It wasn't the timed puzzles and death that made the game difficult, it was the dead-ends that let you keep playing.

I love brutally difficult games, but being stuck and not knowing it is something I would like to never see in a game (any game) again.  The game should tell you if you're wasting your time.

During my first playthrough of Loom, I didn't write down one of the very first spells you learn.  That particular spell isn't used to solve a puzzle until very late in the game, and I had to start all over because the spells are randomly generated each time you play.  Same with the Holy Grail painting in the Last Crusade.

I'm glad these weren't my last adventure games, because Monkey Island 1 and 2 are among the best gaming experiences I've ever had.  To think I came so close to giving up on this genre.