We all certainly love a challenge when it comes to games, simply because it provides us with a legitimate reason to sit down and commit ourselves to a title we love. It doesn’t really matter what genre the game stems from, but rather the difficulty that the game poses on its own. The wonderful aspect about challenging games is that they have such a high replay value, since most of the time you’re trying to come up with new strategies either to overcome a powerful boss, or tackle various obstacles in order to reach the goal. They also provide you with psychological benefits such as being able to problem solve on the fly, building up your patience and also increasing your level of attentiveness. So we have brought to you the top 10 most challenging anime games!
10. The Legend of Legacy
- System/Platform: Nintendo 3DS
- Publisher: Furyu | Atlus
- Developer: Furyu
- Release Date: January 22, 2015
The Legend of Legacy bares some resemblance to that of Bravely Default in terms of visual appeal. Where the two separate however is in their play style and sheer difficulty. While not incredibly arduous like some of the other heavy hitters on our list, The Legend of Legacy provides a gripping experience with a satisfying story to keep you hungry for more. It does have an old school RPG feel to it so this may or may not be a good thing depending on the individual, but one thing is certain and it’s that this challenging anime game delivers just enough depth for you to relish in.
The Legend of Legacy is a 3DS title that takes advantage of the 3DS’ features, while still upholding to the typical RPG principles that make these games so fun to begin with. Every battle you encounter is filled with strong enemies, all of whom must be taken care of differently which is where the challenge comes into play. This challenging anime game tries to eliminate the pattern of sameness meaning that, you’ll need to adjust your playstyle to different scenarios and do research on what works on some enemies, and what doesn’t. While it certainly isn’t heavily demanding, The Legend of Legacy still requires that you give it your all if you really want the best value for your dollar.
9. Disgaea 2
- System/Platform: PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PC[Steam]
- Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software | NIS America
- Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
- Release Date: February 23, 2006
Disgaea 2’s difficulty doesn’t come from the complexities of creating your own team and battling hordes of enemies, but rather it comes in correct positioning to ensure large amounts of damage are delivered when necessary. This can be quite hard at times when the enemy is always constantly shifting their positions, throwing out critical hits that can kill important allies, along with having to focus on the GEO symbols that can buff or even heal the opposing side.
Of course the symbols can work entirely in your favor if you manage to get around to disposing of the right enemies, but trying to do that while worrying about the health of your team can be daunting at times. Perhaps that very challenge is what makes Disgaea 2 such a thrill to play because, you’re never truly guaranteed a way of winning, and even when things seem to be entirely in your favor, this challenging anime game reminds you that’s never the case. Each stage gradually grows in difficulty, with more enemies on the playing field all of which have various spells and abilities you’ll need to pay attention to, otherwise it’s goodnight for you.
8. Valkyria Chronicles
- System/Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Sega
- Release Date: April 24, 2008
Valkyria Chronicles is a popular title from Sega, which places the player in a war torn world of the European empire and you along with your allies must defeat the opposition to restore peace. Much of this challenging anime game places its gameplay around tactical thinking and coming up with ways to outsmart the AI before it’s too late. What makes Valkyria Chronicles not only rewarding but also mentally taxing is that you need to really know the strength and weaknesses of not only your team, but the weapons you use as well.
Firing at will without much planning can result in imminent defeat, as the AI takes no prisoners especially in higher difficulty modes, and within no time you’re looking at a game over screen. Much of this challenging anime game's mechanics are easy to pick up once you dive in, but will take time to truly master as the playing field constantly changes and there’s never a true sense of accomplishment until you see mission clear on screen. The intensity in battle feels very immersive and makes you feel like a real commander leading his/her team to victory.
7. Tales of Graces F
- System/Platform: PlayStation 3, Wii
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developer: Namco Tales Studio
- Release Date: December 10, 2009
The Tales series is quite known for really triggering people and putting their egos in check, especially when you decide to embark onto the harder difficulty modes. Tales is generally a very fun and linear style JRPG with lots of crazy elements to keep you coming back for more. Tales of Graces F is a wonderful example because it commands you to really get a deep understanding of the mechanics such as your Assault and Burst Artes, and using them to your advantage when necessary. The easier modes are quite tame in comparison to the harder modes because enemies typically don’t have a brain, or if they do they generally don’t use it very well.
However the minute you jump into the hard mode, it’s like a totally different game because the enemies are unrelenting and will not stop attacking you until you’re dead. More enemies appear and often times invite their friends along to pummel you without warning. You’ll see this a lot actually in the more recent Tales of Berseria where your options are very limited and you’ll have to rely on these limitations to make your way to the end. It can be a little frustrating at times but that’s exactly why playing at the higher difficulty is much more rewarding, but when you do actually beat every boss with whatever resources you have it’s so satisfying. How is that for a challenging anime game?
6. Final Fantasy Tactics
- System/Platform: PlayStation
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release Date: June 20, 1997
Final Fantasy Tactics is widely considered to be one of the best TRPGs ever created, with Tactics Ogre being up there as well. Making its debut on the original PlayStation back in 1997, Final Fantasy Tactics was a spin off of the popular series and took players into a new world with fresh challenges that awaited them. Tactical thinking is imperative in this challenging anime game, and much like Disgaea 2 your team position on the battlefield is crucial if you ever want to progress. It’s never a smooth ride however because the enemies track your every move, and when you make a slip up it costs you big time.
Attention to detail is critical in Final Fantasy Tactics because if you’re not keeping a close eye on health bars, your SP meter, or even your item inventory, you’ll be struggling for hours. Diversity is essential in your team roster, as you’ll need ranged allies as well as close range to really keep the enemy in check and knowing your classes. Be that as it may, Final Fantasy Tactics teaches you that there’s never a real guarantee and that you’re not in control, because the enemies will tear you apart with surprise attacks, gang up on a single ally, or simply just bombard you with spells that you’ll need to tend to immediately.
5. Mega Man
- System/Platform: Multi Platform
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: December 17, 1987
Mega Man is one of the best games to play because of how fun it truly is, and you’ll be invested in it for hours on end. The platforming aspect behind it all is what makes it so thrilling, because it tests your ability to space your jumps correctly, while also avoiding enemy attacks. Being able to strategically choose which boss you want to fight is also another remarkable thing to point out, because it helps to keep you at an advantage going further into this challenging anime game. That all being said however, these very same fun aspects about Mega Man are just why it can be a true test of patience.
Enemies will shoot or try to attack as you try to make your way onto the next platform, and because you can’t really dodge certain attacks you get stunned and fall into the pit of despair. Those moments can be some of the most infuriating especially when you’re speedrunning, or even just playing casually on your own. The boss battles are no walk in the park either because at times the pattern of attacks may change on a whim, so just when you think you’ve figured it all out a random attack comes directly at you and you explode into bits.
4. Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate
- System/Platform: PlayStation Vita, Nintendo DS
- Publisher: Spike Chunsoft | Aksys Games
- Developer: Spike Chunsoft
- Release Date: December 9, 2010
Shiren the Wanderer is a roguelike RPG game where you need to make your way up to the main tower in order to prove your dominance, and claim victory. The problem is that making up there is no easy feat, since this challenging anime game is all based around RNG meaning, the same enemies you encountered before may not be in the same position the next time around. For this reason. Shiren the Wanderer encouraged players to think on the fly and be reactive to whatever popped up in front of them, dealing with problems as swiftly as possible.
Another aspect about Shiren the Wanderer that you won’t find in other challenging anime games is that the enemies will only move when you move, meaning that poor movement could result in you getting swarmed if you don’t effectively take care of threats.We did a review on Shiren the Wanderer for the PS Vita, so if you’d like to know more about it be sure to check out our gaming section for details. Knowing when to avoid confrontation is another strategy in itself also because there will be times when you’re confronted with an obstacle, but avoiding it may actually benefit you in the long run.
3. Ghosts ‘N Goblins
- System/Platform: Multi Platform
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: September 19, 1985
Arthur is one bad son of a gun when he has all of the armor on, but once you start taking damage from these ghastly ghouls things can get scary real fast. In Ghosts ‘N Goblins the whole premise of this challenging anime game is to race through each stage taking limited damage, while collecting the right power ups to make Arthur’s armor much more heavy duty. This challenging anime game was released back in 1985 and is sort of like an inspiration for games like Mega Man, because both games share a similar approach to how you play and overcome obstacles.
Ghosts ‘N Goblins is fast paced and doesn’t slow down for you at all, because it tries to test you in various ways. If you aren’t careful to kill an enemy from earlier, they’ll creep up from behind and put you at risk of dying. When you forget to collect special power ups from earlier levels, you’re left at a disadvantage because enemies gradually become much stronger over time. So Ghosts ‘N Goblins really teaches you to organize yourself efficiently and prepare for the worst at all times, while still providing this incredibly addicting adventure that really rewards you for every right decision you make.
2. Ninja Gaiden Black
- System/Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Developer: Team Ninja
- Release Date: March 2, 2004
Ninja Gaiden is arguably one of the most excruciatingly challenging anime games to play on harder difficulties because the enemies are relentless and don’t care about how you feel. Cold hearted, ruthless, and uncompassionate, Ninja Gaiden stars famed ninja Ryu Hayabusa as he must travel to the dark underworld and deal with deadly demons. What makes Ninja Gaiden want to pull your hair out at times is that every corridor, every corner you turn, there are enemies waiting for you and will not stop attacking until the game over screen pops up. At higher difficulties the game becomes so tense because most attacks require one hit and that’s it, you’re finished.
Limited options also pose a greater challenge since you’re only given a certain amount of health items to use at your disposal, while weapon power ups are few far and between. This challenging anime game was so hard that many who played the game complained to the game producer Tomonobu Itagaki about it, which resulted in Ninja Gaiden Black being released with a very easy option. This option was a direct shot in the face to those who complained, because the game would purposely make fun of you while playing. Ninja Gaiden has become a huge inspiration for many recent titles such as the popular Nioh series, along with Dark Souls.
1. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- System/Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Intelligent Systems
- Release Date: April 20, 2005
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is honestly the most challenging anime game you’ll ever lay hands on, and yet it’s such a fun experience all at the same time. So just what makes Path of Radiance for the Gamecube so backbreaking? Well for one, it’s a tactical RPG which means that you’ll be spending a lot of your time coming up with the right strategy to progress, while also ensuring your soldiers don’t die carelessly. When your soldiers die in the game they don’t return to the battlefield, so playing with an in your face playstyle will most certainly cost you the entire battle. Every decision must be precise, right down to the block which you place your ally on the map.
This gripping style of gameplay is the selling point of Path of Radiance and why so many people rave about it both for its high level of difficulty, but also the feeling of accomplishment you get after defeating everyone on the battlefield.Given the scale of difficulty of Path of Radiance, the producers realized this and made an easier mode for people to experience in the western version. The Japanese version, however, keeps everything intact and perhaps is the most rewarding and defining of both versions. We highly recommend that if you’re looking for a harcore tactical challenge, Path of Radiance is the must have for any tactical RPG fan.
With a large assortment of titles out there to choose from, coming across the one that truly tests your will can be a challenge in itself. We hope this list has made your search a lot easier, and that you give them a try if you haven’t already dabbled with them. Let us know which challenging anime games really tested you and left a lasting impression on you in the comments section below. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay alert on what’s happening, and share our articles with your friends to keep the honey’s community growing!
As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.