It's Hard, so It Sucks

"Therefore, it's the game's fault that I suck at it!"

Over time, games in general have gone from Nintendo Hard to more accessible to today's gamers. Still, every once in a while, a game comes along that provides a challenge reminiscent of the Trope Namers of Nintendo Hard. To some gamers, this shall not stand! Video games are about fun, and frustration isn't fun! They're like black and white!...right?

There's nothing inherently wrong with a "hard" game. While a large number of gamers find easier games to be more enjoyable than ones that may make them Rage Quit, some gamers like having a challenge in their games. People play games for different reasons; some play to chill out and escape the trials and tribulations of daily life, while others seek such trials within video games.

Bear in mind that difficulty can occasionally be a legitimate complaint, depending on what kind of difficulty. Some games are legitimately hard and can provide a great and potentially fun challenge. Or maybe the difficulty is a tad too inconsistent and throws too much at the player at once and there's a huge difficulty spike. Other games are difficult for the wrong reasons, which can be quite legit. (And commonly, when discussing the latter, it's best to keep discussion to that page. But it can still lead to justifiable entries on this series where people criticise the game as being too hard due to Fake Difficulty.)

This is not a page on which to complain about hard games — this is for when a fanbase in general or reviewers complain about difficulty.

This type of complaint can happen if the preceding game in the series was significantly easier.

The polar opposite of It's Easy, so It Sucks. When people try to force the way they play the game (which generally has to do with difficulty) onto other people, you have a Scrub a or "Stop Having Fun" Guy. When you have both It's Easy, so It Sucks and It's Hard, so It Sucks, you wind up with an Unpleasable Fanbase.


Action Games
  • The Wonderful 101 is a game that just didn't click for a few professional reviewers (and even some players) due to its challenging difficulty and surprisingly in-depth gameplay. Notably, when the director of the game was asked what he felt of said reviews on Twitter, the following exchange took place.
    Fan: Many reviews are giving W101 a low score because its "too hard". How does this make you feel?
    Hideki Kamiya: Honor.

Action Adventure Games
  • Castlevania:
  • While "suck" might be a strong word, this reaction was the primary criticism of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes among reviewers, especially in comparison to its predecessor. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was made considerably easier due these complaints, and the Trilogy Updated Re-release lowered the difficulty of the second game's hardest parts.
  • This was the main criticisms of In Name Only Digimon World 4 RPG, considering that the one of the hero characters only has about four times the health of the game's Goombas and only a slightly faster attack, the pack of four enemies near the very beginning could easily kill a solo player. And for any newbies that encountered a Crowned Enemy in the second section...
  • This is half the reason why Robowarrior is not liked by many, the other half being a huge amount of Guide Dang It.
  • The difficulty of Tomb Raider III was the most common complaints among fans and reviewers due to the fact that the game had a huge amount of death traps that could kill you if you weren't careful. Even if you were trying to be careful, some areas forced you to rush blindly to avoid a trap you triggered, which was accompanied by some Camera Screw that was trying to make the sequence of escaping the trap look cool. Most of the game was also extremely dark, which made the death traps even more difficult to spot and it did not help that flares barely lasted.

Adventure Games
  • The number one criticism of the first Discworld point-and-click adventure game was how incredibly obtuse the puzzles were to figure out, even accounting for the bizarre logic the world of the source material operates under. The puzzles in the sequel were generally better received for being silly while still being much easier to figure out. Of course, for other critics it went too far in the opposite direction.
  • Several Sierra games, particularly the King's Quest games, get this sometimes, thanks to Moon Logic Puzzles and the possibility of a Game Over lurking around almost every corner.

Beat Em Ups
  • God Hand infamously got a 3.0 score from IGN; the lack of ability to block attacks adding in unnecessary difficulty in his eyes was part of the reason.
    • And even though there's dynamically scaling difficulty, it's set up in such a way that the game gets easier the worse you do at it. The game's difficulty is only as high as the player's ability to play it. Unless you're playing on Hard mode.
  • Streets of Rage 3 hit this pretty badly, at least in the US version, as the Japanese version was actually rather easy. The US version made the enemies so aggressive and do so much damage that it quickly became unfair. And then there was the Easy-Mode Mockery at the end of Stage 5 in the Easy mode - which was the Japanese version's normal mode! Most people just Rage Quit there and then.
  • The high difficulty is the main complaint of the NES version of Double Dragon III. You start with only one life, have no continues, and are fighting aggressive enemies that love to gang up on you.
    The Angry Video Game Nerd: I guess they were trying to make this one realistic. Like, if in real life, if you went out onto the streets to fight this many people at the same time, you'd get your ass handed to ya. And when you die once, that's it. You're brown bread. You're not coming back.
  • IGN's review of Double Dragon Neon cited the high difficulty and the fact that you had to start at the beginning of a stage if you lose all your lives. Ironic, considering how hard the original games are (see above), and that we now have the modern convenience of save games...

First Person Shooter

  • The original FEAR gets this reaction from a lot of people because it was a legitimately tough game which could kill you quickly if you were careless. It wasn't derided for being too hard at the time of its release, but the reactions of newer fans brought in from the much easier 2nd and 3rd games are very much along the lines of this trope, and are often very shocked to discover that they can go from full health and armor to dead in a few seconds against normal enemies.
  • The entire S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series has gotten this from a lot of people over it's unforgiving difficulty and aversion of many FPS tropes (leading to it being described as a "survival shooter"), but even within those that like it, the second title (Clear Sky) is regarded as several steps more difficult than Shadow of Chernobyl, mainly because entire squads of enemy troops will throw grenades that can literally change direction in midair to land at your feet. The enemies also got a lot tougher to the point that a bog-standard military trooper could shrug off entire magazines of SMG fire to the chest, and the game has an odd hit randomization system rule to gunshots and explosions. That is, you have to actually hit your target, then the game essentially rolls a dice to check if you hit your target. This can lead to an odd moment when a grenade can land in your lap and not even give you a nosebleed, and then another can go off ten yards away and kill you instantly. Certain Game Mods fix this unfair behavior, but at the same time, their sticking to realism makes gunfights ridiculously challenging. Oh, so now guns are actually accurate, and kill in very few hits like they should? Yeah, they kill Scar just as easily as the other stalkers, if not even more easily.
  • Team Fortress 2 gets this a lot from people who are used to traditional FPS games where everyone's capabilities are more or less the same, and your skills tend to transfer from one game to the next. Due to the class-based nature of TF2 however, any player that charges in expecting it to be like a normal FPS will die swiftly and often. This has the effect of turning off many players before they've had the time to learn how to play properly and realize that almost every class is Difficult but Awesome. In particular, the community has observed that Call of Duty fanboys seem to fare worst at TF2, to the point where a CoD player playing TF2 for the first time is considered highly entertaining Snark Bait.



  • The Irate Gamer has a very low tolerance of hard games, even if the game is good. Hard games make him "fustrated" [sic].
    • He's also known to invert this. In his review of Kirby's Epic Yarn, he bashed the game for being too easy. Contradicting the many times he's complained about a game being too hard.
  • The King Of Hate is similar in this respect, not only with hard games, but also with games that don't necessarily fall under the Nintendo Hard spectrum. Of course, it doesn't help that he doesn't Read the Freaking Manual.

  • Baby Pac-Man requires a good amount of skill with both pinball and video games. However, hardcore pinball players and hardcore video gamers are rival fandoms (even during Baby Pac-Man's time), so there are relatively few people who are proficient at both types of games to perform well in Baby Pac-Man. As a result, most people who try this game get frustrated at either the pinball or the mazes.

  • Mega Man Zero sometimes gets this from some people.
    • To the point where the DS Updated Re-release of the entire series includes an "Easy Scenario". The game's English-language version promotes this on the box as being "so anyone can jump right in!" In practice, the Easy Scenario simply starts the game with most non-plot powerups (maximum life, all Cyber Elves, etc.) without actually changing the difficulty. You can (and probably will) still die even on Easy Scenario.
  • Many Platform Hell games such as Kaizo Mario World and I Wanna Be the Guy. They tend to be more interesting watched than played.
    • Many platform hells tend to be viewed as sucky mainly because of their Fake Difficulty. Trial-and-Error Gameplay is pretty common in these types of games, especially in IWBTG and ROM hacks of Super Mario World trying to be like Kaizo.
  • Expert 100-Mario Challenge & Gnat Attack in Super Mario Maker are generally perceived as this. The former is hated for the Fake Difficulty of many of its levels, and the latter is hated for being very unforgiving. Hard Gnat Attack is especially hated for its difficulty, which mainly results from its droves of Bomb Flies in every level.
  • La-Mulana spits in the face of gamers of this mentality, saying in the manual that it's only for those hardcore players who feel the same way.
  • Mirrors Edge got this a lot from its detractors, with the argument being that the game's first-person perspective was unsuited to its gameplay style.
  • Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure was a critical darling, but got a substantial amount of flak for the fact that it's essentially a professionally-published example of Platform Hell.
  • Despite its slick and original AAA design, the fact that Rare decided its inhuman difficulty was perfectly fine for such a wide-marketed commercial product has prevented anyone from considering Battletoads a classic.
  • Although it has a devout following of fans, the original Rayman could have become a classic alongside Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog had it not become so mind-numbingly and abruptly difficult once you hit Band Land. The Game Boy Advance port even went out of its way to advertise that it was much easier.
  • Metal Slug 3. You either love it because it's one of the most epic games in the series, or you hate it because your first few full runs took 40-60 continues each.
    • And the western Xbox port gave you limited continues (which kick you back to the start of the stage), meaning that if you weren't at a set skill level and couldn't really improve, you'd permanently miss out on a certain portion of the game.
  • Mega Man 9 got hit with complaints with its difficulty that Mega Man 10 was advertised as having an Easy Mode.
  • One common criticism of The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is that it mimics perhaps too well the frustrating old-school games the AVGN often complained about.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan), known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, was famously not originally exported, with this reaction being part of the reason why. (The other is that players dismissed it as a mere Mission-Pack Sequel.) It was not too warmly received amongst Westerners when it was Remade for the Export, seeing it as too close to Platform Hell territory for comfort.

Puzzle Games
  • Tetris: The Grand Master 2 (PLUS), for those who started with TGM3. TGM3 introduced a subtle change in the signature TGM rotation system that makes I-pieces easier to handle with, a feature necessitated by TGM3's extreme speeds, as well as the introduction of the Hold Piece feature to TGM. So when a TGM3 player tries to play TGM2, especially at maximum drop speed...
  • Catherine. You want to know how hard this game was? On the easiest difficulty, Japanese fans of Atlus complained about the difficulty. This got so bad, that Atlus even patched the game to make it easier, and they also added in Very Easy difficulty in the West (basically Easy but with more block-jumping energy drinks being dropped). Of course, there are still the odd set of detractors for the game's difficulty here and there, but this has been more or less corrected now.

Racing Games
  • While the Jet Moto series was quite popular in its time (up until 3 at least), those who didn't like it often cited insanely aggressive CPU opponents and confusing course design (with sharp turns and plenty of bottomless pits later on), with Glenn Rubenstein of Game Spot even calling the first installment "an evil, difficult game."
  • The Driver series tends to get this criticism from certain critics from time to time.
  • Traffic Attack in the single-player mode of Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed is so difficult, the game's director admitted that he has problems finishing even the first one. Traffic Attack involves reaching checkpoints under an extremely strict time limit with heavy traffic to dodge, and clearing all of them on the highest difficulty is necessary to unlock every character. Complaints about Traffic Attack were so numerous that a patch was issued to reduce its difficulty to be more in line with the rest of the game.

Rhythm Games
  • Fans and critics both cite the absurd increase in chart density in Guitar Hero III (which marked the switch in developers from Harmonix to Neversoft) as one of the reasons the series Jumped the Shark with that installment.
  • Loco Roco - Midnight Carnival got lower scores since many complained about its difficulty. Only a few of them complained about the control scheme not matching with the more challenging level design.
  • beatmania IIDX is often criticized for its high barrier to entry compared to other BEMANI games.
  • Popn Music up to pop'n music 19 TUNE STREET has only the Great, Good, and Bad judgements in most of its modes, other than Expert mode and Cho-Challenge mode, which feature the stricter Cool judgement and has more difficult scoring. When pop'n music 20 fantasia came around, the Cool judgement became mandatory in Normal mode, which led to a lot of complaints even from higher-end players, as Cools tend to take away emphasis from simply clearing boss songs. Worse, as of pop'n music Sunny Park, all modes other than Battle mode have Cools enabled.
  • BEMANI fans tend to hold Reflec Beat with contempt because the way the notes fall (at angles, bouncing off the sides, not to mention the TOP notes) looks too chaotic.

Role-Playing Games
  • The 7th Saga: Considered the hardest game on the SNES, yet there are tons of items to buff with in combat, traditional RPG roles work fine with both party members, and your ally leaving or betraying you... takes a little foresight.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has been called a "bad game" due to some difficult enemies at the beginning and some imbalanced game mechanics that are not always fair to your character build, such as a character focusing heavily on non-combat skills, though you can always reroll a character and select better starting inventory, save and reload often, play it safe, etc.
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep now has people complaining that Vanitas's Lingering Spirit and Mysterious Figure are "too hard", as well as some other required bosses like Master Eraqus, Braig (with Aqua), and the Mad Treant are too hard. This is from the same fanbase that complained about how Easy Sephiroth was in the first two games. Someone responded to this rather creatively:
    "Fandom of Kingdom Hearts, PLEASE don't complain about how 'easy' Sephiroth is, or how 'button mashery' several bosses are. Because then, we get stuff like Vanitas's Lingering Spirit or the Mysterious Figure."
  • Earthbound Beginnings tends to get this treatment sometimes even from dedicated fans of the series due to the copious Random Encounters. Mt. Itoi, the last area of the game, in particular is notorious for being rushed in development and given an absurd Difficulty Spike. There are a lot, but it's certainly more playable than some have made it out to be.
  • Dark Souls and Demons Souls often get this from the sizeable Hate Dom.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei franchise gets a lot of this. Most people not accustomed to Atlus's brand of difficulty tend to give up trying when they encounter the first Wake-Up Call Boss. The high encounter rate, demons' tendencies to easily murder you in one or two turns if you have the wrong party setup, and the player character's death resulting in an immediate game over certainly don't help matters either. Critics argue that the difficulty is often neither well-designed nor dependent on player skill.
  • Pokemon Black And White too would be this for some people. The most prevalent reason? Higher-levelled Pokemon gets less experience points. The problem kicks in when your Pokemon is higher-levelled than the local wild Pokemon, but lower than of the local gym leader's: you can't efficiently level grind up to the Gym Leader's levels. Adding to the problem are the Demonic Spiders in some routes, more cases of Gym Leaders' Artificial Brilliance, Pokemon in this generation not being able to learn as many TM moves to counter type disadvantages, and the relative lack of rematch opportunities.
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate gets this from series veterans who feel that the Apex monsters add more frustration than fun to an already challenging game series.

  • Most newcomers say this about roguelikes in general. Many classic elements of the genre feel like Fake Difficulty to people used to modern style adventure games: the hunger mechanic, having to identify items during play, randomized dungeons, the complete lack of tutorials and other hand-holding, and especially the perma-death.
  • Common advice to newcomers of Dwarf Fortress is to do away with the mentality that losing is a bad thing, and instead see it as something to laugh off. ("Losing is fun!") That said, many are still reluctant to give it a shot.

Shoot Em Ups

Survival Horror
  • Alien: Isolation got a 5.9/10 from IGN, stating that the Alien's unpredictable AI and it's ability to adapt to your strategies made the game too difficult, especially on hard. Unsurprisingly, this review got a ton of flak. What makes this a bit more jarring is that the reviewer mentioned dying because he made a sprint towards the Save Point, which is not very advisable in normal gameplay.

Turn-Based Strategy
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn got a low review from Gamespot for being too hard and being too similar to the previous games. Although the same review flacks the game for lacking Mii support, most do agree that Radiant Dawn is much harder than it needs to be; even the first chapter, typically a "get into the flow of things" segment of Fire Emblem games, is hard to surpass. It doesn't help that all the difficulty settings for the American release are one-notch higher than in Japan, making normal to hard, etc.
    • Radiant Dawn' isn't really any harder than the earlier games (especially the Japan-only ones), it's just that its difficulty spikes are oddly placed: most agree the game's first act out of 4 is the hardest, with things getting much easier in part 3, when you control Ike's party... and then run into a brick wall when you switch back to Micaiah. This is justified by the story, but a heck of a way to start for those who didn't play Path of Radiance.
    • It also suffers from a lesser version of the same issue Streets of Rage 3 above as: The Japanese Normal is American and European Easy, while Japanese Hard is Normal outside Japan and Maniac is just "Hard". However, the previous game kept the Japanese Normal and Hard, and added an Easy mode instead of Maniac that was indeed easier, thus creating the illusion Radiant Dawn got harder. It didn't.
    • Additionally, the English version was actually easier, since it and its prequel both allowed you to promote without items, which the Japanese version didn't have.
  • The classic X-COM originally had a bug that meant the game was permanently stuck on the easiest difficulty. It was and is an awesome game, but the main complaint was that it was too easy. Developers (who hadn't yet discovered the bug) listened to the feedback, and Terror From The Deep was much harder. As in, insanely hard: the game's easiest setting was as hard as the original's hardest setting. It should be noted that the reason the bug took so long to discover was that the original X-COM was already insanely hard.

Visual Novels
  • A few of the Ace Attorney games came under this. Although no reviewers ever said that the games were bad due to this reason, one of the complaints, or nit-picks, that a lot of reviewers had was that the games could sometimes be unforgiving. This was mainly attributed to Justice For All and Trials and Tribulations but was also a complaint of the first game, by some. Although most reviewers felt like the game wasn't unfair, they felt as though many parts required extremely sharp eyes and logic. This wasn't cited as so much of a problem in the first game due to the point-penalty system, but in the second and third games there are a number of parts where 50%, 80% and even 100% penalties are issued for single slip-ups, resulting in a good number of instant game over moments.