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Brutal Bonus Level

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"To the true Ridge Racer who has cleared all 39 tours, we introduce these tours of maximum difficulty. The first MAX tour, "Opus 1", is the ultimate 4-car battle of Class 1 machines. Only 1 in 200 is expected to clear this challenge. There are no prizes. Race for your honor!" (Opus 1)
Description of the first MAX tour, Ridge Racers (North American version)

The extra difficult Secret Levels which some games have. They exist largely so that the player can brag to their friends about how awesome they are for winning them. A Sub-Trope of Secret Level, distinguished from its parent trope by the extreme difficulty as being the only point of these levels. Examples of this trope are, naturally, almost always That One Level (or more technically, That One Sidequest).

The idea appears to be that if you're good enough to get there, you're good enough for whatever the game decides to torture you with.

Can be set in Planet Heck, but not always. Won't necessarily have a sign at the beginning saying "Welcome to Hell!", but might as well.

Compare Bonus Dungeon, a mostly equivalent trope (a Bonus Dungeon doesn't have to be fiendishly difficult, though examples of that trope still tend to be more difficult than the rest of the game). For the boss version of this, check out Superboss, or alternatively, True Final Boss—though the former may very well reside in the Brutal Bonus Level, while the latter is usually in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.

Beware of unmarked spoilers.


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  • The Battle Arena (tough enemies) in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Nest of Evil (tough enemies) in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Training Hall (platforming) and the Large Cavern (tough enemies) in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.
  • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood has alternate stage 5 or 5' which is a hellish level of pits and enemies. It makes the other levels look easy. You need to beat the bosses here to unlock the full boss rush.
  • Cave Story:
    • Sacred Grounds/Blood Stained Sanctuary is so difficult that it has a "Welcome to Hell!" sign. Of course, completing this level (including the True Final Boss) is the only way to get the good ending. There are absolutely no save points inside it, at all, not even before the Heavy Press or Ballos, the aforesaid True Final Bosses. If you saved at the last opportunity and want to get some Life Capsules, you can't, as you've just passed the only Point of No Return in the game: using that Save Point. Even still, the Save Point before that (which, humorously, is the same Save Point, just minus a few Event Flags) is right before the regular Sequential Final Bosses, meaning you'll have to fight them again.
    • The "Final/Last Cave (Hidden)" is a more difficult version of the Final/Last Cave, featuring more terrain hazards to test your skill with the Booster 2.0 and a black wind that resets all your weapons to Level 1. It is required to get to the aforementioned Sacred Grounds, including a boss fight not in the regular version: the Red Demon/Ogre that Arthur drove away.
  • Once the plot has been concluded and the characters have all reached closure, the final, bonus chapter of Dark Chronicle is the Zelmite Mine, the longest dungeon in the game. It's so long, it even has two bosses. The enemies are the strongest, fastest, and most resilient — two good hits from a boulder-type foe can kill one of your characters before you can even retaliate, and they wear down your weapons faster than usual.
  • Several of them in Environmental Station Alpha, and all of them require the Dash Booster X and a good amount of guesswork to locate. First there's a particularly brutal dash gauntlet featuring instant death spikes and a battle against the local alien god Mwyah that you'll likely need to complete at least twice to get the "true" ending. Not far from the first bonus area is the Research Outpost, featuring enemies that retaliate when you use your charge shot or dash, as well as a boss that probably qualifies as That One Boss. Another bonus area can be found within the teleporter on the outside of the Temple zone, a massive white maze that gives hints on how to reach the true ending and will eventually lead you there.
  • Guacamelee!:
    • The first game has several of these. Two of which (Tree Tops, Cueva de la Locura) challenge your platforming skills and one of which is a combat arena (Caverna del Pollo) where you must fight through waves of increasingly difficult enemies. Defeating them is necessary to get the good ending of the game.
    • The sequel Guacamelee! 2 continues the tradition with the Chicken Illuminati Crucible which contains several tricky platforming challenges that will require you to put all your chicken abilities to the test, and the downloadable Proving Grounds, which consists of doing several challenges within a strict time limit. Like before, clearing the former is required to get the Good Ending, while the latter is optional but getting all gold medals in it will reward you with extra playable characters as well as a playable version of Salvador.
  • Hell Temple in La-Mulana takes this trope about as far as it can go. 'This place is one that none should come to'. They aren't kidding. The process to unlock the area is long and makes no sense. Hell Temple is full of extraordinarily nasty puzzles, dozens of traps, "Land of Hell" traps that force you back several rooms, miniboss hordes, and you have to complete the whole level twice to reach the end. The reward you get for completing the level? It's not worth the ordeal at all, and you get no permanent reward showing your victory (in the original, at least).
  • In Legacy of the Wizard, it's not necessary to venture into the spike pit in Pochi's area but Heaven help you if you go down there with a human character.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has the Gerudo Training Grounds. Completely optional, it's a small ring of fights and puzzles that are more difficult than the norm of the game. The Ice Arrows at the end are mostly for bragging rights, which is something lampshaded by a Gossip Stone.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games have an additional level in their linked games, the Hero's Cave. Yes, this is the same place that is the Noob Cave in the unlinked game.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker downplays the trope with the Savage Labyrinth, as the first 30 floors are required to clear the game, thus only the remaining 20 are bonus material. Room after room of increasingly powerful enemies that don't drop anything, ever, and no grass, pots, etc. to reload your ammo, magic, or health, will give you the Death of a Thousand Cuts. The good news is that the Grappling Hook can steal some supplies from enemies, but only one at a time. If you can get the Piece of Heart (or Hero's Charm in the Wii U version) at the very end of it, you've proven you don't really need it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
      • The Cave of Ordeals, located in Gerudo Desert, is the game's equivalent of the Savage Labyrinth from The Wind Waker, with some differences (including that it's entirely optional). Each room has a different set of monsters, and deeper rooms require later items to advance. While the rooms generally don't get too tough, the final room contains THREE Darknuts (four in the second playthrough). They tend to bulk together, parry attacks are difficult to pull off without getting hurt, and bombs are limited and not easily available. You also don't ever get any Random Drops and you can't steal Random Drop items, but it's not without mercy: they will drop Rupees (your Magic Armor needs them to protect you) and a few hearts can be found in the floor by Wolf Link. The reward for it all is to make fairies (restore your health) and Great Fairy's Tears (restore your health and increase attack power temporarily) much more available, but if you're tough enough to conquer this hell, you won't need any of that for normal levels, even The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
      • The HD remaster adds the Cave of Shadows, which can only be accessed by using a Wolf Link amiibo. It functions similarly to the Cave of Ordeals, but you have to be in your wolf form inside the dungeon.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has Treacherous Tower, Lorule's equivalent of the Tower of Hera. It has up to 50 floors of enemies you have to defeat in large groups, acting like the Savage Labyrinth and Cave of Ordeals from other Zelda games (though this one can be made easy by first unlocking the Great Spin).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
      • The Trial of the Sword comes with "The Master Trials" DLC pack, which is similar to the Cave of Ordeals from Twilight Princess and Savage Labyrinth from The Wind Waker. It has 45 rooms that pit you against different enemies and obstacles in a variety of environments, divided into three independent sections you have to complete in one sitting each, without being able to save in between rooms. You also start off each section without armor, weapons, or items, and only the latter two can be replenished from what you find in the rooms.
      • The Champions' Ballad from the second DLC pack starts with a lesser instance of this trope. If you've conquered all four Divine Beasts, you'll be beckoned to return to the Shrine of Awakening, where you can pick up an unusually-shaped weapon called the 'One Hit Obliterator'. If you choose to wield it, you'll be reduced to a One-Hit-Point Wonder (attempts to eat food or otherwise heal will be wasted), and charged to defeat all of the enemies in given locations across the Great Plateau. Defeat them all to unlock additional Shrines, and open the path to complete the rest of that DLC pack's challenges.
    • Most of the Rewards Map levels in Hyrule Warriors aren't too difficult, but the one that really qualifies is the Boss Rush level. On its own, facing off against all of the bosses teaming up against you wouldn't be so bad, but all of them require two Weak Point Smashes to take down, which, considering the RNG-powered AI that all the bosses have, can really take a while. But the kicker is that after you down to just one boss, all of the bosses get a morale boost, enabling them to kill you in only two or three hits. In short, the bosses take too long to kill so they will inevitably gang up on you, and they're boosted enough to kill you in a few hits. You also have to A Rank this mission to get one of the costumes in Legends and Definitive Edition.
  • Prodigal has Daemon's Dive, a post-game dungeon with stages based on most of the previous dungeons, each with a harder version of a previous boss at the end. Not only are there more difficult puzzles, obstacles, and enemies, but each boss needs a Crystal Key to reach it, requiring you to have to go through several rooms without taking any damage or you'll have to go back to the key's spawn point to try again. There are also no teleport statues next to the boss doors like the other dungeons have, so if you die to a boss you'll have to travel through a number of rooms again. The boss at the end, a shadow version of the protagonist, is probably the most difficult in the game, with multiple phases. And your reward for beating it all? A ring that grants a barrier that can protect you from attacks and recharge after doing so, which your completion of the dungeon has proven you don't really need.
    • If that's not enough, there's also Enlightenment, which has areas based on some of the post-game dungeons, with even harder puzzles and bosses than before, and loads of enemies. Not only is there an even more difficult boss at the end, there's also a hidden puzzle with secret rooms that are hard to reach or even know where to find, and there isn't even an item reward at the end; its main purpose is to provide more lore. Oh, and just getting into the dungeon is hard to figure out, as there are no hints at how to do it whatsoever.

    Action Games 
  • Astral Chain: Completing the main story (covered under the first 11 Files) unlocks File 12, which consists of a series of 71 cases. Each one tasks you with eliminating chimeras under certain restrictions, such as a preset item loadout. All of these cases are very challenging, partly because Casual difficulty is disabled for them.
  • In Bionic Commando Rearmed, the normal Challenge Rooms are Nintendo Hard enough, but the Secret Challenges can be sheer insanity. Luckily, the latter aren't required for any achievements.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: The Bobsled Bonanza minigame, where you face almost nothing but Zombonis and Zombie Bobsled Teams, with 4 ice tracks laid down so that the bobsleds can start swarming immediately. Zombonis crush all your plants instantly and you'll use up Spikeweeds (their one weakness) as quickly as you put them down. The bobsleds themselves are a pack of 4 zombies which move fast on ice (helpfully provided by the Zombonis), will quickly overwhelm your peashooters, will spawn if there's so much as an inch of ice laid down, and are difficult to bring down without expensive bomb plants. You can only clear the ice with Jalapenos, which have a cripplingly slow recharge rate. The Imitater is almost a requirement for this level, or you simply won't have enough bombs to clear the level.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time has Pinata Parties. They're entirely optional daily challenges, but can reward the player with some sweet loot if completed. However, almost all of them test you to your limits on the knowledge of plants, zombies and layouts, trying again costs 2000 coins and beating them 5 days in a row gives a bonus costume reward.
  • In Spider-Man 2, after finishing the main game, you can then buy "Fight Arena", which allows you to fight hordes of enemies, and eventually, bosses. One of the bosses is Calypso, who doesn't appear anywhere else in the game. The final round of "Boss Arena" is fighting all four bosses at once (That's Doc Ock, Shocker, Rhino, and Calypso). Have fun.
  • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes has a DLC stage that is unlocked after clearing the game: Killer Marathon, which was first introduced as a very early alpha game during the base game's campaign. The final version of Killer Marathon is a series of grueling timed battles in a Deadly Game Show with a Pinball Zone motif leading to a fight with the Super Boss Silver Face.

    Action RPGs 
  • The Vault Of Glass, from Destiny. You need a team of 6 players (when the game usually asks you for 3 in missions and Strikes), have to fight and complete objectives, and fight two difficult bosses to complete it. Both which are Flunky Boss territory. On top of that, you need to be at least level 26 to even stand a chance against any enemies. Compared to other missions and Strikes, completing the Raid isn't needed, but can give you much needed materials, Exotics and Raid Legendaries, which are needed to reach above level 28.
  • The Cow Level in Diablo II, mainly due to their sheer number. On the other hand, by the time you reach it as either class, you're more than likely to have some devastating skill at your disposal that will bring them down by the dozens in an instant.
  • Faraway Story has the Forbidden Mine, which is filled with Stone Golem enemies that are immune to stagger and have really high stats. If you're really unlucky, you'll find the occasional Nightmare, who can petrify you and make you more vulnerable to the golems. At the bottom is the Manticore boss, which has multiple sources of elemental damage and status effects, and spams its strongest moves at low HP. There's no way to save before the boss and even in newer updates of the game, this mine proves to be much harder than even the newer dungeons.
  • Kingdom Hearts II, specifically the Final Mix and II.5 HD ReMIX versions of that game have the Cavern of Rememberance, a dungeon which contains nothing but pain and suffering. You need to have Glide and Aerial Dodge on sufficient level (obtained by levelling up corresponding Drive Forms) to progress and the enemies are a mix of upgraded Heartless present nowhere else in the game that are much harder than other enemies and waves after waves of Nobodies. And should you get to the end, you can fight rematches against Organization XIII members on steroids that can wipe the floor with Lv 99 players without abuse of power-up items or careful strategy.
  • Mega Man:
    • The bonus areas in the Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force series are known for being a significant step up from the main story in difficulty, being host to high-tier enemies you normally never encounter in the main story areas. One reason why they're so difficult is because of the fact that once you start the postgame proper, you MUST have a streamlined battle chip folder to get anywhere there. And by streamlined we mean — your folder has to be able to reliably delete the enemies within a couple turns and/or provide Mega Man enough protection to withstand their onslaught. Using that alphabet soup folder that got you through the main story without much trouble is no longer going to cut it here; the postgame bosses and even the viruses encounters here are simply too fast, too beefy, and too dangerous to fight using only a single chip or two per turn. And the games will keep sending you to that Game Over screen until you wise up. Then you encounter Bass.
    • The Hidden WWW Network and the Secret Area of Battle Network 2 and 3 respectively are widely regarded as being the most brutal in both series. Both games have viruses and bosses that are incredibly nasty. And unlike anywhere else in these games, you cannot use the R-Button to automatically leave the postgame dungeons if the going gets too tough for you; you must MANUALLY backtrack to the entrance of these areas to leave. Think you can just sneak around and get the few treasures that you access? Think again! Some of the best treasures in the game that are found here are just in plain sight, but to get the goods you have to beat a predetermined encounter with viruses that MUST ALL be destroyed in one attack or they will ALL respawn instantly. In MMBN2, if you don't kill them fast enough they will cause a very powerful explosion that will quickly kill you if left unchecked. MMBN3's encounters are particularly nasty in that if you take too long to delete them all or worse, attack the incorrect number, the enemies will instantly retaliate with "ERR+DEL", an unavoidable, Unblockable Attack that deals 1000 damage to Mega Man, an almost certain One-Hit Kill unless you have over 1000HP and/or the Undershirt equipped. In both games, many of these encounters require the use of specific Program Advance attacks or strong chip combos like GrassStage+BlkBomb, most of which you will not figure out on your own without an outside source or sheer trial-and-error telling you.
    • The Nebula Area of Battle Network 5 is an exercise in tedium. The first thing it does is throw you into a Liberation Mission populated with second-tier enemies while you've still only had access to first-tier Battle Chips. Then you end up backtracking across the rest of the game world to fill out your library with the second-tier Chips from the enemies you just unlocked, and then do it again when you unlock the third-tier enemies. A few areas are also long teleporter mazes designed to drain you while you're fighting through the upgraded enemies.
  • Strife has the Training Facility. Nominally optional, but you have to go through it if you want full stamina and accuracy — and, in the Veteran Edition, if you want the "Top of the class" and "Fully Amphed" achievements.
  • As a Shout-Out to the Cow Level, Torchlight has the Strange Land, aka the "horse level" available via transmuting a series of items found only through fishing. While the area is populated by only a few horses, they are all far stronger than even the Final Boss, with each horse having millions of HP, high armor and the strength to One-Hit Kill most characters hundreds of times over. However, killing one of the Champion horses will max out your Fame and every horse provides a lot of experience.
  • In Tales of Destiny, the bonus dungeon is a tower 60 floors high and special requirements need to be hit in order to get the treasure of each floor. Only a few of the levels actually offer you hints about what you should do, through randomly appearing cryptic messages throughout the game proper. All this should come as no surprise to those who know the game this was based on, The Tower of Druaga, which was just as nasty — except that, in Tales of Destiny, just getting to the tower is a Guide Dang It!.
  • Tales of Symphonia has the Forbidden Anamnesis book dungeon: 15 floors (20 in the PS2/PS3 version) of doom which literally suck life out of you over time and put all sorts of spokes in your wheels, have no save points, occasionally floors where defeating all enemies is a must, and on top of that, two bosses, one of which needs you to meet special prerequisite to initiate the battle. Then you have an option not to destroy the book, apparently, only to pay another visit to hell.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 has the Illusory Darkness. A technically short bonus dungeon, but with enemies in it that have amplified defense which means that your party members must be linked-up in order to deal damage. Otherwise, every hit only does 1 point of damage. The only ones who can join Ludger in this area are those whose Affection is high enough, which can be difficult to achieve for several characters, though the game gives you an accessory to equip on someone you want to join in the dungeon. The area consists of two levels, with little things to do to proceed, but with a huge leap in enemy levels between Level 1 (78 is the norm) and Level 2 (Jumps up to 130, with the final bosses being Level 140) and having to redo it over and over, until all main bosses are defeated, before encountering the actual bosses of the dungeon: Cless Alvein and Stahn Aileron. Only upside, if you lose a battle in this dungeon, you are teleported back out instead of getting a Game Over.
  • Tales of Berseria has the Heavenly Steppes. There are enemies up to level 120, in a game where the final boss can be beaten at level 70. The dungeon's gimmick requires purifying a black flame of malevolence full of a gauntlet of enemies. After clearing it, a player has to find other similar, smaller flames under a time limit. If the timer runs out, the player has to clear the large flame all over again for another try. The dungeon requires a player to clear six different levels of this, each one getting progressively harder with tougher enemies, and each level has its own boss. On top of all this, there are no save points. If a player dies, they have to start the entire dungeon all over again.
  • Tales of Vesperia tops all of the above and has two such levels for the player to go through. The first is the Labyrinth of Memories, a mazelike Remixed Level where you take portals through sepia-toned areas of the game world, and you must defeat every enemy on each screen, which ranges from the monsters that were originally there to stronger enemies exclusive to this dungeon. The latter half of the dungeon also begins throwing in powered-up memory versions of every boss in the game in a long Boss Rush with no save points at all, and your final opponent is Kratos, who puts up quite a tough fight that could easily KO'ed your entire party if unprepared. The second is the Necropolis of Nostalgia, a Marathon Level where you make your way through a whopping sixty floors filled with increasingly difficult enemies, and at the end of each ten floors is a dangerous boss fight. The final boss of the dungeon is arguably the hardest boss in the game.
  • Torchlight II has Tarroch's Tomb, a ten-wave arena fight available only in New Game Plus. While the level cap is 100, the enemies in Tarroch's Tomb start at 100 and max out at 200, with many enemies capable of dealing quadruple-digit damage. The level is generally only attempted with maxed-out characters with high-level gear.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Bayonetta series:
    • In the first Bayonetta completing all Alfheims unlocks Lost Chapter: Angel Slayer. It is a gauntlet of a level, with over 50 encounters that you have to tackle all in one go. Beating it is one of only two ways to unlock Secret Character Little King Zero, the other way being a very out-of-the-way cheat costing an exuberant amount of halos.
    • Bayonetta 2 has Lost Chapter: Witch Trials which is Angel Slayer only divided into five separate levels, so now you don't have to do them all in one go. The first couple aren't so bad, but Serial Escalation is in full effect here by Chapter V. The first four chapters unlock Verse Cards for Tag Climax (required towards an achievement for the Climax Bracer), but the last chapter has no prize aside from a large halo bonus, it's purely there for a Bragging Rights Reward or to get closer to buying the Platinum Ticket for the Rodin fight. Unlike the first game, the only requirement to unlock them is beating the game.
    • Bayonetta 3 brings back the Witch Trials as the name of the bonus gauntlet, this time shortening it to three stages. As with Bayonetta 2, simply beating the game is needed to unlock it, not completing all the bonus missions.
  • From Devil May Cry 2 onwards, the Devil May Cry series has featured Bloody Palace, an especially brutal Brutal Bonus Level. There are always a minimum of 99 levels in which the player has to fight a ton of enemies repeatedly. You can't use health restores or anything else, you just have to pray that you avoid basically every attack, or that enemies drop a lot of health (which occurs rarely). Becomes doubly hard since you'll also have to fight bosses from stage to stage. Mitigated in that you have the choice of advancing 1 or 10 levels at a time, so if you are in bad shape you can advance only one level and hope to recover some health before tackling harder levels. Devil May Cry 4 makes it even harder; there's now 100 floors and you can only go up one floor at a time with enemies near the end becoming ridiculous and numerous. On floor 100 you have to fight Dante who will make you work towards beating him...and then will probably still defeat you anyway with how he can counter anything you throw at him, and there's now a strict time limit present throughout the entire Bloody Palace.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 has the DLC mission "The Return of the Legendary Dynasty Warrior Gundam". It's only playable on the hardest difficulty, there are two Ace Pilots in the field using Musha Gundam and Musha Gundam Mk-II, both being able to kill the sturdiest playable gundam with two light attacks and that will fight the player in Fortresses that must be taken (and while fighting in a fortress, the player will be attacked by a never-ending rain of rockets). Once both fortresses are taken, the player will eventually face a giant mobile suit along the way (which is also able to KO your suit with one or two well-placed attacks). Once the enemy gauge is finally depleted, all the enemies leave the field and the player must head to the main hall, while the Knight Gundam awaits. However, as soon as you get near him, both Musha Gundams will join the boss! Any strike from any of them is strong enough to take half of your health gauge. As a nice touch for this mission, the game is programmed to only have one kind of item appear during the whole stage: the temporary 30% defense boost. That's right: absolutely no health recovering items will spawn during the mission.
  • If you beat all Kahkoo-Regah portals on all difficulties in The Wonderful 101, you unlock Operation 101, which yet another Bloody Palace-type survival bonus level. Completing it usually takes around one hour.

    Card Battle Games 
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has the Heroic difficulty for each Adventure wing you already completed on Normal difficulty. In Heroic difficulty, almost all the bosses have increased HP, buffed up hero powers that are either way cheaper or WAY more powerful than they were before (if they weren't unfairly difficult in Normal to begin with), stronger minions, or start the game with minions already in the board. This difficulty mode is also completely optional; you get the new cards from just beating Normal difficulty and the separate class challenges, but you get nothing for beating Heroic difficulty except a new card back if you complete every level.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction has the Hall of Eternity, available after loading cleared game data. It is stocked with incredibly powerful opponents who even put the unfairly strong Final Boss to shame, though you can repeatedly challenge them and earn much better rewards for each win. That is, if you win.

    Casual Games 
  • In Duet, there are a few extra levels on the Challenge page. Most notable of these is "Transcendence", where blocks turn invisible the moment they come on-screen, so you have to be very savvy to be able to predict their motion, and all but the most experienced players will struggle to complete the final wave of it.
  • Some of the earlier bonus missions in Mafia Wars were very difficult (at least not without spending premium currency), which often led to complaints from players. Zynga has since toned them down a bit.
  • Chimera Recollect has two - the Dream World is a twisted version of the normal world filled with boss-type encounters where your health doesn't regenerates naturally, Girl can't help you during combat with items and all enemies become stronger as you walk through it, while the Unknown Lands is unlocked at the postgame and contains stronger, faster and more agressive variants of enemies you've been facing throught the game. Getting the Golden Ending involves traversing the Unknown Lands inside the Dream World.

    Eastern RPG 
  • 7th Dragon III: code VFD has the Shadow Realm, unlocked by beating the Final Boss. First, it costs 50 Dz to enter, which means if you've been diligent in building and upgrading Nodens facilities, you'll need to kill every last dragon in the game. Second, you know how throughout the game, dragons appear as Pre-existing Encounters (as opposed to Random Encounters for normal enemies)? In this dungeon, every random encounter enemy is a dragon, and a very powerful one at that, in contrast to the Easy Levels, Hard Bosses of the main bulk of the game. The second dragon battle theme (the one used in Chapters 6 and 7) plays for each of these random encounters too, just to hammer in the point.
  • Abyss Crossing: The Unexplored Labyrinth is a multifloored dungeon containing enemies that are stronger than the ones in the final dungeon. While it's available early into the game, it's not recommended to attempt it until after the main story is beaten.
  • Bug Fables: The Cave of Trials is a holographic training area that acts as a rush of fifty waves of enemies, with only a few chances to get healed between certain battles. Almost all enemies in the game are present, but ones that were not encountered in the story appear as shadows. Beating it once unlocks a randomized mode.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy series:
    • The Steam version of Epic Battle Fantasy 4 has Battle Mountain, with stronger versions of the main bosses, new bosses more powerful than those in the main game, and normal enemy battles with at least 6 waves of enemies, with each wave getting progressively harder.
    • Epic Battle Fantasy 5 has the Temple of Trials, accessed after beating the superbosses of four other optional areas. It has five battles with monster versions of the player characters, four of which inflict a unique nasty debuff that cannot be removed. The fifth buffs the party but makes up for it with high stats. Beating them grants access to a room with an enemy rush, a miniboss rush, a Boss Rush, a rush of the superbosses that needed to be defeated to access the temple, and a randomly-generated Endless Game endurance.
  • It is customary for the Etrian Odyssey series to have an additional sixth stratum/dungeon filled to the brim with deadly random encounters, even stronger FOEs, and the ultimate Super Boss waiting at the end to challenge players who are training their characters to the very limit.
    • The Claret Hollows in the original game and its remake is easily cited as one of the most brutal bonus levels in the series, packing enemies that quickly classify as Demonic Spiders and unforgiving level design like fiendish teleport mazes or pitfalls to a floor half-covered in damage tiles.
    • The Hall of Darkness, in Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. Mixes up many of the gimmicks from previous dungeons, adds some new and is filled with Puzzle Random Encounters, that features powerful foes with different weaknesses to exploit but that are always found in groups specifically designed to fill in their flaws. For example, Red Lion is the strongest non-boss enemy in the game, but starts the battle sleeping...but he's usually found with a Hollow Magus, that can damage their allies and boost their power through the roof. So, just kill the Hollow Magus first, right? Wrong! Her evasion is insanely high, and sometimes she's found with a Thunder Spawn, which is one massive damage sponge and goes berserk if you kill one of its allies. Lastly, unless you're in for a Self-Imposed Challenge that very few players have managed to accomplish, before facing the Super Boss you need to weaken it first by collecting a set of chemicals in a specific order that is only vaguely hinted through various lore entries scattered in the last floor. Have fun!
    • The Empyreal Bridge of Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth not only has the standard fare of far-stronger-than-usual enemies, it is a large teleporter maze in almost its entirety. Unlike the Claret Hollows, though, there is a visible logic to the teleporters' behavior, though it doesn't become apparent after enough warps — especially when some teleporters are necessary to move between floors. The frustration factor, instead, comes from sheer length, especially when the penultimate floor's teleporter maze leads you down all the unexplored regions of the previous floors and is littered with traps to set you back and few ways to shorten return trips.
    • The Abyssal Shrine in Etrian Odyssey Nexus brings back the block puzzle gimmick first seen in Western Shrine, now applied to very devious puzzles based on dodging formidable F.O.E. that either walk within the higher-level tiles, or move across solid walls and only take a detour when a Silent Assassin (the boulder-like crustaceans that can be pushed as if they were blocks) is on the way. Also, the encounter rate with enemies is unusually high, so unless you use a skill or item that mitigates that rate, you'll be facing strong enemies so often that your characters' Mana Meter won't last for too long if you don't have a way to refill it; for the unprepared, there will be a strong reliance on enabling shortcuts between walls so you can return to the city to rest your characters, save your progress and return to where you were to resume exploration.
  • Familia:
    • The Mother's Den has powerful cursed monsters and a boss that pushes the limit of what's possible without Reach grinding.
    • In the Reach, the player can adjust the difficulty to increase the stats of the enemies, pushing them far above the stats of story enemies. Justified because this is supposed to be a training simulation.
  • Final Fantasy II: In later versions, beating the game unlocks Soul of Rebirth, a bonus mode featuring three returning Guest Star Party Members who died during the main game and a fourth new party member (Prince Scott). All of those returning party members retain their stats and gear, making So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear useful for once—hope you kept them equipped, of course. Except two of those returning characters are the first two temporary members in the game and thus are almost certainly underlevelled and underequipped for dungeons where almost every enemy is a Demonic Spider who will annihilate you without the proper gear and protection from Minwu's spells. Even Ricard Highwind, whose higher stats and end-game gear will make him a Lightning Bruiser, doesn't keep the rest of Soul of Rebirth from being absolutely evil.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn:
    • Otka Island. A maze constructed of over 100 identical rooms, only a few places where there are multiple correct paths (the minimum number of rooms to pass through to get to the boss is 47; to get all of the treasure first, 103 including the backtracking from the dead-end paths that the other treasures are down.) Your usual best weapon against bosses, the elemental summons? The boss of this dungeon can use it against you. Or more accurately, the members of your own party that he possesses can use them against you. And like all dungeons in the game, the encounter rate is absurdly low. It is literally possible to collect all the items, find the boss, beat the boss, then walk all the way back out without ever encountering any enemies.
    • The final bonus dungeon is a reworked version of Crossbone Isle from the first game, and it has an increase in difficulty compared to the rest of the game. The random encounters are as dangerous as some of the last storyline bosses in the game, and the final Super Boss is none other than a reworked version of Dullahan from The Lost Age. Remember all those soldiers in the final storyline areas who dropped Water Of Life and crazy amounts of XP? You need that now, and it won't save you.
  • Knights of Ambrose:
    • Knight Bewitched, Finding Light, and Celestial Hearts has the Depths, a dungeon featuring multiple mismatching environments. The enemies and bosses here are the strongest of their respective games. Although this dungeon is optional, it has a connection to Lilith's master, the Big Bad of the series. This is averted in Knight Eternal, where the Depths is part of the main story and was taken over by the Deepforge dwarves.
    • Mari and the Black Tower: Once the player obtains Ned's updated Floor 1 map, they can find a new section of that floor that contains mostly damage tiles, the strongest enemies, and the strongest boss Tiamat.
  • Magical Starsign has a particularly brutal one in the Glissini Caves on Nova. Not only are the weakest enemies there more difficult than the Final Boss, but all 20 floors are connected by long ladders, which take much longer to cross than normal terrain. On top of that, there's a forced encounter on every floor; most of these are strong enemy formations, but every 5 floors, there's a tough Super Boss instead. To top it all off, if the player has saved after defeating the Giant Larva, the dungeon is locked off for the save file.
  • Monster Hunter: In some games, completing all the village quests or certain online quests unlocks a special quest that pits you through a Boss Rush against three or more powerful monsters, often multiple at once. They are usually High Rank-level (if the villages' quests are Low Rank at most) or G Rank-level (if the villages' quests are High-Rank at most) and sometimes have special modifiers like being enraged, fully-charged or (specifically in the fourth-generation games) powered with Frenzy or Hyper states. And since they're village quests, you can't bring in other players. Only the best hunters can hope to complete these. Such examples include "Monster Hunter!" (Freedom Unite), "Out of the Fry Pan" (Portable 3rd), "Mark of a Hero" (3 Ultimate), "The Caravaneer's Challenge" (4), "The Master's Test" (4 Ultimate), "The Field's A Stage" (Generations), "Ultimate Generation" (Generations Ultimate), "The White Winds of the New World" and "The Sapphire Star's Guidance" (World), and "Advanced: The Veterans' Gala" (Rise).
  • MS Saga: A New Dawn, has "Another G System", a Endgame+ Bonus Dungeon that appears in Antarctica. It is a Level in Reverse of the final dungeon and it is loaded with deadly bosses with Total Party Kill Boost Attacks.
  • The Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the Pit of 100 Trials. This is, as the name implies, 100 levels long and comes with many difficult enemies such as Amazy Dayzees which are then fought by a powerful boss at the end, Bonetail. This boss is considered more challenging than the final boss by far with more HP and Attack. Super Paper Mario takes this even further; there are now 2 of these, and in the Flopside version, all the enemies are dark versions, which are more powerful than the ones in the Flipside version. You also have to do the Flopside version twice to get the rewards at the end, and the fight against Shadoo has 400 HP and 20 base attack. Thanks to how save files work in the game, quitting at any time forces the player to start over.
  • Parasite Eve has the Chrysler Building which is available in New Game Plus. The building has 77 floors filled with tough enemy encounters and bosses (some which are unique to the area) and every floor except every 10th floor has a randomized layout. To top it off, there are no save points, which means you either push ahead to the boss or waste time going back down if you aren't prepared yet. Each boss does drop an elevator key that goes up to the current floor.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 has Black Tower in Black City and White Treehollow in White Forest for their respectively-named games. note  These two areas are giant mazes where, as you progress through the ranks, progressively get larger and more complex with the Trainers inside progressively getting tougher, as if their Pokémon weren't at a high enough level, anyway. The kicker? You have to find one certain Trainer in the maze to even get to that floor's boss, and the only way to find out if they're the right one is to fight them. Then you have to find your way through the maze to a special room where you can find the floor's boss. The Medic is a rare sight, too. But even if you do find them, they can and will kick your ass with their powerful Pokémon. On top of that, you can't use healing items on your Pokémon! (Berries are the only ones that work, and the Pokémon have to hold them and go into battle to use them.) Considering the fact that The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard is everywhere, and there's a tough Super Boss at the end, a Shiny Gible or Dratini afterwards is a very pleasant reward for completing Black Tower or White Treehollow. Fortunately, there is no legendary ban or level restriction there like in other battle facilities. So feel free to unleash your team of level 100 legendaries on them.
    • Pokémon Emerald has the Battle Frontier and Battle Facilities in other games. These are such an insane step up in difficulty from the main game that it rivals the difficulty of PvP battles, and you still have to deal with the AI screwing you over with freak status effects and hax-level items, to the point of the average player rarely fully completing these facilities and other players suddenly being forced to learn to play competitively just to stand a chance, as no matter how strong your Pokémon are, they are all put at level 50 in these facilities and you can usually only use three out of your six. A player who has never lost in the main game can suddenly see the losses hike up with these hellish battles. But, a huge saving grace is the Frontier Brains and other Facility Bosses, who give some of the best battles in the franchise. You may be the Champion, but that doesn't mean you can win here.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon has the Battle Tree, which has become infamous for being even more relentless than previous postgame battle facilities. Previous battle facilities would start off simple with a basic line that pit you against unevolved Pokémon in the first half and weak fully-evolved Pokémon or middle evolutions in the second half before you could go for the big leagues. The Battle Tree does none of that and goes for your throat immediately. From the get-go, the trainers will throw Mega Evolutions, Z-moves, and teams tailor-made to counter your selections at you, and it only gets worse the farther you go, even resorting to using Legendary Pokémon and illegal movesets if that's what it takes to stop you.
    • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have a postgame chapter in which Team Rainbow Rocket takes over Festival Plaza, and it becomes a Boss Rush of souped-up versions of the previous games' antagonists. This culminates in the fight against Giovanni himself, the leader of Team Rainbow Rocket, who has a Level 70 Mega Mewtwo Y.
  • Rave Heart:
    • Before the June 2023 content update, Planet X was the hardest dungeon in the game with very high level enemies, and the boss of the area is rated for level 90.
    • After the content update, Planet Zaphoria introduces bosses that are even stronger than the Lord of the Unknown. Even the regular enemies are faster than most party members while hitting very hard.
  • Shin Megami Tensei has a long and proud tradition of including at least one of these.
    • The Labyrinth of Amala in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and the second half of Sector Grus in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey are two good examples. The former is an interesting case is that it consists of five dungeons in one mega-dungeon that are meant to be completed one by one while going through the game and defeating the Fiends. The latter is actually half of one of the later sectors in the game, can only be accessed via a New Game Plus, and features an avatar of God as its endboss.
    • Strange Journey Redux, the Updated Re-release of the Strange Journey, adds the Womb of Grief, an optional side dungeon similar to the Labyrinth of Amala that unlocks additional endings once completed. While its random encounters are not too different from the regular mobs, the Womb of Grief is more frustrating to navigate, and has its share of bosses that will keep the player on their toes.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse features Twisted Tokyo, a labyrinthine dungeon with floors that get bigger with each successive one, high-powered random-encounter enemies that cannot be escaped from and won't show their stats, and eight bosses of the Fiend race to fight across the first 46 floors. The last eleven floors are only available via paid DLC and introduces one more boss. Beating the dungeon, including the DLC section in its entirety resets the dungeon while making the Fiends stronger with beefed-up levels (as high as 994 by the 9th run through Twisted Tokyo) and extra Press Turns.
    • In Persona 3, completing a late-game request (needing you to defeat The Reaper) lets you explore Monad, which is filled with extremely high level enemies who can easily wipe an unprepared party. On the other hand, they give out scads of experience, which is nice since the final boss is very hard. On a New Game Plus, the same block houses the ultimate Super Boss at its very depths.
    • Devil Survivor and Devil Survivor 2 have bonus Free Battles on a New Game Plus which pit the player against a Super Boss. Said boss and the surrounding enemies are several levels higher than the usual mobs (and likely the playable human characters) at that point in a playthrough, and basically mandate the player bring forth their overlevelled demons from their previous cycles to defeat. The original Devil Survivor only has Lucifer as its bonus level, but the remake and sequel add more varieties of bosses, some of which require unlocking.
  • Sword of Paladin: The postgame Aggressor side story is significantly harder than the final dungeon, not because it throws harder enemies at the player, but because for at least half of it, the player must control a duo of weak guest characters who are just barely capable of handling the alien's mid-tier forces. Not helping matters is that the guest characters also have to go through stealth sections and evade on-screen encounters. The only easy part of the segment is when the overpowered main party has to face the alien champions.
  • Weird and Unfortunate Things Are Happening: Makyo, only accessible after beating the game. Enemies and bosses that lurk there are far more powerful than anything else, there are five long floors to wade through, the area is very maze-like, and the encounter bar never turns yellow (Random Encounters happen when the encounter bar fills up with each step, and when it turns yellow, it fills up slower- but not here). And of course, it is home to one of the game's Superbosses. Even the in-game NPCs warn you not to go there.
  • The World Is Your Weapon: The Demonic Castle not only contains all normal enemies in the game, it also takes away Weaco's inventory and forces her to rely on random objects scattered throughout the castle. She won't regain her original inventory unless she exits the dungeon or finds the weapons scattered throughout the castle.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The Secret Levels in Descent II weren't hard in the sense that it was easy to die (they contained very few enemies), but navigating them was a nightmare due to the huge number of puzzles involved. Doors that could only be opened from one side, doors that only opened once ever, walls appearing out of nothing behind you to block your path back, and doors that only unlocked when the reactor was blown up (giving you less than a minute or so to explore whatever was beyond them).
  • There is a 'Challenge Level' in the fan-made mission Descent 2: The Enemy Within that has you fighting every single boss in the other levels all at once.
  • The Doom series presents a few notable examples:
    • The original Doom has Episode II's secret level, Fortress Of Mystery. You begin the game in the center of a compact, 8-part flower-like structure, instantly greeted by four Barons Of Hell charging and firing at you from all directions. Manoeuvering is tricky because the "petals" have narrow entrances and it's easy to get cornered by the Barons if you try to run. Hopefully, one of the "petals" ends in a door, so you run there and open it, hoping for a refuge... then you hear a hiss of ten Cacodemons just waiting for you in a mid-sized room. The level is actually fairly easy when you know the trick to it (namely, tricking both groups of powerful monsters into infighting and trying to stay the hell away until only a few remain), but considering the player never meets that much heavy opponents in a tightly enclosed space at once in the original Doom (Ep III's Mt. Erebus has its clusters of Cacodemons, but you battle them in an open space and there are much fewer Cacos on lower difficulty levels, while the number of enemies in Fortress is the same regardless of level) and the BFG is not available at all until Episode III, it was a serious spike in difficulty from the previous levels of the game.
    • To a lesser extent, Episode I's Military Base. Coming right after three fairly easy levels even at higher difficulty setting, this is a serious challenge for beginners. Large number of monsters, tight, closed areas, a number of nasty traps with enemies suddenly teleporting out of nowhere, lots of close quarter combat, barely-visible Spectres looming in the dark and suddenly ambushing you - if you have just started with Doom, surviving Military Base is a heavy challenge.
    • The Plutonia Experiment, one half of Final Doom, has the secret level MAP32: Go 2 It - jam-packed with an absolutely masochistic number of powerful monsters, including 13 unfortunately-placed Cyberdemons and 17 Arch-Viles. Casual players will spend hours struggling through this level to absolutely no avail.
    • Master Levels for Doom II has MAP32: Bad Dream, the secret level in the file TEETH.WAD. While the solution to this level is actually quite simple, being confronted with dozens of Cyberdemons at once allows the level to live up to its name.
    • Doom 64 has MAP32: Hectic. An unforgiving obstacle course that is in a deceptively small map. The map has two exits (one being available right from the beginning), but in order to unlock the cheat menu by taking the real exit, you'll need all three keys, each being within a room with a devious challenge. One room has you fighting four Hell Knights on a narrow ledge with no cover over an inescapable death pit, another room plunges you into a pit with both a crushing ceiling, limited safe zones and Arachnotrons who will fry you quickly with their plasma guns, and the third, while not quite so bad but still annoying, is a room with elevator platforms and dart traps on the walls. At least the beginning room has lots of powerups... but they're all rigged with inescapable death traps.
    • Many of the classic maps in Doom (2016) are this. You get original level geometry and graphics, a weapon loadout that matches the original, original powerups, and the new monsters. In the classic games, for example, four Pinkies in a narrow corridor was a minor challenge easily fixed by More Dakka, as Pinkies in the original game moved at only a brisk pace and could be stunned by your chaingun. The equivalent in 2016, on the other hand, is a pants-filling ordeal because Pinkies were reworked to be armored from the front, will rapidly charge you down, and the primary means of taking them out is impossible due to the original level design not accounting for it. And just in case that's not a big enough problem, there are also no checkpoints and no weapon mods, either.
    • Doom Eternal has 2 variants of these: The first being the Slayer Gates, which are extremely hard arenas filled with high-level enemies, and sometimes even introduce monsters early (The Tyrant, the game's pastiche for the Cyberdemon, gets introduced in the 6th mission's Slayer Gate, but they only start showing up as regular enemies in the 11th mission). There are also the Master Levels, modified versions of the main campaign levels with denser and higher-grade arena encounters.
  • Aztec Complex in GoldenEye (1997). The enemies have boosted AI and amazing firepower (everyone has an M16 or a Moonraker Laser), and the environment is biased against you every step of the way. Killing the boss — who is certainly no slouch — automatically trips the alarm, sending every enemy you haven't killed yet barreling straight at you with a blazing passion for your blood and allowing them to respawn after a short delay. There's also only one piece of body armor and no health pickups.
  • Marathon Infinity has the Vidmaster Challenge, a kind of bonus level of hell for each of the three Marathon games. The game designers took the hardest level from each of the games, and made them worse, and put them back to back. To top it off, the level If I Had A Rocket Launcher..., already insanely hard in the original game, starts with you stripped of all your guns. You start that one with an arsenal composed in its' entirety of two shotgun shells, one rifle magazine and eight grenades. They also use this opportunity to introduce an entirely new type of enemy.
  • Mile High Club in Modern Warfare, which must be completed in one minute on Veteran while you are as fragile as a pane of glass. There were originally supposed to be three NPCs helping you during this mission, but because they were removed, you're doing the work of four people.
  • Quake had the secret level of the fourth episode, "The Nameless City". It not only has traps galore and one of the highest enemy counts of the game, there's an area where you're assaulted by a dozen Fiends and several Shamblers at the same time. Good luck surviving that without plenty of health and Thunderbolt ammo.
  • Team Fortress 2 has Caliginous Caper, a Halloween-themed Mann vs. Machine map. You start with $5000, which is a lot compared to other missions, allowing you to get most of the important upgrades from the start. In case the difficulty name didn't convince you, this is the hardest mission of the game. Over 900 zombies are attacking, most of them with permanent crits and souped-up AI. A swarm of Spy zombies will overwhelm entire teams. Nine tanks attack in rapid succession. Giant robots are added in liberally. Those resistances you ignored? They're your life-savior. What makes it disappointing is that it's a Boot Camp mission, meaning that you will get absolutely nothing upon beating the madness.
  • ULTRAKILL has the Prime Sanctums; three hellishly difficult bonus stages located in the last layer of each of the three acts. Getting to them is a daunting task on its own as they are only accessible by P-ranking every stage in an act, which requires getting an S-rank in time, enemies killed, and style points without dying once. As of writing, only two of the three Sanctums are in the game, but they have already proven themselves to be some of the hardest the game has to offer.
    • The first Prime Sanctum, "Soul Survivor", is a Boss-Only Level that pits you against two immensely powerful bosses.
      • The first boss is the Flesh Prison, a gigantic, fleshy octahedron that has access to some shockingly powerful attacks. The fight with it starts off with it summoning a swarm of floating eyeballs that will continously dart around the arena, making it hard to get a shot on them, not helping is the fact that they are constantly shooting lasers at you. The Prison, however, is far from defenseless, making use of giant lasers, homing shots, and blakck holes that reduce your health to just one point. Oh, and the Prison not only has a massive amount of health, but if you don't kill all the eyes in time, they will heal the Prison.
      • The fun doesn't end there, since immediately afterwards, you fight the being that the Flesh Prison was holding captive: Minos Prime. A Lightning Bruiser bar none, Minos makes use of devastatingly fast close-ranged attacks and an equally fast homing projectile that will put all of your skills in the game to the test.
    • The second Prime Sanctum, "Wait of the World", takes everything that made Soul Survivor difficult and cranks it past eleven. To start, this is not a Boss-Only Level like its predecessor, with the leadup to the bosses being a nightmarishly tough gauntlet of some of the most difficult enemies the game has thrown at you so far, some of which are either protected by an Idol, meaning they are immune to damage, sanded, meaning they can't bleed and stop you from healing off them, or both.
    • You thought the Flesh Prison was Bad? The Flesh Panopticon takes everything that made its predecessor difficult and adds some truly nasty mechanics on top of it. The Panopticon summons its own minions, but with the added twist of if you look directly at any of them, you cannot heal until you have killed them all. Luckily, the fight ends rather abruptly when you get it down to about a quarter of its health... Because its prisoner manages to break free.
    • Sisyphus Prime is, for all intents and purposes, a bigger, faster, souped up version of Minos Prime, who was already an incredibly hard boss. Not only does he have double the health, Sisyphus has access to an AOE attack capable of stripping away half of your own health. When taken down to half health, he will attack almost nonstop, giving you almost no breathing room except on the rare occasion that he stops to taunt you.
  • Wolfenstein 3-D:
    • The Episode 3 secret level is pretty brutal, but brilliant fun too, while the Episode 4 secret level is practically a death trap unless you know the exact route to the exit (or are just plain crazy!).
    • The first secret level in Spear of Destiny is no push-over. What makes it special is the presence of Mutants who normally don't show up until the stages late in the game and the map being filled almost to the limit with enemies (149 is the maximum a map may contain in the old Wolfenstein 3-D engine). The map also tends to have you fighting in narrow corridors with many blind corners.
  • Xonotic has the last level of the campaign, which isn't Glowplant as the game tells you, but rather the infernal Mission 17 from its Spiritual Predecessor Nexuiz's 2.0 campaign. In that mission, everyone is given a Rocket Launcher; the original mission had the players carrying the Laser Guided rocket launcher, which works differently from the game's regular Rocket Launcher, leading to deaths such as rockets exploding onto the players' faces, hurting or killing them. Xonotic doesn't feature that rocket launcher, making use of the regular one, but the level itself is still cramped with several bots which will make your life as a hell, whether you know how to use the Devastator (the game's version of the Rocket Launcher) or how you can go your way through the level.

  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Ultimate Raids combine this and Super Boss, and they're easily considered the hardest combat content in the game. To even access them, players have to beat specific Savage difficulty raids, but unlike Savage, they're not just a previous raid fight with harder mechanics: they're a completely remixed Boss Rush marathon of previous raid in a single instance, with the final phase having a brand new One-Winged Angel form, such as Golden Bahamut instead of Bahamut Prime. On top of being long fights, they're an absolute relentless cascade of mechanics where a single mistake can mean a wipe, which means doing everything from the beginning with no checkpoints whatsoever, and on top of that require the players' DPS to be top-tier to even have a chance of clearing them. They generally don't get much easier even after new expansions are released, as they're the only fights that have to be level synched to accesss them. What sets them fully in the "Bonus" territory is the fact that clearing them is effectively a Bragging Rights Reward, with the in-game rewards being a cosmetical but very cool weapon and a title.
    • Delubrum Reginae (Savage) is a brutal step up from the already unusual Delubrum Reginae raid. Not only are the bosses and mechanics much more difficult than the standard raid, it has a very devious special rule: it's impossible to revive players through conventional healer spells, instead having to use specific Lost Actions (such as Lost Raise) or a Level 3 Healer Limit Break; and if players aren't revived, they will be booted from the instance completely, something only one other raid in the game, the Baldesion Arsenal, does. However, completing this incredibly difficult fight only gives players a mount and a title, and isn't at all necessary to continue the Save the Queen storyline.

    Party Games 
  • The final battle arena of Rayman M, Spooky Towers, is only accessible through the Bonus League. It puts you against a single opponent on the Ultra-Hard difficulty, who can fire off shots with pinpoint precision and runs faster than the player can.

    Platform Games 
  • In the NES version of The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, you can grab a no-carrot sign that sends you to one of four special stages, all of which are far more difficult than even the hardest of the normal stages. Beating one gets you three extra lives, but losing one sends you back three levels.
  • Catherine, a game that's already hellishly difficult in its own right, later presents a set of four very long, even harder levels known as Babel. Each one requires that you reach the top before all the blocks fall away, similar to normal levels. However, these levels are all set on Hard. This means that the floor falls away really quick and you can't undo any mistakes. Make a slight booboo in your strategy that makes it impossible to advance? Tough nuts. Very few people on either platform have actually beaten these levels, and they only get harder as they go. The final level, Axis Mundi is flat out impossible to complete solo in the Western version of the original game (the glitch was fixed in Full Body, thanks to a bug in the game that renders it impossible to climb more than a few steps. Hope you can work two controllers or have a friend to help you.
  • The Caverns of Hammerfest got Parallel Dimension 'Hell', located after a gate in level 54. The game, which is already pretty hard, is close to impossible in this level.
  • Celeste has "B-Side" versions of the story levels, which are unlocked by finding each level's respective cassette. Each B-Side version requires a strong mastery of one's platforming precision and understanding of the level's primary gimmick. Completing all of the B-Side levels unlocks C-Side levels, which are shorter but even more difficult. The incredibly-long Chapter 9, unlocked after completing Chapter 8, is at least as long as a B-Side level but also about the same difficulty as a C-Side level, combining the hardest of both parts.
  • The Pyramid of the Forbidden in Commander Keen 4. Made even worse by the fact that a player who saves there has to beat the level, use cheats or start over to be able to play the other levels again.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Crash Bandicoot (1996) has three kinds of bonus levels, reachable through collecting sets of tokens throughout a level. Tawna's bonus levels are breathers, where the player can collect extra lives, and save the game or get a password. Brio's bonus levels consist of much more challenging jumping puzzles, with bigger rewards to match. Cortex's bonus levels are the hardest, with absolutely devious platforming challenges. Sadly, only Cortex's levels are obligatory for 100% Completion, because beating them unlocks extra levels...but should you fail them, you'll have to restart the stage you came from for another chance, and one of the bonus levels happens to be located in the game's resident Scrappy Level, Sunset Vista.
    • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped and Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex have regular bonus levels, which are easy (most of time, anyway), and Death Routes and Gem Paths, which are this trope. The first requires a No Death Run until you step on the platform that takes you to them, and are accordingly brutal, usually overloaded with traps or jumping sequences requiring lightning reflexes and nanosecond timing. Gem Paths require you to collect a gem of corresponding color (or all of them) and have similar difficulty as Death Routes. In certain cases you have to beat these sections and the regular level for 100% Completion.
    • Both Cortex Strikes Back and Warped also have secret levels accessed by finding a secret entrance in other levels or doing enough of time trials which usually fit this trope too. Case in point would be Area 51? in Warped which is a race in absolute darkness and requires memorizing the track and good reflexes to win. The Wrath of Cortex has secret levels too but they are way easier in comparison.
    • N. Tranced for the GBA has the gem levels. Each gem level requires getting the gem shards in previous levels, and are each based on the level type the shards were found in. You'll need to have fast reflexes, use every single powerup the game gives you, and have a lot of patience to beat them all and unlock the true final boss, N. Tropy, who may be one of the hardest bosses of the Crash series to date.
    • N. Sane Trilogy:
      • Stormy Ascent, level originally intended for Crash Bandicoot (1996), which is so hard that it was Dummied Out (and that's saying something), is released here as Downloadable Content. It's the ramped-up version of Slippery Climb, already one of the hardest levels in the game, except now there's extremely fast platforms, bouncing off birds, spikes everywhere, erratically-moving platforms, Surprise Slide Staircases, platforms that move in and out very quickly, long stretches of constant action, and few checkpoints. Reportedly, even the level's original designer had trouble with its creation, and one of the remake team's best players lost 60 lives going through Stormy Ascent for the first time.
      • Then there is Future Tense level based on metropolis levels from Warped, also released as Downloadable Content. Just finishing it is not (that) difficult, but getting both gems is another matter. First one is locked behind Death Route, so you need to perform No-Damage Run to the plaform that takes you further, in a level to which gem path of Gone Tomorrow looks like a cakewalk. Getting all crates is fiendishly difficult as well because unlike most of levels this one has different branches and you need to explore most of them, and Bonus Level is Brutal as well if you want to walk away with all crates. It's saying something that Fruit Bazooka is practically mandatory here.
    • For the Bonus Levels in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, rather than being a Breather Level where you can earn extra lives like the previous two games, they are designed around letting players try them as many times as they can bear, often asking them to accomplish feats the regular levels would never ask them to. On top of that are the Flashback Tapes, which serve up some of the most difficult platforming challenges in the series' history, and feature only a single Checkpoint.
  • Croc: Legend Of The Gobbos has the bonus level Secret Sentinel, in which it is very hard to actually get any hits on the boss due to falling traps all around you.
  • Curse Crackers: For Whom The Belle Toils:
    • The first 3 Worlds have a hidden set of levels called Hollows, which can be unlocked by finding a secret exit in one of the stages of each level. These are much more difficult, with more enemies and more pitfalls, as well as stages 3 and 5 each having a harder version of a previous boss. You'll need to complete them if you want to progress the main post-game quest.
    • The Cursed Book is a series of not 5 but 10 levels that you can unlock during a sidequest. Not only is there more platforming and harder bosses, but the second half of the area also has walls that instantly kill you if you touch them, requiring you to be more careful with your jumps. Oh, and you don't have Chime with you, so not only is it harder to damage some enemies but if you want those Longshot medals, you'll have to get all the way through the non-boss stages without taking any damage at all.
  • The Distorted Travesty series loves these. A later entry sports a total of eight of these things scattered about the game. Take a look at the first one.
  • Donkey Kong Country
    • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: The Lost World. Access to a level can be bought at Klubba's Kiosk in each world for 15 Kremkoins apiece. They are much harder than the regular levels, which is saying a lot. Specific levels of note:
      • "Animal Antics" because of the infamous area forcing you to fly through tight bramble passages as Squawks while the constantly shifting wind keeps blowing you forward and back.
      • "Klobber Karnage," which forces you to move over large pits of spikes in barrels, trying to time the tilting of the barrel and when to shoot into another barrel to avoid hitting bees, requiring tight timing.
    • Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!: Krematoa. Kremkoins (obtained by completing bonus minigames in levels) are necessary to unlock its levels, and these provide a formidable challenge.
    • The Temple levels in each world of Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, all of which are required to unlock the equally difficult secret areas (Golden Temple in Returns and Secret Seclusion in Tropical Freeze), which in turn are required to unlock Mirror Mode (Returns) and Hard Mode (Tropical Freeze). None of these levels have checkpoints, so when you die, you have to start the level from the beginning.
  • The Nintendo port of Dragon's Lair has an infamous example of this. There is a boss only bonus level. If you enter it, you get a chance to get back any gold you lost to the lizard king earlier, but the lizard king shows up as an unkillable boss that will kill you instantly on contact. You have to use your daggers to keep him at bay so you can try to retrieve the gold icon. Unlike most bonus levels in games, this one takes lives away, and once you enter it, you cannot continue the main game unless you complete it. If you haven't lost any gold to the Lizard king, you won't get anything even if you do complete the bonus level, but will still have to do so to continue.
  • Grey Area (2023) has "The Last Place", a hidden level accessed by using Hailey's ghost attack against the final boss. It is by far the hardest level in the game (and this game is already Nintendo Hard as is). It's a lengthy Marathon Level (likely taking hours to finish unless you're speedrunning) that often require you to make multiple extremely precise jumps and dives in a row. And if you complete it, you Earn Your Bad Ending.
  • Most of the secret levels in Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure are insanely difficult in an already absurdly difficult game. Special mention goes to 4-1S, an absolutely brutal Auto-Scrolling Level requiring precision jumps across moving platforms whist being swarmed with Goddamned Bats, mastery of most of the game's projectiles and rigorous memorization of the level to complete. You'll probably have to complete this one before some of the earlier secret levels, as the reward you get from it is almost required for even accessing them.
  • Hollow Knight:
  • Sector Z in Iji. One hit point, full armor, and the enemies are Goddamned Bats to some degree.
  • I Wanna Be The Fangame has the Trials, ultra-difficult platformer levels culminating in an autoscroller that only fills a fraction of the screen's width, makes the scene darker, and changes directions arbitrarily.
  • Kero Blaster: Omake Mode is actually pretty easy due to having all your weapons from the start... except for the secret areas, which combine Checkpoint Starvation with outright defiance of the normal rules of the game, featuring invisible enemies and platforms that may or may not be safe footing.
  • The "Extra Game" mode in the original Kirby's Dream Land crosses this over with New Game Plus. Your health is cut in half, enemies do more damage, they become much faster, and even more aggressive and unpredictable. Suddenly, this once-placid little game becomes a Nintendo Hard piece of Platform Hell.
  • While the "Extra" Distant Traveler stage of Dedede's Drum Dash in Kirby: Triple Deluxe isn't very secret, it does require getting gold medals or better on all three of the standard levels. Sure, you may well have played the preceding songs near-flawlessly, but Extra throws you a lightning-fast song where you have to leap over giant Gordos while many of the drums that make up the floor are halfway to broken when you get there and will fall to pieces the moment King Dedede touches them, giving you only one chance at jumping high enough. As if that wasn't bad enough, you only get 3 hit points instead of the standard 5, but with all the breaking drums, it probably won't matter anyway. Blinking while attempting to play it usually results in death.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby Super Star Ultra, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby: Planet Robobot feature the True Arena. Much like the standard Arena, it's a Boss Rush against every boss and miniboss in the game with few healing items. The Arena is tough, but the True Arena is many orders of magnitude more difficult. All of the bosses and minibosses are souped-up versions of their normal counterparts that have massively powerful and hard-to-avoid attacks. The bosses who were introduced in the hard versions of the normal game also show up here. Healing items are limited to about four tomatoes that restore pathetic amounts of health or a single reserve cherry every few rounds in Planet Robobot. In the between-round rest stop, you only have one ability item to choose from if you lost yours during the battle, as the other is the totally useless Sleep; in Planet Robobot it's an ability roulette. Then you get to the end, and you have to face a Super Boss (Galacta Knight, Galacta Knight again (thrice), and Dark Meta Knight) who uses relentless and wide-reaching attacks. Then comes the final bosses, which can stomp you into a flat sheet and dust the furniture with your remains, concluded with the final boss's Soul form, who excel at Teleport Spam and firing ridiculous amounts of projectiles. Planet Robobot amps it up with a four-phase True Final Boss that ends with a hard-to-avoid invincibility-ignoring One-Hit Kill Kaizo Trap! The game does not mess around in the True Arena, and it lets you know how brutal the True Arena is: the music is an intense guitar version of the normal Arena theme and the backgrounds are twisted and warped.
    • In Return to Dream Land Deluxe, The True Arena has been revamped to not only include the EX bosses and Galacta Knight, but also the new bosses from the Magolor Epilogue. And on top of that, Magolor Soul's moveset has been significantly buffed, so seasoned veterans should expect more than just a mere rematch.
  • Kirby Star Allies:
    • The Ultimate Choice has various difficulty levels to choose from. This mode's equivalent of The True Arena is the highest difficulty setting: Soul Melter, which cuts your health in half and pits you against every boss in the game (replacing some bosses with their respective Underground Monkey, such as Yggy Woods instead of Whispy) and ends with a fight against a souped-up Void Termina and then Void Soul.
    • The final Dream Friend update laughs at the naysayers who thought Star Allies was too easy and decides to punish them with Soul Melter EX, the new highest difficulty setting for the Ultimate Choice. You have much more health and better healing items now, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. You are now pit against all of the new (read: much harder) bosses introduced in Heroes from Another Dimension. On top of that, Morpho Knight gets a powerful EX form that never lets up and Void Termina is now fully awakened, with his astral-born soul now simply called Void. If you manage to survive the ensuing Bullet Hell that wouldn't be out of place in a Touhou Project game, you are rewarded with Classic Kirby as an alternate costume.
  • Klonoa:
    • Klonoa: Door to Phantomile has Balue's Tower, the Extra stage unlocked after saving all the prisoners in every other level. A shining example of Suspicious Video-Game Generosity, you're often given anywhere from eight to ten extra lives at the beginning of nearly every room, and while the main game does expect you to get a proper handle of the grabbing/throwing mechanics to stay airborne, Balue's Tower expects you to do so many, many, many times consecutively, more often than not over One-Hit Kill fire, amidst orher precarious stunts. Your reward for finishing it is a unique cutscene that is quite funny, but might not be considered worth the trouble to a weary player. Despite its difficulty, the game incentivizes you to replay this stage via an on-screen clock that keeps track of your fastest clear time, and properly chaining grabs & throws over certain death is nothing short of Difficult, but Awesome.
    • The House of Fun and House of Horrors bonus levels in Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil. You will need to have your full measure of wind-bullet shooting, enemy-head jumping, ear-floating skill, and be able to perfectly chain them all together to get through them. One slip up, and it's a life lost.
  • LIMBO's Brutal Bonus Level is unlocked after you find and squish 10 hidden eggs throughout the game (not all in one playthrough, thankfully). The level is not simply difficult in that it throws more deadly shit than usual at you, instead it takes the same minimalist, artsy approach that the rest of the game does. Everything is completely black, save for your character's little glowing eyes, bouncing up and down. You have to dodge giant blade traps and solve puzzles purely by sound.
  • Marsupilami: Hoobadventure: After beating the Hidden World, you unlock Cataclysm mode, which makes the game much harder by adding more enemies and hazards and the like.
  • Super Meat Boy.
    • The levels required to unlock The Kid are based on The Kid's home game.
    • The Dark World levels are the (already punishingly difficult) original levels with a few extra saw blades or other obstacles strategically placed to cause the most death.
    • The Warp Zone levels limit your life count to 3 in a game where your total death toll will reach the thousands across a hundred levels before you reach "The End".
    • Chapter 7: Cotton Alley, the bonus chapter unlocked after beating the game. Enjoy your pink, colourful, cheery, disco, sawblade-covered death!
    • One of the downloadable content level packs is a bonus level pack called "Expert Remix", which includes 20 remade versions of levels from the regular game, made to be many times harder than even their Dark World versions. Try beating 5-8 without the elevator, 6-2 with the map zoomed all the way out the whole time, or the first level of The Kid's warp zone without his double-jumping ability!
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man 9 has the Special Stage, originally put out as DLC about a month after the game's initial release for a small price, but unlocked by default in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 after beating the game once. The Special Stage is a Marathon Level, consisting of many difficult trials that either encourage or require the player to use special weapons, as well as battles against all four of the game's minibosses: Hanabiran, Stonehead, a green Paozo, and the Changkey Dragon, in that order. After that's over with, there's still a battle against the Mega Mech Shark, the three-phase boss of Wily 2, before ending off with the level-exclusive Optional Boss, Fake Man. The boss gauntlet makes it difficult on its own, but since this level is only playable in Time Attack mode so record times could be submitted to the global leaderboards, you only have one life, no inventory items, and a strict time limit of ten minutes. It's a hard stage, but Fake Man's very pattern-based behavior and weakness to the Jewel Satellite almost makes him an Anti-Climax Boss in comparison.
    • Each of the eight main levels in Mega Man X6 has an alternate route that will take you to a Boss. These "Nightmare Areas" range from tolerable, to random, to insane. An example for the latter would be Infinity Mijinion, whose Nightmare Area is one whole Bottomless Pits littered with Reploid hostages, and worse, Nightmare Viruses close enough to possess them. Ironically, Metal Shark Player, notorious for having one of the most frustrating levels in the series, actually has one of the easiest Nightmare Areas, mainly because the main obstacle, the compactor, isn't as dangerous there like it was in the main level.
    • In the fangames department, Mega Man Unlimited has Yoku Man's stage. You know those infamous disappearing and reappearing blocks that have been the bane of many players' existence ever since Mega Man? Well, Yoku Man is the mastermind behind those things, and his stage has them scattered throughout the entire level over bottomless pits and spike traps, along with disappearing and reappearing spikes, blocks that become enemies that chase you until they die, reality-distorting prisms that blind your vision of the terrain around you, and the entire second half is one giant maze that sends you back to the beginning if you go the wrong way.
  • The Grannie levels in Mutant Mudds, which is hard to begin with. Often just reaching them is an ordeal, let alone finishing them. Grannie can use every powerup in the game at once, but in these levels, that's as much a curse as a blessing, as you'll need perfectly-timed combinations of rocket jumps, hovers, and long shots over loads of spikes and in the face of many, many enemies.
  • Night Sky has a reward for collecting all the bonus stars hidden throughout the game, a final chapter called "Slightly Nonsense," which features some real challenges that force you to battle and exploit the environment physics every step of the way. This chapter includes, among other things, a level where you can only get around by working the anti-gravity power on and off, trampolines, and surfaces where the friction and impulse physics are intentionally wonky.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition's newly added Bonus Dungeon has many zones that make the main game look like child's play. Some of the sadistic obstacles include platforming over insta-death Spikes of Doom in a Blackout Basement while carrying a light orb that precludes double jumping or other acrobatic maneuvers, rotating quad death laser traps, gauntlets of Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom or Laser Hallways with a very narrow timing window to Charge Dash through, and an Indiana Jones-style boulder race on steroids. Good luck playing through it in One-Life mode.
  • Rayman Origins has the Tricky Treasure levels. Each one features Rayman pursuing a sentient treasure box as it weaves its way through a level that is falling apart. These levels require precise knowledge of where and when to jump (or not to jump), often acquired through trial and error. Also, beating all 10 Tricky Treasure levels unlocks the Land of the Livid Dead. A single misstep or twitch in the wrong direction is enough to end in a very painful death. Words just do not do it justice. See for yourself.
  • Most of the Livid Dead Party music levels in Rayman Legends are 8-bit remixes of the previous 6 music levels. The originals require jumping and punching to the beat of the music, depending on whether a gap or an enemy is in your way as the level auto-scrolls past you. The 8-bit remix levels, true to their name, introduce graphical defects to the levels that range from simply annoying to full-on Interface Screw. As an added bonus, the 8-bit remix levels don't have any checkpoints — you have to do a perfect run of each level from start to finish.
  • After the ending and credits in Rockin Kats, Muggsy suddenly appears and challenges Willy to a rematch via Channel X, with Willy having to go through the hardest bits of platforming in the game first to get to him.
  • The bonus worlds in all of the Something Series.
    • Something even advises you to complete the game before taking on the bonus world when you press the Switch Palace in World 4. When you enter one of these levels, you have to get your powerups taken away.
    • The entrance to the bonus world is closed off in Something Else until Luigi gets all of the known exits and beats the game.
  • The Adventure Pack DLC in Sonic Unleashed takes an already hard game to complete and adds in dozens of optional stages from the first eight locations in the game with their difficulty cranked up to the highest in the entire Sonic series. Every main story stage except the final one has a Remixed Level counterpart in the Adventure Packs; this includes the tutorial stage, which is up there with the other ones in dangerousness.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: While most of the Super Bonus Round challenges are relatively easy, the Yeti skateboarding challenge is absolutely BRUTAL, much harder than even the hardest challenge in the rest of the game. You have to hit practically every speed star, rocket, and blue crab, as well as do major tricks off every skateboarding ramp, and if you fall off the edge or crash even ONCE, there's almost no chance of you winning first place. Even if you do everything right, you'll probably win by the skin of your teeth.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Worlds A through D in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, where the levels will require even more precise jumps and the encounters with Lakitu and Hammer Bros. are more frequent. Considering how difficult Lost Levels is already, these take the cake as the hardest levels in Mario history.
    • The Special World in Super Mario World. Outrageous is a particularly insidious showstopper if you try to play it properly and don't fly over the whole thing with a cape, while Tubular is almost universally considered the hardest level in the game, because it can't be flown over and forces the player to navigate painfully slowly through a minefield of projectiles under a strict time limit and One-Hit-Point Wonder conditions.
    • The Extra levels in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. The page's picture is the first one:
      • "Poochy Ain't Stupid", World 1's extra level, is a goddamn lie, featuring lava for practically the entire level and auto scrolling to go along with the introduction of Poochy, a dog that, if you unlocked the extra stage before proceeding to World 2, is a new mechanic.
      • World 2's extra level "Hit that Switch!!" is an utter nightmare. If you're aiming for 100% completion, it feels like the level designers confused "making a 'complex' level" with "making a level that makes you remember and do way too much shit, all on several sharp time limits back to back." If you manage to reach the pulls you into a nearly Unwinnable situation — simple as that.
      • World 3's extra level "More Monkey Madness" is full of goddamn seed-throwing monkeys that are placed on branches and vines above a pit, so they can easily kill the player. You have 5 seconds to get past those monkeys and grab the Fly Guy hovering above a bottomless pit before it flies off with a red coin. Gaaah! It isn't so bad in the SNES version, since for some goofy reason there are 21 red coins in that level (20 is normal, and you need exactly 20 of them for 100% completion); however, the GBA remake fixes this, leaving you no room for error. Then as one last kick in the teeth, the final flower is behind the exit ring, so unless you know it's there, you'll likely be futilely backtracking, or get the exit ring by mistake and have to start over.
      • "The Impossible? Maze", the 4th extra level, lives up to its name all too well. There aren't many enemies, but good luck trying to find every red coin and flower for the perfect score! Even if you do figure out the maze, the level requires you to push crates down the right paths in the right order, which can easily slip the wrong way by mistake, and missing one forces you to start all over again from the beginning.
      • The 5th extra level "Kamek's Revenge". To obtain all those red coins, you first have to perform two whole screens of skiing and hit all the obnoxiously difficult to reach items with perfectly precise jumps, then, you have to hunt down a bunch of them on a huge, nonlinear Helicopter course (which happens to be timed — run out of time and you fall to your doom). Miss just one coin, and your only option is to die and try the whole thing over again. Also, the first section of the stage, where you have to make your way across a whole bunch of tiny floating logs without getting knocked off by Kamek or the egg-throwing Green Gloves, ain't no picnic either. This level is so hard, even top players have complained that they can regularly solve all bonus levels with a perfect score in the game - except this one.
      • World 6's Extra level "Castles — Masterpiece Set/Ultimate Castle Challenge" is an absolute gauntlet of thorns and moving platforms that give the player nowhere safe to stand still and catch their thoughts. You'd better have ultra fast reflexes if you don't know the method of cheating it.note 
    • The Game Boy Advance Updated Re-release of Yoshi's Island added six more 'secret' levels, and they're about as brutal as the extra ones in the original game:
      • World 1's secret level "Exercise in the Skies" is just a small sample of the hell you're in for with the games bonus stages. Finishing the level is tricky enough, but a 100% run is an exercise in frustration. The first segment is tedious enough due to the player having to make a perfectly timed jump to reach the secret area near its midpoint (although the level at least allows you as many tries as you need to reach it), but the second part, where Yoshi has to cross a large gap while balancing himself on a tiny, fast rolling ball while only having a slim chance at grabbing the nearby red coins, is an absolute nightmare. To top it off, the final segment has you scramble across a collection of falling rocks, where it's entirely possible to wind up in an unwinnable situation if you don't cross them fast enough.
      • "Mystery of the Castle?", the World 2 secret level, is a difficult maze with several of the entrances to its hidden rooms located off-screen. The final red coin is also carried by a Fly Guy, meaning that if you're not fast enough, you're doing the whole level over.
      • "Go! Go! Morphing!", the World 3 Secret Level doesn't seem so bad at first, but towards the end will challenge you with several unintuitive puzzles on the Drill and Helicopter morphs' strict time limits. One Drill puzzle doesn't seem solvable under the time given unless you realize that the Helicopter's blades can clear soft soil above them, a scenario that doesn't come up anywhere else in the game, so most players will assume they screwed up and reset by mistake.
      • World 4's secret level "Fight Toadies w/ Toadies" is no pushover either. The primary mechanic focuses on making precise jumps bouncing off moving enemies, only to reverse the concept at the end with an auto-scrolling stretch of moving platforms and Bullet Bills, where the real challenge is not bouncing too high and ending up off-screen where one can't properly gauge Yoshi's position.
      • World 5's secret level "Items Are Fun" is the easiest level in the game ...if you run straight to the exit. If you're trying for the 100% score then it's a marathon level that requires a lot of thinking outside the box with items. Of note: one must figure out that Yoshi can jump on, and thus bounce off of, spiked enemies as long as they are frozen first, something hinted at nowhere in the game.
      • The first part of World 6's secret level, "Endless World of Yoshis/Crazy Maze Days," isn't so bad, although it does have fast auto scrolling. However, the maze part is a lot worse. Not only is there a long shaft filled with instant death spikes you have to dodge with split second timing (entirely blind), but to get 100% completion, you need to beat this section three times. There's just one midway ring after it, meaning that if you mess up before the cave (and given the confusing layout of the place, you probably will), you'll have to do a significant amount of the level over. After that, there's a cave with some rather mean tricks, a race against the clock as baby Mario, and finally a secret second exit leading to a replica of the intro with Kamek attacking Yoshi throughout. It's a Marathon Level to say the least.
    • The extra levels in Yoshi's Island DS, the sequel, take the game's increased difficulty, as well as the game's tendency to border on a rare licensed example of Platform Hell, to the worst possible limit. The most notorious example is 3-Secret, A Light in the Dark, which starts out in a castle filled to the brim with One-Hit Kill Spikes of Doom and then has a skiing segment clearly inspired by (and even harder than) that of Kamek's Revenge.
    • Upon completing Wario: Master of Disguise for the first time, you'll unlock five levels based on previous destinations, but now with a tight time limit and very difficult minigames. There is little, if any, room for mistake.
    • The Trial Galaxies in Super Mario Galaxy are reached by obtaining hidden Green Stars in Battlerock Galaxy post-saving Luigi, Buoy Base Galaxy, and Dusty Dune Galaxy. There are three Trial Galaxies, one for each of the special mechanics: surfing (Loopdeswoop), Star Balls (Rolling Gizmo), and bubbles (Bubble Blast). All they do is give a Star each, but these are required for 100% Completion.
    • World S in Super Mario Galaxy 2, particularly the Grandmaster Galaxy. Anyone who has played the game for 100% Completion can be brought to tears by "The Perfect Run."
    • World 9 in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, with 9-4 and 9-7 qualifying as those two levels within a set of brutal bonus levels. 9-7, which featured an entire level of nothing but ice blocks as platforms, pipes, and Fire Pirahna Plants spawning out of those pipes to melt your only route away; deserves special recognition for once being the featured image on the franchise's That One Level page for quite some time. Namely for the bit that showed what happened when many a player tried and failed to successfully collect that level's notorious second Star Coin.
    • Then Superstar Road in New Super Mario Bros. U, which qualifies as that game's World 9. Enjoy 9-2 (Run For It), 9-3 (Swim For Your Life!), and 9-8 (Pendulum Castle). There's also its New Super Luigi U counterpart, which is a Nintendo Hard game in its own right. 9-6 (Fire Bar Sprint), especially, is nigh-impossible without Nabbit.
    • World S8-Crown in Super Mario 3D Land, a very brutal reward for your 100% Completion.
    • Super Mario 3D World has Crown-Crown (Champion's Road), which much be completed five times (once with each character) for 100% Completion.
    • Super Mario Maker
      • You unlock the levels played at Nintendo World Championships 2015 when one beats every other built in level. Beating those allows one to place the Weird Mushroom down on demand. The 3DS version has World 19 from Super Mario Challenge, unlocked after completing all previous worlds and earning enough achievement medals from them, and it's also the longest (12 levels).
      • A few player-made levels have rose to fame for being so mind-numbingly difficult that it's honestly amazing people can beat them. Panga's levels, Pit of Panga P-Break and Pit of Panga U-Break, both have 0.01% completion rates, and that's because that's as low as that percentage can drop. It's really around 0.00001%, take a look.
    • Super Mario Odyssey has a few of these:
      • There's Culmina Crater (on the Darker Side of the Moon), which fills the same role as the Grandmaster Galaxy or Champion's Road for this game. Namely, a long series of obstacles with no checkpoints at all, and brutally hard platforming challenges of nearly every gameplay mechanic you've been using up until that point. Hearts and upgrades make sure you live just long enough to get your ass handed to you later on. Unlike the Grandmaster Galaxy, the level is long enough that the end sections are harder to get through even if they aren't explicitly more difficult, since you've had much less practice with them compared to the opening stages that you've done a million times before. The Pokio Bird section near the end is of particular note, since you have to use it to climb swinging walls, something you've never had to do before.note 
      • There's also Rabbit Ridge on the Dark Side of the Moon, where all of the sub-levels are repeats of sub-levels from previous Kingdoms, except you are deprived of the thing that made the original beatable and then expected to beat it anyway. Navigate an invsible, poison-filled maze without Cappy to clear the poison. Do eight perfectly-timed long jumps in a row across single blocks with a Banzai Bill chasing you because you don't have Cappy to simply possess it. Do a timed challenge designed for the moped without the moped or Cappy. And to even unlock these sub-levels, first you have to do a Boss Rush against the Broodals, including their mech at the end. With moon gravity. And no (non-amiibo) way to recover health except a single heart that heals one hit point, a hidden Captain Toad Power Moon that is a full heal but you can only ever get it once, or running all the way back to the Odyssey between each fight, which takes a long time and is extremely boring.
      • Then on a lesser note, there are the 'moon pipe' stages found in earlier kingdoms. These are added after you beat the final boss and activate the extra Moons via the moon rocks in each kingdom, and lead to brutally hard Super Mario Sunshine-esque secret stages with lots of tough platforming challenges based around either Captures or traditional spinning platforms and obstacles.
    • Super Mario Run has the level unlocked by collecting all 120 black coins in World Tour, "Make The Cut". Lava everywhere and extremely unforgiving jumps between multiple saw blades will push you to your absolute limit. Yoshi's immunity to sharp objects from below only slightly alleviates the insanity.
    • Special Stage 2 in Kaizo Mario World, which is already Platform Hell in its own right, descends into the ninth circle of hell.
    • Rom Hacks of Yoshi's Island typically have normal gameplay difficulty equivalent to that of the Extra levels in the original game - but these games usually also have extra levels. If you were good enough to play the hack to begin with, you'd better have a lot more where that came from - otherwise, it's time to break out the save states.
    • In Kamek's Revenge, a notoriously difficult hack of Yoshi's Island, the Extra levels that aren't Breather Levels tend to be this. 3-E (Ice To Meet You) is an ice level with very difficult jumps and is much harder than the rest of World 3 (though not as hard as some late World 6 levels). 5-E (The Pit of 50 Trials) is a Marathon Level where you must clear the enemies in a series of trials. This starts extremely easy (the first trial is a single Shy Guy) but later on this gets extremely difficult. Then you get Trial 50, which is a long autoscrolling Tap-Tap chase with infinitely spawning bats. Lastly, 6-E (Kamek's Revenge 2.0) is a heavily buffed version of Kamek's Revenge in the original. Here the platforms are much narrower, there are multiple Kameks instead of one, and there are very difficult Red Coins to obtain, even before the infamous skiing and helicopter segments.
  • Super Monkey Ball:
    • To even reach the Extra stages, you must complete all of a difficulty's stages without continuing. Clear Expert Extra without continuing and you get to the Master stages. If that wasn't enough, in Super Monkey Ball 2, clear those without using a continue and you get the Master Extra stages. Good luck pulling that off on Deluxe, where you can only reach the Master stages via Ultimate mode, where you have to play through all Beginner, Advanced & Extra stages(there's a save feature for the mode, but it's only a slight solace).
    • Banana Blitz has Sinking Swamp, which is unlock by beating the previous 8 worlds without a continue, and beating THAT without continuing unlocks The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, Ultra Heaven. Step & Roll has Silliconia, which is unlocked by beating the other worlds, but is a MASSIVE Difficulty Spike from the rest of the game. Finally Banana Splitz brings back the Master Stages, while it only requires you to beat Beginner, Normal, and Advanced to unlock, the latter is a Marathon That One Level, and the new Master stages don't throw punches themselves, and requires a no-continue run for 100% Completion.
  • Tamashii: The Impossible section of the Corrupted Temple, an area which can be accessed after unlocking the Chamber of Kether. It is a hallway filled with every trap in the game that you must navigate in one run, and the star at the beginning outright tells you it is impossible.
  • Wonder Boy's Area 8, unlocked by collecting all of the Dolls and home to the True Final Boss, is far more difficult than the rest of the game, and if you run out of lives, there are no continues.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Boulder Dash has difficult intermissions before checkpoint levels that you may start on. They are individually Nintendo Hard, and while they don't cost a life if you fail them, you get kicked to the next level without a chance to retry it. The hardest is the second intermission, the "V-bonus level" where you need to make a mad dash while vulnerable to fast-moving square guardians. On the other hand, the third intermission is unwinnable on PAL systems.
  • Droidquest, the Java port of Robot Odyssey, added a sixth level with even more insane puzzles than the Nintendo Hard fifth level. Originally, you could only get there after collecting a number of secret items in association with the original Developer's Room, but the latest version introduced a portal straight to the sixth level.
  • Helltaker got this for its one-year anniversary with the Examtaker DLC. The bonus chapter alternates between standard block puzzles as before, but also includes levels with timing-based segments and infinite moves. For the latter, while there's less block-shuffling to do, you also have to dodge lasers that fire periodically. The Final Boss fight is a lot busier as well, as its third phase can have up to three types of attacks overlapping each other, all of which you have to dodge without ever getting hit.
  • Kuru Kuru Kururin has three bonus levels in story mode when you finish each of the other levels without getting hit. These aren't very difficult though. The real Brutal Bonus Levels are the 5 mini-levels you unlock in challenge mode by finishing each of the 50 normal challenge levels without getting hit which is quite a feat in and of itself.
  • Lemmings's SNES port adds five "Sunsoft Bonus" levels after the Mayhem level set.
  • Patrick's Parabox: In the post-game, many extra-hard challenge levels are made available. The world containing these is aptly named "Challenge".
  • The advanced chambers in Portal, adding a twist to straightforward levels by introducing or removing level elements to complicate the solution.
  • The Professor Layton games have Layton's Challenges, a collection of 15 post-game puzzles (typically five sets of three puzzles each) unlocked by completing certain objectives in the main game (one of them, for example, being the conclusion of the game's story). All of them are much more difficult than anything you'll face in the main game, with at least one puzzle in each 3-puzzle set being a fiendishly difficult (and frustrating) slide puzzle and/or an insanely hard(er) version of one of the main game's already brutally tough puzzles. Worse, the very last puzzle in every game is, without fail, a diabolically difficult slide puzzle. Last Specter makes it even worse by making the final puzzle two slide puzzles in one, with absolutely no hints for the downright evil second puzzle. Miracle Mask gives a slide puzzle for its second-to-last puzzle, with the final puzzle being different from usual: It's supposed to be a harder version of what was faced in the Azran Chamber, but being it's just stepping on buttons, it's really not as hard as you would imagine.
  • The Witness: The Underground Maze, unlocked by activating all eleven lasers, turning on a hidden switch at the top of the mountain, and then solving an otherwise-deactivated panel inside the mountain. It contains easily the hardest puzzles in the entire game and includes The Challenge, a particularly nasty set of panels activated by a record player that plays classical music. In addition to all of them being randomized and extremely difficult, you have to finish the entire series before the music stops; let the music finish or pause the game and you have to start the entire series over again. Your sanity wishes you the best of luck.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Splatoon:
    • Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion: Beating all levels with no skips grants the player access to a fight against Inner Agent 3; all Agent 8 has is an Octoshot and Splat Bomb, while the opponent has unlimited ink, constant specials, a faster and more powerful weapon, knowledge of where you are at any time, an aggressive AI, and the ability to dodge-roll at any time. Oh, and there's no checkpoints, so losing at any one of five phasesnote  sends you all the way back to the beginning. Once you do manage to win, Your Reward Is Clothes! All you get is a virtual Golden Toothpick.
    • Splatoon 3 unlocks the secret level After Alterna after beating every other stage in the single-player campaign. While not quite as brutal as Inner Agent 3 from the Octo Expansion, it is four times as long as any other level in the game, consisting of four full-length stages stuck together—a series of wicked platforming and shooting challenges, all of which demand quick thinking and quicker reaction times. Cap it off with a fight against three waves of eight Elite Octolings, which are especially brutal in this showing and can use specials, and you have a contender for one of the toughest challenges in the series. (Fortunately, checkpoints are provided at the start of each sequence and one in the middle of the third.) Completing the level unlocks the Teddy Band and some custom titles to use in multiplayer, as well as a special Alterna Log that provides the last few Story Breadcrumbs for Mr. Grizz's backstory.
  • Ratchet & Clank (2002):
    • Planet Oltanis consists mostly of optional content, as there is only single path that needs to be completed and is arguably also the easiest one. The one leading to Morpho-Ray is harder but still pretty manageable. The one leading to Gadgetron PDA, however, is the absolute worst, as it features slippery ice segments with numerous Bottomless Pits or open arcs of electricity, strong wind that hinders your movement and the absence of Clank due to him attracting omnipresent lightning strikes. And while Gadgetron PDA allows you to buy ammo outside the vendor, the game's tough economy and the price surcharge for using it makes it Awesome, but Impractical at best and outright useless at worst.
    • There is also the path to one gold bolt on Oltanis that features seriously hard Swingshot jumps, including Swingshot targets that move present nowhere else in the game.
    • Another hard Gold Bolt section is on Orxon, where you have to destroy walls by navigating Visibomb Gun rockets through narrow tunnel and with two sharp turns, and alternating height of tunnel don't make it any easier.

    Racing Games 
  • Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled adds a set of tremendously challenging time trial ghosts for the update immediately following the Gasmoxia Grand Prix. To put them in perspective, Emperor Velo's ghosts are faster than the already-quick Oxide ghosts, especially on tracks that Oxide is easier to beat on, but the training wheels really come off for the Beenox developer ghosts. Those are so fast that players need to exploit every shortcut and expert technique to stand a chance, with William P.'s times being the most challenging of all.
  • Most of the Driving Missions in Gran Turismo 4, especially the final one. Also, Sebastian Vettel X challenge on 5. It's hidden throughout the game until you reach Level 30 (even the trophies are a secret until you acquire them) and it's one of the most difficult challenges in the series.
  • Any bonus course in the Jet Moto series, especially Nebulous in the second game.
  • The Need for Speed: Most Wanted fan mod Pepega Edition has challenge #74 in the Challenge (Cancer) Series, the "Stock Punto Challenge", which requires beating a late game tollbooth race using a Fiat Punto with stock parts. Said task is easier said than done. Beating that challenge unlocks challenge #75, "Bonus Event: Mayhem Mode" which puts the player in a pursuit against condition 13 cops and requires the player to amass 100 million bounty points (which can take over half an hour to do) before escaping them. The kicker? All of the pursuit breakers and hiding spots are unmarked!
  • From the page quote: The first PSP Ridge Racer game (or rather, the US version) gives us the MAX tours, unlocked after completing all main tours. These are the 7 most ball-bustingly hard tours in the entire game, with Rubber-Band A.I. like you wouldn't believe. The seventh and final tour is billed as so difficult that players on the development team could only clear it twice within 60 days and is compared to climbing Mt. Everest. They are strictly a challenge for top players seeking to absolutely complete the game, as they offer no rewards, not even a cutscene.
  • The Lakeside stage in Sega Rally Championship 1995. Besides being longer than the other three stages, you need to be first by the end of Mountain to access it, which in itself is hard if you're playing on an arcade cabinet with the difficulty on 'Arcade'. The track is painfully thin and hitting a wall just slightly will send you to about 30mph dispite being at around 70mph throughout most of the other tracks. Did I mention that the time limit only gives you about 2.5 seconds between 'Impossible Lap Time' and 'Time Over'?
  • Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2 and 3 have unlockable 28/32-Outrun Levels, each available after all the levels in a given area is cleared during 10-Outrun Mode. Each opponents' difficulty will increase sequentially as the player overtakes them, with the last and hardest being the Hero's Classic Car giving the player longer time to overtake him.
  • In Wipeout 3, you can unlock four untextured bonus tracks. The first three are fairly easy. The fourth is also fairly easy unless you play on the highest speed class, In that case, if you haven't been playing the game since it came out, forget it.

    Real-Time Strategy 

    Rhythm Games 
  • The Bemani series is fond of these.
    • DanceDanceRevolution: Starting in DDR MAX, clearing the Final Stage with a grade of AA or higher nets you an Extra Stage, which is locked to the hardest and fastest song in the game, has the x1.5 speed and Reverse mods in effect, and you can only miss 4 times or so before you get a Game Over. Clear and AA that, and you get the One More Extra Stage / Encore Extra Stage, a slightly easier otherwise-inaccessible song on which breaking combo is an instant fail.
    • Starting in DDR Supernova 2, a nasty twist is that the Encore Extra Stage's unique-impossible-to-see-anywhere-else song will be even more difficult than the Extra Stage despite its pass conditions being even harder. Yes, we're looking at you, Pluto Relinquish!
    • X2 takes this even further; there's a special folder with six songs in it which only appears during Extra Stage. Getting an AA gives you a medal for that song. You have to pay all six different medals to unlock a single chance at the Encore Extra Stage, Valkyrie dimension, which is (of course) much harder than any of the six songs before it. Some have accused Konami of making this a cash grab, as the most challenging song in the game (and thus most sought-after by hardcore players) effectively requires a minimum of six credits per attempt. When (not if) you fail, you'll need to replay the first six Extra Stages again to earn their medals back. That's not an exaggeration - it was so hard that zero people in the world legitimately cleared it before its Encore-exclusivity was removed four months after its initial release.
    • X3 takes this even further, introducing for the first time a super-special Encore Extra Stage with an "ATTACK!! PERFECT FULL COMBO!" alert, indicating that anything below a Perfect will instantly fail the song.
    • beatmania IIDX also has Extra Stage and One More Extra Stage songs, but of particular note is Mendes, the One More Extra Stage song from IIDX 15: DJ Troopers. If you can actually clear it on Another (the hardest normally available difficulty) on the console version, which itself is brutal, you unlock an even harder Black Another chart for it. See it here - the left side is Another, and the right side is Black Another.
  • Cytus has the Chapter L DLC, a set of ten songs with some of the most brutal charts in the game, with the songs themselves ranging from four-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half minutes each. All of the songs being rated 9, the game's maximum difficulty, on easy should be a good indicator of what you're in for. The difficulty was so high that it managed to generate enough fan backlash to make Rayark release an update that toned down the charts, but the original ones are still playable as hidden songs.
  • Elite Beat Agents (and, by extension, its Japanese sister series Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2) has bonus levels that you unlock by reaching certain score levels. While the first two usually aren't too tough, the last one in both games is usually second only to the final stage in terms of difficulty. The kicker is that, once you unlock them, they become mandatory for all other difficulties where you haven't reached that song tier yet. Have fun soldiering through "Survivor" and "Samurai Blue" on Hard Rock.
  • Everhood has "Revenge", the theme for the Frog, one of the nicest guys you've met since you started this game, punishing you for DARING to do a Pacifist Run in a game where you're expected to kill everything. He goes from playing one TWELVE!.
  • Not all of Guitar Hero's bonus levels are necessarily harder than the regular ones, but some definitely are. "Jordan" from the second game and "Through the Fire and Flames" from the third are the most famous ones.
  • Just Shapes & Beats has quite a few particularly difficult levels that are unlocked outside of the main story, but the most infamous one is "Mortal Kombat", which forces you to dodge an incredibly fast barrage of projectiles coming from two sides of the screen at once, with little to no warnings. All five parts of Mixtape #3 also apply, being frantic, overwhelming levels that leave you little room or time to dodge much of anything.
  • maimai has the Challenge Track system, which you gain access to if you get an S rank on every track leading up to the last one on your credit. Clearing a Challenge Track unlocks it for normal play...if you can do so under a Video-Game Lives system, where you are given a set number of lives depending on how old the track is, running out causes an instant Game Over, and any note judgement below Perfect takes away one life. If you try to challenge a track on the first two days that it's available, you will only get one life, i.e. it's All Perfect or bust.
  • Rhythm Heaven Megamix introduced the Challenge Train, where you play a selection of games with some form of extra condition (do it in three/two lives, reach a certain score threshold, do well enough to stop the level from being eaten by a monster and/or play the game sped up). Some of these are pretty tough, but Lockstep Lockdown in particular has the game tell you "Look, this one's tough." before you even play it. In short, it's Lockstep (one of the DS game's hardest games involving keeping the beat and switching to an offbeat pattern every so often) played four times in a row on the three-life system (which, mercifully, replenish between stages) getting faster and faster with each stage. "Super hard!" is a pretty apt description.
  • Rock Band 2 has "Visions". Then there's the DLC. Plus it seems some music is being written specifically for the game on RBN. Eep. "Through the Fire and Flames" is now available for Rock Band. Another DragonForce song for Rock Band, "Operation Ground and Pound", has a guitar chart that puts TTFaF to shame. It's so brutal that one of the best players in the world was happy just to have passed it without No-Fail mode, and it took until December 2016 — over 5 years since the song's release — for a Full Combo. Special mention goes to Slipknot's "Pulse of the Maggots." With OGaP finally FCed, Pulse of the Maggots stands as the single song on guitar still without an FC.

  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • From the vanilla Flash version, after the Halloween update: Sheol is a literal hell, with wickedly hard monsters and Satan as the final boss.
    • Wrath of the Lamb adds The Cathedral, a harder inversion of Sheol, and if you beat that while carrying the Polaroid, then you go to the Chest, where there is a boss in every single room.
    • Rebirth adds the Dark Room if you beat Sheol while carrying the Negative, which follows the same rules as the Chest.
    • Afterbirth+ has the Void, which is unlocked after beating Afterbirth's Super Boss, and has either a random chance of showing up after certain major/"final" bosses in future runs or has a guarantee after beating said Super Boss again. It pulls rooms from other floors, meaning that the general rooms are a step down in difficulty from the Chest and Dark Room (since statistically, most of the rooms come from early floors), but it features multiple boss rooms that could contain "final" bosses. It is the only place Mom's Heart, It Lives!, Satan, the Lamb, Isaac, and ??? can be encountered outside of their designated floors, something not even the Chest or the Dark Room has. Its own unique True Final Boss is the hardest in the game.
    • Repentance adds a slew of new alternate floors for each chapter up to the Womb, unlocked by defeating Hush at least three times. This alternate path is as fiendishly difficult here as it was in Antibirth (the simplified knife-piece puzzles being the only saving grace), with the repurposed Witness (now called Mother) actually being harder than ever before. Clearing that then unlocks a new final route only accessible by bringing the Polaroid or Negative to the secret door at the start of Depths II. By doing this, you enter a special version of Mausoleum II, which ends with Isaac picking up a special item, climbing back up the previous floors all the way back to Home, and then fighting a gauntlet of bosses featuring Dogma, the Ultra Harbingers, and finally The Beast.
  • DRL carries a few, if you're willing to follow the red stairways:
    • The Mortuary follows a simple formula: Take a big room, add over a hundred corpses, and release the Archviles. It's enough to challenge anyone, to say the least.
    • If you're not geared for melee, stay the hell away from the Unholy Cathedral.
    • If you completed the Arena, the Chained Court will become one, what with the huge, boss-tier Archvile trying to fry you.
  • Dungeons of Dredmor has a surprisingly easy to access bonus level: Diggle Hell. Mistype a wizardland code and enter the red, glowy portal and get ready to meet every single variety of diggle in the game, from the lowliest to the harbingers and even some exclusive to the place, and get dogpiled by them. It also holds a Super Boss, for those who like their unfairness with a dash of mercilessness.
  • Dwarf Fortress's Adventure Mode has divine vaults, created by a deity responsible for bringing a demon up to the mortal world, in order to keep the demon's true name safe. The secret inside is guarded by possibly the strongest things in the entire game, armed to boot with the second best metal after Adamantine. Actually obtaining the secret, a slab engraved with the demon's name, letting you either banish or command it, is more of a Bragging Rights Reward by the time you're powerful and/or cunning enough to not be One Hit Killed the moment you step inside.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon:
    • Red and Blue Rescue Team has a few-Wish Cave, Joyous Tower, and Purity Forest all have 99 floors and reset your level to one. Purity Forest takes it a step further and destroys any items in your bag when you enter. It also resets your IQ to zero, taking away all of your skills, and prevents you from bringing in any teammates to help. The game calls it a test of wits and intelligence rather than power, but it fails to mention the colossal amount of luck involved.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers gives you the Zero Isle dungeons. In Explorers of Sky, there are two more brutal bonus dungeons, Zero Isle Center and Destiny Tower. Each of them have different entering prerequisites and brutally strong enemies. In Zero Isle North you won't gain any EXP from defeating enemies; the enemies in the first floor are in level 50, and by the end of the dungeon they will be in level 90. Some floors have high chance of containing a Monster House (30%!). In Zero Isle East, your level will be reset to 1, and you can only bring 16 items. No Monster House here, though. In Zero Isle West, your level will be reduced to 1 too, and you cannot bring any items there. However, like all Zero Isle dungeons, the scattered items are the best in the game. In Zero Isle Center, you can't gain any EXP, can't bring any items, and can't reveal traps by using the basic attack (push A). The hardest of the Zero Isle dungeons has to be Zero Isle South as your level is reduced to 1, you can't bring any items or any money, AND you have to enter this dungeon ALONE. Destiny Tower has similar prerequisites to entering Zero Isle South: not only can you not bring any items, but you also temporarily lose your IQ skills as well. Also, you can't be rescued in these dungeons and the enemies in these dungeons are not only strong but also have high IQs; however, they each award extremely nice gifts at the end or in the middle. By the end of Zero Isle West you can find the Amber Tear and by the end of Zero Isle North you can find the Golden Mask; both are the best held items to increase recruitment rate (24%). As you march on Zero Isle South you can find the exclusive items for some legendaries, and as you move through Zero Isle East you can collect some rare exclusive items, too. By the end of Zero Isle Center there are four Deluxe Boxes, all containing exclusive items for the Pokemon you're using as the leader, and by the end of Destiny Tower, you can find the Space Globe, the held item that will raise your attack by 50%.
    • Gates to Infinity has Slumbering Cave and Path of No Return. Like the above examples, they both have 99 floors, reset your level to 5, remove all your Team Skills, prevent you from taking in items or money, and have a hunger mechanic in place. While you can challenge Slumbering Cave with a full party, Path of No Return requires you to challenge it solo. Slumbering Cave has no problems with throwing fully-evolved Pokémon on just the first few floors, and they're so strong that even your strongest attacks often won't harm them! Path of No Return throws everything at you: it has more traps than safe space, Monster Houses are everywhere, you can't see more than a few spaces after a short while, most floors have weather that prevents passive healing and possibly damages you, supplies are ultra-limited, enemies' AI is seriously ramped up, and usable things are too expensive to buy.
  • Spelunky is already an Everything Trying to Kill You guantlet, and various bonus levels only up the ante: You have to work your way through a giant worm's body, avoid aliens who can brain-fry you from a distance, or battle a swarm of heavily-armored knights. Even the Black Market can be bad if you manage to piss off the shotgun-toting shopkeepers.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Abmneshi The Prophecy has the Invisible Stage, which is selected by pressing left with the leftmost stage already selected; It contains Sirisai, a rather nasty Super Boss.
  • The Hope archive in Child of Eden.
  • Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours rolls the ending after you complete Suriaha, but if you complete all missions up to it, you'll unlock Kyokkuho, a 20-stage gauntlet that can easily take an hour to complete and culminates with G.T.V., one of the hardest bosses in the game. Since this is CS Mode, you have to do all this on only three lives; lose them all and it's back to the start!
  • The Gorge in Death Smiles. The Mega Black Label upgrade adds the Ice Palace, which is a bit more beginner-friendly than the Gorge (especially if you're using Sakura).
  • Gauntlet: Dark Legacy has one bonus stage per world, that consists of trying to nab 25 coins in a maze before time runs out. Your reward for beating a bonus stage is a secret character; the secret characters have stat alignments similar to the base characters (Medusa excels at Magic like the Wizard and Sorceress, for example), but with more intriguing physical designs and overall higher stats. The problem? The bonus stages range from antsy to teeth-grindingly brutal. Some of the more egregious examples include: a two-in-one literal Bonus Level of Heaven and Hell where you're locked into unintuitive control physics not used anywhere else in the game, and you cannot go back for any coins; a deliberately-confusing psychedelic maze; a space station where you must use teleporters that don't always work perfectly, all in time limits that can generously be called 'fatalistic'. Your punishment for losing is to re-appear in the stage where you found the bonus entrance, but the bonus door will be gone, and you'll need to replay the stage for it to appear again. Considering some of these bonus doors appear very close to the end of lengthy stages, the player is wedged between quite the rock and hard place.
  • The arcade version of Gradius III has a couple of optional hidden levels accessed at the very end of the game by letting yourself be hit by one of Bacterian's otherwise easily-dodged attacks. Instead of costing you a life as you might expect, you will be whisked away to one of two levels modeled after the first levels of the original Gradius and Salamander/Life Force games. While these levels are not necessarily that much more brutal than the rest of the itself brutally-difficult game they're in, they still throw you a curveball in that all of your powerups, speed-ups included, are taken away upon entry to these levels. There are only a small handful of powerups at the beginning of each of these stages, which have to be used for speed-ups, therefore you usually just have only your standard gun to take you through the whole level. Should you get to the end of one of these levels, you are not rewarded in any way other than the small handful of points you may have received in getting through the level; you simply get placed back in the "main" game (with all your powerups taken from you again, just for good measure) to take another shot at Bacterian.
  • Inverted in Image Fight; there is an extra level you're dumped into if you don't kill a high enough percentage of enemies in the first five stages, called the Penalty Area. In it, you must fight a fleet of very difficult enemies, with all of your powerups gone AND no powerups available within the stage. Score chasers will throw one of the stages to get to this stage and reap points for killing enemies, but the high difficulty of the stage means it's ill-advised and you're mostly better off trying to just meet the Border quota.
  • Stage F-C in R-Type Final. One life, no continues, very long.
  • Extra Stages in Touhou Project feature bullet patterns on par with the game's own Lunatic difficulty. The bosses have a large number of Spell Cards to dodge through, and they are immune to damage from the player's bombs.

    Simulation Games 
  • The Ace Combat series has its share, mainly of Boss Rush variety:
  • Jedi Starfighter has the unlockable bonus missions "Jango Fett", "The Lone Gunship" and "Advanced Training", all of which are far harder than most of the levels that you'll find in the main game. "Jango Fett" has the player controlling the eponymous bounty hunter as he flies Slave I and takes on a smuggler's private fleet singlehandedly, "The Lone Gunship" has the player controlling a Republic gunship pilot taking on a Separatist army on Geonosis singlehandedly (noticing a pattern here?), and "Advanced Training" is a follow-up to Adi's earlier Forced Tutorial that forces her to master advanced techniques like sniping and chasing in the starfighter.
  • Trauma Center:
    • The series has X missions which are unlocked after the completion of the main story. These are operations against souped-up versions of the boss pathogens, with more aggressive attack patterns and vitals that plummet even faster. You know This Is Gonna Suck when the X missions' difficulty is locked into Extreme.
    • New Blood also adds Challenge missions — operations on multiple simulated patients. The difficulty itself is not as intense as the X missions, but the Chain breaks if the player gets anything short of Cool on any action, demanding perfection for a good score. The final Challenge mission includes simultaneous GUILT and Stigma infections.
    • Trauma Team exchanges the X missions for the Specialist difficulty, which allows the player to tackle any operation mission with a similar intensity.

    Strategy RPG 
  • Disgaea games always have these; the post-game is where the real challenge is.
    • Considering the games' Absurdly High Level Cap (9999; you'll need well under 100 to beat the main story), these are usually Level Grinding fests. Many will have you acquiring new party members from previous games in the series (or other NIS titles). The real Brutal Bonus Level is typically against Baal or Pringer X, bosses with devastating attacks and stats in the upper stratosphere. Pringer X has an ability which nulls any skill that has been used on it, meaning you can't spam your most powerful spells. Secondly, they have obscenely high damage and health which is 21 million. To crank it all up to "I HATE YOU" levels, the last one has you fighting the worst type, Pringer X Go, which has a whopping health of 160 million. Another mention goes to Baal in Disgaea 4, who has a passive ability that will instantly kill your characters as soon as you place them on the map provided they aren't strong enough to survive the damage.
    • The first real instance of this trope came about in Disgaea 2, which introduced the Land of Carnage —- enemy levels are boosted by 2000% plus 200 extra levels, and then their stats get doubled on top of that. Disgaea 3 increased the insanity by giving enemies a 1% stat boost for every 20 levels they'd go above the level cap. Disgaea D2 upped the ante by letting your characters absorb these stats whenever they killed an enemy in the Land of Carnage, and then added Rasetsu Mode to make those stats go even higher. Disgaea 5 added its own change — items found in the Land of Carnage (aka the Carnage Dimension) have greatly increased stats, although their Item Worlds will have immensely powerful foes.
    • Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny went even further with the Rakshasa Dimension — remember Rasetsu Mode from Dimension 2 up-top? Rakshasa Mode adds around five to six more digits' worth of stats, and also has gear that vastly outpaces even the strongest Carnage gear.
  • While the main story of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was criticized for being uncharacteristically easy, the bonus dungeon Lagdou Ruins started out considerably harder than the end of the main story, and by its last few floors was unabashedly sadistic. The fact that you had to complete ten floors in a row with no saves in between didn't help matters (unless playing the game in an emulator), nor did the fact that most of the characters had low magic resistance and the latter floors were full of long-range casters that could twoshot them from across the map. Lagdou Ruins as a whole is so hard that it got a Shout-Out in Fire Emblem: Awakening: its music theme was recycled for the brutal DLC map known as Apotheosis.
    • The Melkaen Coast map, unlocked after Chapter 19, isn't exactly cakewalk either. It's considered to be just as hard as the first floor of the Lagdou Ruins, as every monster found is a promoted version with very high health (over 40+ except for a few monsters). Oh, and sometimes it can feature the much hated Fog of War.
    • Apotheosis. Ignoring the fact that it's Downloadable Content, so Nintendo would have you pay them to torture yourself, there are a lot of factors that would encourage you to become a eugenicist just to beat it. The premise is that five battles take place in a row with no breaks between. Falter on one of them or run out of time and that's it. The enemies introduced come packing numerous AI-exclusive skills such as Dragonskin Effect , Luna+ Effect  and Aegis+/Pavise+ Effect . Can't cheese your way through this one! In fact, the difficulty for this says it all. The maps in the store are rated for difficulty using a star system. Apotheosis' rating? Insane. Then you play the Secret Path for it, which will probably send you into the nearest mental asylum.
    • The remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, Shadows of Valentia, adds the Thabes Labyrinth to the postgame. This 10 floor dungeon houses some powerful enemies (and thanks to the fatigue mechanic you are actively discouraged from battling them). At the end is The Creation, who Awakening players will recognise as Grima, the game's Greater-Scope Villain. Most dungeons have Mila Idols where you can easily restore fatigue, recharge the Mila's Turnwheel, and serve as "bases" so you can save your game. Thabes Labyrinth doesn't, meaning you have to do the whole thing all at once, and you need a healthy supply of provisions if you get into too many fights.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has the Demon's path, which is significantly harder than the normal path.
  • Hypogeum of Tears to Tiara 2, unlocked after clearing the main game. The game is automatically put on Hard Mode, and the original Rewind option so vital to the normal game is disabled. Many of its levels are designed to swamp you with opponents straight from the start, with special setups that allow various long range magic to 1HKO, with you hard-pressed to reply in kind. While the regular game can be cleared with your team at around the early level 50s, Hypogeum requires you go grind to level 90s and the final floors are still very hard with your entire party at max lv 99.

    Strategy Games 
  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim has all of Area 4 (Sumire Ward), consisting of 9999 progressively harder waves of enemies offering no tangible reward beyond EXP and Meta Chips. As the game's final story mission comes just before unlocking Area 4, there's no real reason to play these beyond challenging yourself.
  • Advance Wars: The original game has a bonus Mission after the Final Battle with Sturm called Rivals, where Eagle challenges Andy to one last go around. In order to access it, you have to play through the Campaign and choose Sami for every Green Earth Mission (barring Eagle's introduction early on of course). This is noted to be quite difficult, as Sami's Green Earth Missions are easily the hardest of them (it doesn't help that she's not nearly the terror that she is in later games either), but it pays off in more ways than one; not only does it give access to Rivals, it also places Eagle as the 3rd CO in the Final Battle, along with an entire squadron of air units to start off (considering the closest airport is neutral and well near the middle, this is a HUGE plus). On the flip side, if you play Rivals in the already painful Advanced Campaign, you're basically doomed to be playing the map for a long time.
  • Kingdom Rush: Every game in the series has bonus levels that are unlocked after the main campaign is beaten. Each and every one of them is far more difficult than the main campaign and requires very careful planning to succeed, mainly because several of the new enemies they introduce are Goddamned Bats and Demonic Spiders.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has ten challenge levels for each of the four worlds that vary in difficulty from "Easy" to "Supa Hard", but it is the four appropriately-titled Brutal Challenges that can be unlocked after completing the game that qualify for this trope. For example, the first one places you in a room with every single miniboss (some even duplicated), Chain Chomps, and every piece of cover is an explosive box that can give any status ailment from burning to petrifaction. Beating the Brutal Challenges unlocks the most powerful equipment in the game for all your characters.

    Survival Horror 
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Five Nights at Freddy's and Five Nights at Freddy's 2 have the Sixth Night and the Custom Night. Very few people have ever beaten FNaF Custom night with all difficulties set to max, (known as 20/20/20/20 mode), although this is partly because even if you are VERY skilled it still takes luck to beat it. The custom night in FNaF2 has several preset modes you can complete to unlock toys that sit on the desk in the game while you play.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 has a bonus Sixth Night, but does not feature a Custom Night, since unlike its predecessors you only have one animatronic, Springtrap, to deal with.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 4 has multiple versions of this. It has the standard Night 6 and Night 7, the latter of which is also called Nightmare Mode and your antagonist throughout Night 5, Fredbear, is replaced by a more aggressive black palette swap called Nightmare. It also has a hidden Night 8, which serves as the 20/20/20/20 mode. The Halloween Update adds in additional options for custom nights, such as Blind Mode, Mad Freddy (Where Nightmare Freddy becomes a threat more quickly), Insta-Foxy (Foxy is always in your closet), and All Nightmare (dealing with Nightmare the entire night instead of from the halfway point onward). They can be activated alone or in combination, meaning it's possible to have All Nightmare Blind Mode on yourself.
    • While Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location didn't initially have a Custom Night (it did have a bonus level, but it's more a Nostalgia Level), one was later included in an update. Beating various versions of it unlocked significant information about the Aftons.
    • Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator also initially did not have a custom night. One was being planned, though, and this ended up turning into its own game, known as Ultimate Custom Night. Fittingly enough for the Grand Finale of the series, it's 50/20 mode, bringing together fifty of the franchise's characters and then some, turning into a Brutal Bonus Level for the franchise as a whole.
  • A fanmod named Five Nights at Vault 5 features the Ultimate Night, unlocked after the "official" five, with all five robots being present and with the terminal alert frequency cranked up to max.
  • Wick allows you to play 5 am if you've unlocked all the collectibles from the previous hours.

    Visual Novel 
  • "Rise of the Ashes" from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is an interesting Visual Novel example. It was added as exclusive content for the DS port, is unlocked after the credits, and is one of the longest and most difficult cases in the entire franchise, involving a fair amount of Guide Dang It! and That One Puzzle, and some extremely difficult cross-examinations.

    Western RPG 
  • The Watcher's Keep in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal is this, especially if you decide to tackle it in Shadows of Amn. It's a tower with five levels of increasingly harder challenges. The first, topmost level isn't so bad; it consists of a basic item puzzle and the monsters here are easily dispatched. The second level kicks it up a notch with monsters that you have to exploit Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors to defeat, followed by a battle against a Barrier Change Boss with Regenerating Health. The third level, however, is where the real fun begins. It's a maze of square similar-looking rooms connected by Magical Mystery Doors. What's worse, almost every single room is filled to the brim with Demonic Spiders that require very careful micro-management, constant pausing/unpausing and Save Scumming — let your party do their things on their own for five seconds and you're dead. Furthermore, in many rooms magic either has random effects, or simply doesn't work at all and any pre-applied buffs and protections are dispelled. This level is essentially a That One Level in itself. The fourth level is a Breather Level despite Mind Flayers, but the difficulty is back with a vengeance on the fifth level where you have to kill a dragon, among other things, followed by not one but three ambushes of even more Demonic Spiders. Good luck surviving this one in SoA without resorting to your Slayer form.
  • Dark Souls has a few, but the best is the Painted World of Ariamis. While it's not full of Bottomless Pits or excessively trap-happy, it's full of very, very nasty enemies and several excellent items. If you want to get everything out, you need to fight through buildings full of fire- and toxin-spewing undead, rats that inflict toxin, terrifyingly powerful Crow Demons, an undead dragon, a pyromancy-loving phantom, and a basement full of Skeleton Wheels - some of which are fought in narrow hallways. Even worse, once you enter, you can't leave until you open the exit at the end, which is easier said than done.
    • In Dark Souls II, all the DLC locations could be this trope. However, the best example of this is the Frigid Outskirts, a Brutal Bonus Level inside another brutal bonus level. You are trapped in a snowstorm that makes it nearly impossible to see around you. While blinded by the storm and trying to find your way to the end, you are constantly ambushed by respawning lightning-spamming Ice Stallions and Faraam Warriors...and if you're really unlucky, you can possibly get invaded by other players too. What lays at the end of this madness? A boss fight against Bonus Bosses Lud and Zallen. Your reward for all this punishment is the Ring of the Living - which allows you to camouflage yourself by removing the glowing outline in phantom form.
    • Dark Souls III has not one, not two, but four Bonus Levels:
      • First of all, we have the Smouldering Lake, which contains the massively difficult Carthus Sandworm and an enormous ballista that constantly shoots at the player (though the Sandworm can be turned into a Zero-Effort Boss if you stand behind a rock and let the ballista kill it for you). Below it, there's the Demon Ruins, implied to be the last remaining chunks of Lost Izalith from the first game, a labyrinthine level filled with tight spaces and narrow corridors and some really good loot. Some of the loot is in pools of lava, which will kill you extremely quickly even if you crank your fire resistance to the moon (there is no Orange Charred Ring to protect you this time). There's a room packed full of Basilisks which can inflict Curse status, which causes instant death. Also present is Knight Slayer Tsorig, a rather dangerous and powerful NPC who can one-shot the unprepared (though he too can be turned into a Zero-Effort Boss since doesn't fare any better in the lava than you do, and he's susceptible to Alluring Skulls). Your reward for making it all the way to the end get to turn off the ballista.
      • The next one is the Consumed King's Garden, home to a Toxic-inducing swamp and infested with Pus of Men. It's rather short and can be explored rather quickly, but every single enemy in it is incredibly hard-hitting and can tank through a lot of the player's attacks, especially the Consumed King's Knights near the end. The area's boss, Oceiros, also qualifies as That One Boss for many.
      • Directly after the Garden is the Untended Graves, a dark version of the Cemetery of Ash, the very first level. While the enemies are nothing the player has seen before, it's home to Champion Gundyr, one of the hardest bosses in the game. Just after him are respawnable Black Knights with ultra greatswords. Oh, and if you want the "Let the Fire die" ending, you have to complete this area.
      • Finally, we get to Archdragon Peak. Absolutely packed to the brim with snakemen that can effortlessly stunlock, parry and dodge the player's attacks and have a metric ton of HP on top of very dangerous homing fire attacks. The large snakemen are even worse, dealing huge damage with their greataxes that they almost never stop swinging and having nigh-unbreakable poise and immunity to backstabs (in fact they have a special grab attack they use on players foolish enough to attempt a backstab). Some of the large snakemen have their greataxes attached to chains, giving them massive range as well as all of the above (and like all other enemies, their melee attacks go through walls, and since swinging around their chain-axe still counts as a melee attack, nowhere is safe). Not shortly after, the level introduces summoners that can spawn Drakeblood Knights, who are Lightning Bruisers to the core and Havel the Rock. Just to make matters worse, there's a dragon miniboss in the main path of the level and it ends with an open area filled with a couple dozen of the aforementioned snakemen. Should the player endure this, the main boss of the area is The Nameless King, which is universally considered to be the hardest boss of the game (though there's a solid lore reason why he's so impossibly hard: it's heavily implied this is Gwyn's firstborn).
  • The Golems of Amgarrak Downloadable Content for Dragon Age: Origins consists of a single level filled with the meanest enemies you encounter in the entirety of the official DA:O content. In fact, it seems to exist solely for the purpose of finding out whether you are a bad enough dude/chick to take on four freaking boss-level enemies (plus two minor bosses) at once, on your own. The answer? You aren't, trust us. Unless you figure out that it's actually a Puzzle Boss. Oh, and that encounter is considered second worst to the Final Boss of the level.
  • Elden Ring has two areas that are difficult to come across, and meant to be tackled at a higher level than the final boss.
    • Miquella's Haligtree and Elphael, Brace of the Haligtree. To get there, you must begin Latenna's quest and defeat Commander Niall to get the Haligtree Medallion to get to the Consecrated Snowfield (the inevitable vision-limiting blizzard area) and solve a puzzle while fending off Black Knife Assassins and Albinauric Archers. Once there, you'll have to deal with the toughest Lordsworn in the game, various minor bosses (Crystalians, Erdtree Avatars, etc.) as regular enemies, bottomless pits, and just to top it all off, Scarlet Rot. The final boss is Malenia, Blade of Miquella, who will make the dungeon you had to slog through to get to her look like sauntering through Limgrave by comparison.
    • Mohgwyn Palace isn't quite as hard as the Haligtree, but merely being horrendously difficult instead of insanely difficult isn't saying too much. It's also difficult to find, requiring either a teleporter from the Consecrated Snowfield or completion of White Mask Varre's quest. The enemies here tend to inflict Bleed, and some can use Blood Magic. The Sanguine Nobles who occasionally act as bosses in the outside world are normal enemies here, and three powerful Nameless White Mask invaders will show up to ruin your day. The final boss is Mohg, Lord of Blood, who uses a massive trident and powerful blood magic, including one attack (used during his phase change) that heals him and will kill you unless you heal yourself repeatedly while he's casting, or complete one sidequest way earlier that gives you an item that blocks damage from it.
  • The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Lonesome Road has the Courier's Mile, which appears after you launch the missile from the Ashton silo. The area is irradiated to hell and back, and is swarming with Deathclaws and Irradiated Marked Men, the latter of which are much tougher than normal Marked Men and regenerate their HP thanks to the radiation. This area is not required to complete the main quest, but there are two warheads here, which must be detonated as part of the Warhead Hunter achievement. Bring plenty of Stealth Boys, Rad-Away, and sniper/anti-materiel ammo. At the end, if you launch the nukes at NCR and/or Legion territory, you gain access to two more irradiated areas housing the Optional Bosses Colonel Royez and Gaius Magnus, who have even more rapid HP regeneration in addition to heavy armor and maxed-out SPECIAL stats.
  • After clearing the final story boss in the old AD&D "Gold Box" game Pools of Darkness, you probably had a party of 40th-level adventurers who were all dripping with powerful magical items. At this point, you had the option to take Dave's Challenge: a small dungeon with no safe spots that's crawling with every monster you hated fighting in the main game, as well as a few resurrected bosses.
  • Pillars of Eternity has the Endless Paths of Od Nua, a 15 levels-deep dungeon sprawling under the Player Headquarters. Completely optional, it contains a selection of the nastiest monsters and traps found in the game, whose Power Levels grow much faster than your party can keep up with it, forcing you to actually leave and Level Grind somewhere else just to be able to get to the next dungeon floor.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Minecraft has the Ocean Monument, a palace-like dungeon located underwater and is by far the toughest dungeon structure currently available in the game - first of all, it's underwater, which means that unless you have ways to breathe underwater like potions you'll die horribly, and even if you do it's littered with unique creatures called Guardians whose Eye Beams does a lot of damage, can aim you through blocks, , you won't be able to explore far - try to be smart and dig a tunnel to reach the Monument from beneath and completely bypass the outside defences? Too bad - just getting near the monument will get you cursed and unable to dig. Even if you have something to take off the debuff like buckets of milk it will be regularly reapplied. This, coupled with the powerful Elder Guardians found inside, make it a nightmare to conquer.
  • Terraria:
    • The Hardmode Dungeon. Unlike the rest of the world, the Dungeon doesn't enter Hardmode after the Wall of Flesh bites it; rather, you have to kill off Plantera before it happens. Once it does, though, watch out. If you enter, you can expect hordes of skeleton soldiers, skeleton mages, skeleton ninjas, SWAT skeletons, and Paladins with four digit HP and attacks that can outdamage Skeletron Prime. Later updates to the game have introduced the Moon Lord, your "reward" for defeating all four Celestial Towers, which are your "reward" for defeating the Lunatic Cultist, who is your "reward" for killing all the Cultists who spawn at the dungeon's entrance. All except the initial Cultists make the Hardmode Dungeon denizens look like pushovers. Fortunately, the Cultists are passive and harmless until attacked.
    • Entering secret world seeds will generate a world with special mechanics. Some are meant to be direct increases to the world's difficulty:
      • "For the Worthy" worlds feature lava randomly replacing some pools of water, surprise lit bombs dropping from pots or shaking trees, and a lower chance to get good items from chests. Enemy and boss stats are also increased dramatically. This seed also automatically bumps up the world difficulty, with Classic worlds being treated like Expert ones, and Expert worlds being treated like Master ones. The biggest mitigation is that Red Potions are made beneficial instead of harmful.
      • The Zenith Seed, AKA "get fixed boi," combines all of the other secret world seeds including "For the Worthy," making it a hard mashup by default. In addition to the For the Worthy changes, the player also has to deal with most of the world being a dangerous Jungle, traps everywhere, and a hunger mechanic.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bonus Level Of Hell


Pendulum Castle

This bonus level has a ton of spikeballs swinging on spiky pendulums.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / SpikeBallsOfDoom

Media sources: