Hard games aren’t anything new; despite what people to be saying about Dark Souls—mainly that it is uncommonly hard—they have always been here. These games have been coming out continually since Nintendo decided that the first Mario game wasn’t hard enough and started putting death mushrooms that would kill in the sequel. Discounting the fact that a couple of these games, for some reason, hold both an easy and a hard mode they are almost impossible to beat on any normal setting—and all of these games came out in the last couple of years.
7. Izuma: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja (DS)
It is entirely possible to place any, “Insert x-rouge-like” in this list as most of them are going to end up being entirely too difficult at some point to continue. Izuma stands out because it decides that instead of the character losing everything when they die, they can retain their level. Sure, this does manage to introduce a level of reduced insanity to the game—too bad that Izuma also makes up for that by placing enemies that can destroy anything by simply hating at it.
6. Devil May Cry (360,PS3, PS2)
Take your pick of any of the games that have come out, they all are punishing. Sure, most of them come with some easy toggle that make the entire thing entirely playable, but the truth is that the normal mode is controller breakingly hard at several parts early in the game, and that is before any of the really challenging stuff starts. The first game, which is probably the easiest of the series, has two difficulties higher than normal—one of them is simply called Dante Must Die. I know one person who tried to make a continual effort to beat this mode, I never heard about him beating it as he was too busy constantly breaking everything near him in rage.
5. Monster Hunter (PS2, Wii, PSP, 3DS)
I am sure that most people out there are thinking that Monster Hunter isn’t tough. In the same breathe they should probably say that Dark Souls isn’t that bad if you have no issue grinding worthless enemies for hours on end in exchange for progression. Monster Hunter is entirely possible, when you have 3 other people to play with. Before that moment it is basically learning the movement patterns of every single thing that could possibly appear at any moment; which is exactly the same thing that game with the word “Souls” in them do. The fun ends about 9 hours in and everything else is the degree of rote memorization that made me stop going to human osteology in college.
4. Trials (PC, 360)
Trials is a game about a stunt-dirt-bike rider who clearly cannot be killed, but can’t move without being on his ride—because walking is for whimps. For all I know this is probably true, because in the tradition of most stupidly hard games it doesn’t have a plot as much as an arrow tell you to keep moving or risk disappointing manliness. Oddly the game is more than happy to explain pretty much every move that you are expected to do at any one time, good luck both pulling them off and timing them correctly—while in the tutorial. The only people to beat this are robots and Batman, and the robots cheated.
3. Megaman 9 (360, PS3)
Everyone who has listened to the podcast knows that one of my favorite things is destroying nostalgia in all of its forms; oddly it seems that Capcom enjoys doing the same thing. Megaman has managed to not change that much in the last 25 years, except that they have gotten entirely easier. To spit in the face of logic some programmers decided to make a game with all of the limitations of a NES game, take away all of the basic skill the blue bomber has gained on his journey, and charge money for less of a game. At one point I became drunk and decided that the best course of action was to buy it, even though I have never gotten past the first level in the demo—the mistake in this was that it was also the last time that I ever touched the game. A super powered gun-armed robot is only as weak as the giant robot-elephant-that throws metal circus balls at him is powerful.
2. Super Meat Boy (360, PS3)
The motto might as well be, “never stop running.” Everything in the game is entirely possible to kill your avatar with the slightest misstep, which is cool when it is noticed that it also leaves traces of blood on everything—which gets ever more intense on the later levels when basically the entire level ends up coated in the blood of failed attempts. One of the more enjoyable features of the game is watching all of your failed attempts plummet to their deaths after successfully finishing a level, which feels like a triumph to just watch how many times some of the harder traps managed to get transversed.
1. Ninja Gaiden (PS3, 360, XBOX)
Ninja Gaiden has been the honey badger of modern games. It doesn’t really give a second thought about what everyone else is doing, and is happier to just go out on its own doing more and more insane things despite the common knowledge that is laid out for it. While everyone else was out trying to make tutorials and a friendly learning curve Ninja Gaiden just expected players to remember what it told them on the first brief pass of text and never bring things up again, much in the way that a honey badger will kill a king cobra just to be bitten by it. As little sense as any of this makes, these games sell—which is interesting because I am sure that no one has ever beaten any of them ever. For all anyone knows it is probably just two levels and then someone looking amazed you got any further.