Rick made a good point in his Sunday Soapbox. Games need a “casual” mode so everyone can enjoy them. However, the vast majority of hardcore gamers enjoy a challenge. In 2004 our prayers were answered: Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox resurrected difficult gaming. But with every Ninja Gaiden, there’s a “Devil May Cry Special Edition”. Want to know what I mean? Head inside for answers.
Everyone who knew me as a gamer since I was a little kid remembers one fact: I always play a game on normal first. After that, I tackle the higher difficulties in sequential order. I like to think I primarily tackle normal because I want to get a feel of what the developers thought the game “should be like”. Often times, I’m incredibly disappointed by how easy it is, but on other occasions, I’m delightfully surprised, or, on rare occasions, blown away by the difficulty.
Capcom made an odd decision when they came out with Devil May Cry 3′s Special Edition: they changed the original game, and made the normal game’s easy mode normal, and made the previous game’s normal, hard (ya dig?). I don’t get why Capcom decided to make Devil May Cry 3:Special Edition so easy. If gamers really thought it was too hard, wouldn’t it make sense to beat it on easy mode, learn the basics, then try again? I had the pleasure of playing Devil May Cry 3 1.0, and let me tell you: it was pretty hard, but not nearly as hard as I had heard. All of the bosses require a certain strategy, and I’ll admit, the Ice Cerberus boss (the second one) was very hard, but it’s doable.
There are a handful of games that “do normal right” these days. Uncharted, Mirror’s Edge, and Metal Gear Solid 4 were all comfortably normal. Not too hard, not too easy. Some games go above and beyond in terms of normal difficulty, like Ninja Gaiden, God Hand, and Street Fighter 4′s Seth. Ninja Gaiden was perfect in that once you finally beat the “hardly normal” (har har) normal game, it smacked you in the face with it’s ridiculous difficulty levels. Master Ninja, the highest honor, not only made you throw your controller into the wall, but your entire television set as well. Regular enemies killed you in one hit. How many people can say that’s “fun”? I have no idea, but let me tell you; I’m glad Team Ninja added it in as an option.
Hard games are being destroyed in reviews nowadays for being hard. IGN gave God Hand a 3/10 because it was “too hard”. The reviewer most likely never played it more than a few hours, and wasn’t accustomed to 3D-Brawlers. After beating it myself; I realized it played very similar to other titles in the genre, and it was easily picked up if you were familiar with it. Prinny: Can I really be the Hero?! is another example. A traditional 2D platformer for the PSP, Prinny was ripped because of it’s difficulty level. Numerous reviews didn’t state much else wrong with the game beyond “it being too hard”. Where have all the good gamers gone? If reviews stated more than the difficulty for a game receiving a low score, I’m all for it. But if the reviewer can’t beat a niche game, then they promote a bad review when they’re aren’t part of the niche, I don’t get it.
Basically what I’m getting at is this: combine Ricky and I’s ideas. Give casual gamers an easy mode to start off the game with extra powers, or simplified button combos. But give other gamers what they want. A challenge. Bring on the “Dante Must Die” and “Titan Mode” difficulties.