A few days ago, the Well Red Mage made a tweet with the very question that is the title of this article. We talked about this a bit back & forth on Twitter. After a few tweets, I thought that my answer would make a great article in my gamer’s thoughts series. I play retro and more modern games, so I think my opinion can matter in the grand scheme of things here. So, here are my two cents. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion about the content of the article and/or the question.
Are games too hard?
Back in 2013, I wrote an article talking about: “What’s a retro game“. I asked myself the question, when does a game become retro? For the sake of this article, let’s not go too in depth about that, since we are here to answer another question.
Let’s focus first on the retro games. Games that are at least 15 years old. Are those too hard? This is a tricky question to answer.
Currently, playing games is a more frequent hobby. There are more people who play games than there were in the past. So, modern games became more accessible. This doesn’t always mean that games of today are easier. There are still very difficult games out there like Dark Souls or the Touhou games. Also, let’s keep it general in this article. Since there are always exceptions to the rule.
This does mean that some retro games are less accessible. This makes them overwhelming and more difficult. For example, the first Tomb Raider games. There were no real tutorials or anything of that nature. So, you had to figure a lot out by yourself. Some old Tomb Raider games had tutorials, but they were optional. You didn’t have to play them. This meant that you didn’t learn all the mechanics and moves. But, that has changed. Now, almost every game starts out with a tutorial.
The fact that the gaming industry has changed makes answering the question of this article more difficult. The first commercial game cabinets were published in the late 1970’s and the first consoles came not too long after. The gaming industry is still quite young when you compare it to other media. Nowadays, developers have more experience.
Let’s leave it at that, otherwise, we might be here all day talking about the changes in the gaming industry instead of trying to answer the question of the article. So, are retro games too hard?
Honestly, this is too general question to be able to answer. But, I honestly think that it all comes down to the play style a gamer prefers.
A very common issue with older games is that some games required so much time input to memorize each level and area to get the most perfect run. Time, that not everybody has in this day and age.
Additionally, this can be a very frustrating game mechanic. Having to play each level over and over again. So, when we get bored with a game; we simply take another game to play. There are so many games we can play nowadays. Something we lacked in the past, so we tried and tried again until we succeeded to beat the Pokémon Leauge Champion or Doctor Robotnik.
Modern games are spoilt with the latest and best knowledge of the developers. Something that makes a huge difference is the controls. There are more buttons on the modern game controllers compared to the retro style controllers. This means that the developers can give better controls to the player. I grew up with the D-Pad, but I prefer to play platformers with a joystick now. You have better control of your character and this makes the game easier.
Something I noticed in modern games is that they are sometimes too easy. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are a perfect example. I didn’t loose one fight in that game, I was able to beat that game with ease.
That isn’t the only game that I played that I didn’t have a lot of trouble with to beat the game. Perhaps, the fact that I’m older and more skilled with games has to do with it. Because I’m nowadays able to beat sections in games I never got passed as a kid for some reason.
I can’t deny that some games hold your hand throughout the adventure or give you tips that help you to beat the game. Mini-maps and mission markers are great examples. There are a lot of modern game mechanics that make games for the player too easy. Some open world games even lack the scene of discovery. Thankfully, Breath of the Wild fixes this somewhat with its towers. Frustrated Jacob made a great video with this point.
In retro games, you didn’t have the hand-holding or all the mechanics we have today. Making the game more difficult in the process. Does that make the games too hard? No, not in my opinion. It makes them outdated. Does outdated mean bad? Far from it!
Retro games are still a lot of fun and they are still relevant. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have retro-styled games. One of my favorite retro styled games is Retro Game Challenge on the DS. In this game, you play through some games that are inspired by retro game classics like Gallica.
I think that retro games aren’t too hard per se, they are out dated due to older and limited technology. Also, modern games are made with more knowledge about how games work. But, let’s not forget about the impact that the internet has in this argument.
Walkthroughs and YouTube videos expose the secrets of every game in mere days of its release. There are a lot of guides to get the best armor or what the fastest or most optimal route is through a game. I think that the impact of the internet speaks for itself here.
So, are retro(styled) games too hard? No, not really. They just use mechanics that have been improved and perfected over time. Games are more accessible now.
I would love to hear your opinion about this. Do you think that retro games are too hard and why? Tell me in the comments and maybe I write a follow-up article using your comments.
But, that’s everything I wanted to say about this subject for now. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another artice but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.