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Nintendo Hard: Turn-based Strategy Games

  • The TurboGrafx-16/PlayStation game Military Madness is an example of this trope in a turn-based strategy game. Things get tricky by mission 3, the enemy matches your numbers and has the advantage of a factory to repair units. In the later missions, and especially in hard mode, you will often be pitted against ridiculous odds; the enemy will have a lot more factories than you, have soldiers spread throughout the entire map, the player will be grossly outnumbered and have inferior weapons (the game loves to give the player's side "Rabbits," buggies that move quickly and pack a pretty good punch but apparently have cardboard armor. Meanwhile, the computer will get half a dozen Slaggers, tanks that have heavy armor, staggering firepower, and move faster than any other tank in the game). Making things worse is, in the original game, it was impossible to save mid-mission and the AI was damn good for 1988. In nearly all of the later missions, the player will have to exploit the AI's flaws and have no room for error to even have a snowball's chance in hell. The Playstation version's CD case doesn't kid when it says "This mission calls for only the most seasoned operators with the wit and cunning of a chess grandmaster." (I still love the game, though).
    • Don't forget, that 'snowball's chance' literally that... a chance. Even if you played perfectly, you needed quite a bit of favor from the random number Gods to get through any of the later missions. Beating the entire game on an actual console without save-states might be the most impressive accomplishment of my life.
  • Yggdra Union is probably the hardest game on the GBA, although subverted that the game actually got easier if you perform better. Most of the time, you must plan ahead for a turn or two so that your enemy won't form a union to wipe yours out. Playing badly will make the game outright hard due to the lack of +2 MVP bonuses and good items.
    • And remember Gulcasa and Genocide, along with the nigh-maxed Baldus.
    • Sometimes, Mizer will appear out of nowhere to make your life much, much harder (esspecially if you never expected his ambush).
  • Rondo of Swords is a ridiculously hard strategy-RPG. The challenge derives from gameplay that is superficially similar to typical Fire Emblem / Final Fantasy Tactics-type stuff while being critically different in the details; incredibly fragile player characters resulting in little margin for error; and just plain challenging enemy setups. Once you learn the unique and unusual combat mechanics of passing through allies and enemies, though, it isn't particularly difficult.To drive the point home:you are likely to lose any tutorial past the 3, where you aren't told what to do any more.
    • It also lets you pull out of battle at any time, resetting all your characters' "Hurt" statuses while keeping any experience earned, which makes it easy to level your way through obstacles... To a point. Enemies stop giving xp once your level is 10 levels higher than theirs. You might still have problems getting through the levels.
  • The Fire Emblem series is quite difficult, with a few exceptions. Enemies always outnumber you, new recruits are often quite weak, Final Death applies to everybody with only a few games allowing for ressurection and putting strict limits on it, characters can easily fall behind if they don't get any kills in just one mission, you have a fairly limited amount of money, shopping must be done during battles, inventories are often very small, weapons wear down and if they break units are totally defenseless with the strongest weapons often having the lowest durability, and character growth is totally randomized with a scant few items that can boost stats by one or two points. The two games that break some of these rules, Gaiden and Sacred Stones, are actually the easiest of the bunch.
    • Beyond ridiculous is Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn for the Wii. Your main character is one heck of a Glass Cannon with extra glass, the Crutch Character gets weak fast, and one slip-up in the early chapters and it's game over.
      • In RD's aptly named "Hard" mode, you cannot see how far the enemy move. Most enemies give little EXP/stages give almost no BEXP. There's no weapon triangle, so no chances of using that to win. To make things worse, almost every single mook is more powerful than you. Also. Did I mention that battle saves are disabled, forcing you to start the level all over again if you've messed up on something? There are far more difficult Fire Emblem titles than this one, though.
      • There is actually a reason for this seemingly extreme difficulty compared to other entries in the series. You see, in America gamers complained about the difficulty being reduced when they localized the Fire Emblem games (though, apparently, they did actually increase the difficulty on Sacred Stones), so for Radiant Dawn, they actually relabeled the difficulty levels from the Japanese version so that what was called "easy" in America was Japan's "normal", and our "normal" was actually what was hard mode in Japan, and "hard" is basically maniac/expert mode.
    • Fire Emblem: Thracia 776. This game is known for being extremely difficult, and its reputation is well-deserved. The game constantly presents the player with difficult scenarios (Manster prison break, Cyas, Rinehart, defense of Tahra), and the ill-prepared player will receive a game over every time. The game comes packing a handful of features (capture, rescue, fatigue, night combat, leadership stars, etc.) that further increase the game's difficulty. The player is of course given plenty of tools to adapt to these challenges, and by virtue of the game's high difficulty level you're essentially forced to use them. Getting the highest rank of SSS requires a lot of skill and planning.
    • Fire Emblem: New Mystery on Lunatic ramps the difficulty past 11 and up to 15. Not even exaggerating. Even if you expect Shadow Dragon Hard 5 difficulty, you're going to have a miserable time on Prologue 4, not even halfway through the prologue chapters, showing how much of a joke in comparison Hard 5 is. Three words: 19 Attack Archer. Yep, the difficulty level adds more enemies, including the archer. Unfortunately, using the wifi features makes the game significantly easier, and there is no rank past the easy to achieve A rank.
      • If you beat Lunatic, you unlock Lunatic+. It's exactly like lunatic... except that enemies always go first in battle.
    • Awakening includes Casual mode, so you don't have to worry about perma death. However, even with this turned on the unprepared will have trouble on hard mode, and Lunatic mode...well, let's say that most players will have trouble on the prologue. And if you manage to be all that? Lunatic+ decides to make a comeback. It's randomized whether enemies get Vantage+ (the ability to attack first), Luna+ (ignores half your defense), or Hawkeye (attacks will always hit, making Fragile Speedster classes even more fragile), Players have to resort to Save Scumming for the first few chapters because Frederick can't save them now!
  • Hoshigami Ruining Blue Earth for the Playstation probably fits this trope as well. It's a tactics RPG with a ridiculously complicated magic system (which you'll have to master if you want to get anywhere in the game), and the battles are all stacked incredibly heavily against you. There's one early-game mission where you have to save someone who starts on the other side of the map, surrounded by enemies, and you have to rescue her. Did I mention that Final Death holds true for any character you lose?
    • Which includes your guys. If you want to replace the fallen teammate, you'll have to recruit a Level 1 Player Mook. Hours upon hours of Forced Level Grinding commence. (Incidentally, guess why this game got poor reviews and is basically unheard of.)
  • X-COM: Terror From the Deep. Oy vey. One-Hit-Point Wonder player units (at least to begin with; any that survive to gain additional HP are the unlucky ones) that graduated with honours from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, and you can't even save and reload a level because they're randomly generated each time you enter. High Explosive Round spam was about the only way to get further than about 3 months of game time before getting sacked for sucking so bad.
    • Even then, you'd best be prepared to spam very slowly, as the action point system means that your characters will only be able to do a tiny amount of stuff if you want them to be able to act during the aliens' turn.
    • The original instalment had a bug where whatever difficulty level you selected, you were reverted to the easiest after the first combat. Terror from the Deep not only fixed that bug but also increased the overall difficulty, but that doesn't stop the Urban Legend of Zelda about locking the difficulty to maximum.
    • Not to mention the numerous problems with the game itself, difficulty notwithstanding. For example: weapons that can only be used underwater. Don't read the weapon descriptions? You won't know until you try to fire that torpedo launcher on dry land! Whoops! Tentaculats. Tentaculats. An enemy that, when it kills one of your soldiers, turns the soldier into a drone that can hit exceedingly hard. When you kill the drone (which, by the way, retains the original soldier's armor rating, so woe if you outfitted them with the best armor), the killed drone immediately becomes another Tentaculat. And finally, Lobstermen, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin: giant, bipedal lobsters. With guns. And claws. And very tough exoskeletal shells that reduce damage from all sources by at least 70%, along with the highest HP available to non-tank units. If that's not enough to scare you, how about the fact that the only weapon that can reliably damage Lobstermen is the class called "bladed weapons", which require you to run up to the Lobsterman, who is armed by the way, and basically punch him in the face. The late game was made notoriously difficult by the appearance of Lobstermen, who, once they showed up, ended up in every other mission.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has an "Impossible" difficulty setting. Aliens get aim boost, critical boost, health boost, while your soldiers lose all boosts they might have had and become more easy to panic. Also, alien aim boost makes them totally negate half cover and makes full cover act like half cover.
    • The developers supposedly intended Impossible difficulty as literally impossible, where the point would be not to win but to see how far you can get before losing. Naturally, a few people have already managed to beat it.
  • X-Com's spiritual successor, Xenonauts, has become infamous due to its aerial combat system - especially in the more recent builds. The ground missions can be nasty too, especially alien base assaults.
  • While kinder than most Nintendo Hard games, Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 produced nightmares in which the final bosses of the game would show up early and often, usually just there to scare you, but at least one time you have to survive multiple turns in a real fight against the Final Boss Or what the heroes thought was the final boss.... little more then 1/4th through the game. Did I mention the bosses can heal almost half their HP in one turn every turn and usually can kill any character of yours in just one hit? And the final three missions are nothing but bosses over and over.
    • The most infuriating of these aforementioned bosses is ZweiZerGain, which has heightened damage resistance, increased hit/evade rates, and most notably the support ability After Image which makes any move completely miss it, even if you have a 100% hit rate. He pulls After Image so much one has to save after every move and abuse the reset function to try and hit him.
    • Super Robot Wars F and its sequel F Final were horrifically sadistic, with a wide range of mooks who were mostly invulnerable to the most common attack type in the game, insane dodging capabilities and the power to tear right through even your best units.
    • Let's not forget about Super Robot Wars 3. The goddamn Beam Absorb ability was so broken that pretty much every beam attack is useless and in fact *heals* the opponent. The second-to-last level has you fight *six* end-of-game bosses, all of whom go out of their way to hunt down and kill your weakest units.
    • A Portable manages to inherit the Nintendo Hard Skull-throne. Its enemies have high hit rates, and hit hard, compared to your low hit rates. To make matters worse, this game introduced a new system where each time a unit dodges an attack, the dodge rate decreases until it gets hit. This means the old tactic of "send in a a Fragile Speedster and have it dodge everything" isn't going to work. Plus the enemies do enough damage to make you cautious about even your Super Robots. Combine all this with the low accuracy rate you have in general, and you'll be grouping your units around battleships with their accuracy/evade bonus aura a lot. Of course... grouping your enemies together makes you vulnerable to Map Attacks... and the final bit of difficulty? This game employs a Fire Emblem style RNG, AKA: No resetting.
  • Battle for Wesnoth combines this trope with Unstable Equilibrium. The easier difficulty levels and beginner campaigns are fairly forgiving. On harder difficulties you'll find yourself reloading multiple times *per turn* because the RNG decided to off one of your hard to replace high level units: even if you can beat the current level without them, you'll be screwed later on. And that's if you use solid tactics. If you don't, it's much worse.
  • Serious Sam: The Random Encounter has random battles against up to more than a hundred enemies at a time. It gets difficult really fast and game overs are numerous.
  • Considering the nature of the task given to the player, Fate Of The World is unsurprisingly extremely difficult. Throughout the game, you not only have to worry about counteracting global warming, but you're a Slave to PR trying to care for a world run by Artificial Stupidity.
  • Xenosaga has a little level called the Song of Nephilim. You're dropped here and forced to solve a puzzle that was never explained. In fact, the entire ship is never explained thoroughly. Luckily, by the time you finish it, you will be so overleveled that the rest of the game will be easy.


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