I know that I originally said in my “Top 5 Hardest GB/GBC Games” that I was going to write similar articles pertaining to both the Gameboy Advance and the DS, but upon further review I couldn’t come up with five good, ludicrously difficult titles from either portable system. I’m sure that both systems have games hard enough to qualify for a more individualized list, but my exposure to both the GBA and the DS is slightly limited; at least in comparison to the earlier Nintendo portables. Having said that, I decided to combine the two lists into one. So, without further adieu, my Top 5 Hardest GBA and DS games:
5.) Final Fantasy I and II: Dawn of Souls (GBA) – Of all of the reiterations of the original two NES Final Fantasy games this is probably the easiest. The transition from the by-the-level magic usage into the more traditional “MP” system gave this game a handicap of incredible consequence that wasn’t seen in the classic NES games. But that isn’t why this made my list. The reason for the “Dawn of Souls” addition to the title is in reference to the “Soul of Chaos” bonus dungeons added to FF I and the “Soul of Rebirth” dungeon included after the main story of FF II. These new dungeons were harder than anything seen in either original title. They were long and arduous, with enemies that were far more powerful than in the main stories. In fact, the “Soul of Rebirth” is almost impossible without proper leveling in the core game.
4.) The World Ends With You (DS) – This SquareEnix game is tough. So tough, and at times frustrating, that I still haven’t beaten it after playing it for months. The boss battles are particularly hard, in large part because controlling a character on both screens simultaneously takes either serious concentration or serious good luck. TWEWY does have an easy mode that can be changed at any time, but doing so nets you less experience and far fewer good items. But I truly hope that the difficulty won’t dissuade any of you from trying this game, because it really is one of the best DS games that I’ve ever played.
3.) Final Fantasy III (DS) – I realize that so far this list has been a tad SquareEnix leaning, but this is the last one to make my list. I promise! Final Fantasy III on the DS is, without a doubt, the hardest Final Fantasy game that you will ever play. There are a total of 23 different jobs, with the best one of all, the Onion Knight, only becoming available after exchanging a certain number of messages to your friends via the in-game mail system, MogNet. With that many jobs it is very hard to determine what the best setup for any given time is. The enemies are really tough and seem to always outmatch your party throughout the entire game. Leveling up is a tedious process that doesn’t yield the same end-results as in other FF games. Oh, and to beat the game requires a nearly three hour long romp through the final dungeon that doesn’t have any save points and is filled with a variety of reincarnated bosses from earlier in the game.
2.) Iridion 3D (GBA) – This is one of a very few shmups that I played on the GBA, and it is the hardest of them all. It is a first-person shmup that has your ship flying through a series of tunnel-like environments. The enemies come at you head-on in a way similar to Starfox. What really makes this game difficult is that your ship doesn’t get any crosshair to help you target oncoming baddies or navigate through spinning fans. Add on the limited number of extra lives and complete lack of continuing and you get one damn difficult game. It has two modes: Normal and Hard. They should have been called “Hard” and “Suicidal.”
1.) Star Wars: Lethal Alliance (DS) – This Star Wars game is probably the most broken game that I’ve played on the DS. The camera is awkward to use and buggy. There is supposed to be a lock-on mechanic that doesn’t really work at all. Enemies come from seemingly out of nowhere in droves, all firing at you simultaneously. Just about everything works against you in this game at the same time, which makes for a brutal experience all around. It’s a shame, because if it wasn’t for the gameplay itself, this could have been a fun game. But as it stands, it is just frustrating, hard, and ultimately unenjoyable.