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Title: The Top 10 kickass games that will kick your ass
Posted: May 13, 2008 (06:48 PM)
May 12, 2008

Warning: not for the faint of heart, or those who suck at games. The featured titles all meet two criteria: they are so damn good I deem them worthy to carry the honour of being kickass; and they are hard enough to kick my ass - thus they will kick yours, too.

10:Mushihimesama (ARC)
This Shmup (abbreviated term for a scrolling shoot 'em up) was only released in Japan; your best bet if you want play it would be to get a hold of an import copy of the PlayStation 2 port. However, that's only if you are the most hardcore of hardcore gamers. Mushihime-sama literally means "insect princess" - because the enemies resemble insects. But who cares? All you really need to know is that this is quite possibly the most difficult Shmup in existence, and Shmups are arguably the most difficult video game genre. You know how fireworks look so pretty when they burst into dazzling trails of smoky light? Well imagine piloting a tiny little bug through 10 of them going off all at once. You'd be toast, right? Well as crazy as it sounds, that's what you'll be doing frequenly in Mushihime-sama. Or at least you'll die trying. Look up demos of the infamous Ultra mode on YouTube and you'll understand what I mean when I say that virtually 95% of the screen equals death. This may be the only kickass game that only kicks ass because it will kick your ass. Now that's kickass!

9:The Legend of Zelda (NES)
A Zelda game? A ZELDA game actually managed to kick my ass?! Well you see, there was a time when games didn't hold your hand; when they didn't feel bad about sending you all the way back to the title screen; when Shigeru Miyamoto couldn't care less if you weren't skilful enough to take on a bunch of heavily armoured, incredibly deadly Darknuts. Yeah, the original Legend of Zelda was a killer app that actually had no qualms about killing poor Link. Multiple times. Heck, it also featured a second quest to boot - even more difficult puzzle-wise, enemy-wise and logic-wise (trust me, you'll need an FAQ for this one). However, the magic of this legendary franchise was present from the very beginning. That is, blatantly NOT-SO humble beginnings.

8:Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES)
Recent Castlevania games, the "Metroidvanias", are but pale reflections of the past - difficulty-wise, that is. Back in the days, you couldn't level up, you didn't have a wide variety of magical spells and sub-weapons at your disposal, and once you commited yourself to a jump forwards, there was no turning back. Enemies wouldn't hesitate to viciously attack you as soon as they had a chance, they'd have no qualms about slamming into your face as you made a leap across a bottomless pit, and they would inflict more damage with a flung bone than most modern video game heroes would receive if they were hit by a bus. Yeah, the classic Castlevanias enjoyed whipping your backside. Dracula's Curse is no exception. However, it did feature several new mechanics which were explored in more depth in later instalments: namely the use of an assisting partner who could be swapped in and out at will, and the opportunity to select which routes you'd like to take between levels. This made every game played a different experience. You could opt to have the agile Grant, the magically-adept Sypha, or Dracula's own son, Alucard - who is able to metamorphose into a sneaky bat - tag along with you. Each carries their own strengths and weaknesses, but you'll need their help to get by some typically tricky Castlevania platforming/enemy-overload situations. Or else you can brave it as vampire killer, Trevor Belmont, alone... Yeah, I thought not.

7:Mega Man Zero 2 (GBA)
The platform-based Mega Man games generally fall into two categories: easy and fun, or hard and not fun; few strike a fine balance between the two. Mega Man Zero 2, however, takes the best of both worlds - well, that is if you think like I do. It offers the same visceral Mega Man thrills with interesting level design, challenging boss encounters, and it is complete with Zero's wicked repertoire of saber techniques. It also features a customisable Cyber Elf system which you WILL need to exploit due to the insanity of the game without its aid. It is arguably the most challenging Zero game of them all, but just like the rest of them it's well worth your time. Just be prepared to die a lot.

6:Trauma Center: Under the Knife (DS)
Most of the things you can do in a video game are much more difficult to re-enact in the real world. For example, stealing a car requires more than just pressing a button; winning a prizefighting match means you actually have to know how to throw a punch; dancing is more than just following a sequence of arrows; and you can't refer to GameFAQs if you don't know what to say to a girl in order to have her go out with you. But some things, like basic surgery, suturing for example, are actually easier in real life. I should know. Trauma Center is more than just virtually stiching people back to life, though - this stylus-operated surgery sim demands impeccable precision when it comes to eradicating the deadly GUILT viri. If this game was real life, I would have lost hundreds of patients by now (and would likely require the assistance of an Ace Attorney who wins based on ridiculous conjecture...) But there's something about all the stylus swiping that really makes it all worthwhile. Few games have made me shake my hands uncontrollably with so much pressure on my shoulders, so much excitement. Trauma Center is one of them.

5:Ninja Gaiden Black (XBOX)
To be honest, I prefer pirates over ninjas. But to his credit, Ryu Hayabusa did make me think twice - thanks to the XBOX release of Ninja Gaiden. It was undoubtedly a tough action game with a solid dose of slicing and dicing; great boss fights, too. If you didn't learn to block and roll properly, you were as good as dead. Several upgrades later, Tomonobu Itagaki, the chauvinistic head of Team Ninja, released his director's cut in the form of Black. Neat extras aside, not only were once overpowered moves "nerfed", to encourage more skilfulness, but enemies were made more aggressive, with added grapple attacks thrown in to keep players from playing turtle. Together with some new additions to the antagonistic side, that fit the term "hardcore" perfectly, Black officially became one of the toughest, yet most rewarding 3D games in existence. Oh yeah, and the camera still sucked.

4:Ikaruga (X360)
Don't listen to Michael Jackson: it DOES matter if you're black or white! Shmups usually have some sort of gimmick to make them stand out from the rest of the pack. In Ikaruga's case, it's all about the colour - the polarity mechanic. Your typical Shmup aircraft would find it next to IMPOSSIBLE to dodge every single bullet shot in this game. The difference with Ikaruga's ship is that you absorb the fire of whatever colour you are polarised to - that is to say: nothing white can harm you if you are white, and vice versa. But this sure makes the bulk of the game one confusing mess as you struggle to react to the mass of overflowing bullets with the correct polarity in mind. So you see, you will have to force yourself to dive into one type of hazard just to escape another, and hopefully you'll be able to differentiate between your blacks and whites so that you don't inadvertently crash into the opposite colour. Polarity makes this game incredibly difficult, but also an incredibly exciting one.

3:R-Type III (SNES)
One of the earliest Shmups to grace us was Irem's R-Type; I was only 2 years old at the time! It was only the second Shmup I had ever played (I have played many more since then, of course), but it still remains as one of the very best in the genre. My love for the original R-Type is only superseded by its second sequel, aptly titled R-Type III. Once again, expedient use of the Force, a detachable energy-infused pod, is the key to success. This time, however, the Bydo alien invasion hits harder than a fistful of bricks. Thankfully you can charge up your wave cannon to an all-new hyper mode - things die fast(er) when you rapidly fire thick laser beams that explode viciously upon impact. But then there's the obligatory cooling down phase and it is here that you are left in a highly vulnerable state. Oh, and the final stages are some of the biggest pains in the proverbial: swarms of damage-absorbent enemies that force you to take the riskiest route (i.e. through dozens of enemy bullets) and physically impassable walls that can only be traversed by bravely flying right next to an enemy-spawning warp hole. **** you Irem!!! Ah, what am I saying!? I love you guys!

2:Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)
It was tough to decide which Contra game deserved a spot on my list; most of them are harder than the hardest thing you can think of, but most of them are also freakin' awesome games. However, it's pretty clear that Contra III is held most dear to my heart; it's one of few games I play religiously. It's only six missions long: two of them are average by Contra standards; two of them are over-the-top, literally, and aren't all that exciting; but two of them also happen to be two of the Godliest levels ever made - especially stage 4 which comprises an intense motorcycle highway chase as you are assaulted from all angles by airborne soldiers, a well-armed battleship, a tank, and a mechanical alien resembling a two-legged spider (best description I could think of). And after that, you take to the skies via helicopter - not riding one, but HANGING off one! - later gunning down the backside of that massive battleship as you hop between your helicopter's fired missiles! It's just about one of the craziest things I have ever seen and done.

1:Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PS2)
Judging by the opening cutscene, Dante appears to be a lean mean demon-ass kicking machine. And he is - so long as you take the time to absorb the intricacies of Devil May Cry 3's in-depth combat system. First-timers will no doubt have a hard time: the original US game's default 'Normal' difficulty was in fact the Japanese version's 'Hard' - which was downright brutal. Many hardcore gamers even succumbed countlessly to the game's very first boss! The frost spewing, triple-headed canine, Cerberus. Those who managed to quell his icy demeanor were soon assaulted by a horde of ridiculously overpowered demons, and many more just-as-intense boss fights to follow. However, once you actually know what you're doing (and this will take A LOT of practice), even a devil triggered pack of Lusts will seem like child's play. Well, not always... (bloody lustercut!!!)

So how's your ass doing? Enough abuse for you? If you have keeled over in agony, get up now! It's time to man up! It's time to play the with the best to become the best. It's time to give these games a decent shot, to be a real gamer, to start kicking ass! Honestly, though, these are some of the most exciting games you can ever experience; don't shy away from the daunting difficulty, persevere! Now I'd like to thank you for reading my kickass list, but the princess is in another castle... so go kick her ass!

GenjUser: Genj
Posted: May 13, 2008 (07:31 PM)
Like half of HG users are so kick ass that we think Contra III is actually too easy.

Felix_ArabiaUser: Felix_Arabia
Posted: May 13, 2008 (08:21 PM)
Confession: I suck at Contra.

GenjUser: Genj
Posted: May 13, 2008 (09:12 PM)

bluberryUser: bluberry
Posted: May 14, 2008 (02:15 AM)
I fucking hate, hate, hate, fucking HATE lustercut. if I know Lusts are coming on DMD, I'll not use my DT explosion on a huge pack of weak enemies just to save it for them.

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