The prospect of a challenging video game is something that most gamers will embrace wholeheartedly these days, what with countless games that “go easy on you” and “give you a break.” And that’s presumably because developers are frightened that angry gamers will vent their frustrations online and stop other people from, you know, making them a bunch of money.

But it never used to be like that. Game companies weren’t always pushing out first-person shooters that kept you on the rails, or games that let you “save” or re-spawn at checkpoints when you got killed for the eighteenth time. There were consequences, and with consequences, there were broken game consoles. Nowadays, it’s all too easy.

Still, there’s a clear distinction between “challenging” and “insanely difficult,” mainly because one of those options gives you a sense of earned achievement, whilst the other sends you into a crazed emotional meltdown. We covered the steps that could lead a sane person towards that kind of behavior in our meditation on frustratingly difficult video game levels, though that article simply dealt with individually insane stages in otherwise enjoyable games. What about games that don’t play fair from the offset? Games that just, you know, threw a sack over your head and continuously punched you in the guts and laughed at you whilst flicking the light-switch on and off over and over again.

That’s exactly what the little gems on our list of the most insanely difficult video games ever made feel like. However great a gamer you are, these toxic slices of faux-entertainment probably aren’t worth your time. Or your sanity.

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This article was first posted on January 21, 2013