At the start of 2023, Twitch streamer MissMikkaa made headlines for beating Elden Ring’s notorious rot queen, Malenia, Blade of Miquella, with two completely different controllers at the same time. It was a ridiculous feat of dexterity and focus, but would you believe this method of play was how she finished FromSoftware’s latest Soulslike in its entirety? Well, it turns out MissMikkaa has been embarking on what she’s dubbed the “Ultimate Challenge Run” and, now that she’s wrapped up Elden Ring, she’s doing the same thing with Dark Souls Remastered.
Challenge runs aren’t new within the FromSoft community. Kotaku has reported on plenty of wild ones, from using a drawing tablet to playing with an electronic saxophone. MissMikkaa’s, however, is probably the most intense challenge run I’ve seen in a minute as she plays two copies of the FromSoft game simultaneously with two different types of controller inputs: a DDR-compatible dance pad and a PlayStation 5 DualSense. This is the basis for her “Ultimate Challenge Run.” As MissMikkaa specifies in her livestream overlays, the goal is to “kill bosses on the same try on both game instances” using the two different controllers. Kotaku caught up with MissMikkaa to pick her brain about playing FromSoft games in such a peculiar and difficult manner.
This Takes Lots Of Focus To Pull Off
MissMikkaa explained the process of setting up the “Ultimate Challenge Run,” including the model of the dance pad she’s using. After getting the dance pad hooked up to her PC, she used the software remapper JoyToKey to synch the pad’s movement arrows to the WASD keys, with the other buttons performing actions like attacking, dodging, healing, and the like. The dance pad has a limited number of buttons, though, so she would sometimes have to “create specific profiles for certain bosses or scenarios” to switch between before encounters like the one with Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy. But aside from fine-tuning the dance pad’s keybindings, this “Ultimate Challenge Run” challenged MissMikkaa in many other ways.
“In the beginning, I had a lot of trouble focusing on playing two games at once. It’s not an easy task trying to position your character, attack, dodge, and heal twice as much as what you’re used to,” MissMikkaa tells Kotaku. “There were a few days where I was feeling mentally fatigued from the amount of work my brain was doing, but the further I got in the run the more used to it I became. Physically it wasn’t much different from the previous runs I had done, luckily I was already used to 6-hour dance pad sessions. Midway through this run there were definitely a few moments of smooth sailing, but towards the end, things definitely got much harder and that was also partially used as a motivator to get me through.”
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Focus was difficult to maintain during the entire run, MissMikkaa says. Playing a FromSoft game, whether that’s Bloodborne or Sekiro, can already seem like an insurmountable challenge requiring tons of concentration. These are punishing games, after all! Adding a second layer on top—that is, playing another instance of the same game but with a separate controller simultaneously—increases both the level of difficulty you’ll face when playing and the focus required. Gravity killed her, a lot, because she “lost track of [her] character’s position and instead focused more on attacking and dodging.” But navigation got better as time went on.
The Bosses Were Equally Challenging
As you might expect with a FromSoft game, the bosses were a particular sore spot for this “Ultimate Challenge Run.” MissMikkaa says she died some 198 times to Malenia and her long sword alone. It doesn’t compare to the level 1 dance pad run she did back in October, in which she died over 500 times to the goddess, but she still points to Malenia as a true test.
“Malenia was by far the hardest boss in this run,” MissMikkaa admits. “She is a true test of skill and experience in most challenge runs. It was a lot of trial and error to kill Malenia both in regards to figuring out what build I wanted to use and just trying to survive when I got two waterfowl dances at the same time. But besides the obvious answer, I had a lot of trouble with Margit due to falling out of the arena. I was also struggling a lot with Mohg, specifically with his second phase transition since I didn’t use any in-game items like Mohg’s Shackle or Purifying Crystal Tear.”
That she prevented herself from using specific equipment also added to the difficulty. MissMikkaa says she not only tried to “not use any weapons or Ashes of War that would be considered too ‘OP’,” but she also couldn’t summon anyone or use any of the spirit ashes in battle.
It was just her, the enemies in front of her, and her two controller inputs. That’s it. In addition to these self-imposed limitations, MissMikkaa explains that she relegated herself to certain kinds of character builds, starting with a strength-focused one in the beginning before switching to an arcane one for the late game. Thankfully her gear of choice—bleed weapons such as the Great Stars great hammer and high-defense armor like the Bull-Goat set—helped ease the restrictions a little bit by letting her “outpoise [a boss’] poise damage in order to hit them through their attacks.” She’s tanky. And of course, because she’s playing two copies of the same game, she’s forced to have equipment parity between her two characters.
Giving Up On This Was Never In The Cards
Regardless of how challenging this “Ultimate Challenge Run” has been for MissMikkaa, she promises that she “never once thought about giving up.” The difficulty is a big reason why she was so motivated to finish the challenge. She found herself adapting to the process after every livestream and, once she got to Malenia, who is already an optional endgame boss, MissMikkaa said she was “pretty confident” that she could beat the queen of rot alongside many of the game’s other brutal enemies.
“The easiest part of this run was keeping myself motivated throughout,” MissMikkaa explains. “It was a fun challenge and I enjoyed every aspect of learning and mastering it. I love finding new ways to challenge myself, especially in Elden Ring. This idea was not really seriously considered at first, but when I found myself with an extra capture card in my streaming PC I started thinking to myself, ‘What would happen if I played two games at once?’ At first, I was unsure if the challenge was even possible to begin with, and so were the people around me. But I was kind of curious to see how far I could go. I’ve got to say…I’ve never had so many people coming in and questioning my sanity as I have during this run.”
I mean, I’m questioning MissMikkaa’s sanity, too. It’s hard enough stepping into a FromSoft boss arena on just one platform. Doing that twice, at the same time, with one of your controllers being essentially a slipper bath mat, and still walking away victorious makes me both envious of her skills and stoked about her accomplishment. Talk about “getting good.”
MissMikkaa tells us she finished Elden Ring around January 8, performing an All Remembrances playthrough which requires you beat a FromSoft game by defeating all the bosses that drop consumable “boss souls.” Since then, she’s been bouncing between games on Twitch, like Forspoken and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, while embarking on another “Ultimate Challenge Run” in Dark Souls Remastered. At some point, she said she wants to play through Elden Ring with “a real guitar,” with actions like attacking and healing tied to full chords instead of just individual strings. Lord help her.