Games from the 70s, 80s, and 90s were significantly more difficult than those released today. This was because it was a way of lengthening a game's runtime at a time where it was difficult to make 10+ hour adventures. Although most classic games are beatable with some persistence, there are some that will make players familiar with a few guide writers by the time they're finished.
The graphic adventure genre was a dominant force of PC gaming in the 90s. The genre offered players memorable experiences led by charismatic characters while challenging them to solve tricky puzzles. Grim Fandango was released in 1998 and is considered to be the last great point-and-click game of the decade before the genre's demise.
Although the point and click genre was still able to provide excellent adventures, players were growing tired of the obscure puzzle solutions, which people believed were intentionally hard as a way of selling tie-in guides and helpline services. Grim Fandango is certainly worth playing, especially with the remaster now on Game Pass, though players should be prepared for an excruciating experience at times.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge was released in 1991 and, like Grim Fandango, was developed by graphic adventure experts LucasArts. The game puts players in control of Guybrush Threepwood, one of the 90s' most iconic protagonists.
Like most graphic adventures, Monkey Island 2 suffers from ridiculously obscure puzzles. This was especially the case for non-American gamers, who were infamously perplexed by the game's monkey wrench puzzle. When players come across a screw that needs tightening, they need to hypnotize a monkey and use it as a literal wrench. This puzzle was already tough for Americans, but far harder for people elsewhere, as the term "monkey wrench" isn't commonly used outside of the US, making the puzzle virtually impossible for many people.
The original Legend of Zelda is one of the most influential games of all time. Not only did the game revolutionize the action-adventure genre, but it also gave mainstream gaming one of its first true tastes of an open world.
Thankfully, the game's open-world was well-designed and fun to explore, as many players would be spending a ton of time in its various areas trying to figure out where to go next. The game offered players very little in-game help, which many people enjoyed and were glad to see return in Breath of the Wild, though it made some of the game's more tricky puzzles extremely tough to solve.
LucasArts wasn't the only company releasing numerous well-designed and comedic point-and-click games, as Sierra Entertainment (known as Sierra On-Line at the time) were also consistently developing excellent adventures. One of their leading series was Leisure Suit Larry, which followed the loveable fool Larry Laffer as he tried and failed to hook up with women.
Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! sees Larry win a trip to a luxurious spa, where his attempts to find a partner continuously land him in tough, awkward, or even painful situations.
Riven was released in 1997 and is the sequel to the smash hit puzzle game Myst. The game features very similar gameplay to its critically acclaimed predecessor, which was a divisive decision at the time, as some people criticized the game for feeling outdated.
Although the gameplay mechanics are similar, the game significantly ramps up the difficulty from its already challenging predecessor. Players will need to have a notebook handy to solve the game's puzzles, as many of them are nearly impossible to work out by just using their head.
Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars is on this list for a very similar reason as Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, in the sense that the game is already challenging enough, but there is one puzzle in particular that drove many players crazy.
That puzzle is known as "The Goat Puzzle" and is so infamous that it has an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to it. The premise of the puzzle is simple; players need to walk past a goat. However, there's one very prominent issue, as the goat will attack the player when they get close to it, making it seem like the solution is elsewhere. In fact, players do need to be attacked by the goat but must interact with some machinery afterward to trap it, something that most players didn't believe was even possible.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was originally released in 1987 by Konami and is one of the pioneers of the Metroidvania genre, thanks to its excellent level design and enjoyable combination of platforming and action gameplay.
Unfortunately, many players ran into some issues with the game's riddles. There are 13 hidden clues in the game that are needed to solve Dracula's riddle, which are tough enough to find and solve in the Japanese version, but extremely difficult elsewhere as the translation's wording isn't clear at times, making some clues misleading for western audiences.
The final point and click game to feature on this list is Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. The 1993 game was released by Sierra and performed extremely well with critics, winning numerous end-of-year awards.
Unlike some of the other entries on this list, the game doesn't feature one puzzle in particular that had players reaching for a guide. Instead, the game spread its misery out, providing tons of challenging and obscure puzzles for players to solve across the game's 11-hour runtime, an impressive length for its time.
The first entry into the Metroid series and one of the most iconic Metroidvania titles of all time was initially released in 1986 by Nintendo. The game helped kickstart the Metroidvania genre with its interconnected level design that required players to continuously backtrack after learning new abilities to access previously inaccessible areas. With such a large map for its time, many players were constantly getting lost and needing to use a guide to map out exactly where they were and where they needed to go.
The word "impossible" in the title of this list is, of course, intended to be taken loosely. However, StarTropics is literally impossible for numerous players to complete without a guide due to one particular puzzle.
At one point in the game, players need a code, which they can reveal by dipping a physical piece of paper in water. This piece of paper came with the game, but unfortunately for some, they had either thrown it away or lost it before the puzzle arose. Moreover, the team that ported the game to the Nintendo Switch seemingly didn't know that the puzzle existed, as they didn't offer an alternative solution, so using a guide is literally the only way to solve it.