5 Brutally Hard Gaming Challenges – Who would do this to themselves?

Games aren’t as hard as they used to be.  I’m old and allowed to say things like that now!  That and that those damn kids should get off my lawn.  But I do think that games being easier now is true in most cases.  Back in the day, games were often hard to get you to drop a few more coins into the arcade machine or to elongate games that were often much shorter than the experiences we have now.  In some cases they were never ending games, getting to the point where they were so hard that it would be near impossible to carry or (or you hit the legendary kill screens).

Pac Man Kill Screen
The legendary Pac Man kill screen.

Today though, games are designed to be finished.  Much of what we play can be considered as stories that we participate in, and stories are meant to be finished.  I find it unlikely that developers would create an experience with a story that they didn’t want people to see the end of.  But sometimes people need that challenge, and if the core game experience isn’t hard enough then people may well turn to horribly difficult achievements or self appointed challenges.  Here, we look at a few of those challenges that us mere mortals are not meant to manage.  Challenges that only the committed (perhaps to an insane asylum) few will ever see the end of.

Bullet Hell
Absolute madness. But this is the actual game and not an additional challenge so it doesn’t count.

Whilst there are many, many options to choose from, I’ve once again gone for games I have played, but certainly not challenges I’ve completed myself.  I’m not even close to managing some of these, and I don’t have the patience to consider trying them.  I’m also not including games that are deliberately designed to be near impossible, so don’t expect any of those crazy flash games on here.  On with the show!

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter – World Champion

Ghost Recon
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (2006)

This was one of the earlier games I picked up for XBox 360.  I liked the old Ghost Recon games on PC, which were hard as all hell themselves and figured this would be a fun game to pick up.  It was not what I was expecting.  Gone were the slow, methodical crawl across huge environments only to be picked off by an enemy you couldn’t even see from half a mile away.  Instead we had a third person cover based shooter.  It was fine, but not what I was hoping for.  At any rate, the achievement in question was called World Champion.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
This is not the Ghost Recon that I played back in the day…

This achievement requires you to reach number 1 in the multiplayer rankings.  So to get this, you literally need to be the best in the world at the online multiplayer mode.  This could be achieved by grinding for a huge length of time with a willing group I suppose, but that’s the sort of time commitment few could manage, let alone want to manage.  Then consider the fact that the longer you wait, the more people will have climbed the leaderboards, meaning more work will be needed!  It’s utterly bonkers.  Plus the multiplayer wasn’t even that good to begin with…

Dead Space 2 – Hard to the Core

Dead Space 2 logo
Dead Space 2 (2011)

I love Dead Space 2.  It was unsettling, horrifying, just the right level of challenging, and had sharp controls.  It rarely felt cheap to me either (although that stupid eye poke machine…); I almost always felt I had a chance to survive every encounter.  And the return to the Ishimura was fantastically well done.  Anyway, back to that thing about surviving.  Hard to the Core was an achievement that required you to finish the game on Hardcore difficulty.

Dead Space 2 straight jacket
Isaac in a straight jacket. I suppose you would have to be crazy to try this challenge.

Now, this game was pretty tough.  Playing through on the middle setting was fairly challenging resulting in me screwing up and dying on more than a few occasions.  Hardcore takes that difficulty, then allows you only 3 saves (4 if you’re a smarty pants on the XBox 360 version) to get through the whole game.  This would be something I wouldn’t even dare to try, not wanting to have hours of progress set back because of a careless mistake or that eye poke machine ruining my day.  A friend of mine actually has managed to do this across two 6-hour sessions.  “Mate, there isn’t one thing I didn’t do in that game” were his words when I asked if he ever managed.  After that, I don’t think I’d ever want to go back to it.

Dark Souls – Guitar Controller

Dark Souls
Dark Souls (2011)

This was just bananas.  You know Dark Souls don’t you?  The one that’s really rather difficult.  Punishing even.  A friend at work has recently started playing Dark Souls 3 and has likened it to banging his head against a wall, but not giving up due to seeing that ever growing crack in it (the wall, not his head).  Well timed attacks, dodges and blocks are the order of the day as well as extensive knowledge of enemies and areas.  So doing all this with a Guitar Hero controller is crazy.

Dark Souls guitar
This was their control set up. Tilting the guitar was the only way to turn left and there was no way to block.

The fact that someone even thought of doing it is odd enough.  The fact that other people have gone on to complete it with ever more creative control methods is even more bizarre.  Taking a challenging game and making it even harder is a ridiculous challenge, but well done to those who have managed to pull it off.  Check one guy out beating Ornstein and Smough using an “axe” here.

Mega Man 10 – Mr. Perfect

Mega Man 10 logo
Mega Man 10 (2010)

I saw this on the trophy list for Mega Man 10 and wondered what in the world would possess someone to try and do this.  The Mega Man series is notorious for being a challenging classic.  Capcom brought it back for the ninth and tenth installment on previous generation consoles, with that level of challenge in tact.  I struggled to beat the levels with the lives given so seeing Mr. Perfect amazed me.

Mega Man 10
Is this from Mega Man or Mega Man 10? In spite of it being more than 2 decades later they managed to keep the art style identical.

Beat the whole game without getting hit.  Not just without losing a life.  Beat all the robot masters as well as Wily’s castle without taking a single unit of damage.  This game is damn hard and the idea of finishing even one level without taking damage fills me with dread.  Yes, you can do this on easy mode, but I really don’t think easy is the right word for this.

The Legend of Zelda – No Sword Challenge

The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda (1986)

“It’s dangerous to go alone.  Take this.”  Those words are etched into the mind of a great many gamers of a certain age.  The first person you find in the first cave on the first screen utters this iconic sentence as they offer you a sword to allow you to survive the over and under world of Hyrule.  But what if you didn’t go into that cave…

It's dangerous to go alone take this
Oh the nostalgia!

That’s the whole premise of this challenge.  It’s possible to complete almost the entire first entry in this venerable series without the most basic of weapons.  The only time a sword is genuinely needed is during the final battle with Ganon.  Various (probably psychotic) players have completed this challenge which requires patience by the bucket load and very delicate use of bombs and the boomerang.  Here’s Awesome Games Done Quick doing a speed run of it: HERE! but there are others who have managed to do it whilst limiting themselves to the 3 starting hearts.  How do they do this stuff?!

Whoever came up with this is a genius or a maniac.

A quick mention has to go to the Twitch Plays insanity, in which the Twitch chat room controls a game through typing commands into the chat window.  Managing to finish a game of Pokémon with countless people yelling “UP”  “LEFT” and so forth at any one moment is one thing, but finishing Dark Souls?  Unbelievable.  This is less of a player challenge so I didn’t include it in the list, but it is an amazing thing to see in action.

How about you?  Are there any achievements or challenges that you’re particularly proud of?  I for one am pretty happy about getting all the achievements in Mass Effect, including finishing it on the hardest setting.  That pales in comparison to those above though!

52 thoughts on “5 Brutally Hard Gaming Challenges – Who would do this to themselves?

  1. Amazing, especially the madmen playing DS 3 with a freaking guitar.

    To be honest, self-appointed challenges were the main reason for me to run a video game blog. I have a different approach. though. My challenges do not necessarily make a game harder, but are meant to create a different experience and make it more immersive. For example, I never use quick travel in Bethesda games like Fallout 3. It doesn’t necessarily make gameplay harder, unless you meet some very hard enemies like Albino Scorpions (I still have the nightmares), but it completely changes your perspective and gives you a chance for interesting random encounters.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Actually, I overuse it 🙂

        Typically when playing a Bethesda game, I press T after every action like eating, crafting, repairing, etc., and wait at least one hour. Then things get exciting because a) I always play with mods which require your character to eat, drink and sleep b) my brightness setting is always set to minimum. Since time runs much faster now, finding enough supplies and shelter for a night become top priorities, especially when playing Skyrim withe the Frostfall mod which makes nighttime quite dangerous due to temperature drop.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I remember Fallout New Vegas having a survival mode included which was a nice feature. That’s the nice thing about the PC version (and now some console ones) of a lot of games, mods that give you these new challenges.


  2. Wow! I can’t imagine completing Zelda with no sword. I died so many times WITH a sword, haha.

    I really love those Platinum PSN trophies. To date I have 10 of them for the following games: Resident Evil 5, Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed Liberation, Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, Fallout 3, inFamous, FFXIII, FFXIII-2, and Lightning Returns. Some of those took a lot of work! I’m so proud 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. See, I’m insane enough as it is. I don’t need to be driven to deeper levels of madness by such nonsense as this. Only four saves in Dead Space?? I couldn’t even watch my husband play much of that game, not because it isn’t excellent, but I am a gigantic wuss puss. Despite that, I love the concept of horror (hell I want to write one), so finding out about the Brethren Moons was both terrifying and exhilarating.

    I myself haven’t participated in any brutally hard gaming challenges, but there is this absolutely ridiculous video of someone who created this “you’ll rip your eyes” out level by modding Super Mario World, and it is a literal work of art to watch the person exploit game glitches in order to complete it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would that be one of the many ROM hacks? There are so many of them! I think it’s really cool that people were ripping apart the old game to make it harder/different. With Mario Maker that will probably be less frequent now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I normally don’t chase achievements, but am proud to have beaten Mass Effect 3 on the hardest difficulty, it made the game so much more fun for me, even though I died quite a bit.

    It is crazy, even now, BOTW just came out yet someone has already beat it within an hour… WTF!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. These are crazy! I saw a no-sword run through of Zelda… And it was impressive. Although I’m not doing this currently in the Mass Effect let’s play, I’ll sometimes play as a “nice” character in RPGs and not rob people’s houses (what a concept, right?). You don’t realize how much of your inventory is stolen until you have to purchase it all!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I basically get all my gaming experience from you vicariously since I don’t have a console any more. I suppose the greatest compliment I can give you is that I continue to read despite not playing games myself anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m just barely good enough at Mega Man 10 to beat it. I could never do Mr. Perfect. I’d probably struggle with master runs like no-sword TLoZ as well. But I do want to try (at least try without a guitar controller!) Dark Souls. I always hear so much about it and the ways it has evolved gaming beyond its brutal difficulty. With a gaming controller, I don’t know. As far as ridiculous playstyles go, I’ve also seen Kirby’s Tilt ‘n’ Tumble played with the GameCube and DDR pad. To play, you had to tilt the GameCube itself while controlling other parts of Kirby by stepping on the correct arrows. That was crazy to see.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, you had to move the console because you had to move the game cartridge itself, which was inserted into the system. It was nuts! It probably does damage, especially if you’re also physically moving your body to use the DDR pads.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Right, I should be clear that Kirby’s Tilt ‘n’ Tumble is a Game Boy Color game, and that putting it in the GameCube’s Game Boy Player and tilting the system was never intended, haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Some of those challenges seem crazy! Especially Dark Souls with a Guitar Hero controller. I suck bad enough with a regular controller, so no thanks! Haha! Kudos to the people that can actually achieve these things, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. One of my personal favorite achievements back in the day was completing the Megaman Zero games. Those really tested your platforming metal and the games were just a blast. Completing F Zero GX would also be up there since that final boss was quite the challenge. There have definitely been a bunch of fond memories over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Awesome read! I love the whole speedrunning community and they’re known for this kind of stuff.. but some of these were different entirely. Seriously, Dark Souls with a guitar? That sounds like the worst!

    I also feel lame for never completing any of these games. Obviously Dark Souls is one of those insanely difficult games that “want to kill you” but I have not yet been able to get into it. Hoping for DS3 or a full collection on the Switch.

    On topic of your list, are you into Pokémon? If so, there’s a challenge mode known as a Nuzlocke run that’s tough as nails. There’s a fantastic play through of Pokemon Y on the Polygon channel, highly recommended. Filled with plenty of disappointment that you’d expect from a challenge run! It’s cleaned up and edited down as well so you don’t have to sit through boring grinding and random encounters. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen a few people doing Nuz runs, a few people blog about it too which is pretty cool. I don’t think I would have the patience for that!
      I love the idea of portable Dark Souls or a similar game! That would probably sell the system to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ouch! I would have thought playing mouse and keyboard style would be pretty tough for that. I tried it with Gears of War once and found it difficult enough. Credit to you for beating them that way!


      1. After I remap the controls I had no problems getting through the games. Any third/first person game is always better with mouse and keyboard in my opinion. Mouses have more precision than controllers and it’s easier to line up shots.

        Dark Souls has a reputation for being hard, but honestly they’re quite easy games once you learn them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree with that. The mechanics are challenging at first, but once you find a style that suits you it’s quite manageable. Bloodborne was much harder in that regard. I found the lock-on system in Dark Souls meant I wouldn’t need the precision of a mouse so much (makes sense for a melee focussed game). For shooters though, I would agree in the vast majority of cases.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That does sound harder to be fair. I think the thing with 2 was the instant death tasks like the eye poke machine that would worry me. I don’t remember there being sections like that in 3, although I found 3 far less memorable.


  11. That “Mr. Perfect” achievement always stands out to me as one of the most ridiculous I have ever seen (that, and “My Kung Fu Is Stronger” from Mortal Kombat). The thought alone, though, of Guitar Hero/Dark Souls makes me nauseous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The thing with “My Kung Fu…” is that it’s really just a grind rather than an actual challenge. “Mr. Perfect” isn’t really something you grind through as it requires utter perfection throughout. Maximum credit to those that earn that title!

      Liked by 1 person

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