The Xbox library is surprisingly rich with hard games. While many of them offer a unique challenge that speaks to a certain sub-section of players, others have managed to break through and pulls in a larger audience despite – or because of – the high difficulty.
While some games border on the side of being frustratingly difficult, others offer a laborious experience yet do it in an elegant fashion. Perhaps its a certain art style or character that pairs well with the promise of white-knuckling challenges that speaks to a certain type of player.
Below, we’ve compiled the four hardest Xbox games that merge great style with extreme difficulty. Playing any of these titles will result in many moments of defeat. For some, understanding their very fair fundamentals will lead to a rewarding payoff. Others will just crush your spirit repeatedly.
Ninja Gaiden (Xbox, 2004)
While 2004’s Ninja Gaiden took a massive leap in changing the overall appearance and perspective of the series, developer Team Ninja maintained the soul-crushing difficulty.
Ryu Hayabusa’s journey starts off easy enough, fighting droves of enemies and upgrading his abilities. However, it’s not long before the number of vicious enemies becomes staggering. Add to that, Ninja Gaiden has more than a few challenging bosses, including the dreaded Alma.
Although the base difficulty of Ninja Gaiden is loaded with its own challenges, the game offers a total of five difficulties just in case you really want to drive yourself mad while avenging Kureha.
Super Meat Boy (Xbox 360, 2010)
Super Meat Boy not only built its notoriety for being one of the leading indie games on XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) at the time, but the game’s popularity also spread for its challenging gameplay.
Super Meat Boy is rather simple in design. Players navigate Meat Boy through short platforming levels. The kicker is the game continuously ramps up in difficulty by adding more complex paths. Obstacles such as buzzsaws, spikes, and lasers are all gradually introduced to put pressure on the player.
Super Meat Boy requires an incredible amount of control and split-second awareness. Even the slightest mistake will bump players back to the beginning of the stage, having to redo it all over again. With over 300 levels in the game, Super Meat Boy’s difficulty will surely have your blood boiling at some point or another. And if you’re ever interested to see the prowess some players have over the game, check out any of the Super Meat Boy speedruns.
Cuphead (Xbox One, 2017)
From its inception, Studio MDHR wanted to pair 1930’s rubber hose animation with classic 2D boss fights we know and love. Cuphead successfully conceptualized the pairing, and eventually became one of the most difficult Xbox games created to date.
Don’t let the Fleischer Studio-inspired art deceive you. Each of Cuphead’s many levels have you battling against some of the toughest bosses in gaming history. Even the platforming levels require a great deal of concentration. Memorizing enemy patterns and having the hand-to-eye coordination to dodge attacks plays a large role in beating Cuphead.
Between bosses such as Dr. Kahl, King Dice, Grim Matchstick, and Hilda Berg, Cuphead continuously out-does itself in offering challenges to players.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Xbox One, 2019)
Last but not least, we have Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Now, we could have picked many other Soulsborne titles FromSoftware has released. However, the reason Sekiro stands above the Dark Souls series in this list was the game’s surprising change in genre-established mechanics.
As per tradition, Sekiro features loads and enemies and a brutally difficult gameplay loop. However, having to slowly learn the ropes of the parry system of Sekiro introduced a new twist. This hurdle proved to be an added challenge not many were expecting. It took the Soulsborne genre in a slightly new direction, forcing players to rely on blocks rather than dodging.
Even if you’ve managed to rewire your brain to perfect the timing of the parry, bosses such as Isshin Ashina still stand in the way. And the Guardian Ape fight wasn’t a walk in the park either.
Would you add any other games to the list? Swap any out? Let us know below!