Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: The hardest video game you ever beat

GameCentral readers reveal the video games they’re most proud of beating, from Hotline Miami to Cuphead.

The question for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Cranston, who asked what’s the hardest game you’ve ever beaten? Is it one that’s generally regarded as difficult or just your own personal nemesis?

As you might expect the Soulsborne games, and retro titles like Ghouls ‘N Ghosts and Battletoads, were mentioned a lot but in most cases it wasn’t whether a game was hard or not that was the problem, but whether it was fair…

Cloud nine
If there’s a harder game than Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice this generation I do not want to hear about it. I imagine there’s going to be a lot of people mentioning other From games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne but for me this was several steps further in hardness.

I’ve heard some say it was actually a bit easier, which I can only assume means that the combat didn’t click with me the way it did some people as I found all but the very earliest fights extremely difficult and never felt confident at any point in the game. I think that’s what made my contrary nature kick in as I committed myself to beating the game.

It took literally months, include basically a week on the final boss. The feeling at the end when you beat it cannot be beaten though. I was on cloud nine for days and, I feel, justifiably so. I wouldn’t want to play a game that hard often but knowing I managed it is easily my proudest gaming achievement.

On your Wick
Hotline Miami would be my pick. I don’t know how hard most people consider it to be but I found it incredibly difficult. I’m not used to that kind of game, since I don’t play many indie games, but it drew me in with how good it was and then nearly through me out with hard it was.

The trick is tacking your time but knowing when to take your chance, but not push it too far. It really does make you feel like John Wick as you take down fools like a master and then… get killed by someone else only to then work out a plan to get them as well. Such a shame that the sequel was no good.

Was very surprised, and pleased, to see the game pop up for a quick cameo in The Last Of Us Part 2, great game and glad Naughty Dog recognise it.

Beating the invincible
The one I’m most proud of is Cuphead. It never seemed like the sort of game that would appeal for me but given the Xbox One is not exactly overwhelmed with exclusives I gave it a go and absolutely loved. Starting off with the boss seeming completely invincible and then slowly learning its tricks and tells was great.

I never played games like this when they were more common and always considered them to be outdated and kind of irrelevant. But I absolutely loved Cuphead and am gutted the DLC is taking so long.

I would say it’s made me more interested in harder games in general though and assuming I go through with my plans to get a PlayStation 5 I will definitely be giving Demon’s Souls a go.

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Zero easy races
GC mentioned it the other day, with the review of the, very easy, Star Wars Episode I: Racer and I immediately found myself agreeing that a remake of F-Zero GX would be great. But I don’t know what they’d do about the difficultly level. That game was hard!

The tournaments were difficult but manageable once you got good at the game but the challenges and so-called story campaign was like the racing gaming from Hell! I do not know what they were thinking. Or what I was thinking trying to beat it. But I did. It took months but I did it and the elation at the end almost destroyed my controller as much as the previous frustration at losing.

I honestly don’t know if I’d want to put myself through all that again though. The feeling of winning is good but I don’t know how many brain cells I lost to repeating races again and again to get things just perfect.

Twice the effort
VLTRFTW (haven’t seen that for a while!) I thought I’d write in for this as I think my answer is a bit different.

My actual proudest moment in gaming was more a creation, when I spent two and a half straight days remaking a very accurate Foxhound logo from Metal Gear Solid as my and a friend’s GTA Online crew’s logo using only the simple geometric shapes provided. So perhaps a ‘proudest gaming creation’ would make a good Hot Topic?

Anyway, my hardest game is Battleblock Theater. Not notoriously difficult. However, I am referring to the co-op on Insane difficulty… on my own. One day, months since I last played, I decided it couldn’t be that difficult to clear the last Xbox achievements on it by myself (completionism is painful). My friends aren’t interested in indie games. Fine. I didn’t need them.

I had to get used to one hand per controller on each knee, balanced poorly. Sometimes I could move one character at a time, keeping a shoulder button held to leave them hanging off a wall ahead, then moving the next. But the parts where you were expected to work together at once were very taxing. Timing jumps between moving obstacles while outrunning rising water or collapsing ground for two characters simultaneously took some of the most effort I’ve put into a game.

After many instances of dropped controllers, I heard the bloops of the final achievements unlocking. Never had so much effort been made for so little reason. Well, that and the time I accidentally noticed I was top of the PlayStation 4 leaderboards for a level on Roundabout, then spent the next week getting (or getting close to) number one on every level. That was December and I’ve already slipped a couple places now on many, so was it worth it?

Many thanks for all you do GC!
Alex B (Adamant Gorilla – gamertag/CardboardGearRex – PSN ID)

Pushing yourself
It’s Bloodborne for me. I know that’s probably not a very original suggestion but for me it was a miracle. I’m really not that great at difficult games and rarely try and push myself – it’s just not what I’m into and not how I like to spend my time.

But that game was so good it drew me in like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I was ready to give up at Father Gascoigne but I persevered and the whole game opened up after that. The part where you realise the Lovecraftian element just blew my mind. Amazing game.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Single raid
Tomb Raider 2 was not great (to me) in terms of gaming mechanics. The levels looked good, like Venice, Tibet, and China, etc., but too pixelated and jagged. Not a massive fan of polygons and the enemies though impressive were sometimes annoying.

The atmosphere was there and driving boats in Venice and snowmobiles in Tibet, respectively, was fun. Great to solve catacomb puzzles and some fun oil rig combat to get to grips, coupled with some very challenging acrobatic and exploration gameplay.

I got through (eventually) to Lara Croft’s mansion at the end and defeated the bad guys. But I did not purchase another Tomb Raider game after that. Too tough and not always enjoyable. If I had not been spoilt first with next generation Mario and Zelda games, Tomb Raider may have been more of a hit with me.

I would have to wait until the four Uncharted games, way into the future, to get my appetite back for Indiana Jones influenced style gameplay and location genres. But it was an experience and one I will remember for the most part as OK. Just unnecessarily more difficult than I thought it would be.

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The small print
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