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Nintendo Hard / Non-Video Game Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Sword Art Online, the beta testers for SAO only made it to the tenth floor over a one-month period, and it took players two months after the official launch just to clear the first floor's boss.

    Fan Works 
  • Paper Luigi X though: either Luigi messes something up or the boss literally is hard and poses a legitimate challenge.
  • the superhero game: Namedropped In-Universe, and more than once, by the Era 2 Leaguers and those who fought against them alike. Every member of the Era 2 League member is a Combat Pragmatist who's willing to fight dirty and ruthlessly against their opponents, to the point where (after they'd been brainwashed and turned against their predecessors) only a few of said predecessors were still standing by the time the Era 2 Leaguers were each knocked back to their senses.
    Tim Drake/Robin III: "Era 2 is Nintendo Hard. Let's just leave it at that."

  • The Lone Wolf Gamebook series got progressively more difficult around book eight or so, but never really reached this level of madness... except for The Prisoners of Time. In addition to the usual death traps and Random Number God bullshit, there were three extremely difficult fights right at the end. In the first, if you brought the Infinity +1 Sword from an earlier book, the boss' stats were nearly impossible to overcome. The second featured similar issues, regardless of equipment. And the third was on the next entry, giving you no chance to heal, and you started by taking unavoidable damage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fictional example: "New Cap City" in Caprica. A Dieselpunk Cyberspace MMORPG in which almost every player and NPC acts like a Hair-Trigger Temper psychopath, fighter planes randomly strafe the streets every so often, and dying once doesn't just permanently destroy your character but bans you from the game for life. And then the incredibly pissed-off AI teenage girls with God Mode powers and Resurrective Immortality turn up...
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid is built around a fictional example in Kamen Rider Chronicle, the Most Dangerous Video Game that the villains spend the first half of the show developing and the heroes spend the second half shutting down. While the game was designed to be winnable, the creator's idea of a winnable game is absurd: it requires defeating every Bugster at least once, while suffering through over a decade of a debilitating illness that becomes lethal if the host's stress rises to anything above absolute calm, in order to build up enough immunity to it to use a virus-fueled Transformation Trinket that they must also successfully steal from one of the bosses, all while having lower stats than a Level 1 Rider and wearing a suit patterned after a Goomba. The reward for doing all of this is becoming a godlike Rider with the ability to stop time and resurrect the dead at will, so it's not like the game doesn't have rewards appropriate to its difficulty, but the creator is simply mystified that anyone would think he'd created an impossible game.

  • Finnegans Wake, a book positively saturated with double meanings and confusing language. You need to read a guide just to understand any given passage. For reference, here's the first sentence:
    riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
  • The Happy Video Game Nerd: Having grown up from the School of Hard Games, this guy will not be put off with Nintendo Hard.
    • He did say, in his Enemy Zero review, that it was too frustrating (and one time that even he will say that Contra 4 is too hard), so he has his standards when it comes to difficulty.
  • Homestar Runner parodied this trope. There's the easter egg game "Super Kingio Bros," in which you cannot possibly avoid the first enemy, who you find within the first second of the game.
  • The radio comedy show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue has a regular game called "Pick-up Song", where each panellist sings along to a song, the music is faded out and they continue singing, with the object being to be as close as possible to the original recording when the sound is turned up again. There have been many occasions where panellists have been deliberately given the hardest possible songs to sing along to, but the absolute crowner has to be Rory Bremner accompanying Tom Lehrer singing "The Elements Song" - the announcement of it provoked gasps of shock from the audience, and the other panellists could be heard wishing him luck before the music started. The sound coming back on to reveal that Bremner was absolutely note-perfect resulted in one of the longest and most enthusiastic ovations in the round's history.
  • Martin Gardner wrote of a man who made 3D puzzles where you had to insert a ball into a hole in an opaque cube and then make it come out of a hole on the opposite side (with all kinds of obstacles inside). The man who made them used to give some to a friend to try... there was a puzzle that took said friend a year, and he had to X-ray it.
  • Most puzzle- or skill-based toys are simple once you get the trick. However, there are a few that remain fiendishly difficult, even after hours of practice. Worth special mention is Labyrinth, in which the object is to navigate a marble through a maze by using the knobs on the sides to tilt the maze itself. It wouldn't be that hard, except that the platform has a bunch of holes in it in addition to the walls of the maze. Falling through a hole forces you to start over, and all it takes is a momentary lapse in concentration.
    • There is now a 3-dimensional version called Perplexus, which is a ball encased in a clear plastic sphere with many obstacles. This one offers points to start from in the middle, but also many new challenges.
    • Perplexus Epic takes this to a whole nother level, with more harder challenges, isn't nearly as short as the original, and barely has any points to rest at.
  • Real Escape Game is a series of Room Escape Games, except in the real world—you are physically locked inside the room with a team of other players and have to find the key to the room to escape within the time limit. Most if not all versions of the game have clear rates of less than five percent. Even with a full stock of teammates, you'll need to think swiftly and outside of the box if you so much as want a chance at victory.
  • The eponymous VRMMORPG in Sword Art Online is notoriously difficult. Even discounting the fact that death in SAO means death in real life, the beta testers were only able to make it to the tenth floor. Once the game officially launched, it took two months just to defeat the first floor boss.
  • The whole concept is parodied in the music video for "Nintendohemian Rhapsody", a spoof of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", by YouTubers Brent "brentalfloss" Black and Pat "the NES Punk" Contri, who lament their inability to beat classic Nintendo games.
  • The difficulty of the character quests given to the characters in I'm Standing on a Million Lives is insane. They can't use each other's weapons, their low rank doesn't give them the offensive ability they need to even think about killing the monsters they face. The resurrection timer is thirty seconds (forty after the fourth member joins), which can be an eternity in a fight, and if they're all dead at the same time, they stay dead, permanently. Oh, and did we mention that there's little to no explanation of what they're supposed to be doing aside from a hearty "good luck"?
  • Tamagotchi: Bandai have personally stated that they purposefully amped up the difficulty of the Tamagotchi Ocean compared to other vintage releases, so that one should not normally be able to raise their pet beyond the childhood stage. Besides that, your pet gets sick multiple times in a single day (compared to other vintage releases, where it gets sick once per life stage, anywhere from half a day to a full day before evolving), and it has predators that can kill your Tamagotchi if you don't play close attention.

    Real Life 
  • The Boston Marathon is widely known as exemplifying Nintendo Hard in road races. First if running 26.2 miles wasn't hard enough, to limit the number of entrants one must qualify for the race by first meeting a challenging benchmark time in another marathon. Then, while the Boston Marathon course features an overall elevation drop, the undulating New England terrain includes frequent uphill segments including several late in the race located precisely at the point where human runners are at their most vulnerable.
  • Harvard University's "Math 55" course is, by the university's own admission, "probably the most difficult undergraduate math class in the country": it covers several years of undergraduate math in just two semesters, with the homework per week taking well into the double digits in hours and only a few students typically remaining at the end.
    • For that matter, the notorious "William L. Putnam Exam" is also this. Out of 120 points, the average score is only 1 point, with roughly half its test takers scoring 0 points.
  • London's contribution is "The Knowledge", an agonizing pass or fail test requires applicants for taxi permits to display an almost photographic knowledge of the city's winding, maze-like streets. To pass, you must show knowledge of over 20,000 streets and over 300 predetermined routes — as well as all landmarks and institutions within half a mile. The whole process requires 34 months to study for and pass.
  • Marathon is nothing. Now, historically, the marathon race is based on the supposed run of an Athenian warrior from Marathon to Athens, to notify the people about victory. In reality, the guy actually ran from Athens to Sparta, to ask for help. That's an over six marathon long journey. Some people are running that race every year — it's called the Spartathlon. One of the ways to qualify is having finished a 200 km race in the past.
  • The Monaco Grand Prix is one of, if not the hardest track for F-1 racers, since it consists of twisty winding city roads that two cars are barely comfortable in side-by-side. In fact, it's the only course that's given an exception to F-1 track rules (which most is laid out for safety reasons, Monaco having been grandfathered for the sake of tradition).
  • The Royal Navy's Submarine Command Course is informally known as "Perisher". It has been running since 1917 and has extremely high standards — the US and Danish Navies often send their officers to train on the course. Although the historical pass rate is around 70%, candidates who fail are immediately taken off the training boat and barred from serving in Royal Navy submarines ever again. In most cases this means the end of their naval career, so the course only attracts the most competent candidates.
  • "Rule Britannia", the unofficial alternative national anthem of the UK, has a very wide pitch range and is very difficult to sing for people without classical vocal training.