I’ve been playing games for a pretty long time. I remember playing a lot of games on our BBC micro, using the old 5 1/4″ disc drive. I remember The Philosopher’s Quest (although never getting very far due to being so young when I tried it) and Galaxians being loaded up more than a few times. I received a NES for my 7th birthday which still works to this day. I think my point is that I’ve, for better or worse, played a lot of games. I feel I’m fairly good at them and can pick up the rules and do fairly well in most pretty quickly. Some though…some are just a little too much. This week I’m listing 5 games that were I found so difficult that I almost gave up. I made it through eventually, but it was a slog at times.
Usual rules! Games I’ve played, one game per series. I must have had a problem finishing it, wanted to give up but eventually came back to it to finish, even if I had to use a guide to help! On with the list. A list of failure and redemption if you will!
Metal Gear Rising
Starting with, to my recollection, the most recent game I wanted to give up on thanks to its difficulty. The thing is, it wasn’t even that hard really. At its heart, this is a third person brawler/character action game. You would use your sword as cyborg Raiden to cut your way through enemies, using your ability to slow down time to slice up enemy robots, stealing taking their energy to restore your health. There was also, for defence, a parrying system…
Good god that parrying. You could deflect an enemy attack with a well timed move to the analogue stick along with a button press. There was even a prompt on the screen to hint at the direction you should move the analogue stick. I reached one of the earliest bosses, Blade Wolf; a robot dog with a chainsaw on its tail (which is pretty cool all things considered). Put simply, if you couldn’t parry you wouldn’t have a hope. I tried this boss repeatedly for several hours before giving up and walking away. A few days later I decided I would give it one more go before retiring it completely. It took a few more goes, but somehow the timing for parrying came to me. Maybe it was practice, maybe it was going away and coming back later. Whatever it was, I’m glad I didn’t give up on this, it turned into a hell of a game, full of thrilling moments and absurd bosses. That’s Metal Gear for you though. NANOMACHINES, SON!
UFO: Enemy Unknown
Don’t know this one? You might do, but by a different name being as this was the European title for the game. Elsewhere it was known as X-COM: UFO Defense and I bet you recognise that name. The return of the XCOM series is well known in gaming as something of a major success. I count the remakes among my favourite games, and I regularly return to them for fresh playthroughs. The original game was a different story though. It was so hard. Ridiculously so. The fact that I hadn’t even reached teenager status when I first played it may suggest that I wasn’t ready for it, but I disagree. It was just plain difficult.
This was the first game of its type that I had played, but i had enough of an idea of how to play it. The turn based missions anyway. I would normally do reasonably well at those, but on the global level I didn’t know what I was doing, what to research, what to build, where to build bases. Most of the time it ended up a mess. But I played games of it over and over for a long time. I’m pretty sure I gave up and came back time and time again. Maybe it was through dumb luck, maybe through enough experience but one day I managed to make it to Mars and finish the game…on easy mode. I never went back to try anything harder than that. Thankfully I seem to be much better at the remakes. Either that or they’re easier.
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
Yes you read that right. In the UK it was called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. The TV show too. There was a time in which anything related to ninjas was considered to be a risk of corrupting the youth of the country. Anyway, this game was one part side scrolling brawler, one part top down exploration game. You could travel about the over world, fight enemies, then go into a building or sewer where the screen would switch to side scrolling. All 4 turtles could be played, each with their own advantages. These also doubled as your lives, and when a turtle was defeated, you couldn’t play as him again unless you found them in a level and rescued them. It was a rather good game for its time, with plenty of variety, although the enemies were a bizarre mish mash of different creations that seemed unrelated to the Turtles series as a whole.
If you ever played this game, you know where I’m going with this. That damn dam level (see what I did there?) was near impossible. The idea was there were 8 bombs underwater, and you had to swim around and disarm them all within a time limit. A very, very strict time limit. That time limit, combined with floaty swimming controls and it being very easy to die meant that this was the end of my journey one more than one occasion. I was fairly young at the time, but I’m pretty sure that I didn’t finish this game until well over a year of starting it. I don’t remember the specific point at which I somehow managed to get through it, but it happened. I remember the next tricky point being fighting the Technodrome, which wasn’t all that difficult by comparison simply by virtue of the fact that you could take your time. Underwater levels are regularly some of the worst in any game. Please don’t stack dime limits and instant deaths on top developers.
Well obviously at least one of these games would be in here. This was the first game in the series I played, I had been looking forward to it for a while and was excited to have a go at it thinking “This era of ‘hard’ game won’t be that tough for me”. How wrong I was. This was punishing to say the least. I like a good hack and slash game, which I suppose this technically is, but I wasn’t prepared for just how slow and methodical you had to be.
Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough. If you’ve played this you know exactly what I mean. Taking on one boss in this series is often tough enough, but two at a time was near impossible. Couple that with the fact that once one is defeated, the other becomes considerably tougher and you end up with a recipe for rage quit. I hammered away at these two constantly over the course of several days before vowing to never go back. That didn’t last though, this game has a way of drawing you back for another suicidal run. I decided to swallow my pride and summon a player to help me and managed to just eke out the victory about a week after first meeting these two beasts. By comparison, everything after here was pretty simple! Although Bloodborne certainly had its moments…
This is a bullet hell shooter. If you aren’t familiar with that term, it means a top down/side scrolling game in which you fly a ship along, shooting down enemy ships. Think Gradius, R-Type or 1942. Then add a thousand bullets on the screen all at once. Ikaruga does something to give you a form of defence other than shooting enemies down. You can change the colour of your ship between blue and red. When blue you are immune to blue bullets (in fact, they charge up your super weapon when collected) but vulnerable to red, and vice versa. An excellent form of protection, but…
This is absolutely bananas. There are so many bullets on screen at once! Just so many! Look again! Have another look! Switching between colours at exactly the right moment, weaving between shots, and managing to hit the target is near impossible at times. I recall getting through the first 3 stages before getting utterly destroyed on the fourth over and over before giving up. Months later I came back, wanting to play a shooter of this style. After a few false starts I managed to make a full run through, from start to finish. I’m not sure if it was luck, or some sort of moment of Zen, but I managed to make it through. As it turned out, the bosses will retreat after a while, meaning you didn’t have to actually destroy them. With that pressure off, this suddenly became a lot more manageable.
Some honourable mentions as ever! FTL was very difficult, but being short meant having a couple of failures meant that having another couple of games was no huge time commitment. Still though, after I started seeing the same events crop up I decided to leave it for a while. I had another go at it one day and managed to get through after a couple of goes. I feel that having a lucky run of events is a big part of winning this game. Ninja Gaiden 2 is a bit of a cheat for me, as I technically didn’t finish it. I put it to one side after finding it just far too hard to manage, but came back to it one day. I managed to get a fair way through before the game kept crashing at the same point. I think the disc was damaged and it was far too late to take the game back. I think I might have been able to beat this if not for that!
And that’s the list! Do you have any to add that you managed to beat after constant failure? Let me know about your successes!