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What kind of challenge runs have you done and how did they change the game?

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This is not a bragging topic or anything, but rather to discuss the changes/impact such restrictions can cause. In many cases, this changes the way the game is played, or gives rise to new techniques that may be applied to regular play.

I'll start off with a few I've fully completed.

*Fatal Frame 1 (PS2) No upgrade, type-14 film only, no abilities.

So in FF you upgrade your camera's attack, range, and charge speed. Type-14 is the weakest film, but you can refill a certain amount at a savepoint. I forget how much. 15 maybe? There are also pickups throughout the game of course. You an also upgrade and equip special abilities that add an effect to your shots, like freezing a ghost in place.

Honestly, not much changes from playing with full upgrades. Despite being the weakest film, it's not THAT weak. If you know how to pull of Zero Shots and know ghost behavior, as well as various tricks in speedrunning, you'll have little issue. You'll still do decent damage. It'll just take a few more shots to take down a ghost than normal. Ammo is not a huge issue due to the savepoints replenishing a reasonable amount.

That's for normal mode though. I've done it on nightmare too. For the most part, all strategies remained the same, except for two somewhat tricky parts. One involving a boss with a lot of HP, and another involving regenerating HP. These were a matter of ammo and good shots though, so the run was still totally achievable.

*Onimusha 1 (PS2) No upgrade.

Pretty easy. Level 1 magic is still great. Being able to pull of Issen helps a lot. I used the fire sword most, due to it having the highest strength and range. You can often catch more enemies in one Issen that the other weapons, and it's fireball special goes all the way across the screen, tearing through anything in the way.

*Onimusha 1 (PS2) No upgrade, normal sword only, starting armor.

This was actually quite hard at certain points. Issen was super helpful, but some enemies actually took more than one to kill. Had to play more carefully, and avoided enemies if I could since there was no point fighting for souls if I couldn't upgrade. No magic i-frames. Nothing.

Problem fights were the bug boss, Marcelus, and the yellow and red bull group. Bug lady can only be hit when she comes down to attack. She will either hover and slash with her arms, or dive bomb with her stinger. In my experience, she only slashes when she summons those yellow bugs. Oh yeah, the summons. Total nightmare, though if you can Iseen them you're ok. Better yet, if by luck she's low when you Issen you might hit her too. Not worth trying to set up though.

Her divebomb does high damage if it hits. Block with put you in a heavy stun, possibly guardbreak. Can't remember exactly but you won't be able t retaliate immediately. Side step works if you see it coming. This fight was so bad, that I died many times trying to figure it out and even considered allowing the bow just for this fight. I DID test the bow here and was able to win quite easily, but then when back and got with the sword eventually.

Yellow and red bull group can be good or bad depending on how well you can Issen. Their attacks are huge and super dangerous. They'll break your guard and with four on you at once, others will be swinging and taking advantage of your broken guard. Huge damage if hit. If you can Issen continuously, you'll get them and hopefully not take enough hits to kill you. Issen causes health drops so you're set there.

You can bait the yellows over first and stay by the door. If you go closer the red bull will jump in.

The red can't be Issened, and pretty much all of his attacks can guardbreak, and some cover 360 degrees. I had to hit him once or twice then back off because some stuff he does is unblockable.

Marcelus is tough because he has so much range and a lot of his attacks set you up for guardbreak and guaranteed follow up. After his shield is destroyed he gets way more power with his dual swords and gets a dodge move that he often does after his attacks making it difficult to attack him even if you avoid them. Strangely, I found he is the only boss that you can Issen, and only on one of his attack. You can deflect Issen it too. I don't understand why this is the case at all, but it allows for a decent strategy. The attack is a dashing one so you can sometimes get him to do it if you maintain distance. Otherwise, if he corners you, you're taking hits, and won't be able to take many with no health upgrades.

Final boss wans't hard, just a slog. It takes so long to get him stunned so you can reach his head. This took about 20 'rounds'. That's how many times I had to attack his tail, drop him, then attack his head. Give or take. Add the time dodging and the total randomness of what he's going to do (sometimes opting to fire 14 laser beams or something), this fight can take over 15 minutes.

I'll leave it at that for now. Got a few more as well as some partial ones I've yet to complete but still have some insights on.

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Good topic idea! Have to say I've always wanted to do a normal sword run of Genma Onimusha but never got around to it. Sounds amazing to run! I can imagine the final boss being a slog though. Still that feeling at the end must be well worth it.

Wow this is a pretty long list haha, I'll try and keep it brief. I might be forgetting some but here goes:

  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within | No Sands: this changed the game up a lot since the power to rewind is lost, so each mistake is a big one. It really made you see the game and its combat in a new light, especially the final bosses and the whole Sandwraith segment.
  • RE4 Knife Only: granted, I never finished it. Got stuck at the bulldozer like most people. Still, really forced me to learn how the game worked and how enemies functioned, just like to a lesser extent in ...
  • RE4 handgun Only: ...this run! Did this one first, had a great time. The original Handgun is my favorite weapon so sporting that was great fun. I did cheese a bit by using the RPG on one boss.
  • Super Mario World No Move: basically you play the game without moving, just jumping. Was an idea from another Gfaq user. TONS of stressfull fun haha, since you really have to constantly be on the move. Simple early levels become nightmares haha!
  • Metal Gear Rising Way of the Blade/ No Upgrade Run: couldn't choose, but both showed the game in a new light as normally, Raiden is a beast. You can just kill pretty much anything in a few seconds but with these modes active it really becomes quite the challenge.
  • Metal Gear Rising No Parry: this one takes the cake, whole game is built around parries so taking those away took some work, but I found out you could dodge a LOT of things. Actually made me discover new tactics in those games.
  • Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Single Weapon run: did this for each weapon, just made me learn the mechanics more and see just how freak'n well this game was designed.
  • Vanquish Shotgun Only / 0,04% cover run: both runs were on either side of the spectrum. The Shotgun Only run forced me to play insanely agressive, while the no-cover run made me play extremely careful. Both taught me a lot of new mechanics etc.
  • God Hand Hard KMS / Kick Only / Punch Only: all three runs teach you a ton of new things, really make you learn the game anew. Kicks only makes you a lot slower, but punch only a lot faster with less impact. Hard KMS is just brutal and really teaches you humility and respect for your foes.
  • James Bond 007: Agent under Fire Full Stealth Run: the game wasn't built around it, but you could stealth the whole game. It was INSANELY difficult and required expert knowledge of how the AI worked. I still cannot imagine the 14 year old me doing this, doing it now is impossible to me haha. God I loved that game growing up. Speaking of God...
  • God of War PAIN: this run just forces you to learn the optimal strategies for each foe. God of War is insanely easy thanks to the tons of spells, powerful attacks and more that you get. By doing this you have to learn though.
  • Dragon Age Origins DICE RUN: basically, let the dice decide everything. Conversation? Roll a dice. Need to level? Roll a dice. It is a ton of fun once you've mastered the game as you can't rely on your perfect setups anymore or even having certain party members. I killed one of my party members early on, so yeah. Sucks haha. "Want me to go with you" - "NO" ... well darn.
  • Mass Effect 2 DICE RUN: same as above, just tons of fun to do in games like these.

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Nice list and layout.

I forgot to add, in Onimusha, I did not do the Dark Realm in the run with the normal sword, as it's an optional area. But I did keep a save near it and did it with the normal sword later as a separate challenge. It's not that bad until the bulls appear. Barely any space and their wide swinging range means Issen is a MUST with the normal sword.

As for the final boss, yeah, so satisfying when he finally went down. At one point, I was starting to think I wasn't doing any damage and that Oni weapons were the only thing that could hurt him.

I want to do Genma too. No upgrade wouldn't be too bad. The added charge attacks mean you have more capability than the PS2 version. Normal sword would be evil. The new Dark Realm would be insane.

I want to do some RE4 stuff like that. No merchant is tough but not too bad. I don't think I could do knife only lol. That bulldozer part sounds like a nightmare. Any God Hand challenge is madness. That reminds me, one of these days I want to do a Muay Thai and TKD run.

With you Vanquish runs, what does 0.04% cover mean exactly? Can you explain how this run works? I'm guessing it means at some point you had no choice but to take cover?

I've done quite a few Chaos Legion runs over the years. Some incomplete.

Chaos Legion - No summon (EU/JP)
In this run, you can fully upgrade but cannot summon legions to the battlefield. This run was just me playing Sieg only DMC style. Just a guy with a bunch of special moves. Assists are allowed as they aren't summons and function like special moves. No huge changes, just having to get closer and deal with enemies and monster generators that you would normally take down easily with Malice (bow). Sieg becomes more powerful that most legions eventually, and Blasphemy's (bomb) assist is the best move in the game. This run is more difficult early in the game. You also can't summon Thanatos which is the most powerful thing you can do in CL, so one of the final bosses is far more dangerous.

Chaos Legion - No legion power up (EU/JP)
Sieg can be upgraded, and when you know the game and counter hits, later he becomes a powerhouse, but legions remain weak and not useful for summoning outside of a few instances early game. Assist will be weak, and you won't have any special moves or stat bonuses. They have some default stuff, but you will only get the effects if you have the legion equipped. Like Guilt extends Sieg's sword combo from 4 to 6 hits, but if you unequip you lose it.

Assists are still useful though. Guilt's assist is a dash move where Sieg zooms forward and then Guilt appear slashing the enemy, but due to assists having some nice i-frames, I use this as an invincible dash counter hit. Blasphemy's assist is still good even at base level.

You can summon in this run, but the only useful one later in the game is Malice. You can easily snipe a monster generator from a distance, which will destroy all monsters tied to it.

I'm working on a no upgrade run on the JP version, but will do the English versions later. They're much harder. I also started an Arrogance only run but got stuck on the stage 8 boss. Will revisit that. Arrogance is the shield legion and works very differently from the others. When you summon them, they store power by taking hits, so you have to attack enemies to replenish soul. Arrogance has high defense, but they'll die eventually if you do nothing. Once they have full power stored, you can unleash a high power laser beam. When you have your legion number and attack upgraded, this thing is insane. Another cool thing is you can disband (cancel summon) and when you summon again they still keep the charge.

There's tons of ideas for run in this game. I want to do single legion runs, and summon only. Summon only would be very interesting, because you move slower and lose attack power when legions are out.

Also, despite having like 6 phantoms beside you, it's actually harder to play keeping them out for extended periods. The devs wanted it to be a chaotic free-for-all, but it doesn't end up working like that. Remember, legions can't dodge. They can only attack, and you have to trigger their force attack, or lock on to a target to concentrate all members on it. How it actually plays out, is legions will take a lot of damage if left out. You can disband when you see a nasty incoming attack though, and the animation gives Sieg some sweet i-frames.

A run where you keep them out could prove extremely difficult. Once they HP (soul) is gone, their crest breaks and you need to attack to replenish soul to fix the crest, or use an item. Your second equipped legion will still be fine though. I need to figure out what the exact rules are though. What if one crest is broken? Do I immediately summon the other, continue to gather soul to hopefully fix the broken one before this one breaks? Will have to test it when I have time I guess.

Also got a no upgrade run partially done on the JP version. Working on a Transformers no Mini-con run too.

Do you remember anything about you Lollipop Chainsaw run Roy?

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For some reason I have forgotten most of anything I did with Lollipop Chainsaw. I burst through that games content in two weeks as I was off those days and completely burned myself out of it. Hard to describe.

> RE4 buldozer part
If you have the PS2 version you can equip the knight costume for Ashley I believe, but I was using Pro's Normal costume at the time. I could barely get to the switch in time before Ashley got murdered. I remember googling it way later and finding it was mostly RNG and that some runners allowed Flashbangs there.

> Genma
The charge attacks add a lot to the game I feel, but I also have to note that I just CANNOT play Warlords due to the unskippable cutscenes. Just really puts a damper on running a game for me. Max Payne 3 had the same for me (amazing game though).

> No Merchant Run RE4
Really fun run, I did do it for a bit but never finished it due to lost of interest I believe. Hardest part is Salazar, who will be a serious resource drain and can't be knifed without extreme glitching.

> 0,04%
Lowest possible percentage. You start some missions in cover, meaning the counter is already ticking and sometimes you have to leap over cover to continue, and to leap over you need to be in cover first. Soft-cover doesn't count, which means you are just standing behind cover but not actually pressing the 'cover' button.

> Chaos Legion
Shit shit shit I really got to play this soon haha.

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I've never done challenge runs, outside of say no items in dmc series, because I can't be arsed to use them in the menus, and just how dmc games are designed I feel no need. Games with healing items I tend to use them outside of combat so I'm forced to learn enemies patterns and mechanics.

Well I've yet to complete my pistol(with minethrower) re4 run.

Actually I've done a no tranq pistol non lethal run of MGS3, since the silenced pistols trivialize the difficult outside of boss fights.

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I cant remember exactly but I think you can find a free magnum way before you fight Salazar. Might not kill him but one clip would seriously drop his health.

Depending on whether or not you allow glitching, you can OOB right past him.

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@Birdman wrote:I cant remember exactly but I think you can find a free magnum way before you fight Salazar. Might not kill him but one clip would seriously drop his health.

Depending on whether or not you allow glitching, you can OOB right past him.

Yeah the Broken Butterfly, but it is quite out of the way. You might be able to carry the RPG with you or buy one just before the boss but that would really have you be out of ammo fast.

Gabriel wrote:I've never done challenge runs, outside of say no items in dmc series, because I can't be arsed to use them in the menus, and just how dmc games are designed I feel no need. Games with healing items I tend to use them outside of combat so I'm forced to learn enemies patterns and mechanics.

Well I've yet to complete my pistol(with minethrower) re4 run. 

Actually I've done a no tranq pistol non lethal run of MGS3, since the silenced pistols trivialize the difficult outside of boss fights.

Try it, just grab a game you want to replay and just do minor things. It usually starts with the small things like not using healing items in DMC or something like that, or just using a certain gun because you like it so much. And if you don't record it, just do it partially. I remember I did my first handgun only in RE4, but I used an RPG and grenades for the harder fights.

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I'm saving the RPG for Salazar, Verdugo I'm gonna rek with the mine thrower since it's a beast(regular darts are frag bade damage, upgraded its way more).

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In DMC1 does the Force Edge become Sparda or can you still use it? I wouldnt mind doing an FE/pistol only run.

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I think Sparda is a separate sword, non of alastors moves work for it, so no stinger, not sure if you can round trip.

Also if you play as sparda(which I didn't even know you could until earlier this year after beating hard) he has yamato(imbued with lightning, fucken ace continuity itsuno n crew damn, didn't know Yamato was in 1), which transforms into sparda when DT and does big damage.

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You can stinger and roundtrip.

I guess it's fine as you get it pretty late in game. Might check if someone has already done this run.

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I meant force edge, you can't use alastors moves only the basic move set that you start with, no DT either.

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Oh sorry,

yeah that's right. I just remember losing access to FE at some point. I think after Nelo 3 you get Sparda but it might take over FE because story-wise it's the evolved form. FE might still be selectable.

Found a run of FE/pistol run but it's on normal.

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Yeah you lose access to it once you get Sparda. Sparda is a stronger weapon than Alastor and has more range, but you don't have DT with it. But it deals just as much damage as a DT'd Alastor.

Not sure if you lose Yamato though if you start with Sparda (the character). I really should dive deeper into this game as it is such a classic, and I will, one day, for the Stinger Article. But that's a far ways off.

So many games to dive into...

On topic: the game DMC1 is pretty open to runs. I remember a guy doing a sword only run, and another doing a guns only run. But hey to be honest just a DMD no-items run is pretty bonkers by default, that game does NOT screw around. Reminds me of a guy doing a no-upgrade run SS-run of DMD DMC3. Bonkers.

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I did a half-joking challenge run back in the day in Silent Hill 3 called "Hard-mode, Pacifist, No-Running Run". It basically meant that you played on hardest regular difficulty and had to walk by all enemies without harming them. The challenge required you to do precise blocking and manipulating enemies to get through some rooms at all, but overall I didn't take it too seriously - I saved often and finished with a ton of extra health items by the end. It was just something creative to do in a survival horror game.

I continued along the same lines in Silent Hill 4 with another "Hard-mode, Pacifist, No-Running Run", but this challenge is much more pointless in that game because it doesn't have as many enemies -
nothing happens for large parts of the run. You can also do a backwards dodge which gives you increased speed without being technically "running", so you just dodge through all the maps.

I was thinking of maybe doing a pacifist run in God of War II some day. In it you'd use various tricks to bypass enemy spawns and keep the "kills" counter inside the game as low as possible. But the counter is heavily biased against you and counts even random environmental enemy deaths as Kratos' kills. A run like this would use some pretty unique and specific tactics to get through, but sadly the game has enough mandatory enemy waves that even at his most pacifist Kratos would probably slaughter over 150+ creatures during the game. It would be another creativity-based and not too serious challenge, if I ever get around to it.

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