This edition of Weekend Download serves as a firm reminder that some video games used to be painfully difficult. None of this coddling, tutorialized hand-holding gameplay you find today. Back then you were tossed in a blocky four-color world and had to fend for yourself. Brutally difficult games may be a thorn in the side of modern-day casual gamers, but it will help you appreciate the experience programmers have collectively gained over the decades.
Diner Dash: Hometown Hero (Windows, 21MB, demo) - After returning from her adventures on a cruise ship, Flo finds her hometown is a bit run-down. What better way to spice things up than by serving good food? Diner Dash: Hometown Hero uses the familiar time management formula and tasks you with seating customers, taking orders, serving food, collecting tips and clearing tables as efficiently as you can. The twist comes when the power goes out, quirky customers demand special treatment, or when Flo hires an assistant and competes for tips. Upgrade your restaurant and customize its look as you progress, then upload it to the Diner Dash website for others to play. A brand new multiplayer mode lets you compete against friends to see who the best diner dasher is!
ToJam Thing (Windows/Mac/Linux, ~5MB, free) - An almost trance-like single screen shooter, ToJam Thing is all about inflating and popping floating red bubble things that meander about the screen. When they burst they release collectables that increase your score. They also let loose poppers that will cause other red bubbles to explode, causing chain reactions. The game ends when the song ends, but there's a nice boss fight to cap off the experience.
Untitled Story (Windows, 8.4MB, demo) - An exploration-based platform game with a charmingly childlike hand-drawn visual style. It gets pretty difficult, but the level design is excellent, and there's a lot of different things to do. If you've played Seiklus, it's a bit like that, but with a ton of boss fights. The download is a demo (a rather substantial one), but you can get the full game for as little as one dollar, if you want to support the author. (Thanks Psychotronic!)
I Wanna Be The Guy (Windows, 39MB, free) - Think you're good at video games? Let this one prove you wrong. Forged in the fires of old-school platforming, I Wanna Be The Guy is brutally difficult to the point of being unfair. To make through each stage you'll die no less than two dozen times, each the result of a cheap game mechanic you could never have predicted. Trial-and-error is your weapon, and with time you can whittle away at the levels by experimenting and hoping you don't get squished. Game is in pre-alpha stage, so expect glitches here and there, and we'll slap on a PG13 rating for lewd humor and gory pixelated death scenes.
Banana Nababa (Windows, 2.5MB, free) - Continuing the "you're not good enough to beat this game" theme, Banana Nababa is another old-school flavored platformer with a high level of difficulty. The difference is you only battle bosses, none of that stage stuff in-between, as you climb the tower. Each of the six foes are tougher than the last and you'll have to use a little experimentation to learn each one's attack patterns and find a weakness. If you're into challenge, Banana Nababa is definitely the way to go.