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In any visual medium, the artist strives to convey more information about the story and its characters through "showing," as opposed to "telling." With the amount of technical wizardry that modern developers have at their disposal to convey personalities and emotions, how could games of the 8-bit era ever have offered anything approaching relatability?
Truthfully, many NES games relegated their stories and characters to the pages of their instruction manuals. Yet some developers managed to transcend the technical constraints of the console to create characters that truly felt alive.
Kirby's Adventure not only established the character and personality of Kirby, but also informed the aesthetic of the series for decades to come. It truly stands as an example of the potential of creativity to overcome, and even benefit from, limitations.
Difficulty may be impossible to quantify outside the context of a specific game or genre, yet the delicate balance that developers must strike with player input is essential to ensure that the game is more fun than frustration.
In this video, I take a stab at defining difficulty and attempt to identify how Dark Souls did well in achieving a sense of fairness.