Demon’s Souls Goes Digital on PSN Next Week; Online Servers “Up Indefinitely”

When it comes to brutally old-school difficult games this generation, Demon’s Souls takes the cake. However, no matter how difficult the game was, that didn’t stop it from being one of the greatest games to ever grace the PlayStation 3. While there were on-and-off moments where the game’s online servers were supposed to shut down, it always seems to jump that hurdle and continues to provide gamers with a unique online experience…and it seems that it will stay that way.

Atlus’s editor, Nich Maragos, made an announcement that Demon’s Souls will be coming to the PSN as a digital download on January 8th for $19.99. To celebrate the game’s release on PSN, the servers will be in Pure White World Tendency, making the game “slightly” easier than normal. This shift will last from January 8th until the 14th. The best news came in the form of a response to a comment from Nich Maragos. When asked if the game would “go down” server-wise, Nich responded back:

Yeah, the servers are up indefinitely at this point, with no planned end date.

This is certainly amazing news as Demon’s Souls is an incredible experience that is integral with the online servers. If you were waiting for a digital release of this game, the wait is nearly over. If you were hesitant about the game’s online servers shutting down before picking it up, you can rest at ease and pickup the game without that worry. At this point, there’s no reason why you should miss out on this game…

Are you downloading the PSN version of Demon’s Souls? Will you be jumping back into the game? Sound off in the comments below!

Atlus Shutting Down “Demon’s Souls” Servers Officially in May 2012

Atlus just issued a depressing press release that confirms they will be shutting down the online servers for Demon’s Souls. Those who have yet to try the experience only have until the end of May 2012 to witness the innovative online structure. Personally, I enjoyed Demon’s Souls more than Dark Souls and found myself coming back to this even after the spiritual successor was released. However, Atlus aims to finish up their online servers strong by providing fans World Tendency alterations twice during its final month. Here’s what they had to say in the press release:

ATLUS, the video game brand of Index Digital Media, Inc., today announced that after two and a half years of operation, the North American online servers for Demon’s Souls for PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, the “Greatest Hits” hardcore multiplayer action RPG hailed as GameSpot’s 2009 Game of the Year, will finally be shut down at the end of the final hour of May 31, 2012.  The game’s substantial single player experience, which provides users with a dark, daunting realm to explore and towering bosses to topple, is unaffected by the server cessation.

ATLUS also today revealed plans to alter the game’s online World Tendency twice in the month of May, once on May 1st and again on May 16th, based on fan vote via the ATLUS Faithful mailing list (www.atlus.com/faithful).  In addition, the publisher called upon all Boletarian adventurers–both past and present–to sign in on May 31st and celebrate the title one last time before the online servers close forever.

“On October 6, 2009, North American gamers’ expectations of what an online roleplaying experience could be were forever changed,” commented Tim Pivnicny, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ATLUS.  “With Demon’s Souls, gamers received a title of breathtaking scope and vision, a project built on experimental cooperative and competitive multiplayer concepts, offering users both direct and indirect methods of communication and interaction.  Elements of every connected player’s single player world carried into the worlds of others, sometimes as nothing more than an echo or afterimage, and other times in the form of an alliance or invasion.  With countless hazards to memorize and plan for spread across each of the game’s sprawling dozen–plus worlds, the ability for players to leave hints–or, potentially, deceptions-and to view the final moments of other adventurers’ lives, created an unprecedented form of RPG crowd-sourcing that remains revolutionary to this day.

“When subtle interactions were insufficient assistance, players could call across dimensions for assistance, pulling the weakened spirit forms of other adventurers–unable to communicate using conventional voice chat in order to preserve the game’s intense atmosphere–into their worlds to help them defeat the game’s unforgettable boss monsters.  Other less altruistic spirit form users could invade the world of living adventurers and try to revive themselves by quite literally stealing that life from another.  All of these online elements, all of the ways in which gamers would interact with each other, served to enhance and complement the core game and were designed so as to neither diminish nor distract from the experience and thrill of simply playing the game.

“It has been a tremendous honor and privilege for all of our staff at ATLUS to have been involved with so innovative and groundbreaking an interactive entertainment experience.  We poured our heart and soul into every facet of our involvement with Demon’s Souls, particularly the title’s memorable Deluxe Edition, which served as the only avenue through which to purchase the game’s official strategy guide.  It was also of the utmost importance for us to sustain the game’s online experience as long as possible, even beyond the point at which sales could help to offset the expense.  Regrettably, the online servers cannot be sustained forever and now the end draws near.  Thank you to the unparalleled passion and support of the Demon’s Souls community throughout these last two and a half years.  The online adventure may end soon, but the memory of it-just like that of every boss strategy, every level floor plan, and hidden secret-lives on in the gamers for whom the game was so special.  Long live Boletaria!”

Top 10 Retail Titles for Under $20 this Generation

There’s no question that this current generation has provided some truly astonishing games. However, there are still those who may have missed out on must-play titles or are just now getting into this console generation. With that perspective, I’ve compiled a list of titles that can be nabbed for the mere price of a Jackson. Here are my top 10 recommendations for those who never got around to playing certain titles that they can get for budget price now:

– Batman: Arkham Asylum

Widely considered as the best comic book game of all time, Batman: Arkham Asylum will have you puzzle solving and crime fighting like the Dark Knight himself. With a gripping story from series veteran Paul Dini, gritty graphics that capture the world of Batman, top-notch voice acting and stellar gameplay mechanics, throwing down 20 bucks here is a no brainer. While the critically acclaimed sequel, Batman: Arkham City, has been out for roughly 5 months now, those who never had the opportunity to play Arkham Asylum owe it to themselves to seriously play this outstanding title.

– Demon’s Souls

Like getting your ass handed to you repetitively? Of course not. Like getting a satisfaction that very few titles provide this generation? Who doesn’t. Demon’s Souls was mentioned as one of the hardest games of all time in my previous Top 10 list (Top 10 Hardest Games of All Time). However, hearing that should not discourage you from ever touching Demon’s Souls. I stated it had some questionable, yet intentional gameplay mechanics that would normally seem archaic. Yet, the game just does everything right to ensure a deep challenge on a fair level. Dying in this game will set your progression back numerous hours if not careful, but if you die, it’s your fault. The combat is never cheap, just very unforgiving for you being careless. It tries to belittle you but you will demand for more until you complete it…and it doesn’t end there. When you’re done with the game, you will be able to replay the whole game with all your items and continue to level up your character. Don’t expect to have an easier time with the game since the developers made sure to make the enemies stronger throughout each playthrough.

– Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

The Ratchet & Clank series may look like a childish series to those who judge a book by its cover, but that type of ignorance only resorts to the loss of that person. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in TIme may be the final installment to the R&C Future saga but damn it if it’s not an outstanding merit on Insomniac’s part. Ratchet’s formula has something that many franchises tend to have difficulty nailing with each installment, perfection. From the perfected platforming, incredibly tight shooting mechanics that never get old, engaging flight mechanics, highly addictive upgrading system, beautifully detailed worlds, very well written story and climatic final battle, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is one game that PS3 owners should not miss at all.

– Split/Second

Sure, racing games are almost as abundant as FPSs, but there are certain ones that really stand out in the pack. In this case, Split/Second provides gamers with a racing title like no other. Instead of just racing around a track, you will participate in a TV show that will involve you and your rivals to trigger “power plays” to take out racers and cause mayhem that even Michael Bay would be jealous of. Whether you’re triggering a Boeing 747 to come crashing on the runway to take out your opponents, causing a skyscraper to come crashing down and forming a new path on the track or just doing your best to survive this brutal racing TV show, this is one racer that will truly heighten your senses and get your adrenaline peaking to new limits.

– Dead Space

When it comes to survival horror titles, Dead Space reigns supreme this current generation. EA took a risk by developing a new IP back in 2008 and struck gold by delivering a horror title that was actually too scary for many to even finish. You don’t play as some gung-ho military soldier, but rather an engineer with little to no combat experience. However, Isaac adapts to his surroundings and does whatever he can to fend himself for survival. Throughout the game’s 10-12 hour campaign, you will research what the cause of the Necromorphs was, as well as what really happened on the USS Ishimura. Best part about the game is the New Game Plus that allows you to replay the game with all your equipment and continue to further upgrade your gear. Add that feature to some of the most fine tuned gameplay mechanics, mystifying story, awe-inspiring visuals and the coolest sound effects in gaming history and you’ve got a lot to look forward to on this one. Word of advice to the squeamish, have a barf bag next to you when witnessing the brutal deaths that may occur to you.

– Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 may be a flawed game, but it makes up for it in having a just plain fun experience. Essentially, the purpose of Just Cause 2 was to have the entire island of Panau become your ultimate playground. While the story is sub-par and the voice acting is hilariously bad, the missions are very well done and provide plenty of “holy crap” moments as you perform certain actions. Thankfully, the PS3 version has a video capture feature to let you record these crazy moments you’ll experience and for a game like this, you’ll be utilizing it a great amount. The grappling hook and parachute mechanics combined provide a very intuitive way to transport yourself around the environment. The developers also incorporated the island from LOST as an “easter egg” that fans will tremendously appreciate to see as they nailed the island better than Ubisoft did with the actual LOST: Via Domus game. You can easily invest well over 50+ hours just screwing around and even then, you’ll come back for more. The mayhem and carnage you will cause usually has no particular reason to it. You mainly do it just cause you can. In the meantime, you can check out a montage I compiled for the game back when it was released.


– Borderlands

Gearbox Software’s 2009 surprise hit, Borderlands, was an interesting FPS/RPG hybrid but worked out brilliantly. Players will assume the role of one of four fortune seekers in search of the unopened Eridian Vault. The story is far from deep, but intriguing nonetheless. However, you don’t play Borderlands for its story. You play Borderlands to have one of the most enjoyable and addictive co-op experiences available on the market. The mixture of tight FPS mechanics with an RPG twist to it makes leveling up a grinding addiction and the game as a whole carries that “one more mission” syndrome. Hours of gameplay will literally feel like a matter of minutes. For the current price it’s going for, Borderlands will have you clocking in numerous hours and many more with its DLC.

– Ninja Gaiden Sigma

One of my personal favorite games of all time, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is just a flat out awesome game. Having one of the best combat systems ever designed in gaming along with some imaginative locations, a fast-paced soundtrack, and rock solid 60 frames per second visuals are all part of the experience. While the game may not be for everyone, it is highly recommended that those who have yet to touch Ninja Gaiden Sigma do so immediately. The campaign will last you 7-10 hours on your first playthrough and while it lacks a New Game Plus feature, you will still want to tackle it again. Add in the Ninja Missions that you can take on after completing the campaign and you’ll add a good amount of longevity.

– Mass Effect 2

Imagine having a massive galaxy to explore with the story unfolding at your fingertips. Every slight decision you make playing a huge role in how the story will play out. Thanks to deep writing and a rich universe to explore, Mass Effect 2 provides gamers with over 25+ hours just to complete the main campaign. Then you can replay the game as an entirely different character class, as well as making totally different decisions that affects your experience. For the asking price of 20 bucks, there’s no excuse to skip out on this phenomenal title.

– Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise is, and always will be, my favorite racing title this generation. No other racing game provides realistic crashes such as this. Plus, for the price, EA includes FREE downloadable content as an update which include the ability to drive motorcycles (which has its own campaign as well), day and night cycling, and dynamic weather effects just to name a few. There is also premium DLC such as Big Surf Island, which provides players with insane Mega Jumps you can pull off, as well as a rich new city to explore. However, as just a standalone game, Burnout Paradise provides players with countless hours of fun to be had and the seamless online integration will keep players coming back for more.

There are many other great titles that you can grab for under 20 bucks. However, these were the 10 titles that personally provided the most value for me and just wanted to give them the recognition they deserve. Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments below!

Top 10 Hardest/Most Rewarding Gaming Challenges

Many will say games are meant to be played for enjoyment. Others are masochistic and love their gaming challenges, no matter how extreme and demanding the game may be. We’ve all had our share of moments where not only did we play a game on the hardest difficulty, we’ve completed certain stipulations to unlock bonuses or just for that extra sense of satisfaction. Here are my top 10 hardest gaming challenges:

– Devil May Cry (PS2): Completing Dante Must Die Mode

The original Devil May Cry stands as one of my favorite games of all time. The fast, fluid combat system integrated with firearms and swordplay really worked well and the soundtrack was a driving factor for me to keep playing the game. However, I remember my friend telling me how he tackled and beat Dante Must Die mode and I thought, “What the hell. I’ll give it a shot too.” One of the most infuriating experiences I’ve ever had in gaming. The name of the mode was not kidding. The game was out to kick your ass inside-out. Beating this was rewarding as you earned Super Dante which allowed you to play the game over with unlimited devil trigger. Only thing was, you never wanted to see this game again for quite some time after proving that Dante Mustn’t Die.

– Ninja Gaiden (Xbox/PS3): Master Ninja Difficulty with No Upgrades

Another one of my personal favorite games. Ninja Gaiden has usually been a console seller for me. I got an Xbox just to play the original. I sold my Xbox to get a PS3 with Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Now, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is coming out for the PS Vita’s launch which will no doubt be my first game (alongside Uncharted: Golden Abyss). One day, I was talking to my brother about Ninja Gaiden Sigma and he was telling me how he beat the game without ever using Ninpo, upgrading health or upgrading any of the weapons because he simply was too engrossed in the game that he forgot about upgrading. Well, I decided to 1-up his “challenge” and thought, “Well, I’ll just do that but on Master Ninja difficulty.” Probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever brought on myself as the game caused me to say words that many would find incredibly unpleasant. With some hardcore dedication, it appeared the impossible was actually possible…even beating Alma! You don’t earn anything for this specific stipulation other than pride. A proud achievement and one that I challenge those who haven’t dared this before.

– Shinobi (PS2): Completing Super Mode

Another ninja game that drove many to the edge. Shinobi for the PS2 was a very good game in my personal opinion and had me hooked into trying to complete the game 100 percent. This meant getting every Oboro Coin in each stage and completing every difficulty. I heard that you unlocked “Stage-EX” for collecting all the Oboro Coins on Super Mode difficulty and since there was no video of what the level looked like, I was determined to take on the challenge. Well, for those who don’t know how Shinobi plays on the PS2, your sword has a meter that if not fed with the souls of those you kill, it will consume your soul. It was an interesting premise but on Super Mode, it was the complete opposite. The meter would deplete stupid fast and it was bad enough that the enemies did a ton of damage to you. Oh, and this game was old-school hard by not providing any checkpoints mid-mission. The only checkpoint you had was at a boss and this game had some of the most difficult bosses in gaming history…especially the cheap-as-hell final boss. Well, when all was said and done, I unlocked Stage-EX and expected something really neat. It was nothing but a ninja trial stage that tested your skills. Are you serious? Wasn’t completing Super Mode enough?

– Goldeneye 007 (N64): 00 Agent on the Aztec Level

Ah Goldeneye…so many memories, so many infuriating controller throws at the TV. Completing 00 Agent in Goldeneye was no easy task, but it was certainly doable with enough devotion, patience and memorization. Aside from the broken Train level where you had to laser the floor and escape with the brain-dead Natalya (who for some reason loved to stay in the train and blow up), there was one level that separated the gamers with the hardcore gamers, the Aztec.

When you start a level with the wall opening in front of you and a barrage of bullets are flying at you from far away (all with pinpoint accuracy might I add), you know you’re in hell. Once you got past the room where you had to escape the launch shuttle sequence by shooting a vent and going through there, enemies had Moonraker Lasers that did a ridiculous amount of damage to you. The easiest objective to do in this level was kill Jaws because you can exploit the AI into just running circles on the staircase and you pummeling him with lasers. However, once you beat him, you had to backtrack all the way to the beginning of the level and insert a tape in the bulletproof control center. Then, an onslaught of enemies would come after you and you had move forward again to insert another tape into the launch console. Finally, it was here where you were sweating bullets and hoping that no one would sneak up and kill you because you had a time limit that initiated the launch sequence. All you needed to do was wait for the launch to go off and stand your ground…until something wrong happens and you have to run and activate yet another switch.

Bottomline was that this level on 00 Agent was absolutely ruthless. Back then, there was no such thing as a regenerating health system. Hell, you couldn’t even replenish your health. The only item you could get to help you out with receiving a few extra hits was body armor, and even that was rare. Beating this mission on 00 Agent unlocked the Egyptian Temple, which many have never seen due to the ludicrous stipulation required to access this level.

– Battletoads (NES): Completing the Game in Co-op

Battletoads was an awesome game. Tight gameplay, good graphics and a ballin’ soundtrack (as I stated in my Top 10 NES Soundtracks) made this one of those must play games. However, those who complete the game know it’s a true testament of old-school challenge. The real challenge though is to complete it on co-op. You and your partner must be both pinpoint accurate with every action you two do. If one player loses their life, it will set both players back to the beginning of the level…oh and you can hurt your partner if the game wasn’t challenging enough.

– Contra: Shattered Solider (PS2): Completing Game with S-Rank

Contra has always been known for it’s tough-as-nails difficulty and Shattered Soldier was up there. Here was the catch though. In order to see the best ending the game had to offer, you had to complete the game with an S-Rank. To do this, you had to destroy literally everything in a stage to get your Hit Rate to 100 percent. If you died, your Hit Rate percentage would subtract from your overall score. You needed 97% Hit Rate to get S-Rank which left room for only death per level and that’s only if you destroyed everything. As any other Contra installment, this game demanded complete concentration and memorization beyond belief. However, completing this game and getting the the best ending (even though it was lame) was one of the most rewarding gaming accomplishments one could earn.

– Super Monkey Ball (GameCube): Completing Expert Stage

Super Monkey Ball may appear to be a cutesy game, but it’s really the work of the devil. Completing the game’s 50 level “Expert Stage” was only meant for those with nerves of steel. Words can’t even comprehend how insane this game’s difficulty was. The first couple of levels start off pretty reasonable but once you get to floor 7, the game doesn’t hold your hand by any means. Oh, and you only had three continues at the initial start. Once you unlocked all three mini-games, you would start earning play points for just playing the game. Every 2500 points earned you an extra continue. Once you earned 9 continues and achieved another 2500 points, you unlocked unlimited continues. Even tackling Expert Stage with unlimited continues doesn’t necessarily make it easier. You still have to complete the 50 level endurance without shutting off the game. Despite the game’s asinine Expert Stage, the game was addictive enough for you to keep trying until you completed it.

– Demon’s Souls (PS3): Everything but the Final Boss

Seriously, Demon’s Souls is a brutal game. It has all the concepts that would normally make for a crappy game but executes it in such a way that makes it among some of the best. However, when the first level gives people such a tough time, to the point where they just give up, it’s evident that the game is pretty damn hard. Upon completing the first boss, you will have a huge sigh of relief that you conquered the boss battle. Mind you, I mentioned the first boss. The bosses truly defend what the definition of a boss is, someone who you should feel intimidated by and worried to confront. You will be jumping up and down cheering each time you finish off a boss in Demon’s Souls. The only thing that will make you not cheer so much is when you finish off the final boss. The final boss is a complete push-over and can be taken down with almost no effort at all. Either way, everything that led to this moment makes you feel like you gave the game your all and deserved to finish it. It is by far the most rewarding game this current console generation, hands down.

– The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES): Completing the Great Palace

The Great Palace serves as the final test in the game, and surpasses anything else you’ll face in the game. Not only is it massive, requiring extensive exploration and monster-fighting, but also ends with not one, but TWO bosses. As if the Thunderbird isn’t enough of a challenge, you need to fight Dark Link, a shadow version of yourself who knows all of your moves. Worst of all, if you die, you have to go all the way back to the beginning of the dungeon. The Adventure of Link may have received mixed reviews by the gaming community, but anybody who had the skill to beat it should be proud, for it’s one of the biggest challenges in video game history.

– F-Zero GX (GameCube): Completing Master Class

Now this one drove me over the edge…no pun intended. F-Zero GX goes down as my favorite racing game of all time but also the most difficult. I remember picking this up, booting it up and being blown away with…well, everything! The visuals are still some of the best, the controls were tight, the gameplay was lightning fast and provided one of the best soundtracks (in my Top 10 Nintendo GameCube Soundtracks) in gaming history that would get your adrenaline going. Regardless of what made the game phenomenal, the difficulty for the Master Class was beyond asinine. Completing the Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond Cups on Master Class is what was required to unlock the AX Cup, which had all the levels from F-Zero AX, the arcade version. You could get those levels by bringing your memory card to the arcade machine itself and plugging it in, but not a single arcade had this game in my area so I had to earn it the hard way. Every race had you sweating for the top spot and when you’d complete the cup in first place by a narrow finish, you’d jump up shouting and cheering. The Outer Space level in the AX Cup was entirely worth unlocking. After all that hard work…my memory card accidentally got thrown out and I lost my file. I have yet to re-achieve this behemoth of a challenge.

What were some of your hardest, yet most rewarding gaming challenges? Sound off in the comments below!