Nintendo hard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In video games, the term Nintendo hard refers to the extreme difficulty of several video games that were developed and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Contra (1988), Ninja Gaiden (1988), and Battletoads (1991). The term is still used to describe a certain kind of difficulty in modern video games.

History and reasoning[edit]

The Nintendo Hard difficulty of many games released for the Nintendo Entertainment System was influenced by the popularity of arcade games in the mid-1980s, a period where players kept putting coins in machines trying to beat a game that was brutally hard yet very enjoyable.[1] The difficulty of "Nintendo Hard" games released in the 1980s and 1990s has also been attributed by journalists to the limitations of the console that affected how a game was played.[2][3] Former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said in an interview regarding how NES titles were made, "Everyone involved in the production would spend all night playing it, and because they made games, they became good at them. So these expert gamers make the games, saying 'This is too easy.'"[4]

The number of games that were considered Nintendo Hard decreased significantly once the fourth-generation 16-bit period of video gaming came around.[1] However, there are still games that have been released later on, such as Super Star Wars (1992)[5] that have a similar amount of difficulty as the Nintendo Hard games of the NES. According to Michael Enger, indie games like I Wanna Be the Guy (2007) and Super Meat Boy (2010) are an "obvious homage" to the Nintendo Hard games of the NES era.[1] These iterations of Nintendo Hard have been labeled by many reviewers and gamers as "masocore".[1]


Arcade ports and games of the 2D platformer genre are commonly associated with the Nintendo Hard label.[1] The Houston Press described the Nintendo Hard era as a period where games "universally felt like they hated us for playing them."[6] GamesRadar journalist Maxwell McGee noted the variety of types of "Nintendo Hard" games in the NES library: "A game can be difficult because it's genuinely hard, or because it demands you finish the entire adventure in one sitting. It can litter the playing field with spikes and bottomless pits [...] or be so hopelessly obtuse you have no idea how to advance."[7] He also wrote that several titles for the NES, such as Yo! Noid (1990), Silver Surfer (1990) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) garnered their Nintendo Hard difficulty "for all the wrong reasons."[7] Journalist Michael Enger did not qualify titles with challenges that came from poorly-done gameplay as "Nintendo Hard"; he wrote that only games that were well made and replayable but were still extremely hard were classifiable under the label.[1]

Notable examples[edit]

The games in the following list have been recognized as being some of the hardest video games for the NES (and for some, all platforms) by publications.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Enger, Michael (February 8, 2011). "What is "Nintendo Hard"?". Bits 'n' Bytes. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  2. ^ Lessel, Alon (September 27, 2013). "Nintendo Hard, or Hardly Working?". VentureBeat. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Thomas, Carlo (August 28, 2015). "Super Mario Maker: Remaking ‘Nintendo Hard’". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Williams, Mike (December 16, 2014). "Teens React to Mega Man: What We've Forgotten About "Nintendo Hard" Games". USgamer. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  5. ^ Gordon, Rob "SNES Super Star Wars Coming to PS4 This Week". Game Rant. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  6. ^ Rouner, Jef (August 11, 2016). "Video Game Endings Don’t Matter". Houston Press. Voice Media Group. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c McGee, Maxwell (December 16, 2015). "The classic games that define "Nintendo Hard"". GamesRadar. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  8. ^ Crisman, Michael (July 1, 2015). "The Fifteen Most Difficult NES Games (That Are Not Battletoads)". Retro Gaming. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  9. ^ "The 10 Most Irritatingly Impossible Old School Video Games". Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  10. ^ "The 21 Hardest Nintendo games ever". Computer and Video Games. March 9, 2008. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  11. ^ Tretina, Patrick (June 24, 2016). "Top 5 Hardest NES Games That Kicked Our Ass". Cheat Code Central. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  12. ^ Oxford, Nadia (July 22, 2015). "What are the Hardest Video Games?". USgamer. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  13. ^ McElroy, Griffin (December 29, 2011). "One of the hardest NES games ever translated to English". Engadget. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  14. ^ "The 5 Hardest NES Games (That Are Actually Worth It)". February 26, 2015. Retrieved October 9, 2016.