Happened to the Impossible Game?
the days when beating a game meant something? The days when a
game didnít have a complete final level because they figured
no one would ever get that far? Remember when youíd work for
years at a game and never come close to finishing it? Whatever
happened to those? Sometime around the 16-bit generation games
got easier. Games were made so that they could be beaten in a
dedicated sitting, or came with passwords or other built in
save features that let you record your progress and pick up
where you left off at a later date. Nowadays you are expected
to beat a game. Unlike before where you were a god if you
could complete a game like Defender or Asteroids
or Pac-Man, now you are made to feel somewhat less of a
gamer if you canít see games through until the end.
the only way game developers can make a game
"unbeatable" is by making it long. Developers have
quit hindering in game progress with sheer difficulty and have
begun doing it with length. If you canít beat Final
Fantasy X itís not because youíve run out of continues
or quarters or you just canít get past that bastard of a
boss, itís because you donít have the time or the patients
to play a game for 90 hours. I have a huge pile of games that
fall into this category. Games like Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec,
that are so long and tedious and require such a time
commitment to complete that few players will be able to do so.
get me wrong: all of these games I mentioned are great. They
really are. What Iím getting at is whatever happened to
difficulty? Have gamers become so use to beating games that itís
almost required of developers to make it easier for them to do
so? Take Japan for instance, where developers are quite vocal
about the fact that Japanese gamers donít like to be
challenged, and the difficulty of games like Silent Hill 2,
Metal Gear Solid 2, or Devil May Cry have to be
"toned down" to appeal to a wider audience. You can
see it happen whenever a game is released: if players canít
beat it easily, it must be a problem with the gameís design.
It is seen as a flaw that should be corrected in the sequel.
Look at the clamor caused by difficultly of games like The
Stuntman, Gunvalkyrie, and Hitman: Codename 47.
All of these games require massive amounts of skill, patients,
and dedication to beat, and reviewers blasted them for it.
Gamers were put off by their difficulty and filled Internet
message boards with complaints. Developers hear these comments
and seek to "correct the issue" in later releases.
Youíll be able to see it when Hitman 2: Stealth Assassin
is released in October. Mark my words: this game wonít be
one tenth as difficult as the first.
it the difficulty of Hitman part of its charm though?
Didnít completing it give you a sense of accomplishment not
felt in games since the 8-bit days? Isnít it satisfying to
finish a level in the Stuntman, or get to the end of Gunvalkyrie?
The truth is, games that were difficult to play, and actually
required a level of skill to complete, were one of the things
that made games charming and addictive way back when. Those
moments where five or six people would stand around an arcade
machine in awe at a person who was about to get the high
score, or defeat the final boss will be remember by all who
still remember the feeling I got when I completed Tomb
Raider. After a solid 13 months of daily play I was
finally able to complete that difficult, difficult game
without any help from a strategy guide. About the only feat
that made me feel more satisfied than that was the moment I
beat Emerald Weapon in Final Fantasy VII. I honestly
dedicated two hours a day for about six months trying to put
him under. I finally realized that I couldnít beat him at
the state I was in (around level sixty at the time with very
few of the really good materia), so I started the game over
and spent the next six months playing the game all over again,
eventually maxing out my characters and finding every hidden
secret and item in the game. It was twelve months in the
making, but when I took Emerald on for the final time, it was
all worth it. I tore into him like a hurricane, and although
the battle lasted over an hour and a half, I emerged
victorious. I can still remember the feeling I got when the
screen began to flash and Emerald began to turn all red and
transparent. I would have thought my heart was going to stop I
was so excited. For the most part though, those days are long
gone. Now, only the rare puzzle game has that level of
difficulty, and the only games that go undefeated are ones too
long to hold someoneís attention span all the way through.
Take, for example, Omega Weapon from Final Fantasy VIII, who
was supposed to be the mother of all "Weapons". I
was able to beat him the first time around without even
trying, and I wasnít even near maxed out!
really like to see the return of the impossible game, or at
least impossible challenges hidden in games. With all these
classic remakes coming out it wouldnít be too much to ask
that Contra: Shattered Solider or Shinobi are
just as difficult to beat as the originals were. I think Sega
might be out to bring that old school, arcade difficulty back
to the consoles, as it has been seen in games like Rez,
Gunvalkyrie, Jet Set Radio Future, and Virtua
Fighter 4, but Iíd really like to see more of it. I
would really love to see a game come out that challenges
everyone. I would love to see a game that taunts you with its
difficulty; that mocks you for not being worthy enough to beat
it. Iím talking about a game so impossible to beat that
those that do so are honored and revered, are given fame and
riches and monuments in their honor. That would be a very
welcomed return to the "Golden Age of Gaming".