Nintendo Hard / Puzzle Games

"DANGER — The hardest puzzle game; not for beginners"
Warning sign for the TGM2015 location test

  • The Tetris: The Grand Master series was intentionally meant to be a challenge for seasoned Tetris fans.
    • The first TGM game a max speed of 20G halfway through the game (level 500/999; each piece dropped and each line cleared increments the level by one). In 20G, the pieces fall to the bottom instantly, and the player has half a second to move a piece before it automatically locks down. In addition, to get the Grand Master grade (the ultimate objective of the game), the player has to be above certain scores at certain "checkpoint" levels, and finish the game within 13 minutes and 30 seconds.
    • Tetris: The Grand Master 2: The Absolute also reached 20G at the halfway point, but it also decreased the delay between pieces and the duration of the line clear animation at every 100 levels after that to make the game faster. At level 900, the lockdown time limit decreases from half a second to 0.283 seconds. In addition, the new Master grade requirements include: A time limit on every section of 100 levels, a required number of Tetrises (4-line clears) on each section except the last, a total time of less than 8'45"00, and a grade (score) requirement at level 999. That's just for the Master grade; a player who earns the Master grade gets to play the bonus round: The playing field is cleared, and all pieces placed after that turn invisible the instant they lock down. A player must survive one minute under those conditions to earn the Grand Master grade. As of this update, there are at least 10 players outside of Japan have achieved GM rank and keeps on counting to date.
    • Tetris: The Grand Master 3: Terror-Instinct, the game in the famous "Invisible Tetris" video, took this even further. A player who performs halfway decently will hit 20G at level 300. The lockdown delay shrinks to 0.283 seconds, then 0.25 seconds. The delay between pieces shrinks all the way down to 1/15 of a second. Section time limits are tighter. And a player who reaches the bonus round is still graded on his/her performance during the invisible challenge. Finally, to actually earn the Grand Master grade, one must first get a MasterM (second-highest rank) or Grand Master-worthy (i.e. a score that would pass the Grand Master Promotional Exam) score 4 times in 7 games, pass the subsequent MasterM Promotional Exam by getting a MasterM or Grand Master-worthy score the next game to pass the Promotional Exam, then earn a Grand Master-worthy score that would pass 4 out of 7 more games, and finally earn a passing score on the actual Grand Master Promotional Exam. Note that failing a Promotional Exam requires you to get a score that would pass the exam 4 out of another 7 games, before you can try the Promotional Exam again.
    • It worth noting that while TGM3:TI came out in March 2005, the first person in the world to actually get a Grand Master grade did so in July 2007. It took two years before anyone truly beat the game.
      And to this day, there are only 8 people who have been confirmed to have obtained the Grand Master rank, most of them in Japan. To be a Grand Master in TI is to be one of the greatest Tetris players on the entire planet.
    • Note that there is no Fake Difficulty in play here. the game has a fair piece sequence generator that tries 4 times to not give you a repeat of any of your last four pieces, and the sequel increases it to six attempts to avoid the repeat, so you have an even fairer distribution. The game also gives you time to slide a piece after it touches the ground, which is what makes 20G playable at all. (To contrast, classic Nintendo-published versions of Tetris immediately lock pieces upon landing on something, and as a result become unplayable well before fall speeds hit 20G.) It also will usually nudge a rotating piece one square sideways if it would overlap something after the rotation, to let the rotation happen. All the difficulty is real.
  • NYET III: Revenge Of The Mutant Stones, a obscure, DOS-only Tetris clone. At first, it seems like a pretty normal Tetris clone..but each level brings more and more gimmicks designed to kill you. Gates that periodically close and block pieces from reaching the bottom of the screen, parts of the blocks dissapearing, pieces moving after they've already been placed, crushing floor traps that force you to clear the level before the pieces are forced to the top of the screen, making the pieces turn invisible...And it gets worse as you progress. To top it all off, if you die, you're kicked out of the game. As you go through the game, you earn money that can be used to buy items, that later on, you'll absolutely need to pass the stages..but saving costs money, too, and it's very expensive.
  • The poor design in many levels of the Bloons "Player Pack" games (consisting of selected fan-made levels) make success based on trial and error. The regular Bloons games are slightly easier though.
    • However, the Bloons Insanity Pack shows the hardest what the series has to offer. Pixel-perfect and sometimes well-timed shots have to be made to win.
  • There's a reason why Irisu Syndrome! describes itself as an "instant-death physics puzzle game."
    • A Boulder Dash clone called Supaplex took the same gameplay, made controls more responsive, but amplified the level designs to sadistic proportions (one of the level is even titled "Sadism"). One little mistake and back to beginning of the level.
      • And that's not to mention all the nightmarish Supaplex levels that have been made thanks to the level editor.
  • The freeware game Bricks, yet another game inspired by the classic Klotski puzzle, certainly qualifies. Not only the puzzles themselves are tough as nails, but the discussion board, which you would expect to use for hints, SPECIFICALLY disallows sharing hints/solutions, even a tiny little nudge. You HAVE to take it alone.
  • Anyone that claims to have beaten Solomon's Key without having thoughts of murdering the designer is a lying bastard.
  • Portal: Prelude. I actually want GLaDOS back now. At least she gave you a fighting chance. You will use God and noclip. There is no other way. Portal: Prelude's insane and unfunny difficulty demonstrates by contrast how awesome game the original Portal was, where they actually playtested the difficulty of all parts of the game.
    • It's really not that bad. It's a game designed for advanced Portal players (You should at least have completed all the advanced chambers before playing). If you go in expecting a challenge, there are only one or two bits that seem luck-based. Still Nintendo Hard, though
  • The 16-color nightmare that was Chip's Challenge. Sure, the first twenty or so levels are innocent enough, but when you reach "On the Rocks", a level that has you building your way, one block at a time, across a level filled with water to get to nine sparse islands so that you can collect an equal number of chips to get to the exit, you'll be crying real tears. Especially when you realize that this is a task that takes competitive players five minutes to complete, and if you make one single mistake (which happens more than you'd think), you have to start from the beginning. It only gets worse from there. It's no wonder most people have never reach the end.
    • "On the Rocks"' only real saving grace is that it's not on a timer. "Totally Unfair", on the other hand...
    • It doesn't help that, as is, in the PC version there were various bugs and glitches that made some levels easier. In the original Atari Lynx version, you had no such luck due to the better programming, so the otherwise pushover levels 49 or 135 are a lot harder to beat. Conversely, the different mechanics in the PC version made supposedly simpler levels like Spirals, or even the final level, much harder than expected.
  • Kye: Even if you actually manage to get the objects, you will still need to solve the levels. Some of which manage to be The Maze, Time Trial and Trial-and-Error Gameplay while you are running away of monsters because your character is a One-Hit-Point Wonder. And unlike Chip's Challenge, Melyssa is not there to give you a free pass to the next level if you spend too much time locked in one.
  • Super Monkey Ball games don't start off this way, but aftera while, they will get frustrating. As to drive the point home, using a continue results in the player unable to go to the Extra Stages, Master Stages and '''Extra Master Stages'''. Hell, the hardest stage on 2 is actually called ''Nintendo'' (it's a rotating Gamecube and you will die).
  • Majestic Chess for the PC has varying degrees of difficulty with one that goes all the way up to Grandmaster. Given that actual grandmasters had input on the creation of the game's AI it's safe to say no normal player will ever beat that mode in their lifetime.
  • Then there's Lode Runner where even completing the first level takes a while time. In the NES version, you can't see very much ahead of you due to screen not scrolling until you are quite far from the center of the screen. In addition, lots of levels have invisible pitfalls which you have to find out through trial and error.
  • Spelunker for NES is insanely difficult. You fell from one pixel higher than your own height? You die. Hats off if you pass at least the first level. The 8 bit atari (and C=64) original has better controls, but it's still very hard and demands nearly pixel perfect positioning and timing at times.
  • The Colony for the Macintosh SE. In this first-person shooter/puzzle game, your ship crash-lands on a mysterious planet after receiving a distress call from a colony of inhabitants there. Upon awakening, your first order of business is turning on the lights in the ship. Unfortunately, the buttons on your console aren't labeled. Hit the wrong one, and you blow up your ship. The game gets harder from there. Good luck figuring out how to actually get out of your ship and onto the planet without blowing up.
  • Bomb Squad for the Intellivision. You have a "code" of 1-3 digits to solve in order to defuse a bomb. Your coutdown is 30 minutes. In order to reveal the digits, you have to "solve" circuit board puzzles by cutting out and replacing parts. The "digits" are made up of 20 squares. Solving a circuit board lights up one square. And if you cut the wrong part, go in the wrong order, or replace a part with a component that doesn't work, the clock goes into double-time. And that's not counting the higher levels where parts catch on fire, speeding up the clock AND potentially blowing up the board, making that piece unsolvable. The Angry Video Game Nerd, no stranger to Nintendo Hard, was unleashing more ClusterFBombs than usual when he tried this one.
  • All the levels in the GBA game Denki Blocks consist of a small 2D grid with some colorful blocks and unmoving white blocks. If two blocks of the same color touch, they stick together and move as one. With the D-Pad, you move all colored blocks while the white ones act as walls and the goal is to stick together all blocks of a specific color. Every opponent has 25 puzzles for you and you need to solve 15 of them to beat them. Sounds easy?
    Well, the first two or three opponents are quite easy and you'll probably be able to solve all 25 of their puzzles, but from that point on, the game stops kidding around and the further you get, the longer you will sit at a puzzle. The eigth and last opponent is infuriatingly hard to beat and it's likely that you never will.
  • Panel de Pon. Okay, so you have the basics down—swap blocks and clear lines of 3 or more. Now, try playing for score. Or playing against higher-tier CPU players (or human players for that matter). It involves making chains, which 99.9% of the time involves continuing to swap blocks while the chain is in motion. It takes a monumental sense of control over the entire playfield to be able to pull off some of the more elaborate chains.
  • Columns seems simple enough—like in the aforementioned Panel de Pon, match 3 gems in any of the eight directions. Once in a while you can get some accidental lucky chains, especially when the game throws one of those "clear all of the gem below this piece" pieces. Now try setting up and doing deliberate chains.
  • Puyo Puyo, which you may know better as Kirby's Avalanche or Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine if you live outside of Japan, is another Falling Blocks match-the-colors game that's hard for very similar reasons to Columns, with your two solaces being that you can rotate pieces as they fall and that the matching blobs don't have to be in a straight line (although diagonals will not connect).
  • In Gussun Oyoyo, Gussun is a One Hitpoint Wonder who is menaced by all the usual Platform Game hazards and can't even jump—and you can't control him directly. It plays somewhat like Lemmings, but less forgiving.
  • Castle Quest and HOW! The NES port was a torturous, unforgiving maze of keys, blocks, one-hit kills (for the player), and situations that made the game downright unwinnable in most cases...
  • The soundtracks to the levels of Super Hexagon are specifically programmed to start at a random point each time you restart. This is because most players will struggle to survive 15 seconds on their first several games.
    • "Begin!" *ZAP!* "Game. Over." "Begin!" *ZAP!* "Game. Over." "Begin!" *ZAP!* "Game. Over."
    • Not to mention the difficulty levels are Hard, Harder, Hardest, Hardester, Hardestest, and last but not least, Hardestestest. Seriously.
  • Lemmings was already a pretty difficult and fiendish game to begin with, but the expansion pack, Oh No, More Lemmings really takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is a cheery, colorful puzzle game that borrows a few elements from adventure games, such as a point-and click interface, item puzzles, and mind-melting difficulty.
  • Candy Crush Saga has numerous levels, starting with level 23, that will make you want to tear your hair out. Especially the ones involving zombie-like chocolate and/or Time Bombs. Part of this is because the game makers want to encourage players to purchase boosters with real-life money, but many levels are still extremely difficult even WITH boosters. Just mention level 65 or 97 to a seasoned Candy Crush veteran and you'll practically see them withdraw into the Troubled Fetal Position.
  • Repton 2 stands out as the only Repton game with no passwords or means of saving, so you must start the entire game again if you lose your three lives. And you will, as the puzzles demand accuracy and six levels have meteors bombarding the surface, which you must run through to get from one part of the level to another.
  • Blocksum is a matching game where you have to match blocks by fusing them together until you get a group of blocks with the same number, the number of required fused blocks increasing with the number on the blocks. It doesn't take long before the game starts throwing 5-and-up-blocks, which require turning half the board into 5-and-up-blocks, and the number of easier-to-use 1-blocks starts getting smaller and smaller, soon requiring the player to do really fast mathematical equations in their head under a lot of pressure.
  • Adventures of Lolo 3 pretty much requires you to play the previous 2 games and know the engine inside and out, with some of the mid-to-late-game puzzles requiring exploits of the various quirks of the engine that are never explained to the player. The game also suddenly introduces a new enemy type (which pulls the player towards it) near the end of the game, but doesn't bother to explain how it works, nor lower the difficulty any to let the player figure out how it reacts to everything in a controlled environment, resulting in a massive Difficulty Spike until the player can just suss it out for themselves while simultaneously dealing with endgame-level puzzles revolving around it.
  • Dudes With Attitude. The game revolves around collecting gems by slamming into them with a bouncy smiley face who's constantly bouncing left and right (or up and down if you hit a certain block) across the screen, while the player can only move it up and down or speed up the bouncing. Aside from the usual puzzle shenanigans, the late-game puzzles require precision and reflexes that border on superhuman, and one puzzle even requires that two players solve it at once.
  • Fritz as a chess software is incredibly epic. Considering the different modes you can play with, the fact that you can organize the field how you want and that the supercomputer of the game (Deep Fritz, which as a chess computer is considered superior to Deep Blue, a chess software that beat the famous chessmaster Anatholy Karpov.) plays the game at near perfect levels so that you know perfectly what to do when your field is in a similar situation. Unfortunately there is only one computer you can play against which is exactly the computer described above. If you manage beating the computer without taking a move back (which is an option in the game) you might as well attempt to claim a grandmaster title and try to become the world champion.
  • SpaceChem, oh, so much. So infamously difficult that most players never finish the game, and even getting in reach of it tends to involve spending multiple hours on a single solution. For most games with a few dozen levels, logging 50 hours means you've finished it over and over. Not SpaceChem. More likely than not, they're still stuck on one of the later levels.
    • It gets worse, too. Enter ResearchNet. Unlocked around two thirds of the way through the main game, custom user-created puzzles galore are now available for you to attempt. The easy ones are straight-forward enough. The medium ones are on par with the the campaign around the time you unlocked it. But the hard ones, oh, the hard ones... You have to be the same kind of twisted genius who came up with the infernal puzzle in the first place to beat it. Just looking at what you have to do for many will have you thinking "How on Earth is that possible?" as your first reaction.