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10 Awesome Arcade Games That'd Keep You on Your Toes

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By Jessy Sloan - - 5 Mins Read
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Developers working on a video game | Shutterstock



Are you bored of arcade games that feel like a walk in the park? Tired of beating levels without even breaking a sweat? Well, get ready to put your gaming skills to the ultimate test!

We've got a list of 10 awesome arcade games that'll keep you on your toes and have you coming back for more punishment.

From heart-pounding shooters to mind-bending puzzles, these difficult arcade games to play are not for the faint of heart. Grab your quarters and get ready to get schooled!

What Makes a Truly Difficult Arcade Game?

Before diving into the games, let's discuss what separates the truly tough cookies from the lightweight pretenders.

A difficult arcade game doesn't just throw obstacles in your face - it makes you learn patterns, hone reflexes, and devise strategies to conquer each level.

The gameplay is fast and unforgiving, and the levels get harder the further you progress. One missed step, and it's game over, man.

These games require you to earn every victory through sweat, tears, and maybe some Controller Throw Therapy. But that's what makes finally vanquishing a level so incredibly satisfying.

The difficulty is there to test you and push your abilities to the limit. Are you up for the challenge?

So loosen up those thumbs and practice your victory dances, because here come the 10 arcade games that'll have you screaming ,"Just one more quarter!"

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10. Battletoads (1991)


This Teenage Mutant Ninja-esque beat-em-up looks innocent enough with its bright, cartoony graphics. Don't be fooled - Battletoads will chew you up and spit you out.

The game's notorious difficulty stems from its demanding precision jumping/climbing sequences and relentless enemy onslaught. Memorizing patterns is a must if you want to survive the 'Turbo Tunnel' and 'Clinger Winger' levels. Beating this game is a badge of honor.

9. Ninja Gaiden (1988)


You'll need to be half ninja yourself to conquer this brutal side-scroller. Ninja Gaiden wastes no time introducing its merciless difficulty, throwing an onslaught of enemies, environmental hazards, and bosses that require pinpoint accuracy to defeat.

The tiniest mistake is punished severely, often sending you back to outdated checkpoints to repeat long gauntlets of challenges. No ninjas allowed unless you have the reflexes to match.

8. Flicky (1984)


This Sega classic looks deceptively cute with its bright colors and adorable protagonist flicking cute little things. Don't let the sugary visuals fool you - Flicky is deviously difficult.

Navigating the increasingly manic mazes while herding animals requires incredible dexterity, planning, and concentration. One stray step, and your little buddies get left behind. Carpal tunnel is a very real risk with this handcramp-inducing game.

7. Ghosts 'n Goblins (1985)


When you first witness the chunky, cartoonish graphics of this Capcom classic, you'd never guess the torment it has in store. Ghosts 'n Goblins is infamous for its brutal difficulty from the very first level.

Players take control of a knight who must navigate an onslaught of supernatural foes, spinning blades, pits, and fireball attacks. Oh, and getting hit once strips your armor off, leaving you practically one-hit killed. Survival requires mastering patterns and having the patience of a monk.

6. Ikaruga (2001)


This"cute-em-up" may look like another bright, boppy shooter at first glance. But once you start playing, you realize Ikaruga is a brain-burning exercise in polarity-switching madness. Players must flip between two polarities to absorb enemy bullets while dishing out damage.

Doing this while dodging increasingly dense bullet patterns requires savant-level concentration. It's no wonder hardcore gamers consider this one of the most brutally challenging shooters ever.

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5. I Wanna Be The Guy (2007)


This quintessentially tough indie game is all about ,"aha!" moments amid loads of cruel, cruel deaths. I Wanna Be The Guy is a diabolical 2D platformer that glides smoothly from momentary bleakness to sudden pits of spikes and death traps.


Dreaming of victory? Better have psychic reflexes to handle the blitzkrieg of obstacles. One second of lost focus and your character gets gruesomely offended in hilarious ways. You'll die a thousand times just learning the patterns - and you'll keep coming back for more sweet punishment.


4. Contra (1987)


If you have memories of your palms getting sweaty just thinking about this run-and-gun classic, you're not alone. Contra was designed to eat every last quarter in your pocket with its maxed-out difficulty. Players had to master the art of shooting while navigating hazardous terrain filled with enemies pouring in from every angle.

Memorable flaming death sequences greeted any missed jumps or enemy fire collisions. To see the credits roll on this quarter-muncher, be prepared to develop thumbs of steel.


3. Ghouls 'n Ghosts (1988)


Just when you thought Ghosts 'n Goblins was tough enough, Capcom unleashed this hellish follow-up. Ghouls 'n Ghosts amps up the difficulty to maddening new levels with even more devious enemy placements, labyrinthine levels, and environmental hazards galore.

The smallest mistake is punished harshly, sending players back to painfully distant checkpoints to repeat maddening gauntlets over and over. Only gamers with otherworldly stamina and accuracy need apply.

2. Mushihime-sama Futari (2004)


On the surface, this cave shooter looks like a shmup fest in adorable bug fairy land. But once you pick up the controls, you realize Mushihime-sama Futari is anime madness at its most brutally difficult.

Players must deftly navigate their tiny hitboxes through hellfire rains of color-coded bullets, switching polarities on the fly while tracking and prioritizing targets. One mistimed switch and your bug gets smooshed in spectacularly pretty explosions. Even pro shmup kings have been humbled by this one.

1. Star Soldier (1986)


Last but certainly not least, we have this cult classic from Hudson Soft. Star Soldier kicks all preconceptions of "easy games from the 80s'' into the sun with its outrageous difficulty spikes.

What starts as a manageable side-scrolling shooter quickly erupts into a kaleidoscopic StarCraft of dizzying enemy patterns, unavoidable bullet spreads, and bosses that make Death Star runs look like child's play. Only gamers with superhuman focus and ungodly reflexes have any prayer of reaching the transcendent final stages.