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1. The Hadouken
In many ways, the Hadouken from Street Fighter II is the most iconic game move. And its motion (down, roll to forward, punch) would serve as the basis for countless other special moves throughout gaming history.
The motion feels clean and natural on an arcade joystick. But throwing these fireballs at your little brother on the SNES or Genesis controller was a surefire way to hurt your hand.
2. Metal Gear Solid Torture Sequence
Metal Gear Solid pretty much changed the way developers make games and players approach games. Generally speaking, this title would always reward players for choosing stealth over violence and finding creative solutions.
But eventually, your character gets tortured. You can end the torture at any time, but doing so sentences your lover Meryl to death. Beating the torture scene, though, involves repeatedly pressing the same button until your finger is practically bleeding.
As an extra “screw you,” the game was designed to detect “turbo mode” on a controller and would punish players who tried to use it!
3. Getting Up After Getting Knocked Out
In Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, it’s inevitable that Little Mac will get knocked down by some opponents. And as with real boxing, the primary challenge is getting back up.
It seems simple enough to hit a few buttons and get back up. But you have to hit more buttons to rise after your first knockout. Eventually, you can’t get back up...but the game is happy to let you smash those buttons while it counts to “10.”
Honestly, this one move causes more pain than almost anything else in the game. And with fighters like Tyson who can instantly knock you out, your thumbs are going to feel like never playing this game again.
4. Boosting Your GF
The Guardian Forces are the best and worst part of Final Fantasy 8. On one hand, they have cool designs and deal a lot of damage. On the other hand, the original versions of this game gave players no way to skip the GF summoning cutscene.
Eventually, you can unlock a “Boost” ability that lets you tap the same button during those cutscenes to boost your GF’s potential damage. While it was nice to have something to do during these boring scenes, the scenes are long enough that constant boosting can wear your fingers out.
5. Getting Combos in Arkham Asylum
Part of what made Arkham Asylum so memorable is that gameplay made you feel like you were actually Batman. And this feeling of authenticity included both the cool detective sequences and the badass fights.
During those fights, the game encourages you to use special moves, master counterattacks, and get your combos as high as possible. You’ll feel like a god (or at least, like a bat) when you get it right, but you’ll wish you had Batman’s gloves on once you see your thumbs.
6. Mario’s Long Jumps
As gamers with long memories know, the original Super Mario Bros. helped to define how platformers are designed. And one of the biggest challenges for players in this early game was putting on the speed and making it over long jumps.
However, making those long jumps could often be a painful experience. Players tended to push down that much harder. And later jumps would require you to almost immediately push in the opposite direction after a jump to avoid dying.
This, on top of the usual back and forth in Mario, created some painful game memories.
7. Top-Down Levels in Contra 3
The NES version of Contra quickly became a “must-play” game for the console. So when Contra 3: The Alien Wars released for the SNES, Konami knew they’d have to pull out all the stops.
As part of this, they included several levels that are played from a Mode 7-powered top-down perspective. The gameplay was very different, requiring players to constantly rotate their players around while moving.
That need for constant rotation made these levels as painful on your thumbs as they were painful on the eyes.
8. Flying in Joust
Joust is another game where simply moving around can cause some serious pain. That’s because your character flies, and the only way to keep him in the air is by repeatedly pressing the same button.
Whether you are winning the game or fighting just to stay alive, your thumbs are going to be screaming at you after each round. But honestly, that’s a small price to pay for a game this cool.
9. Tug-of-War in Mario Party 1
Most of the entries on this list are very subjective. But in the case of Mario Party, this game’s ability to hurt your hand is a matter of legal record!
In the first Mario Party, there was a tug-of-war minigame that involved rotating the N64’s single analog joystick. Doing it with the fingers was slow and painful, so many children started using their palms.
Nintendo was later found liable for these injuries and even ended up mailing players special gloves so this minigame could no longer hurt their hands.
10. Moving Around in Marble Madness
It’s sad to admit that the simple act of moving your character around is likely to blister your thumbs. But that’s exactly what happened with the NES version of Marble Madness.
Moving around, dodging enemies, and finding your way to the end requires a lot of finesse, changes in direction, and quick moves. While this would be more intuitive in later franchise entries using analog sticks, playing this on the old NES D-pad is a guaranteed way to hurt your thumbs along with the rest of your hand.
11. Tearing Off a Head
As fun as the game and characters were, the main claim to fame for Mortal Kombat was the fatalities. And in the first game, the most iconic fatality was Sub-Zero ripping off his opponent’s head.
And on paper, the moves for this fatality are not that difficult. But it’s tough to get everything correct on the d-pad, leading to many failed attempts and new fights as the player tries to master the art of fatality.
By the time you get it right, you may need Sub-Zero to cool your thumbs down.
The Shoryuken (also known as the Dragon Punch) is one of the most famous moves in the Street Fighter franchise. But its movements are not quite as easy and intuitive as the Hadouken.
As a result, players will spend a long, frustrating time trying to get these movements just right. And the whole time, your fingers will be paying the price!
13. Dodging Mike Tyson’s Punches
Honestly, there are countless moments in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out that were likely to blister your thumbs. But none were quite as bad as the fight with Tyson at the very end.
For the first 90 seconds of the fight, Tyson throws nothing but instant-knockout punches. And since he lacks the tells that most other fighters have, it requires split-second timing to dodge each punch and eventually fight back.
All that repetitive left and right movement, though, is hell on the player’s fingers and hand.
14. Mortal Kombat Blood Code
It seems quaint now, but the original Mortal Kombat’s blood and fatalities led to Congressional hearings and the creation of the ESRB. Every parent and politician was in a frenzy to protect their child from seeing some red sprites on a screen.
Because of that, the SNES port had no blood at all. The Genesis port had blood and gore, but only if you put the blood code in at the beginning. And doing so was far, far harder on your thumbs than the annoying “Test Your Might” minigames.
15. The Konami Code
The Konami Code is easily the most famous cheat code ever created. Unfortunately, many games required you to enter this code very fast to get any results.
The best example of this was in Contra on the original NES. With the Konami Code, you could get 30 lives instead of the standard 3. But good luck playing after entering this code destroys your thumbs!