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Default Rampant Games - Favourite Abusively Difficult Games

July 3rd, 2008, 05:39
It's unusually quiet so I thought we'd turn off the main road and beat a path to Rampant Coyote's new post, titled Favourite Abusively Difficult Games. While not restricted to RPGs, it's a fun topic:
After our discussion yesterday, numerous (but not all) folk suggested that people who preferred more challenging "do it yourself"-ness in games were in the minority. I admitted that I, too, get frustrated in games, and while I usually do not want to be led by the nose, I often find myself saying, "Okay, I give, what am I supposed to do now?" For me - figuring it out for myself and conquering the tough challenges on my own is a big part of the fun. But there's a fine line between "fun" and "frustration" when it comes to difficulty or confusion level, often related to the quality of the game.

This got me thinking about really hard games. I'm talking the practically abusive games that we love. The ones where you think the designer(s) had some kind of passive-aggressive hatred of players, and wanted to punish them. The kinds of games that seemed to want to bend you over, spank you with a pledge paddle, and make you say, "Thank you sir! May I have another?" […]
The Bard's Tale
Okay, I'd forgotten about how horribly difficult this one was just to get started on. If you decided to create your own party - one without the bard's starting gear of a magic horn (am I remembering this correctly? Help me out here, guys… it's been a while), you ended up facing some kind of Darwinian "survival of the fittest" thing where the survivors of a dozen failed attempts to get through the first two hours of the game would end up getting together into some kind of "super-party" which actually had a prayer of making it through fifth level or something. Again, the details are sketchy, and I don't remember how easy it was to save or load games. But I imagine the overpowered default starting party came about as a result of playtesting, when the QA guys screamed bloody murder about how they would NEVER see the end of the game.
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July 3rd, 2008, 05:39
I think I would have to put Gothic and every game in the Independance War series on that list. I also never managed to play a Myst game all the way through without consulting at least one hint.

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July 3rd, 2008, 07:37
There was a game from about 15 years ago that I would have liked if it wasn't so hard that it was nearly impossible to play. I don't remember what the name was though but it was old with cga graphics.
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July 3rd, 2008, 09:04
Gothic is definetly a good candidate - the first time I played it, I was reloading all the time, but despite that I was loving every minute of it.
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July 3rd, 2008, 09:08
Bards tale, definitely. Hard in the beginning, hard later (especially those darn mazes with the teleport or whirlwind squares), Never finished any of them. My brother did, but he hex-edited his party to have unlimited gold :-).

But maybe the best "hard but great" gaming sessions I had were actually in Counter Strike, whenever I encountered one of the more professional clans on their training session. Maybe because it was hard due to their skill and not due to game design. But any win against such guys was like winning a championship, any kill felt great.

I never found Gothic hard, but I agree about myst. Also Sentinel, I thought that was one of the hardes games I tried to play, yet strangely alluring.
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July 3rd, 2008, 11:15
Gothic wasn't *that* hard for me … As an archer always using the highest points to shoot from.

Around end of act 1 it because more & more difficult against the creatures, yes. I hate switching to swords, because I definitively prefer an archer in nearly every game, but at one point I ran out of arrows, so I had to do it. I had the feeling as if Gothic 1 (of which I'm speaking) was rather optimized for sword-fighters.

The most difficult thing in it was imho that the "learning points" are so few. You had to be very careful in planning and distributing them. There was no "fun-trying" in that.

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July 3rd, 2008, 12:11
Games I can can remember being hard are; Xenon, Speedball 2 (in the top league), Stunt Car Racer's great tracks, Defender, Ghouls & Ghosts, Killing Game Show, Cadaver, Either Uridums, Jet Set Willy pretty much any of the Ultimate games, Quedex, some Commando clone called Dogs of War. All those R-Type like shooters in the arcades.
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July 3rd, 2008, 12:35
On the not-so-RPGish side one could mention basically every Team Ninja game and the Ninja Gaiden games in particular.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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July 3rd, 2008, 12:54
My gf got me Ninja Gaiden Sigma recently the first boss gave me a good beating, haven't played it much yet though, it's like an updated Last Ninja game (with much better combat).

Battletoads is always being talked about as difficult, never played that. As far as rpgs go all the old games are much harder than anything you get these days apart from a few exceptions.
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July 3rd, 2008, 14:00
Of the more recent ones Dead Rising was hard as hell. I never completed it, actually. Oh, american customers give me extra day off tomorrow due to independence day, so maybe I'll give it one more try then.
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July 3rd, 2008, 16:00
For me the hardest most abusive game was NWN2, hands down!

I had to keep getting up off the couch, crossing the room and hitting the left mouse button, sometimes twice in one hour! I finally ended up going online for a cheat: I found a script that would trigger the input of the left mouse button once every 10 minutes. Then I was able to go to work and let the game get on with winning.

I felt bad using a cheat, but not as bad as I did actually playing it.

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July 3rd, 2008, 17:35
I've only given up on two games over the years because of difficulty—one was Rage of Mages—that just annihilated me and after about twenty restarts and different takes I gave the game away. The other was an adventure game I erroneously picked thinking it was an rpg of some sort—Rune. I drowned swimming in that one about twelve times.

Most newer games may have a few difficult spots, but nothing that a reload won't get you through. It's a mixed blessing, of course.

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July 3rd, 2008, 17:42
Sacrifice, don't remember completing this one either.
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July 3rd, 2008, 18:13
Aaah, this candidate definitely goes to the Dark Heart of Uukrul in my book.
That game was old-school RPG at its most sadistic:
- Brutal puzzles: Check! (But the puzzles were truly innovative!)
- Killer combat: Check! (Survival Horror, yeah right…)
- Micormanagement: Check! (Food! Weapons break! )
- Backfiring spells: Check! (Even prayers may backfire… Heh-heh, eat this, atheist scum! WHO IS THE BOSS OF YOU?!)
- Limited recruitment: Check! (Party members WILL die from time to time, and the replacement pool is very limited.)

Interestingly enough, the whole thing still had a certain charm.
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July 3rd, 2008, 19:38
Originally Posted by woges View Post
Sacrifice, don't remember completing this one either.
I didn't even understand it much beyond the first mission (and the tutorial, of course).

I had a similar problem with Z : Steel Soldiers.

Z was very difficult, too.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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Unhappy Rage against Rage of Mages…

July 4th, 2008, 00:42
Rage of Mages, oh yeah, that WAS a stupidly hard game. There was the core of a good game there but you ended up replaying some sections 11 billion times because the game totally punished you if you did the slightest thing wrong. And then it would take away some of the characters you had worked so hard to promote. After that started happening I gave up and sold it on EBay for a pittance.
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July 4th, 2008, 01:16
I like stuff recently like Etrian Odyssey I & II and Izuna (hopefully #2 as well), as they are hard but do so without being 'cheap'.

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July 4th, 2008, 05:11
Hands down the two funnest games that are abusively difficult (other than Sinistar) are Wizardry 4 and Riven. Of course, I haven't finished all the Scott Adams Adventures yet I still pick them up for another shot every year or so.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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July 4th, 2008, 05:36
Not sure how it rates in difficulty overall, but I'm getting my ass handed to me on a regular basis in the early stages of Jade Empire. Of course it's being made quite a bit harder by the fact that my system keeps shutting down on me every 15-20 minutes when I try to play games right now.

Hardest game I ever played? Super Ghouls and Ghost on the Super NES. All the games in the Ghost and Goblin series were tough but SGaG was just disgusting. It's one of the few games that I really tried to finish and just couldn't.
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July 4th, 2008, 12:45
What about a poll called "the easiest games of all" ?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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