Discussion: Super Easy Mode – Is it really all that bad?
I recently stumbled upon this hilarious video, but there actually are modern games that take easy mode seriously. The question is, is this really that bad?
When Megaman 10 was released it came with a easy mode where pits and spikes were covered up. I guess many people found Megaman 9 too difficult, though I’ve beaten all the bosses with the megabuster only and no E tanks. I hear some other people might have found it difficult *exit douchebag*. Bayonetta had easy combo mode where you didn’t have to learn any complex button combinations to perform awesome moves. Then there’s New Super Mario Brothers Wii that provided a walkthrough of the level if you died too much (optional, but still present). Are games too hard and we need to start putting in really easy modes, or have gamers gotten too coddled?
On one hand I look at something like Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey and think that if it didn’t have unlimited lives, I would have never finished it. It was one of the first games that really displayed the usefulness of having unlimited lives that I can remember. I found the puzzles alone appropriately challenging without having to complete the game from the beginning if I failed too much, and god how much I failed. There are also, as Brian discussed on GameCrashers Radio Episode 51, pits that contain secrets while others that contain instant death. Would the game have benefited from a lives system to make it more difficult? No, it’s plenty difficult on its own. Plus the game wanted to promote exploration. No one would jump into a pit if they had lives to worry about (incidentally, secret pits are indicated by dust falling off the edge of the platform). Back in the day, games were completely content to give you a very limited amount of lives and if you failed to complete it, you had to start the game over again. This also had to do with limited save capabilities.
It seems the happy medium is to have unlimited lives and reasonable checkpoints. This is probably why my head split after all these years when I tried to play Bit Trip Runner because there are no level checkpoints and everything is one hit kill. It’s probably the hardest game I’ve played in a while. I hesitate to say that’s what we as gamers really want though. Yes, we want to be challenged, but I can only curse at the screen so much before my wife starts to question my coping abilities.
A game like Prince of Persia comes out where there are no lives and no reasonable way to die, checkpoints are virtually the same ledge you fell off, and suddenly I start hearing complaints of it being too easy. It really isn’t that much different from other games, the checkpoints were just much much tighter.
So it seems we want unlimited lives and checkpoints that are punishing enough without coddling us, no? This is what I think. Gamers should be able to choose their difficulty based on their preferred play types. If you play on easy, you’ll never become good at the game but you’ll get through it. This is enough for some. Playing on hard mode forces you to become a master and a perfectionist, though not everyone wants to be. I find myself in the middle ground. I want to be good at the game when I come away from it, and becoming good at it depends on how hard I pushed myself during gameplay, but I don’t want an 8 hour game to take me 20 hours. I have things to do.
So ultimately, if you want a game to play itself, more power to you. If you want the game to play you and destroy you, have at it. Honestly I don’t see a problem having obscenely easy modes because it’s all individual preferences. Let players be individuals, just make sure I can play the way I like to play.