Pixel graphics, procedurally generated obstacles and the promise of extreme difficulty haven't lost their appeal, but the attention-grabbing novelty of these tropes have started to wither in 2018. Amongst an ocean of triple-A single player games, multi-million dollar esports leagues, and World of Warcraft's triumph return, it can be hard to create a buzz for your indie roguelite platformer.
But what if you made a game so difficult that you were willing to pay $5,000 to whoever actually beat it?
Luke Powell, a London based developer is doing just that with his aptly titled PC game, 99 Floors. The roguelite (a genre defined by procedurally generated encounters and progress that "resets" after each death) has, you guessed it, 99 floors that get increasingly more difficult as players progress through them.
Armed with 82 different weapons players can collect on their journey, the tiny avatar representing the player is frequently dwarfed by enemies who never bother attacking one at a time. Instead, dozens of them swarm the player all at once challenging the their ability dodge and taxing their giant-sized health bar.
The history of how the $5000 challenge came to be is told on the game's website, 99floorgames.com
"The idea for the game came from wanting to develop a roguelite so endless and difficult that it would be "frustratingly addictive" for the player who wished to complete it. The game did better than expected following it's release for a game with no marketing budget or prior following. Several people began to share their attempts to beat the game. Game sales equaled a few hundred within the first week. This unexpected, better-than-predicted sales paired with no one even coming close to the game lead me to the idea of setting up a cash pool (roughly a third of all sales at the time) for the first person who could successfully beat the game. As sales increased, so did the cash pool.
On the 4th August 2018, nearly three months since the game's release, still no one had managed to beat it."
Watching people actually attempt to beat the game paints a clearer picture as to why no one has managed to defeat all 99 floors yet. If the platforming doesn't kill you, the spikes and swirling blades of death will. If you manage to avoid those, the hordes of enemies that bump your character around or the bosses with massive hitboxes will, at the least, ensure you take excessive damage every once in a while.
Surviving 99 floors of this (while recording the whole thing for contest submission) demands patience, precision and game knowledge. That latter is intrinsically difficult, as reaching the final floors in order to practice won't happen very often.
99 Floors isn't the most popular game, so there aren't many recorded attempts. One player pictured above seems to have completed a PB (personal best) of 34 floors.
You can download the game and even try it for free at 99floorsgames.com. Who knows, maybe you will be the first person to complete it and win a cool $5,000.
If I had to pick a champion most capable of defeating this game, I'd probably place my bets on either Trihex or Caleb Hart. They have completed some seriously insane gaming challenges in the past and seem ideal candidates for streaming the entire process.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.