Difficulty is a tricky thing to get right in games. It is essential for a game to remain fun for most people, it challenges the player and keeps them engaged. Completing a tough task or boss can supply a lot of satisfaction, especially after failing to it.
Too much difficulty though can drive some players away. During the transition to 8-bit to 16-bit, the difficulty of games began to be more scrutinized. Once games went 3D, both gamers and companies found that the high difficulty of several games made them inaccessible and a flawed left over from the days of arcade games that tried to be as unfair as possible to get more quarters. Since then, games in general went from Nintendo Hard to more accessible to today's gamers. Still, every once in a while, a game comes along that provides a challenge reminiscent of the Trope Namers of Nintendo Hard. To some gamers, this is ridiculous. Video games are about fun, and frustration isn't fun! They're like black and white! Right?
Not quite. There's nothing inherently wrong with a "hard" game. While a large number of gamers find easier games to be more enjoyable than ones that may make them Rage Quit, some gamers like having a challenge in their games. People play games for different reasons; some play to chill out and escape the trials and tribulations of daily life, while others seek such trials within video games. Some games are legitimately hard and can provide a great and potentially fun challenge.
Even to those who seek games that are monstrously hard, though, there is a point where things can get too challenging and a game asks too much of the player. This is where this trope comes in, when a game's difficulty is so high it actively makes it less fun to play for most gamers.
Difficulty can be a legitimate complaint, depending on what kind of difficulty. Sometimes the difficulty is too inconsistent and throws too much at the player at once and there's a huge difficulty spike. Other times a game is unforgiving in its design, like severely hurting or outright killing your character after just one or two hits without supplying many resources to recover. Then there are times the game has harsh penalties for when the player fails too much. In older games especially such punishments can be incredibly rough, in particular being forced back to the beginning a level, a set of levels, or even being forced to restart the entire game.
Other games are difficult for the wrong reasons, which can be quite legit. And commonly, when discussing the latter, it's best to keep discussion to that page. But it can still lead to justifiable entries on this series where people criticise the game as being too hard due to Fake Difficulty.
This is not a page on which to complain about hard games — this is for when a fanbase in general or reviewers complain about difficulty.
This type of complaint can happen if the preceding game in the series was significantly easier.
The polar opposite of It's Easy, So It Sucks!, where a game lacks enough difficulty to be fun for most gamers. When people try to force the way they play the game (which generally has to do with difficulty) onto other people, you have a Scrub a or "Stop Having Fun" Guy. When you have both It's Easy, So It Sucks! and It's Hard, so It Sucks, you either have a deeply flawed game or an Unpleasable Fanbase.
- Shinobi (2002) isn't just a hard game, it is a Nintendo Hard game. Regular enemies are fairly easy enough, but there are no checkpoints in levels unless you reach a boss, limites continues so you can reset the stage if the boss kills you too many times anyway, the dreaded Bottomless Pit that instantly kills you all over the place and precarious platforming and enemies over them, and some downright merciless boss fights to boot. And if that wasn't enough, from the second stage onwards your cursed sword will feed on your health bar if you don't kill fast enough, turning the rest of the game into a Timed Mission. Reviewers thought the gameplay was cool and had potential, but were quick to critically pan the utterly brutal challenge the game throws out. Nightshade (Kunoichi) directly alleviated a number of these issues for a much more fair game while still having challenge — and then bombed because of Invisible Advertising.
- The Wonderful 101 is a game that just didn't click for a few professional reviewers (and even some players) due to its challenging difficulty and surprisingly in-depth gameplay. Notably, when the director of the game was asked what he felt of said reviews on Twitter, the following exchange took place.
Fan: Many reviews are giving W101 a low score because its "too hard". How does this make you feel?
Hideki Kamiya: Honor.
- Battle Chef Brigade: The game is quite tough due to every fight being timed, but still pretty manageable, especially since the AI will often give you a break or two (sometimes they'll forget to remove poison from the dish, not put the necessary ingredients, etc) to let you have the edge. However, the fight against Lt. Knife is such a massive spike in difficulty that many people have rage-quit the game over it, and the game needed to be patched to reduce her difficulty.
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. Up until OoE, Metroidvanias were particularly easy compared to their more linear and difficult ancestors, so OoE's challenge came off as a shock to many players who started with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or later.
- This was also the case with Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, gaining even more criticism than OoE for its especially mean enemies and focus on grinding.
- The Western version of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was considerably cranked up in difficulty from the original Japanese version, thinly treading the line between cheap difficulty and actual fair challenge.
- While "suck" might be a strong word, this reaction was the primary criticism of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes among reviewers, especially in comparison to its predecessor. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was made considerably easier due these complaints, and the Trilogy Updated Re-release lowered the difficulty of the second game's hardest parts.
- Metroid Dread, while highly praised by critics and fans alike, drew some negative attention from people that cited that the game was simply too hard to enjoy thanks to the very high damage both regular enemies and bosses could inflict. One critic gained infamy when he trashed the game for getting stuck and blaming the game for having bad level design, despite how the game outright tells players to shoot every block to find a way forward. The game would eventually get an easy mode where damage taken is lessened, as well as (likely as a Take That, Critics! answer) a Harder Than Hard mode where Samus becomes a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
- This was the main criticism of Digimon World 4; considering that the one of the hero characters only has about four times the health of the game's Goombas and only a slightly faster attack, the pack of four enemies near the very beginning can easily kill a solo player. And for any newbies that encounter a Crowned Enemy in the second section...
- This is half the reason why Robowarrior is not liked by many, the other half being a huge amount of Guide Dang It!.
- The difficulty of Tomb Raider III was the most common complaints among fans and reviewers because the game had a huge amount of death traps that could kill you if you weren't careful. Even if you were trying to be careful, some areas forced you to rush blindly to avoid a trap you triggered, which was accompanied by some Camera Screw that was trying to make the sequence of escaping the trap look cool. Most of the game was also extremely dark, which made the death traps even more difficult to spot and it did not help that flares barely lasted.
- A good chunk of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link's divisiveness comes from how brutally difficult it is compared to all other Zelda titles. First off, there's no map. This is a major problem due to the large and sometimes confusing layout of both the overworld and dungeons. Secondly, enemies appear in greater numbers, most of them have ranged attacks, and are quite aggressive. Again, a major problem since the combat in this game is more clunky due to the short range of Link's sword and the side-scrolling view. The icing on the cake is what happens when you get a Game Over; not only will you automatically be sent back to the palace where Princess Zelda sleeps, meaning you'll have to transverse through the overworld all over again if you happened to have died somewhere far away, but your experience points drop back down to zero and you permanently lose any extra lives or experience pick-ups note .
- The number one criticism of the first Discworld point-and-click adventure game was how incredibly obtuse the puzzles were to figure out, even accounting for the bizarre logic the world of the source material operates under. The puzzles in the sequel were generally better received for being silly while still being much easier to figure out. Of course, for other critics it went too far in the opposite direction.
- Several Sierra games, particularly the King's Quest games, get this sometimes, thanks to Moon Logic Puzzles, the possibility of a Game Over lurking around almost every corner, and most infamously their sadistic design choices meant to render the game Unwinnable.
- Final Vendetta has been receiving flak for only giving the player a limited number of lives to clear the entire game, with absolutely no continues available; a problem which is made worse by certain One-Hit Kill hazards in the later stages.
- God Hand infamously got a 3.0 score from IGN; the lack of ability to block attacks adding in unnecessary difficulty in his eyes was part of the reason.
- Streets of Rage 3 hit this pretty badly, at least in the International version, as the Japanese version was actually rather easy. The International version made the enemies so aggressive and do so much damage that it quickly became unfair. And then there was the Easy-Mode Mockery at the end of Stage 5 in the Easy mode - which was the Japanese version's normal mode! Most people just Rage Quit there and then.
- The high difficulty is the main complaint of the NES version of Double Dragon III. You start with only one life, have no continues, and are fighting aggressive enemies that love to gang up on you.
The Angry Video Game Nerd: I guess they were trying to make this one realistic. Like, if in real life, if you went out onto the streets to fight this many people at the same time, you'd get your ass handed to ya. And when you die once, that's it. You're brown bread. You're not coming back.
- IGN's review of Double Dragon Neon cited the high difficulty and the fact that you had to start at the beginning of a stage if you lose all your lives. Ironic, considering how hard the original games are (see above), and that we now have the modern convenience of save games...
- Street Fighter III was initially panned for its high learning curve especially compared to the more beginner-friendly Street Fighter Alpha series, until Vindicated by History kicked in and the game became lauded by tourney-level players because of the technical aspects.
- The original FEAR gets this reaction from a lot of people because it was a legitimately tough game which could kill you quickly if you were careless. It wasn't derided for being too hard at the time of its release, but the reactions of newer fans brought in from the much easier 2nd and 3rd games are very much along the lines of this trope, and are often very shocked to discover that they can go from full health and armor to dead in a few seconds against normal enemies.
- Halo 2 on Legendary, as the hardest game in the series. The Master Chief and the Arbiter have very low durability and many enemies have extremely disproportionate firepower; Jackal Snipers with Beam Rifles and Flood Combat Forms with Sniper Rifles can and will kill the players in one shot, while multiple enemies can shred a player in seconds, especially if they're Dual Wielding. The Brutes introduced in the later levels are also ridiculous damage sponges unless you can headshot them or stick them with grenades, and the former isn't an option for the Brute Honor Guards since their helmets can't be shot off. In addition most of the levels have sections in near total darkness, and while this isn't too bad for the Master Chief since he has a flashlight, the Arbiter doesn't due to his Active Camouflage replacing it. This is also the game that introduced boss fights to the series; the first one can fly and spawns two holographic decoys, and all three of them are Dual Wielding and can kill you in two seconds. The second isn't too bad, but his Elite Mooks respawn after you punch him a few times, forcing you to back off and deal with them. The Final Boss is unaffected by anything unless his shield gets brought down by the AI, and since he's a Brute he comes with the same problems as the rest of them, save the fact he's only able to melee you (though it's a One-Hit Kill if he does).
- The entire S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series has gotten this from a lot of people over it's unforgiving difficulty and aversion of many FPS tropes (leading to it being described as a "survival shooter"), but even within those that like it, the second title (Clear Sky) is regarded as several steps more difficult than Shadow of Chernobyl, mainly because entire squads of enemy troops will throw grenades that can literally change direction in midair to land at your feet. The enemies also got a lot tougher to the point that a bog-standard military trooper could shrug off entire magazines of SMG fire to the chest, and the game has an odd hit randomization system rule to gunshots and explosions. That is, you have to actually hit your target, then the game essentially rolls a dice to check if you hit your target. This can lead to an odd moment when a grenade can land in your lap and not even give you a nosebleed, and then another can go off ten yards away and kill you instantly. Certain Game Mods fix this unfair behavior, but at the same time, their sticking to realism makes gunfights ridiculously challenging. Oh, so now guns are actually accurate, and kill in very few hits like they should? Yeah, they kill Scar just as easily as the other stalkers, if not even more easily.
- Team Fortress 2 gets this a lot from people who are used to traditional FPS games where everyone's capabilities are more or less the same, and your skills tend to transfer from one game to the next. Due to the class-based nature of TF2 however, any player that charges in expecting it to be like a normal FPS will die swiftly and often. Combined with a number of strategic and mechanical nuances and less-than-intuitive mechanics such as Rocket Jumping and stickbomb-jumping, this has the effect of turning off many players before they've had the time to learn how to play properly and realize that almost every class is Difficult, but Awesome. In particular, the community has observed that Call of Duty players seem to fare worst at TF2, to the point where a CoD player playing TF2 for the first time is considered highly entertaining. This has lessened some overtime with the rise of other class based team shooters, however TF2 still gets large amounts of criticism for having a steep learning slope. With this flaw veteran players are inclined to agree, finding the game tends to be unclear with its mechanics and having an infamously useless tutorial. As a result, there was a rise of videos and threads to help newer players figure out how to best play TF2.
- PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 tend to get criticism for having the difficulty being too brutal, even on the easier difficulty settings. SWAT can and will flank you and inflict a ton of damage if you're not careful and the special SWAT will wreck anyone that tries to take them on alone. Most of the heists also tend to be very long and supplies are limited as well (ammo drops from cops give paltry amount of bullets and health kits can only be used a few times before they are depleted) while there are an infinite number of enemies. New players aren't often used to working together to finish the heist objectives that are actually required for to succeed. Overkill studio believes the games are fine where they are and feel the action is the juice, especially on the Overkill 145+/Death Wish difficulties and there's a lot of fans that don't mind the high difficulty. Because the two games play similarly to Left 4 Dead, many players from that game that try to play either PAYDAY game in the same way as Left 4 Dead will get absolutely wrecked and that can also bring the whole team down. And then they added two new difficulty levels, Mayhem and One Down.
- Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, specifically the Breakthrough Expansion Pack. While the base game and Spearhead are fondly remembered as some of the best entries in the Medal of Honor series, this expansion gets a lot of flak from a very unpleasant Sequel Difficulty Spike that included health packs and ammo resupplies becoming much harder to come by, and objectives that are almost impossible to accomplish.
- The X-Universe gets this quite a bit due to a heavy emphasis on Earn Your Fun, Early Game Hell, and the Quicksand Box in earlier games. The forums are filled with newbies begging for somebody to tell them how to get out of square one (thankfully the veterans are happy to help out). Others give bad reviews because it takes so long to get going in the sandbox. And then when X3: Terran Conflict came out, certain elements of the fanbase got mad because it no longer took something like 50 hours of gameplay before you had enough money for a capital ship.
- Rugrats: Royal Ransom falls into this trope on Reptar Tough mode. The game is incredibly, insanely, mind-numbingly hard in that difficulty mode, to the point where you wonder if the programmers forgot that, regardless of differing levels of difficulty, they were making a game for children. It's not at all fun to play on that difficulty level; the only reason to play it in that mode is to prove you can beat it.
- Blizzard listened to complaints that Wrath of the Lich King heroic dungeons in World of Warcraft were too easy. They fixed this with the Cataclysm dungeons. Now people are complaining that heroics are too hard. (Blizzard's official statement is that they're happy with the difficulty of the heroics and that they'll become easier once groups start figuring out strategies and players get better gear from raiding. In other words, deal with it.)
- Final Fantasy XIV:
- The Steps of Faith trial, which was the final battle quest in the A Realm Reborn saga, was notoriously known for being very unforgiving if the party had made a few mistakes; the boss is advancing towards the city of Ishgard and it does not stop moving. If it reaches the city, the battle is a failure and everyone must restart. The boss had tons of HP, its attacks could potentially One-Hit Kill anyone who got caught, and the only way to do major damage was to use cannons and dragonkillers whose use had to be timed perfectly or the boss would dodge the attack. Many players preferred to eat the 30 minute penalty for abandoning the party instead of staying to help and fight whenever the trial popped up in the trial roulette. Overall, nearly everyone complained how brutally difficult the trial was and said trial was required to complete in order to get access to the Heavensward expansion pack zones. In about a month, the developers severely nerfed the boss's HP and strength to the point where parties can easily kill it with their own strength alone no matter how much they screw up on the mechanics.
- The first raid level of Alexander was notorious for being extremely tight with DPS checks and mechanics. Not enough damage done? The boss enrages and kills everyone. Screwed up a mechanic? Very likely everyone was going to die. The raid was so difficult that many raiders swore off from the raiding scene entirely and many raiding groups were broken up over it. The fight was eventually nerfed while the developers made sure that future raids didn't have the same intense difficulty.
- The Final Battle in the Stormblood main story is considered to be a massive Difficulty Spike by many. Both phases take place on a floating platform and the final phase has the boss take out sections of it, which means falling off is instant death. Many of the boss's mechanics can either One-Hit Kill people if done wrong or cause massive damage and status effects on the party. Losing the fight means doing the first phase all over again. Like with the Steps of Faith trial, many people would prefer to take a 30 minute time out penalty than to suffer trying to clear the fight again and they also wanted the fight to be nerfed so they wouldn't be locked out of end game content. Unlike the Steps of Faith, the developers stated that they had no plans to nerf the fight.
- The second Campaign of Guild Wars, Factions, was criticised for having a much more unforgiving difficulty curve compared to the base campaign, Prophecies. While Prophecies had its own share of difficult missions (Most notably the Doppelganger who remained That One Boss all the way into maintenance mode), Factions made it much easier to hit the level cap of 20, but had largely designed and tested Factions's missions around people having been much more familiar with game mechanics that had been largely fed slowly to players over the course of Prophecies. Unfortunately, Factions had a bit of a Newbie Boom combined with a resurgence of returning players since the game was largely considered to have worked out of its growing pains by then - meaning these players were hit with a rather difficult Wake-Up Call Boss of Zen Daijun and Vizunah Square, which were considered to be roughly as difficult as late-game Prophecies missions and a HUGE Difficulty Spike from the game at that point. Vizunah Square was later nerfed, but players were often advised to familiarise themselves with mechanics (And acquire elite skills) from Prophecies or later on even play Nightfall first.
- This was actually a criticism of Guild Wars 2's expansion packs Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire. Both of which place the player in very difficult situations such as entire maps full of Demonic Spiders and bosses that can practically One-Hit KO almost everyone. Both of which would feature beautiful, yet labyrinthine and punishing maps full of groups of Demonic Spiders that could easily OHKO most people easily, even with top-of-the-line gear. Many boss fights varied between large group fights (Especially in Heart of Thorns) and walls of health. Every fight became a battle of attrition, rather than battles of strategy or might (Much like leveling and Living World stories). The game's third expansion toned down the difficulty significantly so that it could easily be soloed like much of the games' playerbase does - and it was praised for it, similar to how Nightfall was praised for its much more fair difficulty curve in the original game.
- The Irate Gamer has a very low tolerance of hard games, even if the game is good. Hard games make him "fustrated" [sic]. He's also known to invert this; in his review of Kirby's Epic Yarn, he bashed the game for being too easy, contradicting the many times he's complained about a game being too hard.
- You find sometimes the one guy on a programming language forum who complains that programming languages like INTERCAL and Malbolge, which are both programming languages in which the editor deliberately made a language that is as hard and obtuse to use, get attention because they are hard to program in and saying that these are therefore of no interest whatsoever.
- Baby Pac-Man requires a good amount of skill with both pinball and video games. However, hardcore pinball players and hardcore video gamers are rival fandoms (even during Baby Pac-Man's time), so there are relatively few people who are proficient at both types of games to perform well in Baby Pac-Man. As a result, most people who try this game get frustrated at either the pinball or the mazes.
- The Mega Man series:
- Mega Man Zero often gets hit with this. The original tetralogy, being on the Game Boy Advance, often suffers from Screen Crunch obscuring deadly hazards, highly aggressive bosses, and combination of lengthy late-game levels and harshly limited lives. The games are most notoriously infamous for their unforgiving ranking system, where upgrades and even entire weapons are locked behind high ranks that require nearly perfect play. Although there are Cyber-elves to give helpful attributes like extra health or attack buffs, they are relegated to being Too Awesome to Use by most being one-time use, and using them at all will automatically deduct Zero's rank. Compilation Rereleases of the series often include Easy modes that either lessen damage or give many powerful late-game items right from the start.
- Mega Man & Bass is often dismissed by longtime fans for its extremely high difficulty level invoked by its very tough Robot Master fights, Marathon Level fortress stages, lack of Emergency Energy Tanks, and unforgiving level design that seems to heavily favor Bass and his superior mobility over Mega Man. This is amplified by the fact that the first time it was made available outside of Japan was via the Game Boy Advance port, which falls victim to Screen Crunch and rougher controls.
- Mega Man 9 got hit with so many complaints about its difficulty that Mega Man 10 was advertised as having an Easy Mode.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, the original sequel to Super Mario Bros., was famously not originally exported, with this reaction being part of the reason why. The other is that players would dismiss it as a mere Mission-Pack Sequel. It was not too warmly received amongst Westerners when it was Remade for the Export, seeing it as too close to Platform Hell territory for comfort.
- Expert 100-Mario Challenge and Gnat Attack in Super Mario Maker are generally perceived as this. The former is hated for the Fake Difficulty of many of its levels, and the latter is hated for being very unforgiving. The game's post-release updates added Hard Gnat Attack (which is especially hated for its difficulty, which mainly results from its droves of Bomb Flies in every level) and Super Expert 100-Mario Challenge (reviled for having particularly devious levels). This reception was carried over to Endless Challenge in Super Mario Maker 2 in its Expert and Super Expert difficulties, as well as many Super Worlds tailored for troll, Kaizo-styled or speedster levels.
- Sonic Unleashed, specifically the HD version, is one of the tougher games in the series. There's a lot of very unforgiving platforming over Bottomless Pits, spiked hazards will punish you for boosting too recklessly and the game loves throwing reaction-based obstacles at you, which either require lightning-fast reflexes or strict memorization of the level design. There is a debate amongst Sonic fans and gaming critics over whether or not the game's difficulty is well-designed.
- La-Mulana spits in the face of gamers of this mentality, saying in the manual that it's only for those hardcore players who feel the same way. Though even these hardcore players tend to find the game to be a bit much due to its brutal level design and extremely obtuse puzzles.
- Mirror's Edge got this a lot from its detractors, with the argument being that the game's first-person perspective was unsuited to its gameplay style.
- Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure was a critical darling, but got a substantial amount of flak for the fact that it's essentially a professionally-published example of Platform Hell.
- Battletoads is rather notorious for this, with its plethora of instant kill hazards, levels with gratuitous trial and error, and a metric ton of cheap moments that have to be completed with a piddling amount of lives. Even fans who have immense nostalgia for the game will admit that 90% of the stages are prime examples on how NOT to design game levels.
- Although it has a devout following of fans, the original Rayman could have become a classic alongside Super Mario Bros. and Sonic The Hedgehog had it not become so mind-numbingly and abruptly difficult once you hit Band Land. The Game Boy Advance port even went out of its way to advertise that it was much easier.
- Metal Slug 3. You either love it because it's one of the most epic games in the series, or you hate it because your first few full runs took 40-60 continues each, most of them being in the absolute monolith that is the final stage. And the western Xbox port ends up as a Porting Disaster by giving you limited continues which kick you back to the start of a stage regardless of its actual length, meaning that if you weren't at a set skill level and couldn't really improve, you'd never reach the end of the game.
- One common criticism of The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is that it mimics perhaps too well the frustrating old-school games the AVGN often complained about.
- Jak II: Renegade was often criticized for its at times downright punishing difficulty, and the game is still infamous for just how hard it could be. This was likely because its predecessor was sometimes criticized for being too easy, but many would say that Naughty Dog went a little too far in the other direction. As a response, Jak 3: Wastelander, while still challenging, was a considerably easier game. Official PlayStation Magazine, who gave Jak II 3 out of 5 stars for this very trope, opened up their much more positive 4.5 out of 5 review of Jak 3 by assuring readers that it was nowhere near as tough as Jak II was.
- When campaigns were introduced to Everybody Edits, a common complaint was that there was too much focus on adding harder campaigns.
- The Chapter 9 DLC of Celeste was heavily criticized upon release for being crammed full of Fake Difficulty, taking the most frustrating parts of the original game and jacking them up to 10, having a horrendously uneven difficulty curve that jumps from manageable to teeth-gnashing and back on a dime, and generally being painfully difficult compared to the rest of the (already Nintendo Hard) game, to the point it just isn't fun to play. It's so incredibly hard, it's even soured a few fans' opinions on the game as a whole. Thank goodness for Assist mode being present for those who want to view the story without having to bang their heads against a wall or giving up and looking up the level on YouTube...
- Death Wish mode, added in the Seal the Deal DLC of A Hat in Time, often gets this. You play through older levels, only stuffed to the brim with Platform Hell, Timed Missions and brutal Challenge Runs. Many players who had gotten used to the base games relatively low difficulty were certainly frustrated by the sudden difficulty spike.
- Even veteran players were suprised by the difficulty of Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, and the difficulty is the main complaint with the game. Not too surprising considering the levels here are mostly on par with Sunset Vista, 100% Completion requires dreaded No Death Runs multiple times per level and the levels themselves are full of Platform Hell sections that also require perfect timing and lightning reflexes.
- Tetris: The Grand Master 2 (PLUS), for those who started with TGM3. TGM3 introduced a subtle change in the signature TGM rotation system that makes I-pieces easier to handle with, a feature necessitated by TGM3's extreme speeds, as well as the introduction of the Hold Piece feature to TGM. So when a TGM3 player tries to play TGM2, especially at maximum drop speed...
- Catherine. You want to know how hard this game was? On the easiest difficulty, Japanese fans of Atlus complained about the difficulty. This got so bad, that Atlus even patched the game to make it easier, and they also added in Very Easy difficulty in the West (basically Easy but with more block-jumping energy drinks being dropped). Of course, there are still the odd set of detractors for the game's difficulty here and there, but this has been more or less corrected now.
- The prevailing complaint about Puyo Puyo from new players is the rather high skill floor especially compared to its longtime competitor Tetris, and contributes to why the majority of online players in Puyo Puyo Tetris are Tetris players, not helped by Tetris having an edge over Puyo at the highest levels. Most players will attempt to make a chain more than two segments long, get frustrated and wonder how anybody can build those beautiful 10-chains without relying on extreme luck, and either quit (if they are playing an exclusively Puyo game) or just switch to Tetris exclusively (if they are playing Puyo Tetris).
- While the Jet Moto series was quite popular in its time (up until 3 at least), those who didn't like it often cited insanely aggressive CPU opponents and confusing course design (with sharp turns and plenty of bottomless pits later on), with Glenn Rubenstein of Game Spot even calling the first installment "an evil, difficult game."
- The Driver series tends to get this criticism from certain critics from time to time.
- Traffic Attack in the single-player mode of Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed is so difficult, the game's director admitted that he has problems finishing even the first one. Traffic Attack involves reaching checkpoints under an extremely strict time limit with heavy traffic to dodge, and clearing all of them on the highest difficulty is necessary to unlock every character. Complaints about Traffic Attack were so numerous that a patch was issued to reduce its difficulty to be more in line with the rest of the game.
- Myth departed from the formula of many warfare games of the 90s because, instead of a real time strategy gameplay where you build up a base, harvest resources and throw up expendable units against the enemy, you are instead given only a few of starting units and NOTHING ELSE. That was, you had to use them in the best tactical ways available against waves and waves of enemies, without even training reinforcements, managing resources or building structures, by outmaneuvering, picking fights, harassaing/weakening the enemy with long range weapons before actual brawl and using special abilities to your own advantage. Losing some melee units in just the first clash could critically cripple the rest of the mission, since the lack of manpower. Losing ranged units like archers or dwarves almost always meant no more chances to win, because they were fundamental in killing enemies from the distance, while your melee warriors were both weaker and in less numbers than most foes. Friendly fire was a constant feature, so you had to micromanage your units to prevent that (particularly dwarves, who were specialized in throwing explosive Molotov Cocktails, raining death to the enemies, but also to your own units if you weren't careful). Moreover, the game employed a revolutionary for that age 3D engine with projectiles that followed the laws of physics, so many players discovered the bad way what throwing a grenade from the base of a hill to its top could become. Despite winning numerous awards, the game often received lukewarm at best comments from the community of traditional RTS players, because of the unconventional gameplay style and the difficulty in adapting to new rules and deaths. One of the developers, years later told that during a public demonstration a player sent all his units into immediate death, asked how to build barracks to train more soldiers and then complained that the game is terrible (actually, he used homophobic comments).
- Fans and critics both criticized the absurd increase in chart density in Guitar Hero III (which marked the switch in developers from Harmonix to Neversoft). The final set in particular ('Raining Blood', 'The Number of the Beast', 'One' and 'Cliffs of Dover', followed by a battle against Lou set to 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia') was considered by pretty much everyone to be a monumental Difficulty Spike, and the point where most players would just give up and put the controller down.
- LocoRoco - Midnight Carnival got lower scores since many complained about its difficulty. Only a few of them complained about the control scheme not matching with the more challenging level design.
- beatmania IIDX is often criticized for its high barrier to entry compared to other BEMANI games.
- Popn Music up to pop'n music 19 TUNE STREET has only the Great, Good, and Bad judgements in most of its modes, other than Expert mode and Cho-Challenge mode, which feature the stricter Cool judgement and has more difficult scoring. When pop'n music 20 fantasia came around, the Cool judgement became mandatory in Normal mode, which led to a lot of complaints even from higher-end players, as Cools tend to take away emphasis from simply clearing boss songs. Worse, as of pop'n music Sunny Park, all modes other than Battle mode have Cools enabled.
- BEMANI fans tend to hold Reflec Beat with contempt because the way the notes fall (at angles, bouncing off the sides, not to mention the TOP notes) looks too chaotic.
- The folks at Rayark went all-out making challenging charts for Cytus's "L" DLC chapter, and fans feel that they went too far, resulting in charts that are so dense and so slow that they're just straight up not fun. Rayark ended up having to release a new set of charts for these songs that are still challenging but don't involve super-slow scanlines, although the original charts can still be accessed through a hidden method.
- DanceDanceRevolution, for all its reputation as the face of Rhythm Games in the West, has a surprisingly steep learning curve, as evidenced by the countless players who pop in a credit, make common newcomer mistakes like returning their feet to the center after every step, have to take time to associate each of the four lanes with each of the four cardinal-direction arrows under their feet, and then swear off the game (and maybe even rhythm games as a whole) after failing a song or two, often due to embarrassment. In fact, by modern rhythm game standards, it's not quite friendly to new rhythm game players for these reasons, especially compared to games that are operated with the player's hands or which have a stronger association between on-screen objects and the player's inputs. It's not uncommon for players to swear off rhythm games altogether because their first experience was a failed attempt at playing DDR.
- The 7th Saga: Considered the hardest game on the SNES, yet there are tons of items to buff with in combat, traditional RPG roles work fine with both party members, and your ally leaving or betraying you... takes a little foresight.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has been called a "bad game" due to some difficult enemies at the beginning and some imbalanced game mechanics that are not always fair to your character build, such as a character focusing heavily on non-combat skills, though you can always reroll a character and select better starting inventory, save and reload often, play it safe, etc.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep now has people complaining that the superbosses Vanitas's Lingering Spirit and Mysterious Figure are "too hard", as well as some other required bosses like Master Eraqus, Braig (with Aqua), and the Mad Treant are too hard. This is from the same fanbase that complained about how easy Sephiroth was in the first two games. Someone responded to this rather creatively:
"Fandom of Kingdom Hearts, PLEASE don't complain about how 'easy' Sephiroth is, or how 'button mashery' several bosses are. Because then, we get stuff like Vanitas's Lingering Spirit or the Mysterious Figure."
- Earthbound Beginnings tends to get this treatment sometimes even from dedicated fans of the series due to the copious Random Encounters and lack of direction. Mt. Itoi, the last area of the game, in particular is notorious for being rushed in development and given an absurd Difficulty Spike. There are a lot, but it's certainly more playable than some have made it out to be.
- Dark Souls and Demon's Souls often get this from their detractors.
- The Shin Megami Tensei franchise gets a lot of this.
- Most people not accustomed to Atlus's brand of difficulty tend to give up trying when they encounter the first Wake-Up Call Boss. The high encounter rate, demons' tendencies to easily murder you in one or two turns if you have the wrong party setup, and the player character's death resulting in an immediate game over certainly don't help matters either. Critics argue that the difficulty is often neither well-designed nor dependent on player skill.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV was hit hard by this from fans who were more familiar with Persona 3 and 4, and found themselves smashing their 3DSes and/or outright giving up due to the brutal early game, which has led to IV's memetic status as "the Dark Souls of Persona". Ironically, IV suffers the opposite when it comes to those who have played previous mainline Shin Megami Tensei games.
- Pokémon Black and White would be this for some people. The most prevalent reason? Higher-levelled Pokemon gets less experience points. The problem kicks in when your Pokemon is higher-levelled than the local wild Pokemon, but lower than of the local gym leader's: you can't efficiently level grind up to the Gym Leader's levels. Adding to the problem are the Demonic Spiders in some routes, more cases of Gym Leaders' Artificial Brilliance, Pokemon in this generation not being able to learn as many TM moves to counter type disadvantages, and the relative lack of rematch opportunities.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon is criticized for this. Not only does it bring back the aforementioned EXP System from Black and White where higher-leveled Pokemon get less experience, but the low encounter rate makes it harder to find certain Alola Pokemon. It also removes several of the things from Gen VI that fans loved about X and Y and Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, including the National Pokedex, Super Training, and Horde Encounters, and throws in the new SOS battles and some tough Totem Pokemon battles, and there's even a notable number of Pokemon and items that can only be found in the aforementioned SOS battles.
- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate gets this from series veterans who feel that the Apex monsters add more frustration than fun to an already challenging game series.
- Common advice to newcomers of Dwarf Fortress is to do away with the mentality that losing is a bad thing, and instead see it as something to laugh off. ("Losing is fun!") That said, many are still reluctant to give it a shot.
- Most fans get into the franchise via Fanon, Memetic Mutation, or music remixes, so they'll either attend a Touhou fan panel at Fan Conventions, where the host(s) will most likely demonstrate a later stage on Lunatic or an Extra Stage, often intimidating players from getting into the games, or they will look up videos of the games in order to understand the source material, only to express shock upon seeing a Boss Battle. The ones that do try the games find them way too difficult even on Easy and will most likely Rage Quit. The Touhou games are actually considered some of the easier Bullet Hell games, but don't EVER tell a struggling player that.
- Even amongst players, many feel that the 15th main game, Touhou Kanjuden ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, is too close to I Wanna Be the Guy for comfort, as the patterns are very brutal by their respective difficulty levels' standards in order to balance around the new Pointdevice Mode (which features checkpoints and infinite lives), making them needlessly sadistic for Legacy Mode (i.e. traditional "limited lives and respawn where you died" mode). This is perhaps a case of Be Careful What You Wish For, as many players feel that the previous game, Touhou Kishinjou ~ Double Dealing Character, is particularly easy.
- As mentioned by The Angry Video Game Nerd, the Silver Surfer NES game. The game itself doesn't look bad; the main complaints are the Deadly Walls and Silver Surfer being a One-Hit-Point Wonder, never mind that these two tropes are shmup staples, although Silver Surfer's questionable hitbox may have something to do with it.
- Deathsmiles''s 360 port was released not only in Japan, but also in North America and eventually Europe and Australia. When it was initially released in North America, a lot of the slowdown present in the Japanese version was removed, making the game more difficult. Most players didn't seem to notice or mind, but a subset of players was particularly upset about this change, some even calling the game an outright Porting Disaster. The amusing part is, most of these complaining players are players who are experienced with the game. The game has since been patched to match the Japanese version in slowdown behavior.
- Hellsinker is a turn-off to many players, who feel that the game looks too convoluted and pretentious, and uses proprietary terminology way too much.
- People who have played Battle Garegga. The ones who hate it do so due to the realistic bullet colors making them difficult to see, the Dynamic Difficulty system being confusing to work out (with some methods of management including missing powerups on purpose and DYING on purpose) and potentially cornering the player into an Unwinnable by Design scenario if it is not managed properly.
- Star Fox Zero has a very involved control scheme (to the point that the first thing that you see in the game, even before the title screen, is the tutorial sequence) that garnered this response from several professional reviewers who either didn't have the time to get used to them, or just couldn't be bothered. Of course, this is par for the course with anything done by PlatinumGames.
- Toaplan shmups, as innovative as they were for their time, are derided by players newer to the shmup genre for having a lot of elements perceived as outdated and Fake Difficulty, such as Checkpoints mixed in with losing all shot powerups when dying and respawning, coupled with brutal enemy patterns and "sniper" enemies tnat mandate memorizing the entire game. Some go as far as to call Toaplan games outright kusoge (lit. "shit game"). The Japanese 1-player version of Same! Same! Same! (also known as Fire Shark in export markets) is perhaps worst about this, due to combining lightning-fast enemy bullets and a brutal 45-minute playthrough with a malicious power-up system that not only requires 3 power-up items to level up your weapon, but keeps weapon-change items bouncing around the screen, with many of those items being for the green "beam" weapon that, if picked up, makes it much harder to destroy enemies on the side.
- The DoDonPachi series is already hard enough, but DoDonPachi dai ou jou in particular gets a fair bit of criticism for pumping up the difficulty but without doing much to make the game more fun or accessible for people who may not be highly-skilled at Bullet Hell games. The game's Hyper mechanic certainly doesn't help, as the player is forced to use a Hyper if they have one in stock, and using Hypers raises the game's rank, something that can only be mitigated by bombing or dying. The DoDonPachi dai ou jou Black Label revision fixes up some of the rank-related criticisms, but the PS2 port of DOJ is based on the original "White Label" instead and it took years for Black Label to be ported to consumer platforms (and even then the sole console port of it ended up being regarded as a Porting Disaster) and to be emulated in MAME (alongside the original "White Label" build).
- Alien: Isolation got a 5.9/10 from IGN, stating that the Alien's unpredictable AI and it's ability to adapt to your strategies made the game too difficult, especially on hard. Unsurprisingly, this review got a ton of flak. What makes this a bit more jarring is that the reviewer mentioned dying because he made a sprint towards the Save Point, which is not very advisable in normal gameplay.
- The Evil Within relies heavily on Trial-and-Error Gameplay, namely in the form of needing to keep an eye out for traps, figuring out enemy weaknesses, and a general reliance of stealth. Even then, resources are incredibly scarce, almost every boss and non-standard enemy has a One-Hit Kill attack, and there are long intervals in-between each checkpoint. The game actually got so many complaints about its high difficulty even on the Casual setting that Bethesda introduced a patch to tone it down, and the sequel adds in multiple Anti-Frustration Features to make it a more balanced and fair challenge.
- One of the biggest criticisms of Outlast II was how difficult it was compared to its predecessor. The setting is more open-ended with no indication on where to go or where to hide, which is a huge problem when enemies have spotted you. Even the more linear sections of the game, such as the school, are confusing because the objectives are incredibly vague (the objectives just simply tell you what you're supposed to be doing, but provide no hints as to how you're supposed to go about them). All this is combined with the inclusion of a Sprint Meter, enemies being given flashlights, and the removal of your regenerative health from the previous game.
- Fire Emblem
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn got a low review from Gamespot for being too hard and being too similar to the previous games. Although the same review flacks the game for lacking Mii support, most do agree that Radiant Dawn is much harder than it needs to be; even the first chapter, typically a "get into the flow of things" segment of Fire Emblem games, is hard to surpass. It doesn't help that all the difficulty settings for the American release are one-notch higher than in the Japanese version, making Normal to Hard, etc.
- The Lunatic+ difficulty of Fire Emblem: Awakening is often criticized for being punishingly difficult and not at all fun. The early game forces you to rely on Frederick to survive (and even he isn't invincible) long enough to reach the DLC maps that allow you to level grind.
- The Conquest path of Fire Emblem Fates received a noticeably lower score than Birthright or Revelation from, yet again, Gamespot because it's too hard and doesn't let you grind.
- While Fire Emblem: Three Houses is not one of the more difficult games in the series, a significant portion of players complained about how much more difficult Maddening is than Hard mode, especially on some of the more difficult maps.
- Fire Emblem Engage, as one of the more difficult games in the series, gets this reaction, but surprisingly, not for the main campaign. The Fell Xenologue Downloadable Content has been criticized for being too difficult, especially the last two missions, as well as being overly reliant on luck. The penultimate mission, in which you fail if Alear, who's trapped near the center dies to the enemies attacking them, has caused some people to Rage Quit the Xenologue, or at least decrease the difficulty from Maddening.
- The classic X-COM: UFO Defense originally had a bug that meant the game was permanently stuck on the easiest difficulty after the first mission. It was and is an awesome game, but the main complaint was that it was too easy. Developers (who hadn't yet discovered the bug) listened to the feedback, and X-COM: Terror from the Deep was much harder. As in, insanely hard: the game's easiest setting was as hard as the original's hardest setting. There was even a rumor that it instead had a reversal of the original game's bug, where it locked players onto the hardest difficulty setting, but that wasn't true. It should be noted that the reason the bug took so long to discover was that the original X-COM was already insanely hard.
- The more modern XCOM 2 received a 7.5 out of 10 from EGM. The reason for its lowered score being the technical issues and the game being incredibly difficult. Fans were not happy.
- Zig-Zagged with Ace Attorney. Although no reviewers ever said that the games were bad due to this reason, one of the complaints, or nit-picks, that a lot of reviewers had was that the games could sometimes be unforgiving. This was mainly attributed to Justice For All and Trials and Tribulations but was also a complaint of the first game, by some. Although most reviewers felt like the game wasn't unfair, they felt as though many parts required extremely sharp eyes and logic. This wasn't cited as so much of a problem in the first game due to the point-penalty system, but in the second and third games there are a number of parts where 50%, 80% and even 100% penalties are issued for single slip-ups, resulting in a good number of instant game over moments.
- 80% of all first-time Second Life users only log in once and never come back. In comparison with typical MMORPGs and the new generation of virtual worlds, the learning curve is steeper by magnitudes, and unlike MMORPGs, SL doesn't have any quests to go on, leaving the users to figure out what to do themselves. It's sometimes actually being criticized for its lack of Railroading.