So, I’ve been playing through Bayonetta recently and it’s a great game. It’s also a challenging game. Not the hardest I’ve ever played and certainly always the right side of fair, but a challenge all the same. That got me thinking – what’s been the hardest game of this generation thus far? While Ninja Gaiden 2 and Demon’s Souls are the obvious shouts, I’d argue the case for Halo 3 on Legendary being one of the tougher nuts to crack (when played solo at least) and, let’s be honest, COD: World at War on Veteran is a complete pain in the ass (how the hell can the Japanese afford so many grenades?)
The thing is, I’ve played all of the above and I don’t think any of them compare to some of the content that can be found on PSN or XBLA – Ikaruga? That game is harder than any of the above. Fact. The premise and mechanics may be simple but Ikuruga is as pure a test of skill and perseverance as you are likely to find. Then there’s Alien Hominid. It may look inviting but the cutesy graphics and adorable character design hide, what is in fact, one of the hardest side-scrollers in recent memory. That’s not to mention Mega Man 9 and Hard Corps: Uprising which, like all of the above, fall comfortably into the teeth gnashingly, controller breakingly, hair pullingly difficult category (it’s a real category – look it up).
In case you hadn’t noticed – one thing that all of the above have in common is their decidedly old school design. Although updated with flashy graphics (well, maybe not Mega Man) and a few fancy tweaks, each of the above are essentially updated versions of the kind of games we all used to play back in the 80’s and early 90’s. The fact is – we’ve all gone soft.
Developers want us to see every bit of the games they have created and God forbid they should scare off the potential casual crowd. Easy Mode…..Very Easy Mode, lengthy tutorials and hand holding are all a huge part of modern gaming. Games like Bayonetta and Ninja Gaiden are the exception but even these can’t compare to the fiendish difficulty found in so many classic videogames from the 8 and 16 bit eras. Believe me, if you think Demon’s Souls is hard, go and spend a bit of time with Ghouls ‘n Ghosts for a real challenge.
I appreciate that developers want their expensive, beautifully realised game worlds to be seen in their entirety but does that mean ever increasing budgets will inevitably equate to ever decreasing difficulty? I really hope not. Still, even if they do, the downloadable services look like they’ll be delivering the hardcore for a long time to come…..and God bless ‘em for it.
Uhhhhh, so, to wrap up – the hardest game of this generation? Probably Ikaruga (and yes, I do appreciate that it was originally released on the Dreamcast).
What do you think?