Ghosts ‘n Goblins Reigns in the Realm of Gaming Difficulty

Ahead of this years 20th BAFTA Games Awards, we reveal the most difficult video games of all time, with the 1985 classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins taking the top spot.

Following the announcement of the new Elden Ring DLC: Shadow of The Erdtree, which is tipped to be extremely difficult, gaming experts at have analyzed the top 10 most difficult games of all time, based on user difficulty scores from

Run-and-gun platformer Ghosts ‘n Goblins on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), released in 1985, ranks first on the list, with an average difficulty score of 4.76. The game is extremely difficult due to the fact you only have a limited number of lives and must restart from the beginning if you lose them.

1991 co-op beat-em-up Battletoads comes in at second place, with an average difficulty score of 4.67. People generally find the game testing due to its trial-and-error gameplay and high difficulty curve, meaning the player must learn to master some very precise button inputs to progress through the levels.

The iconic Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, ranks fourth on the list, with an average difficulty score of 4.64. The game is tough due to its challenging level designs which are full of obstacles, not to mention, the limited number of ‘continues’ that the player is allowed.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts places fourth on the list; the 1991 SNES platformer has an average difficulty score of 4.63. Much like its predecessor, the game is difficult due to its unforgiving level design and limited resources.

Darkest Dungeon ranks fifth on the list; the roguelike RPG has an average difficulty score of 4.61. The game’s ‘stress mechanic’ often makes for a complex playthrough – if these stress levels are not kept under control, it can make the characters act irrational, and even stop you from healing.

2010 platformer Super Meat Boy, which also debuted on PC, ranks sixth on the list with an average difficulty score of 4.59. The game’s interesting level design, requiring precision movement to evade obstacles, makes the game rather formidable.

The NES action classic Ninja Gaiden ranks seventh on the list, with an average difficulty score of 4.43. Fast-paced gameplay and unforgiving boss battles contribute to the high difficulty level throughout.

The only FromSoftware game to rank in the top 10 is the action/adventure game Sekiro – Shadows Die Twice, ranking eighth on the list, with an average difficulty score of 4.50. Sekiro’s unique combat system and gruelling boss battles often present a steep learning curve for players who are unfamiliar with this type of game.

Another game in the Ninja Gaiden franchise ranks ninth on the list, Ninja Gaiden III, with an average difficulty score of 4.43; this iteration of the franchise introduced time limits to some of the levels, adding an extra layer of difficulty to that of its predecessors.

The last game on the list is the 2003 racing game F-Zero GX for GameCube. The game ranks tenth on the list, with an average difficulty score of 4.35; highly skilled AI opponents, as well as fast-paced action that requires precision movement, is what tends to make the game so challenging.

A spokesperson from commented on the findings: “From the relentless challenges of Battletoads, to the punishing boss battles of Sekiro, these games push players to their limits, demanding precision, strategy, and resilience. This list of the most difficult video games of all time includes titles spanning multiple generations, where every victory is hard-fought and every defeat a lesson learned. These games are certainly not for the faint of heart – but for those willing to embrace the challenge, they offer an experience like no other.”

Hello there! I'm a 21-year-old university student majoring in Finnish and Korean Language and Literature. I have a deep passion for art and a profound connection to the natural world. My journey through life has been a colorful one, driven by my love for creativity, music, and the wonders of the great outdoors. As a dedicated student, I've already earned a degree in Classic Cantos, a testament to my appreciation for the timeless beauty of classical music. Beyond the classroom, my artistic spirit thrives through my love for painting and drawing. These creative outlets allow me to express my thoughts and emotions, transforming blank canvases into vibrant stories. My interests go far beyond music and art. Singing, playing the piano, and exploring new melodies are integral parts of my life, providing me with both solace and exhilaration. When I'm not immersed in the world of art and music, I find solace in nature's embrace. My heart is drawn to animals and the serene beauty of the natural world, fueling my desire to protect and preserve our precious environment.