Challenging Video Games

There are so many games that struggle to find that perfect balance between baby mode, challenging, and frustrating. Ideally, your game should land right in the middle there, next to Donkey Kong. But where this all gets muddled up is with the addition of multiple difficulties, scaling difficulties, overpowered techniques, exploits, ranking systems. It gets really messy when you start examining what’s fair, what’s bullshit, what should be easier, what should be harder… There’s so many variables and it’s largely subjective to each player’s skill level that I don’t even know where to begin with this video. How about Halo 1? One of my favorite single player shooters. It offers you four difficulties. Which, if you’re a grown-ass man still playin’ video games, still playin’ Halo 1, you need to cross these two off right now, let’s be real. Now, playin’ on PC with a mouse and a keyboard, I could just barely, after about 700 deaths, just barely squeeze my way through this game on legendary.  Halo 1 on legendary changes a man. Then I went back through on heroic and whooped the game’s ass. But, this is my problem: which casino deposit methods south africa did I enjoy more? Legendary was more challenging, but guns like the assault rifle became obsolete.

Most of the time, you’re forced to use the plasma pistol, which is… Is… I hate the plasma pistol! This shit is stupid! On heroic, however, you have much more freedom in how you approach the game, but after playing on legendary, it just feels like a cakewalk. “The Covenant are putting up a real fight.” And a lot of games have that irritating gap between “kind of hard” and ” annoying.” You want the game to push you to your absolute limit, and force you to experiment and find out what works and what sucks is when you find out what actually works just isn’t that fun. Variety and options are sucked out of the game. You have these severe difficulty spikes that feel overlooked by the developers. And what happens is the player starts pushing back. You notice the cracks in the game’s design. You abuse the AI. You learn how to stop enemies from spawning. And when you push the game to its limit, sometimes, it cracks, and your enjoyment is ruined. Mario. Mega Man. Shovel Knight. These games have one fixed difficulty, so you know the experience is entirely tailored around what you’re playing. Without a doubt, it’s the way the game is meant to be played. It doesn’t always result in a perfectly tuned game. But it does lend a huge sense of legitimacy to what you’re doing. Players should have options in how they approach a game, but letting you pick how difficult the game is maybe is just a step too far. It’s like my man Tupac says: “No one man, should have all that power.”

Bioshock 1 on hard, Uncharted 2 remake on crushing, Mass Effect 2 on insane, these difficulties just nailed it for me. I think they’re perfect. But then you have all these other supplementary difficulties that end up being inferior ways to experience the game. What’s really smart, are games that are easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Let the player get a hang on what’s going on, and then continually ramp that shit up until it gets sadistic. Take Mario 64. Uh, not the hardest game ever made, but people just go nuts on this game, man. Far beyond what is actually expected of you. You want that depth, that margin for improvement. It keeps the game alive. You don’t want just a static cap where you don’t feel like you can’t get any better at the game. When you encounter a poorly designed difficulty, you start second guessing yourself. “Is this all Lyric has to offer?” “A challenge would be nice.” “It’s over? Huh. It’s over.” “…whatever that was.” “I never wanna go through it again.” You say, “well if I can’t lose, why isn’t this just a movie?” Or “why am I wasting so many hours just trying to beat this one bullshit part? Why am I wasting my time playing this shitty game? Why do I even play video games? Why do I even exist? Now, when Kirby’s Epic Yarn is causing you to have an existential meltdown, that’s when you need to take a break and say, “this game is too easy.”