the least amount, and so on. Just because you remove as many phases as possible doesn’t make the game easy, though. The bosses are still incredibly difficult on any level. It’s just a matter of how long it takes to defeat them and if they have different phases of attacks.

Needless to say, though, if you like difficult games, you need to play this one. It’s widely available on every major platform and PC.

Ninja Gaiden for NES

The Nintendo Entertainment System was notoriously known for pretty difficult games. The phrase “Nintendo Hard” was coined to explain that this was a common occurance. Ninja Gaiden is part of the reason.

Players play as the ninja Ryu Hayabusa looking for revenge on those that murdered his father. Using weapons of a ninja, players go through the story in this 2D platformer designed with the intent to give you anxiety and rage. 

This was an era of games that players had to memorize, pixel by pixel, exactly what they needed to do in a game. While the game as a whole is frustrating (those damn birds), the difficulty kicks in during the last couple “Acts”. The bosses get harder. The precision is absolutely necessary. The thoughts of murder enter your head as you play. It’s a great time.

This game can be found on the Nintendo Switch, as a direct download Arcade Archives: NINJA GAIDEN.

Superman 64

Superman 64 had to make this list. If you know, you know. This game was meant to tie in with the Superman cartoon of the early 1990s. What it did was fail to capture a single aspect of what makes Superman the “Man of Steel”. This game is rough on the best of days. The graphics are blocky and stiff. The game plays like crap. It’s just all-around bad. 

The game went through development hell, being delayed until 1999. But, it needed a lot more time in the oven to bake. After 14 levels of gameplay, the game is basically impossible to beat without cheating. 

The game has flying levels, for instance, that require players to fly through rings in the sky. Seems normal, by gaming standards. But, the controls are so janky and the camera is so disruptive that it makes flying through the rings the same difficulty level as flying a real jet plane as a civilian.

If you want a rage-inducing game, you may have found the king of them here. There is currently no way to legally play this outside of the Nintendo 64. We doubt there are plans for it.


QWOP is a weird game. The original version was browser-based and a little niche. It slowly became the meme that it is today through sheer force of will. QWOP was made by the brilliant Bennett Foddy, which you will absolutely see on this list again. He makes games that make you want to scream into the void.

QWOP tasks you with just moving your legs. You’re a track and field runner and you must make it to the end of the 100m dash. That’s it. Easy peasy, right? It made this list for a reason.

You have to use the letters QW and OP on your keyboard to try to figure out how to move your thighs and calves. In theory, it should be a cakewalk. In reality, it’s one of the most frustrating experiences on this list. And that includes Superman 64

You can play this directly on Bennett Foddy’s site.

Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy

We told you this name would show up again. Bennett Foddy makes experimental games and is truly a great artist. Getting Over It feels like a spiritual successor to QWOP, if only in difficulty alone. When you fail, Foddy will enchant you with his optimism and good graces, as well as little anecdotes. And trust me, you will fail. You will hear what he has to say.

The aesthetic changes drastically from the other game by Foddy. You are a man in a big pot, wielding a pickaxe. Unlike QWOP, you have no legs at all that you can use. You get by with your pickaxe. Climbing mountains and garbage, all the way up to outer space, if you can make it. The average player can’t. But, you can. We believe in you.

Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy is available on all major platforms and PC.

Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy is one of the faces of indie platformers. It’s an instant classic about being a person made of meat, saving your girlfriend from an evil fetus. We never said indie games weren’t weird.

One thing that Super Meat does have is difficulty. This fast-paced platformer requires players to make split second decisions and jumps, while the stage forces you to keep moving. You mess up, you start over. Many lists out there put this game in the short list for “most difficult games”. It deserves it. 

This isn’t a game that suffers from bad design or gameplay. But, it does require fast fingers and impeccable reaction times. 

Super Meat Boy can be found on Steam and various platforms over the years.

Geometry Dash

Geometry Dash is, to say the least, hard. Similar to Super Meat Boy above, it requires precision reaction times and a quick trigger finger. You play as a yellow box hopping over shapes and spikes. You avoid pitfalls and anything in your way. Platforms are very small and you’re constantly moving.

This game is infuriating to play because it starts you over at the very beginning when you die. You will die a lot. You will see the beginning a lot. 

It’s easy to find on Google to play or on Steam, even if it came out in 2013. We gave it a try while writing this article and it’s still just as hard a decade later. Maybe our fingers are getting old.


Battletoads comes from the same era as Ninja Gaiden and TMNT, on the NES. It’s certified Nintendo Hard. Even casual gamers know the horrors of that Turbo Tunnel level.

What if we said that that level was only the third level of the game out of twelve? You can’t get past the early parts of the game easily. Most people have never even seen the fourth level due to 1980s rage quitting. It’s ok. We owned the game too. It’s not easy.

There is currently no way to legally play this outside of the NES. 

Speaking of frustration, it can be frustrating trying to sift through all of the news that comes out of games. If you missed any recent news, you can always check out our weekly roundup of This Week in Video Games. We compile the juiciest news just for you.

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Arthur Collins

Arthur Collins likes collecting titles. Some call him Dungeon Master, some call him Pokemon Professor. He's been a journalist off and on for over a decade and a half, which means he's almost Level 2 in journalism. You can find him yelling at his screen while playing Halo or curled up playing games like Animal Crossing. Or on Twitter. He has one of those at @professorchime


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Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

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Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Small Running Title

Small Running Title

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

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