Most games today come with at least some type of tutorial to get players started or multiple difficulty modes for players who want to enjoy the game at a slower pace. But if you’re looking for a game like that, dear reader, you’ve come to the wrong place.

The 10 games on the following list have no problem punching you right in the face and then kicking you while you’re down. Here are Game Rant’s 10 Most Difficult Video Games of All Time.

1. Contra

contra most difficult games

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A. While the famous Konami code was actually first used in the 1986 release of Gradius, it wasn’t until Contra released one year later that the code cemented itself in the brains of gamers everywhere. That’s because the Contra or “30 Lives” code was often needed if you actually wanted to have a chance at beating the game. Contra was also well known for being one of the first popular multiplayer games, with players able to run and gun their way through the levels in co-op mode, not that the help made it any easier.

2. Super Meat Boy

super meat boy most difficult games

One bad move and it’s all over. Super Meat Boy is an excellent twitch platformer with tight controls and 300 levels designed to make your blood pressure rise. There are a frighteningly large number of spikes, whirring blades, and swords that can turn you into mince meat at a moment’s notice, sending you all the way back to the start of the level.

3. Ninja Gaiden (2004)

ninja gaiden most difficult games

Truth be told, the original NES version of Ninja Gaiden is pretty darn difficult as well, but the 2004 3D reboot of the original 2D classic opened up even more possibilities for truly brutal gameplay. Every enemy in the game from the very first battle is more than capable of destroying you if you’re not careful and the bosses are just downright savage, some requiring absolutely perfect play for an extended amount of time if you want to move on. Developer Team Ninja is more well-known for the equally difficult Nioh these days, but there have been rumors that a return to Ninja Gaiden might be on the to-do list. Let’s keep our fingers (and samurai swords) crossed.

4. Dark Souls

dark souls most difficult games

The case could be made for really any of the Dark Souls games or even predecessor Demon’s Souls to be on this list but we’re going with the first Dark Souls as it’s largely responsible for starting the trend that other titles like Nioh have tried to latch onto in recent years. While other game developers go out of their way to make sure players do not get too frustrated, FromSoftware takes the opposite path. Dark Souls is a game that revels in your screams and laughs at your tears. There is simply no amount of leveling up that will save you if you don’t know how to “get good.”

5. Ghosts ‘N Goblins

ghosts n goblins

Combine a protagonist that dies in two hits with enemies that can spawn unexpectedly all over the map and toss in power-ups that can actually hurt you, and you’ll have an idea of what’s in store when you boot up Ghosts ‘N Goblins. But the most sadistic part of all is what occurs if you actually beat the game. Capcom not so politely informs you that you’ve fallen for a “trap devised by Satan” and must complete the game again at an even higher difficulty setting if you truly want bragging rights over this title.

6. I Wanna Be The Boshy

i wanna be the boshy most difficult games

I Wanna Be The Boshy is actually a fan game or tribute to I Wanna Be the Guy, created by Danish game developer Jesper “Solgryn Erlandsen. Both titles are tributes and/or parodies of well-known franchises like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog but you know Boshy is hard because it was created for fans who thought I Wanna Be the Guy was too easy. Like its predecessor, Boshy features some very unorthodox level design and has become a major hit in the speedrunning community.

7. Ikaruga

ikaruga most difficult games

You can tell Ikaruga was originally designed to eat up coins at the Japanese arcade just by glancing at the insane amount of enemy fire that’s on the screen at all times. Despite its intense difficulty, this “bullet hell” title remains one of the most popular classic shooters out there, with ports to PC and several other systems keeping fan interest alive.

8. Battletoads

battletoads most difficult games

The first two stages of this NES game are arguably not that difficult, but you’ll soon discover that Battletoads is just trying to lull you into a false sense of security before it wallops you over the head. Two words: Motorcycle. Speeder. Hop aboard and watch your dreams of finishing this game turn to ash. Even if by some combination of luck and reflex speed you manage to complete the level, it’s only going to get more difficult from there. From pigs to snakes to the God-forsaken ice cavern, there’s only what seems like a million and one different ways to die in this game.

Microsoft got fans excited a couple of years ago by teasing what some thought was a new Battletoads game after the classic title was included on Rare Replay, but outside of a couple of appearances in Killer Instinct and Shovel Knight, we’re still waiting for the return of Rash, Zitz and Pimple. Then again, given how many controllers we’ve destroyed while playing the original game, maybe it’s for the best.

9. The Witness

the witness most difficult games

This game is a bit of a curveball as it’s nothing like the other games on this list, no fast reflexes required. The Witness is a puzzle game that at first glance might make you recall old adventure games like Myst or Riven. But there’s so much more underneath the surface and that includes an absolutely brutal difficulty on some of the puzzles to go along with the beautiful graphics. The game is also pretty open, so if you get stumped on one puzzle, there are likely several others nearby that you can start working on instead. Or you know, you could just go ahead and beat the game in 25 minutes. Show off.

10. Nioh

nioh most difficult games

When Nioh was first announced, lots of gamers thought, “Oh, look, another Dark Souls ripoff.” A funny thing happened though when the game released to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Now, there are some gamers who feel this title from Team Ninja is on par or even better than the franchise that clearly inspired it, with features like Ki Pulse and stances giving the title a unique flavor all its own.

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