Video games by their very nature are designed to challenge us. Back in the 1980s, this challenge was meant to suck more quarters out of our wallets to be pumped into an arcade cabinet. With games moving out of the arcade and into the living room, the difficulty of games is less a necessary evil and more a choice made by the developer. Especially in an era that cherishes storytelling and character development more than ever before, challenging gameplay has become less and less common place. And yet, some of the most enduring gaming experiences that we’ve ever had are those spent button mashing a final boss who will not relent.
I have definitely played my share of challenging games. Sometimes I make it through to the end and other times I just throw in the towel after dying 10 times in a row. In some cases, I waited nearly a decade or more to finish a game. In fact, I still aim to complete MS-DOS classic Moria before I die!
While I could spend this time discussing long forgotten games that left me scratching my head (like the original Banjo Kazooie), I’ve come to the conclusion that the toughest game for me to finish in the modern era was Lost Planet. However, before I discuss this experience, I want to highlight two other very challenging games that were in my top three: Dead Rising and Rock Band. In the case of Rock Band, it was the challenge of playing 58 songs in a row to achieve the Endless Set List. ot only was playing this game for 58 songs tough but doing so with a full band of personalities was excruciating (and a blast!).
In the case of Dead Rising, that game’s save structure required me to play through the story multiple times before reaching the end game. For a lot of people this design was clumsy and frustrating. While it challenged me to my core, I loved the story and the character of Frank West enough that I kept on slogging through the game to complete this beast. Hell, I still have nightmares of driving the crappy sedan around the underground.
And yet, both of these experiences have nothing on Lost Planet, my choice for the most ridiculously hard game to finish. At the release of this game, like everyone else, I was blown away by the scale and graphics of this game. The original demo was one of the best I’ve yet to experience. I was convinced this game would be a landmark title for the Xbox 360. However, on release the incredible difficulty level pushed me to find easier games. Months went by after I tried the game and I avoided Lost Planet as best as I could. In fact, I sold my copy just to avoid the game.
Too bad then, because my roommate purchased me a new copy for Christmas. Feeling the guilt that I always feel receiving gifts, I made it my solemn promise to finish Lost Planet. My second play through went well until the final stage. In case you haven’t played the final boss in Lost Planet, let this video give you a glimpse. Basically, Lost Planet is a land-based game for it’s entirety... until the final level. I had to learn a whole new control system with a brand new weapon just to complete the game. I wound up spending hours on this mission until I completed it. I had to leave my house and run some errands just to clear my brain. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I left the Xbox on overnight because I was so frustrated. And yet, at the end of the day, I made it through the end to see yet another muddled cut-scene that still can’t process (this game was obtuse). Needless to say, I never tried Lost Planet 2.