Challenge brings people into something more than anything. Maybe there are no save points in the game or the game is so long that it feels rewarding to finally get to the end. Everyone has their opinion on what the hardest game ever is, but there are a few games that stand out as staples of games that make you feel like some games in today’s market are much easier.
Some games take skill, when I asked a few gamers about what they thought the hardest game was and almost everyone had mentioned ‘Ninja Gaiden’ and how it was nearly impossible to beat. While ‘Ninja Gaiden’ is certainly a hard game, I can’t talk as much about it since I personally haven’t beaten it. When I think of games that require more skill than anything to beat, I always think back to fighting games like the original ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Tekken’ games. The original MK had an overpowered Goro that not only had an above average damage scale, but also keeping outstanding agility compared to other characters, making it seem like Shang Tsung, was much easier in comparison. Through the years Goro has become more of an average player, now being strong but slow. In Tekken, Heihachi Mishima, the final boss of the game, always seemed to be the most difficult character in an already difficult game to play. He is always faster than the other characters and the combos don’t stop, making this character seem impossible to beat. These same elements are found in other popular fighting games such as ‘Street Fighter’ fighting against Sagat and with anyone in ‘Street Fighter II Turbo’. Fighting games in general deserve more prominence for being the some of the most difficult games skill-wise, and games like these are reason enough for it.
Some games take dedication; one game I always remember thinking “man this game is so slow! Why aren’t I doing anything exciting?” is ‘Dragon Quest 7.’ JRPGs are my favorite games to play, but this game made me want to just drop it and move on. The game focuses around a world filled with continents that were consumed by some plague in the area at different points in time, after fixing the problem in the area, the continent would show up in the present day. This seems pretty straight forward except I had to do this for over 160 hours through about 18 continents, level grinding, a really slow and ambiguous intro, and repetitious plot events through the game to get to the final dungeon, which took me another 30 hours of gameplay to grind my levels and job classes enough to make it through the Dark Palace. If I had never played this game, it would look like a beta for ‘Chrono Trigger’, but at least that game didn’t take me until the end of time to make it through the game. At the end of my first play through of DQ7, I had over 200 hours of gameplay and I was glad to finally be done with it.
Some games are made beautifully, but are both long and difficult because of the nature of the game. ‘Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War’ is one of those games that kind of takes forever but is still interesting. ‘Fire Emblem’ games typically revolve around one conflict which leads to short, but many chapters. This game however makes the one conflict into many, having extrodinarily large and immersive maps that could keep someone busy for a while. To add more difficulty to the mix, there is a generation gap between chapter 5 and 6, which means that whatever progress you had with characters in the first half will be lost in the second half (excluding the inherited skills and weapons). This game was hard, but it was able to make a hard game fun and appealing to its fan base.
Some games I think people made just to make you want to throw the system out a window because they are so hard. Games like these are infuriating to many people, such as when I have -34 lives at the end of the first level of ‘Cat-Mario’ and the simple unplayability of some games because they are simply designed for you to lose.
Some gaming series in general are just considered hard enough to make a few games intentionally easy for the player. I already talk about the ‘Final Fantasy’ series enough as it is, but ‘Final Fantasy Mystic Quest’ was directly aimed at us in America as an “introductory RPG.” While this game is considered an oddball to many of the FF fan base, I want to say that while this game was certainly different, games shouldn’t be made intentionally easy. There is a difference between making ‘Super Mario Brothers 2’ easier because “the Japanese version was just so much more difficult” (Dr. JJ Shepherd) and intentionally making the game easy. Giving the player a challenge is what keeps most players going.
So have they gotten easier over the years? Older games seem much more difficult because of reasons such as not being able to save, poor controls, or really hard enemies. Most of the newer games on the market are designed for co-op or online competitive games, leaving many RPG and fighting games to having challenging enemy AI in this market. While we don’t have games that make you restart the game at the end, make you look specifically for a bracelet and redo the entire journey to kill the final boss again as in ‘Super Ghouls and Ghosts’, some modern games such as ‘Devil May Cry 2’ and ‘Dark Souls’ are definitely not casual and easy games like Candy Crush. I wouldn’t say that there is a hardest game per say, that’s all up to the power of the player, but the player knows what keeps that a challenge will always keep them coming back.