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Topic: Are Games Crippled by Easy Modes?

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Venks

1. Posted:

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When you start up some games for the first time you have a very important decision to make (once you've passed the loading screens and company logos). What difficulty to play on? Take it easy and make your way through the story? Or play it on hard to truly challenge yourself?

A rose by any other difficulty would smell as sweet?

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Rayman games are known, by the few people who play them, for their difficult platforming. Many platformers allow you to jump at various heights depending on how long you hold the button down, but Rayman is one of the games that will send you to the game over screen if you use your high jumps too frequently.
For a long time, in games, it has been a common principle that there needs to be obstacles for the player to overcome. By learning the rules of a game and honing their abilities, players can surpass any challenge.
But what if there is no challenge?

The original Final Fantasy XIII, which I wish was the last story of its saga, was the worst game I think I've ever played in my entire life. And I've played Barbie Super Model for the Super Nintendo.
In an attempt to make the game more accessible to new gamers, Square Enix cut out practically everything that makes a RPG a RPG. There are essentially no NPCs to talk to in the game, the bulk of exploration takes place in narrow hall ways, and each character only has three stats. The only thing the game has going for it is that its probably the most aesthetically pleasant game on the PlayStation 3. The lack of challenge and depth left me completely appalled and keeps me hesitant from trying newer titles in the Final Fantasy franchise.

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There are games without challenge that I find myself able to enjoy. Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing are both games that I enjoy even though I don't have to dodge bullet fire.
These games do a wonderful job at presenting unique themes, introducing interesting characters, and placing the player in a role that generally can't be found in other games. In Animal Crossing I found myself really enjoying coming across the random villagers that made up my neighbors. These creatures all have their own odd behaviors and choice of words.
I could tell the game had a powerful hold over me when one of my favorite neighbors had moved away to a friend's town. I was so sad to see her go, but as an awesome last gesture she had sent me a letter along with a piece of furniture. That piece of furniture just so happened to complete the set I was going for. I couldn't of asked for a better memento to remember my virtual friend.

Master Of Your Own Destiny

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The white tanooki suit in Super Mario 3D World seems to be generating some distaste amongst 'retro' gamers. For those of you who don't know, the white tanooki suit is an item that appears after dying multiple times in a row within the same level. The item makes you invincible from enemies and spikes that would normally knock you out. The complaint I see the most is that people who beat levels using the white tanooki suit didn't 'earn' their victory. I honestly look at this as a very out dated line of thinking.
Back in the NES days there were a lot of very difficult games. Not everyone wants to spend hours upon hours learning the exact positioning and timing required for intense platforming moments. In today's age of gaming, developers try their best to make their games as accessible as possible so players of any skill level can have fun.
A very young player might get frustrated with a particular difficult challenge and the white tanooki suit is there to assist him. A more patient player who finds themselves failing a few too many times will also see the white tanooki suit appear, but by no means is the item mandatory. If you prefer the challenge and want to learn from your mistakes you can ignore the power-up and focus on the problems ahead. It's simply a choice for you to make.

It's not always apparent to most players, but ignoring certain items is a great way to ramp up the difficulty if it fits your fancy. I've yet to try a 'No Mushroom' run of a Mario game, but I have tried the 'Three Heart Challenge' in Zelda and 'Minimum Level' boss fights in Kingdom Hearts II. By keeping my health low in one game and my experience down in another, I'm able to turn simple hindrances into nightmare inducing spawns of true evil.
Player created challenges like these really require you to learn the ins and outs of the mechanics of the game. A single missed dodge or mistimed attack can be your last. This maybe exactly what you're looking for if you feel you need more challenge from your games.

Pick Your Poison

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Now some developers literally have you choose between modes of difficulty. Far too few games actually change the game in meaningful ways when you choose a difficulty setting. More times then not the game merely alters a few values such as damage and health.
I really enjoyed playing Tomb Raider with my partner in love and crime. When ever she was silly enough to put the controller down I'd steal it for myself and shoot some arrows through some unsuspecting hats. I eventually decided to give the game a go by my lonesome on the hard difficulty. It took me quite some time to figure out what the changes were. I was really hoping for end game enemies and attack patterns to turn up early alongside new threats. Much to my dismay the only differences I could note were my opponents dealt more damage and had more health.
Having already played the game a bit I was more then accustomed to dodging molotov cocktails and enemy projectiles. Increasing the damage of these attacks literally has no effect on me since the attacks are unable to land. I'm no Robin Hood but I was having no problem aiming for instant kills with my bow and arrow. Increased health, or not, a killing blow is a killing blow. Even on hard mode action scenes felt too easy and had become repetitive.

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Then we have the beautiful game Catherine. This game has you climbing up a tower of blocks as it slowly collapses. You have to utilize several block pushing/pulling techniques in order to ascend. Trick blocks and annoying fellow climbers will slow you down as the tower seems to collapse that much faster.
If puzzles aren't your strong suit I heavily suggest playing it on easy. This game is definitely one of the more challenging ones made now a days. Rather then just changing the amount of time you have to climb the block towers, the difficulty settings actually have their own puzzles. The techniques you have to employ in order to rise from one level to the next change with each difficulty setting.
I really wish more games had differing content between modes. Not that I'd cheat on Catherine to be with them. That would be would be wrong.

Edited on by Venks

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MAB

2. Posted:

WUT?
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MAB

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Happy_Mask

3. Posted:

Difficulty isn't nearly as important during the development process, most of the time, devs just tack it on so people don't complain. The previously mentioned system of raising enemy health and power is ludicrously simple and fast to implement, so it's easy to see why it's used so often. While I'd certainly like more variety on different difficulties, good game design is more important, so it should always come first.

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WaLzgi

4. Posted:

I certainly don't understand the logic of how a game is ruined by easy mode. I see users on other sites complaining about Casual Mode in Fire Emblem or Super Guide in general.

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Royalblues

5. Posted:

Nope. Imagine if Etrian Odyssey IV didn't have an easy mode. That game hardly sells in the west, but a casual mode, combined with the possibility of purchasing the title as a download has helped the game sell immensely. Especially since that is the prime example of a niche game.
So no. The main point in playing a game is to have fun. If a game's difficulty stifles one's enjoyment of the game, I don't see how having an easier setting hurts the game at all.

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Platypus

6. Posted:

My only real problem with difficulty modes is that you sometimes have no idea how hard a game is before you play it. For some hard games 'easy' is the best way to play.

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GuSolarFlare

7. Posted:

as long the player gets the choice to either accept or refuse the easy mode there's no harm done to hard games. but playing easy games is awesome as long as you don't expect a challenge. but yeah there's that problem some games are having lately that even the hardest mode is easier than it should....

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SkywardLink98

8. Posted:

I don't see the problem when you can refuse to play it on easy. If Fire Emblem: Awakening didn't have casual it probably wouldn't have sold as much. I was drawn in by the lure of permadeath, but I made sure to play it on normal my first time.

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Philip_J_Reed

9. Posted:

Yes. I absolutely loathe the fact that the games I enjoy can also be enjoyed by gamers of a lower skill level.

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WaLzgi

10. Posted:

Philip_J_Reed wrote:

Yes. I absolutely loathe the fact that the games I enjoy can also be enjoyed by gamers of a lower skill level.

Like Bird Mania?

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ultraraichu

11. Posted:

I'm actually cool with the whole easy/casual mode that been implemented in modern games. There have been more willing and active gamers this decade then they have been in the 90s.

The only thing that bothers me sometimes is when gamers try to segregate other gamers because the path they choose, ex. "hardcore" gamers says I'm not a true gamer because I play Fire Emblem on casual instead of classic. Btw I most brought that game because I can choose not to have permadeath which to me was a deal killer with the past installments.

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AJ_Lethal

12. Posted:

I'm cool with several difficulty options.

The "one-size-fits-all" approach is the real cripple, tho.

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Gioku

13. Posted:

I never play on easy mode, so I wouldn't know. B-)

Anyway, they also do nice things like give you special sparkling stars for never using the white tanooki suit - if you use it even once, your stars will never sparkle again, ever!

But, also, easy modes are great for younger folks like my little sister who's just starting out playing games - she can now play some of the harder games I play without any help from me since they've got easier modes! :)

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Happy_Mask

14. Posted:

AJ_Lethal wrote:

I'm cool with several difficulty options.

The "one-size-fits-all" approach is the real cripple, tho.

There are some cases in which I might agree with that statement, but there are games that are designed so players of all skill levels can enjoy them. Legend of Zelda is a good example of this.

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Kyloctopus

15. Posted:

Easy mode should not cripple the game IF it is a single player game (Mega Man 2. If the game has any sort of multiplayer mode (Fire Emblem Awakening, Runner 2) I can't help but feel the game is slightly flawed at the least, because you could be a hardcore player, going with the Classic and Hard mode of Fire Emblem Awakening, your army is struggling, but your little brother who is a beginner to the series, has Streetpassed you with his big wall of an army, just because he played Easy, Casual. Who is the better player? There is no way to find out.
However, that's not to say there cannot be a balance.
Take Kid Icarus Uprising for example: The game is brilliant with 100 difficulty options, and an excellent Risk-Reward system. There's also no harm into going back into a mission on an easier mode. You can do it at any time.

Edited on by Kyloctopus

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the_shpydar

16. Posted:

Question: "Are games crippled by easy modes?"

Correct Answer: "No."

/thread

Edited on by the_shpydar

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Venks

17. Posted:

Within the past two hours I have finished the final 9 boss segment in Megaman Zero and finished the Savage Labyrinth in LoZ: Wind Waker for my Three Heart Challenge on Hero's Mode. Even though Megaman Zero was much harder and took longer to do I found Wind Waker to be much more frustrating.

In Megaman Zero it took me awhile, but I learned every boss's attacks and how to dodge them. I had occasional hiccups, but I could defeat 5 of 9 bosses without being hit a single time. It was a very rewarding experience. Then with Wind Waker... The Savage Labyrinth puts you in small rooms full of different enemies. Most of these rooms are really easy as the enemies are all opponents with one or two attacking options. But every now and then I'd lose a heart to having trouble using the 'lock on system' due to certain camera angles. When I finished that mini-dungeon it was more a feeling of relief then exhilaration.

I really enjoy challenge, but now and then it can get to be a bit too much. That's when I grab something out like Recettear An Item Shop's Tale. The game can be hard as well, but it's more a thinking game than a quick reflex test.

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Dave24

18. Posted:

I have nothing against easy mode, because game should be made for everybody to enjoy. Easy mode nowadays is a must, because "pro reviewaz" are tards who can't play games and when they go normal and die complain that "game t00 hardz" - some reviews of TW101 were pathetic.

No, games are not crippled by easy mode, they are crippled by TOO easy hard modes. When you choose hardest difficulty setting, you expect a real challange - what most games do is just add more enemies and call it a day or there is barely any difference. The recent example I played was Dishonored - on very hard it was stupid easy game, same with SC: Blacklist, which is actually destroyed by higher difficulty settings, because they obviously show you the one and ONLY path to the objective without being noticed. I guess it depends on game design.

Edited on by Dave24

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GuSolarFlare

19. Posted:

Dave24 wrote:

I have nothing against easy mode, because game should be made for everybody to enjoy. Easy mode nowadays is a must, because "pro reviewaz" are tards who can't play games and when they go normal and die complain that "game t00 hardz" - some reviews of TW101 were pathetic.

No, games are not crippled by easy mode, they are crippled by TOO easy hard modes. When you choose hardest difficulty setting, you expect a real challange - what most games do is just add more enemies and call it a day or there is barely any difference. The recent example I played was Dishonored - on very hard it was stupid easy game, same with SC: Blacklist, which is actually destroyed by higher difficulty settings, because they obviously show you the one and ONLY path to the objective without being noticed. I guess it depends on game design.

yeah they could add a "guideless" hard mode it would be a lot of fun to get lost(I like getting lost in games it makes me find some really cool things by accident :D )

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