The Difficulty of Difficulty
Making hard games is easy. Making good hard games…well, that’s something else entirely. And clearly a bit too demanding for many people! This article looks at why it’s so dang difficult to find difficult games that manage to be fun as well, mainly by calling out all the cheats and cheaps and shortcuts that developers usually fall back on. (For shame.)
Gradius III: From Legend to Myth
For instance, Gradius III — at least in the arcade — was a game that rather infamously failed to be both difficult and enjoyable, because its challenge mainly stemmed from level designers who utterly hated their customers. But hey, sand dragons, or something.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time
And joining Devil May Cry 3 and Gradius III as a third chapter that almost completely destroyed its respective franchises is Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Me, I’m bugged by the use of till rather than ’til as an abbreviation of until. Technically correct, sure, but it gives me visions of space farmers breaking up soil. Which admittedly would probably be more satisfying than what Tri-Ace did create.
GameSpite Issue 10.2: Spite club
The Difficulty of Difficulty
17 thoughts on “GameSpite Issue 10.2: Spite club”
I thought the series destroyer was DMC2, and 3 was pretty awesome. Then again, I only played the rerelease.
Kishi, you’ve beat the arcade Gradius III haven’t you? You actually took those screenshots?! I tremble in fear and awe.
There’s actually a code in the game to skip stages and get a hundred lives. But enabling it requires setting the DIP switches in an extremely unlikely configuration, meaning you’d probably never have an opportunity to use it on a real machine.
I alos was of the opinion that DMC3 revitalized the franchise after the crapfest of DMC2. Also it was funny in parts, see Dante getting shot in the forhead three times.
Don’t ask me, I’ve never liked DMC. I’m just going by the article.
DMC3 was awesome. Something funny is going on here.
Could someone clarify–I thought Life Force was a mildly altered version of Salamander for America (with the organic aesthetic ramped up a bit), then a slightly more (but still mildly) altered Japanese re-release. Is that right?
Life Force arcade: palette-swapped and slightly jankier tweak of Salamander.
Life Force NES: U.S. name for game released in Japan as Salamander with no tweaks.
The whole thing is too complicated for its own good. I could make the whole Salamander article about the differences between versions.
I like Star Ocean 3, up until the final “plot twist.” It isn’t that bad, I swear. FEED ME RPGS.
Here we go!
Salamander/Arcade/Japan : the original, fixed power-ups
Life Force/Arcade/Japan : remixed version with bio theme and power-up meter
Life Force/Arcade/America: hybrid of the two: bio theme with Salamander’s fixed power-ups
Salamander/Famicom/Japan : a port of the arcade game with slightly different levels
Life Force/NES/America : stripped down port of FC Salamander with ugly power-up bar and ganked endings.
Salamander/PC-Engine/Japan : near-perfect port of arcade completely ruined by checkpoints and slight vertical scrolling in hori stages.
(don’t get me started on the MSX and Euro versions)
Return to Zork is neat if you’re willing to just follow a walkthrough as a sort of tour guide to the writers’ minds. Which, granted, doesn’t count as playing a game. Though the voice acting is so awful that it becomes kind of creepy.
I always find it odd how often people praise Resident Evil 4 for ditching the “tank style” controls people always like to complain about. It doesn’t. It switches to a behind the head camera so they seem less odd, but it’s the same movement controls that have been in there forever. Of course, the claustrophobic camera angles WERE in there to enhance the atmosphere, arguably adding unfair difficulty (getting blindsided by hunters 4 feet down a straight hallway for instance).
I thought Return to Zork’s voice acting was a high point. A high point of funny.
“Who are you? Don’ matter. Want some rye? Course you do!”
Flicker and slowdown aside, I f’ing loved Gradius 3 on SNES, and I think my experience was all the better for never having experienced the game in arcades. I can still hum most of the music today…
Just heard you on Player One Parish and when you said Away Shuffle Dungeon was like Soul Blazer my ears perked up. Hopefully you can talk about that more soon.
Another thing about RE4 that wasn’t touched upon in the article is the 5 variable difficulties within each difficulty level. Every time you use a continue, I believe there’s about a 60% chance that you’ll go down one difficulty level, affecting the number and even types of enemies. I found it a little frustrating, but I’m sure some people out there appreciated it, heh.
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