News Article

1001 Spikes Creator Believes Trends Are Shifting Back Towards Tough, Challenging Games

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"We are at a cusp of a new revolution"

1001 Spikes is available now on the Wii U and 3DS eShop stores in North America, and early noise around the platforming title is that it's pretty darn tough. Retro in looks and, it seems, retro in style, it's sure to endanger 3DS systems and GamePad controllers now that it's nestling on some systems.

Though these versions have been produced and published by Nicalis, the game was created by Samu Wosada. A gimmick of the game is that something special happens if you lose all 1001 of your lives, which even Wosada-san thinks is relatively unlikely for most, though he has explained to Siliconera that he produced the title with his own abilities as a yardstick, rather than the focus-testing approach of big-budget titles — "What I really wanted to accomplish is a very focused game that a select group will really like and accept". In comments likely to resonate with some enthusiastic download gamers, however, Wosada-san explained how he wants players to have a sense of accomplishment in what they do.

By no means do I get any satisfaction or enjoyment by watching people die. I really want to see people clear my stages. I can feel my heartbreak when I see people die I can feel their pain. In all seriousness, I think the true satisfaction of the game is when you clear a level on the fourth or fifth try. You’ve learned the traps, you know what to watch out for, you’ve memorized and you’re finally able to beat it. If you beat it the first time through, then it might not be that fun. There won’t be gratification because you didn’t have to work to beat it.

...Even with in compact spaces, I focused on simple traps, but I combined these traps to create a puzzle. The satisfaction of creating a more complex trap out of a series of simpler traps is very gratifying even as a designer.

Wosada-san clearly believes that we're increasingly seeing a trend where recent ideals such as cinematic experiences are being replaced by a desire for more engaging, interactive games. We're not convinced the retail numbers and profit results will back that up, but it's an ideology that'll certainly resonate with some.

I think almost any genre can benefit from this model of being rewarding through persistence. At some point until the previous generation, there was like an arms race for having a better story, better characters, and better graphics. People felt that was the only way to make a game better. But, we are at a cusp of a new revolution where going to focus again on gameplay and quality entertainment through interactivity. I think we’re talking a step back from story and graphics. It’s about rewarding a player for learning the game. Take a rhythm game for example it’s not just playing a song, it’s about playing a song many times and finally getting to the end of it and feeling 'wow I did it.'

Have you had a chance to take on 1001 Spikes yet? Let us know what you think of the game and Wosada-san's comments.


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User Comments (24)



Kirk said:

Thank God if we really are getting back to games that are more about gameplay, challenge, risk-reward, achievement through mastery etc, over story, graphics and cinematic gameplay.

I still think games absolutely need artistically and aesthetically appealing and polished visuals, even if that comes in the form of a very simple stylised retro look, but I don't want experiences that sacrifice what makes video games so unique, appealing and fun in the first place...

...the interactivity, experimentation and the gamePLAY above all else.



Shepdawg1 said:

This is exactly the kind of trend I'd like to see return. When I play most modern video games, I'm usually able to play through them with little to no challenge at all. It becomes more of a grind to me to complete the game with no problems.

My favorite game of all-time is currently tied between Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, both of which share the same two reasons why: One - The gameplay style in them is engaging and genuinely fun; two - They frequently kick my butt and never let up. When I beat both of those games for the first time, it wasn't until after several hours of trying and trying again to beat that one level and then the next. But even though I got frustrated by them and wanted to pull my hair out, I kept going back because of their great gameplay. Then, when I finally beat Bowser and Dark Link, it makes the victory all the more sweet.

That, to me, is what a great game is. Something that poses a challenge, but makes that challenge approachable with tight gameplay.



Jumwa said:

Haven't we already been amid such a wave? Every indie game that's come along for years seems to be focussed on suffering and misery.

I grew out of difficult games about the time I had to commit myself to working hard for my own business. The last thing I want at the end of a tough day is to sit down and punish myself for some pretend sense of accomplishment. I want to feel relaxed and entertained personally, to get me rejuvenated for the next day of hard work and meaningful accomplishment.



Emblem said:

Sadley this is incorrect, what's actually happening is fragmenting. Gaming on a whole is becoming more casual/cinematic while gameplay is becoming niche, within that niche yes they are correct and tougher games are becoming popular again.

Just look at any top 10 list of sales or game of the year, gamers choice etc. Outside of PC game lists your unlikely to find much games that are not interactive movies, sport or accessible shoot em ups.



Nintenjoe64 said:

I disagree. Looks at IGN's 100 games of last generation. Most of them are 1 button beat em ups like Arkham City or 'hide behind the obvious bits of cover' games. Dark Souls might get loads of hype for being difficult but it's nothing compared to a NES or Arcade game. Even in reviews, it seems like games with a bit of difficulty get marked down compared to the games where everything is signposted..



smikey said:

I was born in 1980 i've played and own a lot of the very hard games but for the most part the games classed as hard today really don't compare.

Some of the indy games are hard or at least full of lost lives vvvvv ect kills you over and over but as there is very little penalty to death how hard can it really be classed as (I really do love that game too) but it's not like some of the nes or even sega games where you die near the end and they say guess what now you have to start from the beginning all over again those last few hours counted for nothing!

Losing a million lives doesn't automatically make the game hard if there is no real penalty for the lost life.



Offspring said:

Indies can make their games as hard as they want but AAA games with mainstream appeal aren't going to get any harder.



sinalefa said:

If you ask me, I prefer to have difficulty levels to cater to everyone. You want to wind up and relax? You can. You want to challenge yourself? You can as well. Even games that can be very hard like W101 have easier settings for novices.

I do agree that games should focus on gameplay, though.



bezerker99 said:

Games with real challenge don't exist anymore. They all went extinct sometime in the early 90's.



Yorumi said:

I wish we'd get back to challenge but I don't see it happening any time soon.



unrandomsam said:

@smikey Having checkpoints every 10 seconds.spoils it as well. Rather have something a bit easier where you have to do a decent chunk.



Ryno said:

I don't really see games going that way. The majority of the most popular games are cover shooters with regenerative health and cheesy soap opera dialogue and boring storylines.



sketchturner said:

You're entitled to your opinion, but personally I disagree. I think you are mixing up difficulty with punishment. Personally, I enjoy games to be very difficult but not punishing. I find it very aggravating that I'll never have a chance to complete a great game like NES Blaster Master because of the finite lives. Meanwhile, a game like Adventure of Link I can actually complete thanks to "game over" not meaning "all progress lost."



Ak_Dub said:

I got this game day one and am really enjoying it! It feels more like a puzzle game even though there is room for improvisation. And the gratification you feel for accomplishing some of these levels is tremendous. I think the comparison in the article of learning a song is a good one because you literally have to chip away at the stages, step by step, until you can finally complete them all the way through. The stage I stopped on last night before bed had killed me 95 times. I believe it's stage 4-4. By this point in the game it is brutal & you have to be incredibly attentive. You can tell a lot of care went into the making of this game and I'm pumped to try & finish it. Knowing that there are 18 different characters w/ different styles and abilities will keep me playing this game for a long time! Not to mention that there are still multiple modes & extras to unlock. Oh and the music rules too! Actually I think I've just talked myself into getting back on the game & getting slaughtered some more can't wait for NintendoLife to review this beast.



JebbyDeringer said:

I think we've started to see more really tough games even though the AAA titles have been getting progressively easier. I can't stand the easy games, I feel like there's little point to play them. The stories usually suck so I don't play them for that. Super Meat Boy was the first really challenging game I played in a while and I loved it. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was also challenging but it was accessible at the same time. Monster Hunter Tri took a lot of time investment to get good at. I like when games balance enough that you can still have fun playing (by doing other missions) but can constantly challenge yourself. The Witcher 2 on PC is damn tough. The short missions aren't bad but the boss fights require a lot of replay until you get your technique just right.



WanderingPB said:

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze FTW!!!

now that out of the way i find it a bit disheartening that some people will complain about a game being too easy but when given a challengingly difficult game they find another reason to complain about game or want more check points.

I shall quote the wise Cranky Kong and say "Old enough to remember when falling in a pit in a platformer was called “lack of skill” and not “cheap.” #DKCTF #WiiU



pyrodoggie said:

If it's RPG, I'm in for difficult games. If it's platforming, I'd rather have it moderately difficult.



khululy said:

@Jumwa the worth and meaning of hard work and it's accomplishment is debetable as is that of games. It can be a nice way to let go of tention after you beat that boss or maybe one would like a nice meaty challenge after another day at the office.

I don't think making a good challenge in a game needs to do away with cinematic or spectacle but both need to be balanced well.
A game like Dark souls 2 isn't really that difficult it just has a good learning curve and it takes a while to understand the way the game is played but it takes some time to master find your way etc. and while I have no problems with games like batman arkham something but I also enjoy my monster hunter tri or a bit of Street Fighter the beauty about games is that they are made by different people for different people and so cater do different tastes, moods and demands and i hope the greedy AAA blockbuster shareholder greedmongers will realize that someday... that it's people, not phiscal year numbers, that keep things afloat and turning.

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