There exists a belief engrained in modern video game culture that the accessibility of save points and implementation of checkpoints created a culture of coddled players who don’t know the true horrors (or honor) of hardcore games from yesteryear.
Mega Man, Super Mario, Castlevania, Contra and a slew of other games on the console were extremely short experiences. Once you knew the weaknesses of the robot masters or could anticipate when a random enemy would appear, you could beat these games in an hour. No one wants to spend $60+ on a one-hour experience.
Early games needed to be trial and error to justify replayability. Punch-Out looked like a boxing simulator but in reality it was a rhythm timed puzzle game which would lull players into a false sense of security and without warning, change the formula. It was a dirty trick to force the player to the game over screen.
Cheap tricks aren’t the same as purposeful, challenging game design.
In contrast, modern games are more story focused and do offer players the chance to save their progress at a moment’s notice. This isn’t a watered down experience, it is respecting the player’s time.
It can be said the default mode on most AAA games today are easier than the default mode from the NES-era…because those games just had one difficulty slider. But if you play The Last of Us, Call of Duty, Devil May Cry, XCom or most games on their highest difficulty setting, a challenge awaits.
The Last of Us MemeThis is a brilliant choice that shouldn’t be overlooked. It opens up the possibility for a challenging experience to the type of gamer that wants to prove mastery over the mechanics but still leaves the door open for a casual player who just wants to experience the story. Developers are crafting games over two potentially different audiences.
Modern games can still be just as difficult as old classics; you just have to open the options menu.
Do you think modern games are easier than older ones? Did you notice I didn’t even mention notoriously difficult games like Ninja Gaiden, Battletoads, Demon's Souls or Super Meat Boy?
Level Up, Friends!