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The Top 10 Most Frustrating NES Games of all Time

You've probably banged your head on the wall a few times playing these...


You sit down, focused, death grip on the controller as you try to force your way through one of the most difficult levels you have ever played. Sound familiar? We've all been there. And here are the top 10 NES games that took us on that journey


The original roll the ball through the maze game. Seriously there isn't much to this game. Its just you vs the timer going through some of the toughest mazes you will come across.

Oh, and did I mention there were things trying to kill you? Yep, rising pistons, moving puzzles of acid, slinkies that eat marbles, other marbles.

This was also a 2 player game, which made finishing the race even more challenging. Rather than a 2 player co-op, it was more of a head-to-head PVP challenge.

The game isn't super long and is quite beatable, but you will definitely die a lot the first few go arounds.

Marble Madness can be found here.


Why can't I land this freaking aircraft on the aircraft carrier runway? This and many other questions were asked (usually in a screaming at the TV fashion) while playing this very challenging game.

Of course the true challenge lied in mastering the quite frankly awful controls. In this game, the radar mattered more than the main screen. Tell me this, was anyone able to refuel the aircraft on level 2 consistently? No! Then the game just goes on with the aircraft crashing being inevitable.

Remember the part in Top Gun where Maverick crashed his aircraft because he couldn't refuel it in midair? Yeah, honestly the best part of the movie --SARCASM--. Still there are a few brave souls who actually had the patience to sit down and complete this...masterpiece.

This game was successful enough to spawn a sequel. Even the movie didn't get a sequel. What does that even say about culture?

Not convinced? Want to try it yourself? Sure, go here. Sadist.


I honestly love this game, from its cheesy plot to its awesome action. You play a kid in a tank chasing after his mutant frog who unearths a world of monsters.

Your tank can jump too. But as you go along, you get more powerups to make your tank do even more things, like hover and swim.

Now getting out of the tank is where the problems usually start. You can max out your gun from the get go, which helps. The problem is that every time you get hit, your gun gets weaker. This can pose major problems throughout the game as you have to move around quickly to avoid hits in the mazes.

The game is regarded as one of the all time greats and is still very challenging even by modern gaming standards.

You should really check this one out.


After beating MegaMan II, I decided to tackle the original and man...was it way harder. You get far fewer 'Items' and abilities than in the sequel and the levels are far less forgiving. Iceman's and Gutsman's stages were particularly hard with the instant drop platforms and the worlds longest disappearing block puzzle.

The plot is similar to MegaMan II. Dr Wily hijacks some of Dr Light's robots and turns them to evil. Its up to MegaMan to save the day.

The game starts getting serious once you reach Dr Wily's lair. Prepare for lots of spikey death!

Although this is not as good as many of its sequels, the series got a strong start with this game. The music was great and the action was intense and addictive.

If you haven't played it, you really need to give it a try.


We all loved The Simpsons growing up. At the time, it was the most controversial show on TV and would be the fall of Western civilization. Yeah, well 'Eat my shorts!'

So like all successful TV and movie enterprises, a video game had to be made. To be fair, this was one of the better TV-or-movie-into-video-game conversions. The problem was the controls were difficult to master.

The first level is relatively easy. Get rid of all the purple things. From there I think it goes to hats and doughnuts and other things you have to collect or get rid of using your trusty spray paint, cherry bombs, and bottle rockets. Hey, kids in the 80's had lawn darts, so this wasn't as radical as you might think today.

This game was the first in the series and was actually the hardest one (excluding Bart's nightmare, but I'm sticking to NES here).

You really should give this game a try. Find it here.


This is one of the most iconic games in the NES library and happens to be both a ton of fun and crazy hard. The boxers get harder as the game goes on and you are forced to memorize their patterns and keep Little Mac moving fast.

Now it's Mike Tyson himself that is just crazy. One-hit knockdowns and he is just crazy fast. I don't know many who didn't use cheat codes on this one.

A little back story. This game was released when Tyson was on the top of the professional boxing world. He was undefeated and feared as a boxer. Tyson since has had a crazy path including a devestating loss to Buster Douglas (who got his own game afterward), the ear biting incident with Evander Holyfield, and a slew of legal troubles. Today, he is a very different person (and from what I hear a lot more relaxed).

This game forever cements the time when Tyson was on top of the world. It is also a must play for retro NES fans.

If you haven't yet, give it a try.


What happened to Zelda!! Now it's a sidescroller?

Zelda II was a wild reimagining of the franchise. Instead of taking the top-down approach that Zelda I (and later Zelda III) took, Zelda II incorporated elements of a side-scrolling platformer. Was it good? Well it was ok? Was it hard? You betchya!

In this one, Zelda has been placed under a curse that makes her fall into a deep sleep. It is up to Link to break the curse, which of course means going through a bunch of monster filled dungeons to place some magic stones and break said curse. Also there is Death Mountain: you're going to hate it.

This is possibly the hardest game in the entire series. Of course, difficulty in releation to more modern titles is difficult to measure. Its unique aspects have set it apart amonst the other games in the series.

A must have for NES enthusiasts, The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link can be found here.


You, a knight in shining armor battling the hordes of darkness and death with your lance, and sometimes wearing nothing but boxer shorts. Welcome to Ghouls and Ghosts, where you die after 2 hits while swarms of enemies divebomb you and throw everything they have in your direction.

Of course the story is crazy. A nearly naked man wearing nothing but his underwear is laying in a graveyard with a woman with purple hair. Why is he naked? What is she doing? That has been the subject of many a speculation since the game's release. Then a big red bat comes and kidnaps her. The man quickly jumps into his Prince outfit, which turns into armor (ok it was probably armor all along). Then its off to rescue the fair maiden or die trying (mostly the latter).

This game was one of those games that you usually gave up on before making it even 2 levels deep. Even though I would have loved to see where the story was going, I was too busy being killed by anything and everything on the screen.

Still this game was good enough to warrant a 16-Bit sequel. Those interested in playing this game can find it here.


It started off so promising. An exciting 2 player beatdown of anything that came into your path! Then it hit. Level 3. One of the hardest levels in video game history (excluding of course all the ones after it). Oh what's that you say? You have no idea what I'm talking about? Well here is a little taste of said level:

Trust me. That guy made it look easy. Anyone who has ever played that game knows it! You will die...a lot. Even if you get past that level, there are 9 more levels past that (including another one almost exactly like it, but even harder). If you like a challenge, this is it.

Battletoads gets even harder once you add another player. Yes, even harder. Wrap your mind around that little factoid. Why?

  1. You hit each other all the time (taking damage and killing the other player)
  2. In the turbo stages, if 1 dies the level stops and BOTH players have to start from the last checkpoint

All that in a street fighter style game where you play as a bunch of toads trying to take down an intergalactic dominatrix. Yeah, games were crazy back in the old days. Interested players can find the game here.


This is one of the most difficult games in the NES library. Ninja Gaiden was the first game of its kind to give us cinematic cut-aways and fast action.

The difficulty comes from the incredible precision of the enemy layouts and respawns throughout the game as well as the crazy difficulty of the last 3 bosses.

Ok, he made it look easy. But still how many hours did he spend memorizing every single necessary action to perform this speedrun? Yeah I know. I'm just really bad at it. Those birds do me in every time!

This game had 2 sequels alone in the NES library and they are still making games in the series for more modern consoles. Win or lose, the first game has become a right of passage for the most hardcore gamers.

Ninja Gaiden can be found here. I'd highly recommend it for any NES enthusiasts library.

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