So, I’ve been playing through Bayonetta again recently and it’s still a great game. A fantastic game, in fact. 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 the hardest game of this generation thus far? While Ninja Gaiden 2 and Demon’s/Dark Souls are the obvious shouts, I’d argue the case for Halo 3 on Legendary being one of the tougher nuts to crack this generation (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 9/10, Super Meat Boy 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 Super Meat Boy) and a few fancy gameplay additions, each of the above are built on the tradition of challenging, unforgiving gameplay – the type that used to be so popular in the 80’s and 90’s.
I understand that with ballooning budgets and expanding audiences to think of, the majority of big budget developers aren’t going to be all that keen to throw players under the virtual bus, and while I don’t particularly have a problem with that (not all games have to be extremely challenging), it’s nonetheless nice to know us gaming masochists are still being catered for with Dark Souls 2 and, out of absolutely nowhere, chat of Demon’s Soul 2 also making an appearance in the not too distant future – ready to kick our pansy gaming asses no doubt.