Challenge games were originated with players that found games too easy. They set themselves limitations on the availability of player power, in order to increase their enjoyment of the game (even if that was only pride in the prestige that such accomplishments brought them). Challenges are usually referred to by acronyms composed of the letters standing for each of the restrictions in the challenge; acronyms which can grow quite lengthy, notably in Final Fantasy challenges such as LLNMNIIENA (Low Level, No Materia, No Item, Initial Equipment, No Accessories) and LLNIIENACMO (Low Level, No Items, Initial Equipment, No Accessories, Command Materia Only)
PS:T, with a combination of an unusually high amount of storytelling content, is immediately curtailed severely by Speed Runs, and its synergy between that content and XP gains means that Low Level games suffer almost the same fate.
Increasing Strength is a very easy way of increasing player power in the game, and conversely, limiting it to a particular value of X is a very quick way to increase the challenge of the game
- Content: Effectively maximum. Other than the satisfaction of blowing straight through enemies, every last scrap of storytelling content is preserved.
- Difficulty: Varies. Depends mostly on what other means are used to deal with enemies. Simply running does not make for much of a challenge, outside of speed runs. Using magic is definitely more challenging if melee combat is eschewed altogether
- Content: Medium to low. Content must be actively avoided in order to avoid its accompanying large XP gains
- Practicality: The feasibility of Low Level games is on a case by case basis, depending on game mechanics. In the case of PS:T, it is Medium to high. Bosses are very few and far between. The major requisite XP gains are in dialogue. XP can be spread out between a full party. One game mechanic which is possibly unique to PS:T does stand directly in the way of a Low Level game: TNO's immortality. The game cannot proceed while he is dead. But this is in some senses a cosmetic difficulty, as games that keep a single character low level are often doing so at the expense of making other characters higher than they would be, by keeping some party members dead and not sharing the XP between the whole group.
NE: It is necessary (and possible) to distinguish No Equipment from Initial Equipment because some characters are given some basic equipment to start (and all characters are given a default weapon which -cannot- be removed) A starter level restriction on its own. High strength gives bonuses to damage that are higher than any weapon's average damage, and predictable damage as well, and with the Strength bug, it is always maximum damage, which exceeds some weapons' maximum damage. It is a worthy adjunct to a low-strength or low-level game, though
- Content: As X Strength games, effectively maximum
- Difficulty: Low to medium.
NIN: Not using Inventory during combat, or conceivably not using it at all
- Difficulty: Combat: Medium; Not at all: High.
NI: This is a very interesting challenge, as it negates one of the greatest sources of player power in the early part of the game, and makes Resting and nigh-useless spells like Blood Bridge practical. Should Fall-from-Grace be brought into the party, of course, the challenge goes right out of it.
- Difficulty: Combat: Medium; Not at all: High.
NP: Many players play in this style as a matter of course. Without pause, even using inventory healing items requires the player to take the time to click on the inventory. Conversely, being able to pause makes the real-time combat of PS:T into more of a turn-based combat, with complicated Kiting maneuvers rendered easy to execute in a way that only Twitchy players can enjoy
- Memory retention: Extreme. Must be coordinated with physical skills in remembering number sequences for speeding through dialogue trees.
- Manual dexterity: High. Although mouse and keyboard control requirements are not as high as in other games, such as 3D games with six degrees of control, the dialogue control and control over the character's running are deceptively high standards. Deceptively high, because with every movement command, the character completely stops and then accelerates to normal running speed. Combine this fact, which means that as few as movement commands as possible must be issued, with the fact that characters cannot be sent to areas that is not illuminated, which means that reduction in the number of commands has a finite limit, and the choice of when and where to click becomes not merely a motor skill, not merely a timing skill, but strategic and tactical skill, with an immediately definable soft cap that varies with each new map screen. Add in the fact that the player must return to a character to issue it new movement commands; the speed of character movement is a matter of coordinating a fairly high degree of Timing skills with a high degree of dexterity. The Nameless One and other party members must be 'juggled'; the player cannot use the Minimap, as in most cases, its complete pausing of running is slower than moving the screen back and forth to issue commands on opposite sides of the map.
- Content: Lowest. Other than the initial exposure to the dialogue material during the process of becoming familiar enough with it to know which number buttons to press, there is no interaction between player and content in this challenge type