Games for Wimps: The Declining Difficulty of Games

September 10th, 2010 -

Have you ever thought “Hey, I’m older now… I’m pretty awesome at video games these days – let’s try playing those games I sucked at when I was younger,” busted out the NES, only to have your arse handed to you more so than you remember? Well, that’s never happened to me, but I can see it happening to most of modern society.

See, there’s been this trend happening lately, where games get easier and easier because people hate failing at things… And with the addition of achievements/trophies to games, it seems that the intrinsic value of playing these games has slowly declined. Why do I say this? Well… look at your friends’ list of achievements/trophies – are there any games listed there that really just suck hard, and there’s no way they’d play it without them? Hannah Montana, Avatar The Last Airbender, Barbie’s Pony Ride… I admit I did my fair share of this a while ago (Terminator Salvation was dreadful), but the only time I get excited about them now is if they are actually hard. The one trophy I ever posted to Facebook from my PS3 was Mr. Perfect (who wouldn’t???), because it was actually something worth showing off. It took skill to get – I don’t need my friends to see “You got ‘turn the game on’. *ding*”

So are all games these days ridiculously easy? Not necessarily… Atlus still brings games stateside that actually offer difficulty (Demon’s Souls, 3D Dot Game Heroes [if you play on harder difficulties]), but you also get stuff like Prince of Persia that… doesn’t let you die. What? What do you mean you can’t die? I mean… most games nowadays have no penalty for death. You ‘die’, and go back to a check point, or just end up respawning where you would’ve died. Maybe this is part of the evolution of games… it’s no longer supposed to be a challenge, but something you just experience (it would make sense, since people that don’t play games are more apt to get into them if they aren’t hard) like a movie or a book. So… do I want games to be like they used to be? Or should they continue in this direction, or maybe even Heavy Rain’s (characters die, story continues)?

This is really just a matter of opinion. I can’t say what everyone wants… I love difficult games – thrive on them, even. What I really love is people complaining about something, and me thinking it was so easy… Try this: play Battletoads for the NES – the original one. Let me know how it goes. I am the only person I’ve ever known to beat that game without cheating (unless you count the warps as cheating… but the snow level blows, who wouldn’t skip it on the third level warp?). Mega Man 10… definitely not as hard as Battletoads, or even some of the previous Mega Man games (7 was probably the hardest in my opinion, next to 1), but no one on the blog has beaten it aside from me. Even on easy mode… >.> Easy mode. Um… as far as I recall, we played games much harder than Mega Man on easy mode back in the day. Why is it hard now?

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People have gotten used to having the game hold their hand the whole way through (literally in Prince of Persia), and making sure they enjoy the story without any backlash of not knowing what to do. It gives you the illusion of being really good at games. Maybe it’s to compensate for not allowing 3rd parties to create cheat devices… Maybe it’s an attempt to rope in non video game players… I just know that games today are getting too easy, people are letting them get easy, and it makes things that prove difficult to be something you just give up on opposed to trying over and over until you finally get it (I’m talking about real life here, too). C’est la vie, je pense… Oh well. What are your thoughts on game difficulty now versus then?

  • I have played it. That and Super Meat Boy are live love to me right now. Mmmmm

    Comment by Jason on September 10, 2010

  • Essentially, that's what I was getting at.

    Comment by Jason on September 11, 2010

  • Wow… nerd rage much… jeez!

    Comment by Chris on September 12, 2010

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