Challenge runs that will make your favorite games difficult and enjoyable again

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With the demise of adequate difficulty settings in many game series (or, in the presence of those, the rise of some seriously hardcore gamers), game fans old and new have been searching for ways to mix up their favorite games.

Enter the challenge run! Some are simple, single rules, and others are lengthy lists of restrictions. Some are near impossible and others are pretty easy. There are so many out there that it is not possible to showcase them all in one article, but here are some awesome choices for those of you interested in giving a challenge run a whirl!

Final Fantasy VI "natural magic" run

In a Final Fantasy VI "natural magic" run, you can only use the magic characters gain by leveling up. So that means no equipment that allows characters to learn magic, or Espers. Apparently leveling stat boosts through Espers are also not allowed. While this challenge is fairly straightforward, it can be combined with other challenges such as the CES challenge (Celes, Edgar, Setzer challenge), which requires that you use only the aforementioned characters unless the game forces you to use others.

This challenge really is a good excuse to pick up this classic game again.

Fire Emblem Awakening female only challenge

Based on Archayanami's Female Only Challenge for Fire Emblem 7 (Blazing Sword), the Fire Emblem Awakening female only challenge basically is what it says on the label: you are not allowed to use any male characters, except for Chrom (because he is a required character). The player's avatar must also be female. Surprisingly, most versions of this challenge run allow for unequipped males to be used to gain supports with a female character, and furthermore, marriage, if that female has a future female child. After that, the male may not be used.

There are a few other self imposed rules that may go with this challenge, including no DLC (characters or levels), using Classic Mode and a higher difficulty, a limited number of resets, and no marriages except for Chrom.

This can also be done the other way around with only male characters.

Guitar Hero (or Rock Band) "Django Mode"

Called "Django Mode" after Django Reinhardt, who used only his middle and index fingers for fretting during guitar solos, this challenge puts players in a similar situation. That is, players can no longer use their pinky and ring fingers to hold down the fret buttons on the Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar. Also, try doing this on Expert for extra difficulty. Given there are people like me who can hardly play Guitar Hero or Rock Band as it is, this is probably pretty challenging.

Metroid Prime Trilogy hard mode/hypermode with minimum collection rate

This one is pretty easy to follow the rules on, but extremely difficult to accomplish. Set the game to the hardest difficulty possible, and then collect only the upgrades required by the game: No extra energy tanks, no extra missiles, except what you are forced to pick up. Given how absurdly hard these games can be on hypermode, you had better be pretty good at the Metroid Prime Trilogy or expect to fail. I know, because when I beat Metroid Prime 1 on hypermode, it took me about 10 tries to beat Meta Ridley with all energy tank and missile upgrades available.

I could just be really bad at the game. Or, it could actually be difficult already. But why not make it even harder?

Minecraft Skyblock challenge

The concept of this challenge is deceptively simple, and yet it is very difficult to complete. You start on a floating island with limited resources, and your goal is to complete the challenges given to you with those resources or run out of them while trying. There are three base rules, stating that you may not jump off the island to regenerate health, you may not build a bridge to the mainland, and you must play on at least easy difficulty.

Survival maps are pretty common, but this one I have seen stump even some of the most creative problem solvers.

Pokémon Nuzlocke challenge

This is a challenge that can be done with any generation of Pokémon game, which is really neat! A Pokémon Nuzlocke has several base rules:

  1. Any Pokémon that faints is "dead" and must be promptly released or deposited in the PC system, never to be used again.
  2. The trainer may only catch the first Pokémon encountered in an area. You do not get a second chance if the Pokémon faints or flees. If the wild encounter is a double battle, the trainer may choose which to catch.
  3. Players must nickname all their Pokémon.
  4. A black out/white out is considered a game over.
  5. The player may only use Pokémon they have captured themselves.
  6. You may not reset and reload the game when something goes wrong.

Defeat the Elite Four, and victory is yours! There are also a ton of optional rules to make it even more painful, or even mercy rules. There is a pretty comprehensive list at Bulbapedia.

Sims 4 Apocalypse Challenge run

This is one really complicated challenge run. The Sims community is known pretty well for its "legacy challenges" and the apocalypse challenge run is one of them. Players must abide by a set of base rules, as well as by restrictions that change over the course of the game:

  1. Nothing can be used that would give an unfair advantage, such as cheats, custom content or mods. Apparently the Move Objects cheat is allowed after the job specific restrictions are lifted.
  2. Sims may not be aged up early.
  3. Infants and children may not be adopted.
  4. The game must be played using normal lifespans.
  5. Certain restrictions are only lifted when a Sim reaches the top of a career ladder, with each career having its own set of restrictions that can be lifted. When they are lifted the restricted actions are then allowed to all Sims in the household.
  6. The family being used must not change neighborhoods or move lots.

There is also a huge list of career-based restrictions that I will not list here, but can be found, along with lots of other legacy challenges, here. The game is won when all restrictions are lifted.

Play Skyrim as a Vegan

The concept of playing Skyrim as a vegan is very immersion-breaking, but it also makes for quite a challenge. You cannot use anything that has animal components in it, so that means a lot of potions, armor, armor upgrades, arrows, and food products cannot be used or consumed. Animals cannot be killed except for plot reasons, you cannot ride horses, no use of dragon souls (and thus a lot of shouts cannot be used) and several spells are restricted.

Sound fun yet? There is certainly no restriction on killing humanoids, so go clean up that bandit hideout full of leather and hide-wearing heathens.

Super Smash Bros. Melee Ganondorf challenge

Made by YouTube user ProJared, the Super Smash Bros. Melee Ganondorf challenge pits you (and possibly a few friends) against a level 9 Ganondorf on the Hyrule Temple stage, all with a stock of 3 lives. There's a catch though; you have to use the handicap feature, and set Ganondorf's handicap to 9, and everyone else's to 3. Due to the fact that the handicap system works differently in later installations in the series (in Melee it changes the percentage at which you start easily launching), this can only be done in Melee. Essentially, what these settings do is make Ganondorf very, very difficult to finish off, even once.

This does not work as well with characters such as Bowser, because Bowser is simply too slow. Technically it can be done with Captain Falcon, but ProJared believes that Ganondorf has the best balance of stats for this type of challenge.

The Legend of Zelda 3 Heart challenge

 A Legend of Zelda 3 Heart challenge means you cannot collect heart containers or pieces of heart to boost Link's health. You must remain at the 3 hearts you are initially given as a health bar and complete the game. This gets more and more complicated as bosses and enemies get stronger. Combine this with a no deaths rule, and a no "use of fairies" rule, and you are in for something nearly impossible.

Published Jun. 17th 2015

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