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Circle Six: Young Pretenders
Difficulty-wise, things ain't what they used to be. Far from seeing the world go to hell in a hand basket, we've seen the hand basket dart from the fiery pit and spill easy games left, right and centre. A few titles, however, do practice the old ways...
Trauma Center (pick either Second Opinion or New Blood)
Both feature the operation that promises to send blood pressure skyrocketing: aneurysms. Sure, chasing after GUILT and STIGMA calls for a dab laser hand, but aneurysms do it for us.
Injecting anti-inflammatory serum, cutting the blood vessel out, draining the blood, reattaching the vein, sewing it all up - it's so drawn out, that when you face four at once your brain is likely to follow suit and explode.
Guitar Hero 3
We can argue about the toughest song until the cows come home - the fact of the matter is Guitar Hero 3 is freakishly hard. 'Through The Fire And The Flames' on Expert is a moving walkway of rainbow tiddly-winks, spilt over a seven minute hell-slog, and Raining Blood has us spitting the stuff.
Zack and Wiki
Descending into our gaming inferno, the uniting factors in most of these games are reaction times and finger dexterity. Not so here. Unlike the frantic experiences of previous pages, Zack and Wiki is all about calmly letting you dig a massive logical pitfall, and serenely watching you fling yourself in.
Using that old thought muscle of yours, you'll burn bridges and hack through second chances without even noticing. Then do it again. And again.
Circle Seven: The Unholy Trinity
And so we enter the belly of the beast, home to those creatures so dark that even the Devil feels a little uncomfortable having them around. "They're stinking up the place with their bad vibes," says the horned one.
The whole descent into hell idea? Pinched from stage two of Battletoads. Not only is the toad's abseiling journey hard in itself - steel ravens can snip your cable in the blink of an eye - but reaching the bottom means facing stage three.
Turbo Tunnel is the stuff of agonizing legend - a journey through the densest network of insta-kill obstacles imaginable. Most galling? Despite the brutality, we still think it's one of NES's most original and underrated titles.
Super Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels
And not that turnip yanking silliness Nintendo tried to feed the West, either. We're talking the real deal - the Japan-only sequel so hard that Nintendo were allegedly frightened it would collapse puny Western minds.
On the surface it may look like the original Super Mario Bros., but poison 1-up mushrooms, flying bloopers and gusts of wind that suffocate movement offer vast swear-volumes of evidence to the contrary.
As the words F-Zero GX left our mouths while conversing with our editor-in-chief, he promptly leapt up, ran forwards and dived out of the window.
Yes, broken bones and a window bill from our corporate overlords is preferable to dealing with the memories of GX's story mode.
Never have eight missions presented such grief - we'll see Rayman made the official Nintendo mascot before we complete the F-Zero Grand Prix story mission on Very Hard.
Mar 10, 2008