Over the last few years, I’ve seen several complaints that games are getting less difficult, and you know what?
Its true. We are no longer in the halcyon days of Contra and Battletoads. With the exception of the cultishly lauded Dark Souls, there are very few games that are based around being incredibly difficult and challenging.
However, the fact is, we don’t need games to do that anymore. You know what I remember of Battletoads story? Nothing. ‘Nout. I’m not even convinced there was a story. I still have literally no goddamn idea what the story in Contra was. Hell, for all I know we were playing the bad guys.
These days, I have a rule when it comes to games: if you have to go on Wikipedia in order to figure out what the story was, then the game designers are not doing their job properly
What people who look back at these older games with nostalgia always disregard is the almost fundamentally lazy nature of their design. You cannot tell me that the level design of Battletoads is somehow superior to the sights of Columbia in Bioshock Infinity or the rolling hills of Skyrim.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a challenging game, but blaming lower difficulty levels for a perceived lack of quality on gaming is not only asinine and borderline elitist, it glosses over the fact that most of these games covered up the fact that the designers had an incredibly limited tool-set to work with with repetitive design and overwhelming difficulty.
Now, game designers have all the tools they need to tell compelling stories – we are now in the position of having truly interactive entertainment, and this is something we should applaud, not deride.