I'm a day late, it seems. Oh well, none of you are complaining.
Six. The level that stands as the finest transition point between Easy and Hard, holding within it many of the higher-tier Easy pieces, as well as many of the lower-tier Hard pieces. Though to some, it may still be considered as an ignorable level in comparison to the Big Three (i.e. Levels 7-9), I still consider it to be a level worth revisiting time and time again. There are several unique pieces within this specific level that not many people seem to give too much attention to - something I hope to change with this blog.
If you haven't seen my previous description on what I'll exactly be doing with this blog, check out my previous teaser blog: The Difficulty Outliers. To paraphrase, I'll be taking five songs from every specific level (starting from 6, obviously) and talking about them extensively. What will be the criteria for the entries I choose? Simple: they'll all be different from every other song in that level in some notable way, which will be one of the things I discuss in each entry. I would've gone all the way "beyond" Level 9 if Rayark were actually productive enough to add extra levels like they promised, but nope, looks like y'all are getting only four lists in this series.
And yes, I extended the amount of entries from five to six. I think you all know where this is going. ouo
Now without further ado, I present the Ridiculous Six!
We start off this list with an entry most of you probably didn't expect. I mean, what's so special about this one? "This song sucks!", some of you might say, followed by a "bad sh*t" copypasta. Okay, maybe Hey Wonder isn't a song that exactly fits your tastes. It wasn't for me either, at least not for a long time. But maybe you've misjudged the chart a little bit.
In my honest opinion, this one of the most well-crafted "slow scan line" charts in the whole game. You know those clustered note rushes in the chorus? Arrange them differently, and you get regular ol' grouped notes. Yet, someone in Rayark decided to give these patterns irregularity. Not enough to make playing it awkward, but enough to make it both fun and unique. Not only that, but the parts outside the chorus are fun too, utilizing click, hold and drag notes in harmony, switching in accordance to the singers' voices.
Whether you tackle this song with one finger or alternating hands, it'll be entertaining either way. Level 6s don't often have that kind of variety; they usually stick to simplicity in order to appeal to new players. Again, it's only Level 7 that most people believe to be the starting point for the game's challenges.
That's not to say Hey Wonder is a difficult song, though. Despite being unique and fun to play, it still retains the difficulty of a Level 6. Actually, if you ask me, it's one of the easiest Level 6s in the game. Yeah, a chart can be easy and still fun! Hear that, Rayark? You don't have to hunt for the next impossible xi song for Cytus II! You can actually offer - *gasp* - fair challenges! Who would've thought, huh?
Back on topic, though it's still not my favourite song, neither in Cytus or even Chapter IX, I highly appreciate Hey Wonder for offering a breath of fresh air through reducing the mundane nature of many Level 6s, and reducing the claustrophobia I (and many other players) feel with most slow scan line charts. Kudos, Bro's. Now if only YURERO was as good.
"You better bounce, bounce, BOUNCE, BOUNCE BABY--"
Pfft, you all thought I'd only be including Hard songs on this list? I've gotta give the Easy outliers some notoriety, too! In that regard, it looks like we'll be starting off with the first piece of the dignity Rayark left behind in making every Hard chart in Chapter M a Level 9. Yeah, I'm still salty about that.
Anyways, here we have Stardust Sphere, the love child of Tsukasa's two earliest pieces in the game - BOTH of which I was considering adding to this list. Spoiler: neither of them made it, though in their place we have this piece of work, which manages to be unique in multiple ways.
Before we get to anything else about this chart - holy sh*t, that is one high note count! I realize the song is over 3 minutes long, but this kind of stuff rarely occurs with Level 6 charts, with rivals only existing within Chapter L and Cytus Alive, both of which are known for their incredibly long and obnoxious song lengths.
But the diversity doesn't end there! Although this chart does take slightly from Chemical Star (that's hardly even a downside, as Chemical Star was already diverse enough to almost make it on this list), it contains many surprises of its own, including interestingly shaped drag notes in the beginning and end, a drag rush in the middle that's admittedly very challenging for a Level 6, and, that's right, a triple note smack dab in the middle. I feel like the addition of a triple drag on Hard kind of downplayed this, but let me reiterate this for you: the only other non-Level 8/9 song to have a triple note before this one was The Silence's old chart, and that one was visible from a mile away due to the slow scan line. This one approaches you much quicker, and it's in a song that's a level lower than The Silence was, to boot!
Looking upon these patterns, yes, I believe Stardust Sphere should've been a Level 7 on Easy. Heck, I'll go ahead and call it the hardest Easy piece in Chapter M. But, as long as it retains the level of 6 (which it will, seeing as 10.0 was the final update), it'll have a firm place on this list. Looks like I still have a little faith left in Tsukasa's instrumental pieces, after all.
*glances at Accelerator* *shoves it towards Cytus II*
Oh man, I'm bringing out the heavy artillery here. I think we can all agree that this is the hardest Level 6 in the game, bar none. This song rivals even Chapter L and the new Freedom Dive in its audacious difficulty, and I'm sure I'm not alone in not having even come close to MMing it, forget ever achieving a TP 100.
This dreaded piece in Chapter 0 was commonly referred to as the "shortest song in the game" before The Beginning took its title, clocking in at 1:33. But don't let that fool you; LNS OP laughs in the face of lengthy devils like Vanessa and L2. This quality, along with the seemingly minuscule note density and whimsical fantasy/chiptune theme, may draw many people to believe that this song will be nothing but another notch in their belt of conquered songs. But then they actually play it.
Marvel in awe at the jaw-dropping simplicity of the click note patterns, appearing at such a pace that they could theoretically be tackled with one finger. Stagger in amazement as the predictable hold notes appear that utterly confound every player that tries to limp away with, at the very least, their combo remaining. Watch in pure horror as the slow-crawling drag note proves to demolish every player hoping to escape the ending with no further damage to their fingers and morale. Not even Satan himself could spawn such wretched, diabolical patterns, yet here they exist, boasting their superiority over every pathetic player who dares to attempt them.
This song has squandered hopes, crushed dreams, ended lives. I'm sure those devils, Rayark themselves, knew how horribly cruel and unfair this song really was, so to add insult to injury, they gave it the mere rating of 6. From its appearance alone, they could have gone as far as to to call it a 5 or even a 4, but they must have known that would be going too far.
In my wholesome opinion, having experienced the true terror that is LNS OP, I'll admit that I find this to be the hardest song in all of Cytus. It would have been at the top of this list...but, let's be honest, I can only carry a joke so far.
I fondly remember the times when charts were simple to grasp. When charts were slow, they would always make it up by making the patterns a little more complex, but they were never arranged in a way that would purposely mess with your mind. Of course, that was before Entrance on Easy was released.
I'm afraid that this may have been the chart that inspired the travesty known as Chapter L, though I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, especially since, unlike Chapter L, this is actually a rather ingeniously made chart.
You see, the thing that annoyed me so much about this chart when I first played it was that I would keep hitting notes too early, especially in the beginning. Why is that? Well, in my recent analysis (this analysis being complete with a agonizingly earned TP 100), I think I have a sufficient answer for that, and it's an answer that raised my previously dismal opinion on this song and chart by a lot.
You see, most charts in Cytus, even the slow ones, provide a flow for you to follow. Even if notes are used inappropriately or in an off-sync fashion, they're arranged in a manner that allows you to predict what will come next. Some songs will break this flow on occasion (this the case for occurrences such as misused triple notes, overlaps, and other patterns in songs that deviate from what's expected). Entrance, however, makes this flow its b*tch.
Throughout the song, this chart intentionally throws double notes at you where you wouldn't expect them, and omits them where they should be. Instead, they follow a specific pattern along the scan line. It intentionally throws awkward drag notes at you later on, mixed with heterodox mannerisms of utilizing click notes in unison with them. Your idea of how the song should play hardly matters; you're playing by the song's own rules.
This diversion from the norm is exactly what makes this chart both infuriating and marvellous. Unlike with most songs in Cytus, where you can get by on autopilot (seriously, I've gone on full-blown thought tangents while playing some songs), you have to maintain a semblance of thought while playing this song. You have to see what the next note will be, not just feel it. Honing your mind, not your muscle memory, is what will bag you a high score.
All of this (oh, and the fact that the drags are f*cking annoying to hit with perfect TP) is what makes this such an infamously hard Level 6 piece. I've gotta give credit to Rayark on this one - they knew what they were doing. Props to you, you glorious bastards.
Chapter L is like that older cousin of yours that constantly boasts about his superiority by bullying you in ways that make you feel utterly humiliated. Since he's older, stronger and wiser than you, there's jack sh*t you can do against it, but there's also some pretty cool things about him that you enjoy when he's not tormenting you, so you just come to accept him as family.
L10 is one of those pretty cool things about this chapter. Aside from the f*cking ludicrous old Hard chart, it's a relaxing experience that takes you down a few notches after enduring the utter agony the rest of the chapter shows no remorse in consistently chucking at you. And at the bottom of the Chapter L difficulty pyramid, we have the game-changing new Easy chart of this grand orchestral piece.
You see, this is why I hate it when chapters restrict their charts purely to Level 9 pieces. It plugs the flow of creativity that would be much better implemented in more simplistic charts. It's a key concept that both Rayark and a good chunk of the fanbase just doesn't seem to get: quality does not equal difficulty. In the case of L10, the quality of its new Easy chart crushes that of the old, forced Level 9 chart (which just ended up feeling much more like a Level 8 anyways).
You may be hesitant to bother giving this chart a chance at first purely because of the fact that it runs off of a gimmick: no click notes. Throughout the entire 5 minute ride, you'll only be hitting hold notes and drag notes. Indeed, it's completely plausible to Million Master this song without lifting your fingers once. But that is exactly what makes this chart such an unreal experience to play through, as well as what gives it such a prominent identity as an outlier.
A common misconception that might come to your mind from hearing of this gimmick is that, with no need to lift your finger, it will be an incredibly easy piece. Right? Wrong. Though it's not the epitome of difficult Level 6 pieces (we still haven't gotten to that), it's certainly no pushover. Complete with awkwardly placed hold notes and drag notes that switch from requiring high patience and coming the f*ck out of nowhere, high TP will be a nightmare to achieve. In fact, this one of three Level 6 songs left in the game I have yet to TP 100 (excluding 10.0 for now). You could attribute that partially to the length of the song screwing me over (and you'd be somewhat right), but I've played L9 on Easy only around a third as much as L10, and the TP 100 for that one gave itself up a lot quicker. Same level, very similar length, if you've forgotten.
Is the chart flawless? Of course not, or else it'd have easily snagged the #1 spot. Some of the drag notes seem awfully forced, clearly only acting as placed as placeholders for what would've been click notes in a normal chart, and it pulls off two accursed "X" patterns. For those of you who haven't heard me lament over these types of drag notes yet, very simply, they guide your two fingers down tracks that converge, which will cause you to smash your poor digits together without proper foresight. I f*cking hate that. I especially hate it when I move my fingers in a manner that causes them to NOT bang against each other, only to miss a note or two as a result. These types of patterns should be VAC banned.
All in all, though it's not perfect, L10 on Easy succeeds in what I believe it was intended to do: offering a unique, experimental experience for the player. By taking away what is easily the most fundamental note type, the player has to open up a new mindset of how to tackle the song. It gives the opportunity for plenty of fun to be had, and trains newer players for harder hold and drag note patterns in other songs. It certainly stands far out from most other Level 6 pieces in the game, hence why it earned such a high spot on this list. But I think we all know only one Level 6 song strange enough to claim the top spot.
True heroes never die. In the case of Chapter T, this will remain forever true. This chapter set a positively stunning number of precedents in its (mostly) brilliantly crafted and uniquely diverse charts. You can trust me, this certainly won't be the last time I'll be bringing it up in these lists, and what a fitting way to introduce it: with an entry topping the first list in the series.
You thought 2245 would be the year that Earth was brought life again? Well, for those of us who've played through this wild ride of a timeline, it's the year in which hell descended upon mankind, delivering what is commonly debated to be the hardest Level 6 in the game, only rivalled by one other slow scan line piece in Chapter II.
Isn't that right, Pit ouo
Rebirth isn't a particularly stamina-demanding song, nor does it really break the flow like Entrance on Easy - every note in the song follows the music to perfection. It's not a particularly dense song either, only clocking in at 356 notes. So what gives? What makes this song such a demonic piece of work?
It's simple. This song is frightening. So many patterns in here have barely been touched upon in other songs, forcing you to move your hands in a way that's tough to comprehend without practice. It's not that the patterns are difficult to pull off. It's that your brain is not used to playing Cytus in the way that this song demands. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes Rebirth such a perfect example of an outlier.
The awkward timing? Completely manageable once you figure out what order the notes come in, yet the perfect mix between spread apart and bunched together notes causes people to panic and mistime them. The hold notes mixed with the click note lines? Played just the same as any other click and hold note pattern, except having the click notes come so close to the hold notes results in people missing click notes in fear of letting go of the hold notes, or vice versa. Those infamous mini-hold note barrages? Perhaps the easiest pattern mentioned - treating them like slow-crawling drag notes cuts through them like a knife through melted butter, but since they're so foreign to us, people hit them like click notes or hit them in an incorrect order, resulting in a flurry of misses. With proper analyzation and practice, this song can go from being harder than any other Level 6, perhaps even harder than any Level 7, to an enjoyable, unique ride in the sea of safe-playing slow scan line pieces.
Does that mean I think it should stay a Level 6? Pfft, hell no. Introducing concepts that are this foreign to the rest of the game and being cruel enough to give it the same rating as Protest on Easy (this is a pathetic Level 6 btw, Rayark) is a move I don't support. However, I don't believe it's the impossible, unsurpassable behemoth that lots of people take it to be.
What Rebirth is, to me, is new. It shows us radically different, yet still conquerable arrangements of notes in the mostly stagnant algorithm of Cytus' charting scheme, and offers us one hell of a challenge to boot. On top of that, need I mention, this is one of the few good slow scan line pieces in the entire game (in fact, I'll go ahead and call it Rayark's last good slow scan line piece). This, to me, is the finest Level 6 outlier in Cytus.
So yet another blog of mine went mostly unnoticed. Oh well, I enjoy making them, so they won't stop coming. ouo
Thanks to those of you who do support me; your sentiments mean a lot to me.
Top Seven Level 7 Outliers - to be released sometime in October!
- Half the division of Stardust Sphere, it was, as previously mentioned, quite close to being on this list. It has some unique patterns and an iconic status, but that just wasn't enough.
Les Parfums de L'Amour
- A chart that really only got creative during the drum solo, which I'll give it credit for. I'll also give that part credit for taking me f*cking ages to surpass with perfect TP.
- A tricky piece of work that I've still yet to TP 100. However, though the patterns are somewhat interesting, I would've ended up giving most of the credit to the duration of the song.
Slit O - Easy
- It did many things that the Hard equivalent didn't, and was an overall exciting Level 6 piece. It just didn't make the cut, though.
The Way We Were
- Not diverse enough to be considered, but I'll be damned if it isn't a stupidly difficult piece.