20 Super Nintendo Games That Are So Hard We’re Still Trying To Beat Them

List Rules
Super Nintendo games only.

When the Super Nintendo Entertainment System launched in 1991, it took gaming to a whole new level. The increased memory and graphics capability of the system made it possible for games to feature far more detail, with improvements made to layering, sound, and animations. The SNES was a massive hit, and over the course of its life, more than 700 titles were released. While some were fairly simple, this list ranks all the hardest SNES games that are still regarded as some of the most challenging and unforgiving titles ever made. 

Upgrading the console from the original Nintendo Entertainment System to the SNES didn't just improve everything exponentially, it also made a lot of games even more difficult than the ones that were released on the NES. The term "Nintendo Hard" may have been dubbed for the NES, but the developers must have kept it in the back of their minds while programming for the new system because there are some SNES games that are almost impossible to beat. How many of these games do you remember playing? More importantly, how many did you actually manage to beat?

From The Lion King to Battletoads In Battlemaniacs, check out 20 of the most difficult SNES games ever made, and vote up all the titles you remember raging at the last time you played.

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  • Super Ghouls'n Ghosts
    Photo: Capcom

    Players who spent countless hours playing the original Ghosts 'N Goblins on the NES know the franchise is absolutely ghoulish when it comes to difficulty, and the third installment on the SNES is no different. This game is often regarded by gamers as the hardest game ever released on a cartridge console, and getting through the entire thing is no easy task, so if you plan on trying, set aside a week or two for the ordeal.

    What Makes It So Difficult: Super Ghouls'n Ghosts has so many enemies, you can barely trust a pixel not to kill you. Not only do you have to contend with swarms of enemies constantly trying to off you, you also need to navigate traps, leap over obstacles, and avoid pits while fighting for your life, every inch of the way. Just like the original, beating the game only manages to send you back to the beginning, where you'll have to go through the entire thing once more at an even harder difficulty setting, making this title an exercise in masochist torture, which is somehow still fun to play.

    • Released: 1991
    • Developer: Capcom
    • Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game, Run and gun, Hack and slash
    215 votes
  • Battletoads In Battlemaniacs
    Photo: Rare

    The original Battletoads is infamous for being the hardest of all the Nintendo Hard games on the NES, and Battletoads in Battlemaniacs is no different. The game features the same characters as the NES title, and it introduced a new mechanic, which made it possible to pull off specialized combo moves to take out enemies. It also featured vastly improved graphics and sound, making for a good title and excellent addition to the Battletoads franchise.

    What Makes It So Difficult: While the game is somewhat easier than its predecessor, that only means it's harder than 95% of games instead of 99.99%. It's definitely one of the hardest SNES games. The devs gave players a longer health bar, and there are bonus stages sprinkled about to help with some bonus lives, but for the most part, it's a cruel button-masher that led to many a game controller needing to be replaced. And yes, there is a "jet ski" level, so be prepared to go to a very dark place if you've lost sleep on the first game.

    • Released: Jan 01 1993
    • Developer: Virgin Interactive, Ashby Computers and Graphics Ltd., Rare Ltd
    • Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game, Beat 'em up
    162 votes
  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors
    Photo: Lucasarts

    Zombies Ate My Neighbors is one of the most beloved titles to ever grace the SNES, and if you played it, you probably remember loving it. The game was developed by LucasArts as a top-down 2D shooter, and the content is as hilarious as the title suggests. The game had its own sort of charm to it despite the premise being about a zombie plague done up in pure horror-comedy style.

    What Makes It So Difficult: While playing Zombies Ate My Neighbors is certainly fun, getting through the entire game is a challenge. There are 48 levels players need to make their way through before they can beat it, and that's a lot for any game. You'll need to try and save as many of your neighbors as possible, and because ammunition is scarce, you have to be very careful how you use it. The game looks cute... and it is, but it can get stressful, leaving players screaming in frustration as they are surrounded by brain-eating monsters intent on forcing a restart.

    • Released: 1993
    • Developer: LucasArts
    • Genres (Video game): Horror, Shoot 'em up, Zombie Film, Survival horror, Action game
    237 votes
  • 4
    154 VOTES

    Contra III: The Alien Wars

    Contra III: The Alien Wars
    Photo: Konami

    The Contra franchise is known for being difficult — after all, the Konami Code was introduced in the first game on the NES, so the devs clearly knew those 30 extra lives were necessary. For the third entry in the series, the difficulty players expected to find was certainly present, though the game took advantage of the capabilities the SNES had to offer. It's visually well-made, and is an entertaining side-scroller.

    What Makes It So Difficult: The Konami Code wasn't a part of this game! That's probably the first thing a player tried when they first booted it up, but no. The Konami Code was completely absent, so players had to move from beginning to end without the 30 life bonus. Players had to contend with the traditional three, and losing them was a lot easier than keeping them. Difficulty scaled as play progressed, so each level is twice as hard as the one that came before it. Contra III: The Alien Wars is beatable, but it's going to take a ton of playthroughs before you finally beat it.

    • Released: 1992
    • Developer: Konami
    • Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Run and gun
    154 votes
  • 5
    92 VOTES

    Back in the mid-1990s, Jurassic Park was all the rage, so Ocean Software developed a game based on the property. However, instead of going the usual route with a platformer, they released a top-down 2D adventure game with intermittent 3D FPS bits mixed in. The game was revolutionary, and it paid homage to the Jurassic Park IP fairly well. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your gameplay style), it was incredibly difficult, suggesting it would be easier to survive the events depicted in the movie easier than it would be to complete the game.

    What Makes It So Difficult: While you might think a player would get slammed with dinosaurs all the time, it's not really that kind of game. Instead of mobbing players, the game features a unique puzzle and ammo system, which limits specific types of ammo for dealing with certain types of dinosaurs. This means a player has to be constantly aware of their ammunition while navigating Isla Nublar, or you'll quickly find yourself in a situation where you're unable to protect yourself. It also doesn't help that there's no guidance system, which makes it necessary to wander randomly about the park, and wandering will almost always lead to a premature death followed by the dreaded "Game Over" text.

    • Released: Jan 01 1993
    • Developer: Ocean Software
    • Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Action game, Science Fiction
    92 votes
  • Prince Of Persia
    Photo: Konami

    When it was originally released on Apple II, the Prince of Persia was hailed as a revolutionary new style of gaming. The SNES eventually received a port, and while it was considered an overall well-executed game, there were definitely a few problems with the gameplay mechanics. In the end, the game proved too hard for some gamers, many of whom went back to play it years later only to find it was just as difficult playing through as an adult.

    What Makes It So Difficult: The method of gameplay requires exact timing, and missing something by a fraction of a second will almost always mean certain death. Every leap, step, jump, dash, and combat move must be precisely made, or it's curtains. But that wasn't even the worst part of the game. The Prince of Persia had an "overall timer," which limited gameplay to 120 minutes. You can die all you want, but the timer never stops counting down. If you don't complete the game in the allotted time, you're going right back to the beginning, with a new 120 minutes ticking away.

    • Released: 1989
    • Developer: Ubisoft, Red Orb Entertainment, Jordan Mechner, Brøderbund Software
    • Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Platform game, Action game
    133 votes