Operation Hardcore is a 2d platformer where you play a “Badass”; a gun toting super soldier trying to save the Earth from an alien invasion. It is a side-scrolling action platformer with cooperative play, and 360 controller support and local co-op play. Operation Hardcore is being developed by a two man team, who just released a demo for their game.
What caught my attention was the similarities to classic titles like Rush N’ Attack for its brutal difficulty, and Duke II for its tongue-in-cheek presentation. I played the demo for two hours and came away with mixed feelings. My first negative roadblock with the title is the brutal difficulty.
I don’t shy from hard games. I just feel there are varying levels of what “hard” means. I forced myself to beat Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox; BOTH versions. My fingers were in a cast for six weeks afterwards, but I couldn’t stop until I’d finished. Trying to beat a Hard AI in a 4X strategy game. That’s a challenge that can feel unfair with the advantages to map awareness, resources and units that the AI receives, but it’s deeply satisfying when I am able to overcome them and win. Then there’s “unexplainably hard”. Operation Hardcore falls into this category.
In Operation Hardcore’s current state anything and everything will kill you instantly. Touch a floating bullet, you die. Touch a robot, you die. Touch a dog that’s running, you die. Shoot a bomb, it’s fire will expand, touch it, you die. Shoot a missile out of the sky, feel like a badass for anticipating it! Oops! You touched the fire, rest in peace, Mr. Badass. Jump a gap, a random missile lands on your head as soon as you jump, you die. Think you are about to beat the level one boss? It will change weapons to a death ray requiring a precise dodge of 0.01 ms reaction time to avoid its bursts, if not, you die. My motivation to continue disappeared after restarting level 1 28 times without even being able to take the boss down to less than 15 percent health.
This extreme difficulty casts a cloud over a great indie game vying for votes on Steam’s Greenlight program. Graphically it is a 1992-1995 throwback era side-scroller, but with nice touches like film grain and adjustable global lighting. Jumping mechanics and precision are spot on. Using the triggers you can hold yourself in place for precision 360 degree shooting, while your right trigger locks your shooting angle in place for proper strafing. Sounds are adequate for a game of this style.
Enemies are not as varied, and stand there firing while an array of unavoidable death comes at you from all angles. Again, I do not shy from hard, but I do shy from “no chance in hell”. If I am a part of a team of “Badasses” I want to feel like one. Game trailers show multiple weapon spreads, an onslaught of maneuverable carnage that suggests Rush N’ Attack and Contra had a lovechild on some pixelated battlefield. Local 3 player co-op is a huge selling point. If the difficulty becomes more manageable it will surely improve the reception for this game. The tools that actually make you a “Badass” need to be available from the start of the game.
For example, in the tutorial portion you are taught how to use a shield ability. That ability is absent in the first level. It would be highly useful as you fight the ‘Flight of the Navigator’ first boss. Being able to block, dodge, roll, or shield quickly to save yourself may allow the levels to be more enjoyable. Trying this game even on its easiest level does little to change the level of frustration that ensued. Give this game a shot, and comment about what you think.
Steam Greenlight Page.