Elemental Challenge Day Six: Hack and Slash



Day Six! Thus far we’ve covered beat ’em ups, shoot ’em ups, and now we’re on hack and slash ’em ups. Hack ‘n slash games are differentiated from the aforementioned genres by their emphasis on real-time action combat involving melee weapons versus bare fists or blazing guns. This is a genre which really seems to have found its footing in the modern era, capitalizing on fast and powerful technology to create fast and powerful action games. No amount of tedious button mashing or sloppy motion controls seems to dampen the sheer energy and excitement which some of these games can generate.

De-scabbard your sword with characteristic and unrealistic “schawiiing!” because it’s time to name our favorite hack and slash action games…


FF3-NES-Summoner2.png The Green Screen Mage

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. For someone who has never beaten FFVII, I really like the spin-offs. Crisis Core is literally one of my favorite games on the planet. The story was so beautiful. I bawled like a baby at the end! Once again, I just like mashing buttons until enemies are dead. I’m sure there’s more of an art to it, but it works for me!



blackmage The Black Humor Mage

I haven’t played Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, yet, so this might be subject to change. Still, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a great game that introduces a new form of gameplay to the Metal Gear series. Is a step in the other direction, but still fun to hack n’ slash. Surprisingly, the game also includes some very fun and memorable boss fights.



mystic_knight1 The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)

God of War. It was a tough pick between the God of War series and the Prince of Persia series. I don’t think there is any way I could choose over God of War though. I remember the first time I played the first game in the series I stayed up literally all night. It has it all, great combos and hack and slash gameplay, Greek mythology which I love, and Kratos is the freakin’ man! Who couldn’t love him? I played the crap out of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time & The Two Thrones, but I feel the God of War series is a better representation of the genre. (Honorable Mentions – Prince of Persia, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Blades of Time)



spoonybardmageright.jpg The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)

Gauntlet Legends is close to my heart, as I used to always play it with friends, and today still play it with my girlfriend. A true classic if ever there was one. I NEED FOOD BADLY!



finalfourteenthmage.png The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)

One Piece: Pirate Warriors. One Piece always seemed like an impossible series to get into. I am firmly on the Naruto fence and it just seemed way too hard to do both. So I picked up Pirate Warriors when it was on sale as a way to slowly introduce myself to the series and I was not disappointed. I had so much fun not only learning about the story but slashing down hordes of enemies in two musou style.



HandheldMage1 The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)

I wasn’t too sure what a ‘hack and slash’ was until I checked on Wikipedia…when I saw Wikipedia list No More Heroes I knew that was my pick. One of my favourite games ever, even if I’ve only ever got half way through (damn console generations being phased out!) Hilarious game and Travis Touchdown is my favourite character in gaming. He’s such an idiot, but you want to help him succeed because he makes you laugh. Plus, awesome light saber/Pro wrestling style fighting!



 The Rage Mage

I love to hate The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and its slightly less inebriated cousin, Return of the King. Nothing better sums up J.R.R. Tolkien’s work than voice acting from actual actors that sounds as if they’ve fallen asleep in the sound booth. I mean I’m sure it takes a lot of directorial talent to make Viggo Mortensen sound even more bored than usual. When I read Lord of the Rings, I really thought it could use more button mashing. Peter Jackson turned Tolkien’s work into video games. This is the “Legolas-sliding-down-a-stairway-on-a-shield” of gaming. J. R. R.’s probably rolling in his Catholic urn.



rmage2.jpg The Well-Red Mage

This is the first category so far that I’ve really struggled with, not because I had too many games to choose from but because I had too few. Hack and slasher button mashers aren’t really my thing. I either find them too monotonous (strange, considering I like beat ’em ups) or I find their combo inputs too difficult. I was about to give the mention to Guardian Heroes but I only remember it vaguely since I never owned a Saturn, only played it at a friend’s house. There are a lot of modern, hyper-action games that fit into this category that I just can’t get into or haven’t gotten into: Devil May CryDarksidersBayonettaFinal Fantasy XV? Something turns me off about these. Anyways, I was on the brink of despair until I remembered Hyper Light Drifter, that amazing, pixel-art indie adventure with RPG and hack n’ slash elements. Yes, the ailing Drifter is armed with a lightsword so this counts as a game that emphasizes real-time combat with handheld weapons. It was one of my favorite games I played in 2016 and if you haven’t played it yourself, you’re really missing out on an elegant gaming experience.



What are some of your favorite melee mashers? Pass this event on so we can hear even more favorites! Thanks for reading and make sure to stop back in tomorrow for our next mystery genre!

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53 thoughts on “Elemental Challenge Day Six: Hack and Slash

  1. I’m going to say Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. I had a ton of great couch co-op sessions with friends on that one and nothing was quite as satisfying as snatching up the loot before my friend. Of course nothing was more infuriating when he did it to me and turn about is fair play.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kudos to the mage gallery for already mentioning a number of great options – Gauntlet and Lord of the Rings both came to mind for me! I’m gonna go with Dragon Quest Heroes in this case because I enjoy the hack-and-slash elements but also seeing the interactions between different characters in the DQ series. I’ve played all the games and love the cast, so it was a nostalgic experience for me.

    Liked by 1 person

      • If you like old-school JRPGs it’s a great series to get in to. It’s on the lighthearted side compared to Final Fantasy. Lots of puns and goofy accents.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh I know barely enough about it to know that I’d probably really enjoy them, since I love old school JRPGs, but I’ve just never had a good opportunity to play them. With my personality, I’d want to start from the first one before jumping in to the series at another point. Have they ever done a full collection of these?

          Liked by 1 person

          • To my knowledge there is not a collection available. Four through nine are all available for the Nintendo DS/3DS family of systems, but individually. I will say though that the series is similar to Final Fantasy in that they are not continuous. You can play them in whatever order and the stories stand alone. I’d recommend Dragon Quest VIII as a starting point – they just remade it for the 3DS so it is readily accessible and it is a pretty solid game. There is a bit of fanservice in that one to grit your teeth through compared to the other titles, but unless you actively look for it it’s not super invasive.
            You could also wait until the eleventh one comes out on the Switch. From what little I have seen of it so far it looks pretty interesting.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Crisis Core is considered a hack and slash? Turn based counts?? It’s turn based right?? It’s been so long…

    Hmmmm I don’t want to pick Zelda just yet. Though I do like the fact that in Skyward Seord, you are literally using the Wii mote as a sword. You know what…there’s TONS of Zeldas so SS it is!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m going to be weird, and esoteric again. On sheer quality alone, anything Platinum gamers, or one of the Devil May Cry or God Of War games should probably land it. But I’m giving it to Marlow Briggs, And The Mask Of Death. A highly underrated indie game that cribs the God Of War combat system, and places it into a DTV B Action Movie setting. The results are amazing. That isn’t to say it’s better than God Of War, it isn’t. But at least for me, it’s more approachable, and going back to it every so often is a great time. I reviewed it a while ago (It’s a few years old now), but it’s still a blast. You play a man, whose girlfriend is an archeologist. She gets sent to find these artifacts, which of course turn out to be magical, and of course her boss turns out to be a crime lord who wants to take over the world (insert M. Bison “OF COURSE!” meme here.) So they murder you, but you come back to life to rescue your love, and to get revenge. It’s as corny, and over-the-top as it sounds. But it simply has to be played to be believed. It’s awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome, weird and esoteric. That’s the only way we learn about knew things sometimes. I of course haven’t heard of this game, either. I’ll need a separate backlog just for “thedeviot games I’ve never played”.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kid Icarus Uprising on the 3DS. The control scheme was kind of awful, but the charming banter between the characters won me over while slashing things. One of the characters was also voiced by the super-talented and all around amazing voice actress, Ali Hillis 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am not sure how many games of this genre I play! I’ll take a shot and see if Mini Ninjas counts! The game has a lot of emphasis on fighting individual and hord enemies that run through the world, taking them on with melee attack weapons. Well, mostly. There are also magic powers and other items to help get you through, which might disqualify this charming little adventure game. But I saw that the Wiki page about this genre mentions The Witcher II, which also has similar exceptions to the focus on melee (though honestly I am not certain that I trust that Witcher is a hack and slash 😅 Game classification is tough to navigate!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and me both. I looked up a list of hack and slashers and I’m quite sure I haven’t played very many of them that’ve come out after 2000.

      Game classifications are tough to navigate, eh? I think we’re all learning that through this challenge. There’s a lot of blurring the lines between specifics in gaming genres, but what’s that between friends anyways? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I nominate Lord of the Rings: Return of the King on the Game Cube. The controls were easy to learn and some of the additions prevented the game becoming too difficult (particularly spears used to destroy enemy armour). The levels were also different, with some resembling journeys, others a fight against a powerful boss and others a massive battle against an army. It was also enjoyable completing objectives. It was also interesting that the story was split into three strands (following Aragorn, Gandalf and Frodo) as it allowed the use of different locations and tactics for each character. I liked the use of Orc Bane, it was an easy move to use, but it seemed impressive and could easily beat difficult enemies. I particularly remember one of the levels in Minas Tirith, which had an destructive atmosphere, with bright fires, low evening light and scenes of destroyed buildings. I also enjoyed the level at the Black Gate, which seemed like a fierce battle.
    What is Hyper Light Drifter? What console was it on? What was the game like?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Return of the King was certainly much better than the Two Towers, yet the basic gameplay wasn’t too far removed. Gandalf was finally a playable character, too, so that made it doubly awesome in my eyes.

      Hyper Light Drifter! Again, I must direct you to click on the link (which is the name of the game “Hyper Light Drifter” above) so you can be informed by our review on it. I loved it. It’s across several platforms, a sci-fi action adventure indie title. Let me know what you think in the comments on the review.


  8. I’m really glad Rage Mage mentioned the LotR entries, because I was almost certain I hallucinated struggling through those with my brother…

    One that we played quite a bit of was Dynasty Gundam 2. 3 was even better, but that was during his Mass Effect phase, so we didn’t get too much co-op on that one. I don’t know why but Dynasty games are almost cathartic in a way, and tacking on my aforementioned love of giant mechs duking it out made for a game that fulfilled my need for explosions and one-man-army…-ing.

    A lot of the problems with single-player were solved in co-op, too. Those S.O.S. calls from across the map that always just so happened to occur in the middle of a commander fight stopped being a problem when one of us was stationed within range, and it cut back the monotony of having to backtrack and fly to freed zones that were under siege by one lone pilot. Competent allied mooks weren’t exactly a thing in those games.

    And of course, like every game I’ve rattled off in this event, it had a -great- soundtrack!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember enjoying them the first time through but they have not aged well, particularly the Two Towers.

      Great soundtracks are always a big draw! Don’t you hate it when you’re playing a great game but the music is horrible? I recall that was a PS1 era issue, for me at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No joke, at least 90% of my music player is video game OSTs, solely to deal with that problem. Sometimes it really made it all the better! Wipeout Fury goes extremely well with F-Zero music. – w-

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah I find myself listening to speakers, audio books, and/or podcasts on occasion if the game I’m playing has an annoying soundtrack. Falling back on classic game OSTs is another legitimate way to combat bad game music.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Heyo, I wanted to add the Dynasty Warrior games, as my choice of hack n slash.

    I have a strange relationship to them. They are probably one of the most forgettable series in the sense that they rarely introduce anything new, aside from better graphics and more random playable characters, when they introduce a new version of their games. Yet, they provided me with a foundation for one of the most profound joys that I’ve ever had.

    I do enjoy these games, or I did, until they got old. I think the last one I enjoyed was Dynasty Warriors 3. I was introduced to these games by a South Korean roommate’s friend back in my early undergrad years. We were over at his apartment and they were having a ball playing and telling me about all these interesting stories I’ve never heard of. In excitement, I bought the game myself and by playing through these characters in an old Chinese history, I got what them extra credits guys called “tangential learning”. I got interested in who these people were, what this story was all about. I also had a friend who had an enormous “Peach Garden” tattoo on his back (its an integral scene in the story). He would often tell me to read the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, the English title for the book, that the games are based off.

    Books actually. A lot of them. So I did eventually, and I absolutely loved them. It turns out that they are considered the first novels in Chinese history. By reading these, they not only provided tons of entertainment, but gave me a background in Chinese history and thought that proved invaluable in my studies in philosophy and my experience in South Korea, where I lived for some years. South Koreans have to read these books too as part of their education, and I blew away all my students (and colleagues) by discussing the characters and stories with them in English class. They never met a foreigner who could talk about these things.

    Keats said that “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” and the Dynasty Warriors games, of all things, brought me into the world of Chinese history and thought, a world more beautiful than I could ever imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Its my pleasure 🙂 Its pretty clear to me now that the most meaningful part of games for me is where games and reality mix. Its great when a game functions well and that’s important, but its those real life things that surround the games that make them significant. For example, FF4 might be a great game, but its significance was truly powerful because it was a stable and safe escape from probably one the most traumatic times of my childhood. It was a sanctuary. This might seem rather obvious to many, but understanding it on an emotional level (as opposed to an intellectual level) and then challenging myself to articulate it has been a fun and interesting experience. Its really only been you who has actually responded to my articulations in the blogs and comments, so thanks man. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • You and me both. I come to gaming for fun more than I come to movies for that reason, but with both, I like to think on what they have to say about the human experience, so far as they can. I love me some Super Mario Bros. and I doubt that says too much about reality, but it’s always nice to have something thought-provoking. Again, I think I appreciate that more in film and that may be because films are much more passive and take much less work on my part to complete, so if the statement about reality is one I disagree with or one that’s just off-putting to me then I feel I haven’t spent too much time taking in the creators’ intent.

          Well I’m honored to have these conversations with you! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Reality. It’s a stubborn thing… I see our motivations, emotions, the stories around the games, the maker’s intents, the business side(s), the personal and social meaning and value of a game’s experience, etc., all as reality. I tend to contrast this with the world of the game and its internal consistency. Questions of whether FF6’s Locke Cole will find love again aren’t as interesting to me as how did Kefka become a media trope that influences people who have never played the game. Of course, if bringing up Locke’s story would begin a conversation on the perennial issues of romantic love, then I’m about that. But that’s me,…

            I don’t want to say that video games stories can’t compare to other forms of media, like oral storytelling, or books or films etc., because I think there is no reason to compare… games do something so much more interesting. I live in the PNW and the impact of Football in particular is pervasive. It’s a game that brings a kind of meaning to people’s lives that, whether I like the game or not, is undeniable. Its just not meaning in a sense that stories bring meaning. Story-games are something else too… as they are usually single-player… yet, we can’t help but blog and talk with other people about them… it becomes a shared experience regardless for us who choose to go into the world and seek out kindred souls.

            Computers are to me the true hidden media creating a media vortex in a way, where traditional media, stories, games, film, animation etc can be combined in all sorts of ways. So a video game to me can be any kind of media that has some sort of game elements combined with other media elements… and its the computers’s fault! haha.

            I’m attempting to play the Witcher 3 on a shoe-sting time budget and, while I play, I’m sort of interested in the story itself… to see how it unfolds. Honestly though, I just like the exploring aspect of the game the most, the story is only mildly interesting… a matter of background for the fun of the game, exploring and treasure hunting. Having recently played FF9 (for a short time) they seem to be similar mechanically. Treasure! Trying to bring in the psychology lens, a lot of the fun of them both are a kind of kleptomaniacal escapism within fantasy story-worlds. Then I ask, is this related to American consumerism, not just as I purchased them…

            Yeah, I could go on forever… and it probably sounds pretty pedantic and annoying to other people, my wife included… haha. She tolerates these flights of fancy with a tempered patience though. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh man… a comment like that reminds me exactly why we need to free up your schedule so you can blog more again! I don’t even know how to engage with half of the themes you brought up, like I feel too-uneducated to do so! I can say that I’ve had no experience with the Witcher 3 at all but the one thing in history that’s piqued my interest about it is what you just said about its mechanical similarity to FFIX. That, to my mind, means it must be a great game. I love that aspect of approaching games from a perspective of what they say about human life beyond their narrative, by means of their existence and mechanics, I’m just not smart enough to talk at length on that. Sometimes I feel like there are some people I know that speak their own language? That’s a good thing, y’know. I feel like if I knew more about history and society that these things would make sense to me too. And finally… I’m sure your wife practically married you for these flights of fancy. I won’t hear anything otherwise.

              But we can talk about Kefka till my face turns blue. He’s Emperor Joker, dude, the Batman villain given omnipotence by Mr. Mxyzptlk. I always laugh at that line of his “I will build a monument to non-existence!” Wouldn’t that monument itself be non-existent? Ah Final Fantasy…

              Liked by 1 person

              • Now you’re talking! What would a monument to non-existence even, well, exist as?

                Yeah, I’d like to go back to “Wakalapi Unchained”, but it still looks like it will have to wait till September… fingers crossed though for something cool to randomly happen!

                Liked by 1 person

                • Perhaps the monument to non-existence would be the first mention of it, the concept itself, since concepts are immaterial and can somehow survive non-existence metaphysically? Haha just my guess.

                  Wakalapi Unchained! Is that going to be your blog 2.0? Here’s hoping something cool does indeed randomly happen. You’re definitely one that I want to inform that we’ve picked up a contributor who wants to write an essay/opinion piece for us about how games engage emotions in players, so with that as a precedent, if you’re ever in the mood to go on your tangential, inspiratory explorations, feel free right here! 😀

                  Liked by 1 person

                • That’s a great take on the monument! I’ll buy it 😉 I do notice an excess of ludic energy building up within me. I might just have to salve the ludic blogging beast with comments section for now though sadly. I’m looking forward to the forthcoming piece though!

                  Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Sublime Reviews and commented:

    Day 6 of the Elemental Mage challenge is Hack & Slash! An enjoyable genre to be sure. My favorite series is without a doubt God of War. I think it is the best embodiment of what the genre stands for and is full of awesome ancient mythology, a real pleasure to play. Let us know what you think we would love to hear from you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Like the Spoony Bard, my first answer would have to be Gauntlet Legends on the N64. Everything about that game was perfection! Me and my buddy would play it for hours upon hours.

    My only other choice (until I remember another one of course) would be Dungeon Siege. Chugging through caverns of enemies was just so damn satisfying. Terrific game!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vagrant Story! I really miss that game. Every time I do, I start a playthrough that I never finish. Somehow, I couldn’t figure out the Risk mechanic and I always ended up missing or doing like 1 or 2 damage.


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