Hard Game Is Hard

My significant other and I have had a falling out. No, not my girlfriend, my co-op partner. Ric knows what I mean.  It hasn’t been the smoothest of co-op relationships. At one point it looked destined to fail, what with him and his Xbox and me, who adored my PS3. Things smoothed over a little when I converted to the ranks of Xbox, and everything seemed to be going well. We ploughed through games together, locally and online. Fable 2 and 3, Portal 2, Hunted: Demons Forge, the list seemed endless.

The thing is, there has always been a competitive edge to our gaming. Competitive games like Soulcalibur and Tekken were played just as often as co-operative games, and often far more fiercely. Neither of us are good losers (or particularly pleasant winners) so matches were always hard fought and intense.  It was that streak of competitive that resulted in our most recent spat. You see, we both managed to grab copies of Trials HD, and instantly the battle for bragging rights commenced. After my early domination, a full blooded and bitter Trials feud began.

Ever have one of those days?

Thankfully it ended as we progressed in the game, and became less occupied with putting up quick times and far more interested in just finishing the tracks, no easy task on the higher difficulties. As the difficulty on the game kept spiraling upwards, I became more and more engrossed and determined to complete all the tracks. It got so bad that, in the interests of not failing my exams and by extension my life, I had to unplug my Xbox and conceal my controller. Thankfully I had a large pile of junk food to bury it under.

While my hands itched for the controller I was forced to think, not an activity I engage in often. By the time the cogs had finally started moving and the smoke leaking from my ears had cleared I was wondering why difficult games were so much fun.  Because it’s not just Trials. There’s Demon Souls as well, which been massively successful and praised by gamers and critics alike for how hard it is. In fact, they loved it so much that when the sequel, Dark Souls, was released there were complaints that it was too easy.

So what is it about games like this that make them so popular? What is it that gets ‘older’ gamers foaming at the mouth when you bring up the topic? Are games really so much easier now?  The simple answer is “yes”. Games are now a much more commercial area than they once were. Take EA, for example, who have become much maligned for their use of Online Passes and day one DLC to maximise the money that they make.  Now, it stands to reason that the more casual gamer, the one who likes FIFA and COD and that’s about it, isn’t going to buy a game that they can’t beat. What they want from a game is the ability to sit down and play, lengthy and complex tutorials are only going to turn them off. A boss so tough that it requires a dozen attempts will have them hurling obscenities and, probably, controllers.

I’ve got nothing against casual gamers; I’m actually of the opposite opinion in that I think it’s fantastic that more people are enjoying games. However, it seems that games have started to target them as an audience. Again, I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it didn’t mean that they got dumbed down. That’s not the only reason of course; the rise of home consoles has had something to do with it as well. Games are no longer designed with that addictive blend of difficulty and ‘just one more go’ mentality in mind. They were made like that to make you keep putting coins in the machines and, if you were good enough to fight your way to the end, give you a sense of accomplishment that felt worth the expenditure.

The thing is, I’m a big fan of difficult games. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you take out the last boss in a fighting game and the rush that you get when you’re down to your last clip in a room full of enemies and still come out on top.  That buzz is what got me hooked on games so long ago. I can still remember fuming at Metal Slug as the ‘continue’ screen counted down, and I pumped so many coins into the Tekken machines that I’m still broke. And that’s only a slight exaggeration. The challenge of the game is part of what makes it so enjoyable to me, and I’m willing to put up with poor AI and vastly overpowered bosses, just for the rush and the fuzzy feeling I get when I win. Not that I want poor AI and the like. I just want a challenge.

So please… make games easy if you must, but call the difficulty just that: Easy. I don’t want to breeze through a game with my hands tied behind my back and claim that I beat it on hard. Give me a challenge! Make me rage, make me growl, make me yell in frustration. Make me invest in the game, so by the time the ending rolls around I actually care.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got Trials HD to fail at.

Last five articles by Keegan



  1. Rook says:

    Once you’re done with Trials HD there’s also Trials DLC and Trials Evolution. Plenty more ‘just one more go’ attempts. However, if you wait, you’ll be able to take advantage of the sale on the 24th of this month for Trials content.

  2. SimonJK says:

    My beef is really how a game is made more difficult. I love it when a game is made harder by improving the AI or increasing the amount of enemies and such but hate it when game simply just adjusts the damage done compared to the damage recieved and just do do the same stuff but it take s stupidly longer – BORING! It’s not just that but the rewards for completing a more difficult task really needs higher gains and not always just achievements – better loot or even better FMV or extra levels and not just ‘okay, next level that is the same as I did in easy mode’. My other beef is aiming the difficulty of games at a co-op level and not just scaling to the amount of players.

    Lets take an example I probably will get flamed for – my beloved Borderlands 2! This time around they have included raid bosses that are stupidly hard and can only be defeated with 4 players without using a specific shot gun and sheild combo and glitch areas. But since the recent patch they have made each boss leveled to playthough 1 but you get basically no decent rewards or even get any enemy related reward – the special crystals and they have ruined the said easy equipement and on top of that the rare equipement you can get (orange stuff) has such a low percentage chance of finding it makes it not worth trying to begin with. Not Fun! If you make a single player game – make it possible to complete fully in single player with the decent chance of the decent rewards.

    I think one of the main problems is they now tend to aim most games at all gamers due to the fact of both sales and they simply don’t make enough genres to go around.

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