Have you ever enjoyed a video game so much that you wanted to replay it again as soon as it was over? You probably have a few favorite games that you replay every so often, perhaps from awesome franchises that cemented your love of gaming.
If you’ve played through a game too many times to count and are looking to enjoy all-new ways to play, trying a self-imposed challenge is a great option. Each challenge in this list is a way to make the overall game tougher without using options that are already built into the game, such as raising the difficulty setting or side quests. Let’s look at some unique challenges that will crank up the pain.
Rhythm Heaven (Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii) – No Sound Challenge
Rhythm Heaven is a game sort of akin to WarioWare, as it places you in different minigames. However, while both games are quirky and varied, Rhythm Heaven is all about keeping a rhythm. Each scenario differs wildly – from picking garden crops to making two scientists fall in love – but all require you to use the touch screen of the DS to match what’s happening onscreen.
The music in each scenario is key to clearing the stage. It’s more important to follow the music than to rely on what you see. Notice in the following video that each time a lightbulb is tossed, a barrel containing a bomb is next. Each scene has quirks like this that you have to figure out in order to master them.
The challenge, then, is to play Rhythm Heaven without the sound on. It’s much tougher to keep a beat when you have no sound to follow. Obviously, you’ll want to be proficient at the game and know each scene well before attempting this, but if you like rhythm games, this is a great way to challenge yourself.
An alternative to the no-sound challenge is to play the game blindfolded or without watching the screen. This forces you to be tuned into the music, and while not nearly as hard as going without sound, it will still add difficulty if you’re looking to play through this underrated gem again.
Rhythm Heaven is the second game in a three-part series. The first game, Rhythm Tengoku, was only available in Japan, and the third game, Rhythm Heaven Fever, is available on Wii. These challenges could also be applied to the Wii version, as it is similar to its DS counterpart.
The Legend of Zelda (Various Nintendo Platforms) – 3 Heart Challenge
The Legend of Zelda isn’t known for being the most difficult game, but you can pump up its difficulty with this popular challenge. The Three-Heart Challenge is just as it sounds – instead of collecting Heart Containers, which increase your life energy in the Zelda games, you limit yourself to only the three with which you start.
At the beginning of the game, the challenge doesn’t change up gameplay substantially, because you’re expected to have fewer hearts early on. But as you get further into the game, you encounter enemies that can drain half your life in a single hit. Charging through tough situations while taking a ton of damage isn’t an option anymore; you have to carefully plan your actions to stay alive.
Like the Rhythm Heaven challenge (and really any game challenge), it’s recommended that you know the game you’re attempting to challenge inside and out before attempting this. This challenge can be done in nearly any Zelda game, so pick your favorite and give it a shot. The only games that will not work with this challenge are:
- The Adventure of Link (NES): You start with four life bars and this game does not use Heart Containers.
- A Link to the Past (SNES): The key items you receive after completing a dungeon only appear after you grab the Heart Container from the boss.
- Link’s Awakening/DX (GB/C): The door after the boss only opens after you collect the Heart Container, just like in A Link to the Past.
- Skyward Sword (Wii): You start with six hearts in this title.
You can make this challenge even more difficult if you like by limiting the amount of items you use, such as intentionally burning your shield or never upgrading your quiver to hold more arrows, depending on the game.
For the most extreme Zelda challenge available, try the Uber Challenge for Ocarina of Time. The Uber Challenge is like the Three-Heart Challenge, but with additional specific restrictions, even to the point of changing the order of the game. The rules are too numerous to list here, but among the most crazy are:
- You must buy the Giant’s Knife and break it immediately, and use that at all times as Adult Link.
- You are not allowed to get the Iron Boots, use any bottles, or get the Lens of Truth.
Because it involves sequence-breaking, this challenge requires the use of many glitches, some of which are extremely difficult to pull off. If you’re not comfortable with glitches or don’t know Ocarina of Time well, stay away from this one. Luckily, there’s a guide to help you along the way. It’s insanely tough, but rewarding if you’re a fan of the game.
Pokémon (Nintendo Handhelds) – Nuzlocke Challenge
Pokémon is another franchise that isn’t known for being particularly difficult, although it is more complex than it might seem. If you’re looking for a tougher journey in your favorite generation of Pokémon, check out the Nuzlocke Challenge. It’s adaptable, and perfect for adults who play Pokémon who aren’t satisfied with the difficulty.
The Nuzlocke Challenge is adaptable, and as such does not have one set of agreed-upon rules like the Uber Challenge.
The base rules are:
- A Pokémon that faints is considered dead and must be released.
- The player may only catch the first Pokémon encountered in each route, cave, or new area, and no other Pokémon can be caught in that area.
- No traded Pokémon or Mystery Gifts.
- If you black out from all of your Pokémon fainting, it’s game over.
- You must nickname your Pokémon.
These base rules are tough enough, but if you’d like to make it even harder, there’s plenty of other ways to restrict yourself. Some examples:
- Use your Trainer ID to pick your starter. If the last number is 1-3, take the Grass type. 4-6 gets you the Fire type, and if it’s 7-9, you get the Water type. If you’re fortunate enough to have 0 as the last number, you pick.
- After you catch one wild Pokémon, you must release your starter. This is rough, as starters are much more powerful than the Normal-type Pokémon you typically encounter early on.
- Held items cannot be used.
- To ease things up a bit, each Gym badge acts as a checkpoint if you get a game over.
These three challenges are gruelingly difficult, but they’ll help you squeeze even more enjoyment out of some already awesome games. You can apply these ideas to other games, too, and come up with your own self-imposed challenges. Anyone can make one up!
If these weren’t enough masochism for you, check out some more rage-inducing titles.. If you don’t think you’re ready for a tough challenge just yet, Joel has covered ways to get better at video games; brush up on those before heading into the gauntlet.
Will you or have you tried any of these challenges? Have you created a different self-imposed challenge you’d like to share? Do you enjoy difficulty in games, or do you prefer it to be easy? It’s not hard to leave a comment!
Image Credits: man with a joystick Via Shutterstock
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