- The Tomb Raider series fluctuates in difficulty (generally considered to be quite difficult compared to the games of today), but Tomb Raider III is definitely the hardest, and was clearly intended for players who had beaten the first two games. The very first action in the game involves sliding down a hill while jumping to avoid instant-death spikes; seemingly an intentional portent of the overall difficulty, and navigating disloyal swmap disguised as regular ground (which in some cases, gives Lara no chance to get out before drowning). In the second level you start fighting the so-called "Shivas," giant six-armed statues that can crisscross their blades to block your bullets, take a ton of said bullets, and instantly kill Lara if she gets too close. The wolf ambush that opens the second level of the first game, panic-inducing for newbies, is almost comically easy in comparison. There are also unkillable piranhas (turning simple ponds into deathtraps), poison from snakes and blowdarts (you better kill those natives FAST), guys who get off one last shot after you've killed them, and environmental hazards that are extremely hard to get through without heavy damage, and unavoidable in one case outside of glitches (Late in the game, you have to swim through freezing water so deep you have to use health packs as you swim just to stay alive.) Then there are the save crystals, which you collect and use anywhere you want. This should be better than the first game, in which you saved at fixed points, but there's no indication of where the crystals should be used, turning the whole system into just another stress-inducer (PC players get a break in this regard and can save anywhere, making their version far easier; said crystals were even turned into health-restoring pickups). Another "this should be great but it isn't" feature is that you can choose in which order to play certain levels; see below for why this is the case... Overall, this game gives off an Everything Trying to Kill You vibe that the others don't necessarily give off.
- Tomb Raider III has the obligatory "lose all your weapons" level, as did the previous two games. Yet unlike in the previous games, Lara doesn't just temporarily lose her weapons; she'll lose all weapons, ammunition, and medipacks she had collected up to this point. POOF. Gone. Of course she can replenish her supplies by collecting weapons, ammo, and medipacks in the following levels, but this is where TR3's "play levels in any order" feature might screw over the player. Tomb Raider III has five locations Lara will visit during her adventure: India, South Pacific, Nevada, London, and Antarctica, each consisting of 3 to 4 individual levels. While India and Antarctica will always be the first and last location, respectively, players can choose to play the other three in any order they like. And anyone who chooses to play Nevada, where Lara loses her stuff, as the last region before Antarctica, will suffer from a severe lack of ammo and medipacks. While it's not impossible to finish the game with whatever little resources Lara finds in the the last four levels in Antarctica, which are chock-full with the toughest enemies the game has to offer, the lack of medipacks alone makes this one extremely difficult undertaking.
- The iOS re-release of Tomb Raider quickly becomes this due to the questionable touchscreen controls. Among the highlights include not being able to shoot while jumping (unless you take the time to assume an awkward finger position on the screen) and difficulty in running in a straight line. Good luck in Atlantis, you'll need it.
- With the advent of the Tomb Raider Level Editor (released with the fifth game's PC version), the modding community has turned out a plethora of increasingly complex and difficult levels, to the point that a good majority of custom levels outclass even Tomb Raider III in ridiculous difficulty.
- The original Metroid (on the NES, of course). Those who play the game from scratch know that between Copy-and-Paste Environments inside of a maze, not starting at full energy (you have to fill it) regardless of passwords, only being able to shoot forward and up, needing the ice beam to fight Metroids in the last level despite not being told of this and having a choice of other weapons, and real hard bosses (especially the last one, which requires you to shoot while being harassed by turrets and "onion rings of death"), getting through the game at all is almost insane.
- After defeating the first boss, Kraid, the player must complete one infamously Nintendo Hard part in order to make it out of his area. This involves climbing up two tall columns of destructible, reforming bricks. If you don't time it correctly the bricks will re-materialize on top of you and knock you off. There are few places where you can rest, no way to save halfway up and it is always possible to fall all the way down to bottom.
- It's even worse if you played the sequels, as it lacks a map, shooting in other directions other than straight and up, and shooting while kneeling (which means enemies lower than your gun will never get caught...).
- After some sequels that were more forgivable, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes brought back all of the difficulty that you know and love. It starts out fighting large groups of possessed troopers, and just gets worse from there. Even the basic enemies hit surprisingly hard, bosses hit like runaway ice cream vans, and there are several downright sadistic platform challenges. And that's before you take into account a Dark World that constantly drains your life if you're not in a safe zone, and swarms with even nastier enemies. The difficulty was toned down somewhat in the Metroid Prime Trilogy Wii port, but it's still pretty hard. They also added Hypermode difficulty to all 3 games in the Trilogy set...good luck with that.
- Metroid Fusion can be pretty rough early on as well, as Samus can't take as much damage as she usually can and her damage output is pretty weak, as well as there being some nasty Demonic Spiders. It helps with the whole Survival Horror vibe the game has.
- Metroid: Samus Returns is gaining notoriety for kicking the difficulty up another notch. Enemies are aggressive and will knock off at least 20 energy per hit before upgrades (in a game where you start with 99), late-game bosses inflict at least a whole Energy Tank per hit with the Gravity Suit, opportunities to hit the bosses are few and far between, hazards abound and will drain Samus' energy quickly, and Save Points do not replenish health or ammo unlike AM2R. When the game gives you an ability that offsets damage to your Mana Meter and makes you need it regularly throughout the game, you're walking into this territory; in fact, several competent game journalists often died on camera as a clear warning to how hard this game will be.
- After the relatively easy Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II: Renegade amped up the difficulty level by a great amount, going from fighting a dozen mooks simultaneously at most to shooting your way through a neverending amount of armed Krimzon Guards. The third installment brought it down somewhat.
- The Guardian Legend was at the very least Trial-and-Error Gameplay at its finest, in those pre-Game Faqs days. The Zelda-like bits weren't so bad once you memorized them, but some of the space-shooter parts were terrifying even when you knew exactly what was coming.
- Fear Effect. There are a lot of ways to die in both games, and they will happen often.
- Ecco the Dolphin is infamous for this. To make things even worse, most of the achievements/trophies for the ports revolve around not dying until getting to a certain level and until you beat the game three times in a row.
- Star Wars: Bounty Hunter becomes this starting from chapter 3 (Oovo IV) onwards, pitting Jango Fett against hordes of well-armed opponents, snipers, Demonic Spiders and especially bottomless chasms difficult to navigate without a master control of the jetpack. Furthermore the checkpoints are very far from each other, you have limited lives (which can't be restored) and more than once you'll have to check any enemy you meet to make sure that he hasn't a bounty on his head.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The Legend of Zelda is notoriously difficult due to every other area/room having a ton of enemies that will dogpile you and Link can only stab his sword in just four directions. The other part of the difficulty comes from dungeons where you can be blocked from progression unless you know what walls to bomb and which block to push to reveal a staircase. Sometimes just finding the dungeon is a challenge in itself due to how well hidden they are.
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link eschews the gameplay of the first game for a side scrolling swordplay based game. You have to learn how to attack and defend properly because enemies will clobber you when given the chance and more advanced enemies will constantly block your attacks. It also doesn't help that Link's sword is extremely short, which you'll have to be on top of enemies to land a hit. Even enemies that are minor nuisances that go down in one hit in the other games are a lot more deadly here, and can sometimes only be destroyed with a particular item or spell. Finding some places or things needed to progress are in full Guide Dang It! territory, requiring you to take actions you'd never think of (such as, if it's in this one spot an item will do something it never does at any other place or time in the game, with no indication that you should do that.) The game also sports a lives system to ramp up the difficulty further, so getting a game over means being sent back to your starting point in the overworld (progress like beaten levels and gained items stays, but you will have to retake the sometimes-treacherous path back to the place that kicked your ass before, so YOU WILL NOT arrive with full health.) although dying in the final dungeon will send you at the dungeon's start instead. It is widely considered the most difficult game in the entire franchise, miles beyond the next-hardest (which is, of course, the original, also for the NES.)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild introduces new challenges with the game's move to a Wide Open Sandbox: the environment plays a much larger role in the difficulty than other games, with players having to account for what armor to wear and what items to craft to deal with arid deserts and frozen mountains. In addition, enemies are very crafty and will learn from their encounters with you; they will set their wooden weapons on fire to hurt you, try to move in erratic patterns to avoid arrows, kick bombs back at you, and improvise weapons if none are to be found in their immediate vicinity. In a more direct sense, many normal enemies and mini-bosses do enormous amounts of damage—even after getting several heart containers, you can easily die to a single hit from a generic Moblin—and most monsters have considerably more hit points than you do. And that's not counting the truly ridiculous Lightning Bruiser enemies like Lynels; dodging their attacks consistently is pretty much impossible, so beating one basically requires level-3 defense-boosting food/elixirs (which you must figure out how to craft on your own).
- Mission: Impossible for the NES is quite punishing for a video game. Developed by Konami, you control three IMF agents, each with their unique attributes and weapons, as enemies will often get the jump on you in close quarters. In the first level alone, Moscow, you cannot kill civilians, lest you want to lose an IMF agent. Caution is mandatory because there are a lot of One-Hit Kill traps in every mission, ranging from water, bottomless pits or even crashing into objects on the ski boat stage or while skiing in the mountains. The levels are quite long, and some enemies can easily send your character into near death in a heartbeat. The last level alone will take more than a half-hour to complete and keeping everyone healthy is required.
Nintendo Hard / Action-Adventure