Video games nowadays are often perceived as being too easy compared to games in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and it appears to be directly associated with the advances in technology. Gameplay now takes a backseat to stunning visuals and other production areas that require more budget. Rare are the days where you’ll be up all night trying to beat a boss over and over again and still fail by sunrise. Well, unless you’re playing a Dark Souls game, that is.
This “too easy” perception is arguably truer in the mobile gaming scene. Many people don’t take mobile games seriously and only see them as just shallow entertainment made for kids. Which isn’t true. Not in the slightest. People who hold such sentiment have probably never touched a mobile game in their lives. Because if you want more challenge and less shiny graphics, mobile games are the go-to place.
You can start by diving into these 7 games to see if you’re strong enough to pull out a handful of your own hair. Or someone else’s. But before we go through with the list, let’s jot down first the gameplay mechanics that make a game hard, challenging, difficult, insane, or whatever synonymous adjective you prefer.
- Unfair difficulty curve. Some games start out as beginner-friendly, walking you through the first 10 or so minutes like a mother teaching a child how to walk. And then as soon as you get a feel for the gameplay, the game clobbers you with a difficulty so unfair that you’d question if the developers even knew of the word “fair.”
- Unrelenting and unforgiving gameplay. This means the gameplay continuously challenges your brain, reflexes, or both without giving you a little breathing room (unrelenting). The pause option doesn’t count. And the bad part is that, if you die or fail, the penalty would be steep (unforgiving).
- Requires a LOT of memorization. Ever played the classic game Contra? To successfully go through each level without dying, you’re required to memorize how enemies behave, which turret fires from which direction, and what type of reinforcements arrive from whatever direction. Yes, the game requires skill, too. But completing the game is more about memorizing patterns. Not everyone has a good memory.
- Limited or clunky controls. Perhaps another reason why games are easier now is because modern gamepads or controllers have, well, more buttons. Which translates to more options in approaching the game. Some even allow button re-mapping or customization. Mobile devices, however, don’t have this luxury. Onscreen “controllers” do more harm than good – they obstruct the interface, which is already small for non-tablets.
- Too much grinding. This one is debatable and almost exclusively applies to role-playing games. Believe it or not, some people actually enjoy grinding and power-leveling in games. However, there’s a fine line between requiring you grind just for a couple of bosses and forcing you to grind every time before you can proceed to the next area.
- Too luck-based. Familiar with the term “random number generator” or RNG in games? It’s a complicated mechanic that contributes to a game’s, well, randomness. No harm in that. The trouble is, some games require you get lucky with the odds first before you can complete a level or beat a boss. “Critical Hits” come to mind, which are typically based on percentages.
Take note that the following games don’t necessarily feature all the aforementioned bullet points. Some only feature one, others combine two or three. Now, without further ado, here are the 7 mobile games that would frustrate the crap out of you, in no particular order.
Swing Copters 2
Let’s start with a game created by the same soulless people who developed the notoriously and stupidly difficult Flappy Bird. If you played that game back in 2013, you probably learned a new curse word or two along the way. Swing Copters 2 is obviously a sequel to Swing Copters. The two games don’t really have a lot of differences, so we’ll just add the recent installment. Swing Copters 2 is basically the same as Flappy Bird, except your character is going upward instead of rightward. The same controls apply: you tap on the screen to control your character and try to avoid an assortment of obstacles along the way.
The problem is that you can’t really “control” your character. You’re simply trying to steady his ascent as best as you could. The game is very sensitive to your tap input, so your reflexes need to be top-notch. If you’re the twitchy type who instinctively reacts (a good skill to have in fighting games), then you’re going to have a tough time with Swing Copters 2. Well, actually, everyone is destined to have a tough time in the game. In fact, it’s not impossible to spend a good hour or two simply trying to reach at least a meager 5 points. If your fuse is on the short side, be careful with this game.
ZiGGURAT – yes, the game’s title is stylized as such – is a game where your character literally stands on a mountain top while hordes of aliens approach left and right. Your job is to shoot them down and not let a single one touch you. If an alien touches even a hair of your character, it’s game over. No extra lives, no continue option, and certainly no Quick Save option like in strategy games. Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, the catch is that your character doesn’t move from his spot. His feet are firmly planted on the mountain. You can only control where he fires his gun. And even then, controlling where he fires it is difficult. Instead of a straight-up shooter game where you simply point at a target and pull the trigger, the targeting system in ZiGGURAT works with angles. It’s quite similar to Angry Birds. There are no power-ups in the game to make your job easier. But you do have the option to shoot larger “bullets” by holding on the screen longer.
World’s Hardest Game
Well, at least the developer plainly stated that this game would be hard. World’s Hardest Game places 30 puzzles before you, which range from moderately hard to are-you-kidding-me hard. Your goal is to simply collect yellow dots and then move toward the exit. But your path will be blocked by blue dots that move in a set pattern, which you must avoid at all costs. The game will require your eyes and attention to be all over the screen, as you need to consider your movements according to the annoying blue dots. The good news is that you can look up videos on the internet on how to specifically beat the 30 levels. But even then, applying what you learned will still prove difficult. Also: the blue dots are dizzying. So careful when playing the game if you’re prone to migraines or headaches.
The Impossible Game
Like World’s Hardest Game, The Impossible Game was “kind” enough to warn us that we’re in for a difficult time in the game. The Impossible Game has a simple gameplay where you simply tap on the screen to make the automatically running orange square jump over the triangles and on black squares. The goal is to reach the end of the level. You need to have very quick reflexes – a single mistake will bring you to the start of the level, effectively resetting your frustration.
The triangles and squares also behave in a way that it feels like the game takes pride in seeing you fail. In some levels, the triangles suddenly pop out in front of you. While in some, it may seem like there’s nowhere to go, only for a set of squares to similarly appear out of nowhere for your orange square to land on. In both cases, you need to react accordingly. A split-second late in your reaction and it’s a restart for you. Thankfully, the game’s music is good to soothe your fury.
Lost in Harmony
Speaking of music, Lost in Harmony is one of those games which you can quickly foster a love-hate relationship. The game is an auto-runner and rhythm game hybrid where the gameplay alternates between dodging obstacles thrown at you in a 5-lane interface and pressing onscreen buttons in a timely manner. Each level requires you to do both. On one hand, the game’s music is so amazing that it actually adds to the difficulty – it can be hard to concentrate on the gameplay if you’re enjoying every beat.
And on the other hand, it’s really challenging to switch between the two core gameplay mechanics on-the-go, especially in Hard Mode where the difficulty curve can easily make you re-think why you even played on Hard Mode. Switching between dodging obstacles and pressing rhythm buttons can break the momentum. Just when you thought you can confidently press a hundred more buttons, the game switches to obstacle race mode. But like other rhythm games, the trick is to memorize how the gameplay behaves with the music – the core of the game. Of course, players used to this kind of gameplay can breeze through levels. Except on Hard Mode.
So far, we’ve listed games that rely heavily on quick reflexes and impeccable hand-eye coordination. Let’s move to a game where your brain will do the heavy lifting, instead of your eyes and fingers. 100 Doors, as the title implies, requires you to go through 100 locked doors. But it’s not as easy as simply choosing the right set of keys and turning the doorknob (if the door has one).
Actually, there are no keys. Instead, to open each door, you need to interact with the different images on the screen that accompanies the door. The problem is that the game offers no clue on how you should approach each puzzle, which can cause you to simply stare at your device’s screen in confusion. Or fall asleep in the process. Each puzzle has a specific solution so, obviously, you can look them up using the internet if you get stuck. But where’s the fun in that? 100 Doors has a number of versions. You can check out 100 Doors 2017 if you want a more recent set of puzzles.
Dawn of the Sniper
A lot of hardcore gamers steer clear of mobile games simply because the screen is just too small for their taste, even on the bigger tablets. A smaller screen begets a lot of squinting, and perhaps no other mobile game requires you to squint more than Dawn of the Sniper. Yes, using a sniper rifle in shooter games, naturally, involves a lot of squinting to hit the target. But Dawn of the Sniper pushes it. The game offers the tried-and-test zombie-infested post-apocalyptic setting where you must take out one zombie after another.
Your position is fixed in the game, meaning your in-scope zoom is also fixed. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? But once you see your first zombie, you’ll know hitting them will be difficult. Simply put, the zombies (and the humans you’re trying to protect) appear like stick figures. Which means the areas where you can hit the zombies are, well, tiny. While not impossible, going for a headshot, which produces an instant kill, is very difficult – the head is the smallest area you can shoot. And to make matters worse, the zombies are constantly on the move. So yeah, if you want to be efficient with your bullets, be prepared to squint at your device’s screen all the time.
There are other mobile games that can easily make you throw whatever is next to you out of frustration (aside from your phone). Such as the unabashedly Flappy Bird knockoff Splashy Fish. Surprisingly, the game’s not a product of dotGEARS. They’re probably too busy cooking up other insanely difficult games to bother with a Flappy Bird carbon-copy.
The aforementioned games don’t necessarily make up the list of the most difficult games ever. In fact, some players may find them easy if they’re well-versed in similar gameplay mechanics. For example, those who spent a lot of time playing the Rock Band games may have an easier time with Lost in Harmony. But obviously, not all players have the same aptitude in games. A majority will likely have trouble with these 7 mobile games.