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Hey, do you happen to remember when the first Megaman Zero game was touted as the "hardest Megaman game ever" way back when? I've played it. It's not really that bad -- there's a lot to be said about the options to make the game hard or easy, like trying to consistently get A/S ranks in every mission on the side of hard, or using as many of the Cyber Elves to give you more health and whatnot on the side of easy. I remember this being a big deal at the time, though afterwards there wasn't much said on the issue as a whole.
Let me use an example, and a recent one at that. I'm currently on my first run of Deus Ex. In the interest of testing the waters, I'm playing it straight-forwardly, all-violence and whatnot. And I'm on Easy. Don't worry, I have a stealthy and Medium save too, just this is for my first go. The most recent mission I did involved Juan Lebedev at the airport terminal. Now, in my infinite wisdom, I didn't realize that the Heal All option took most of your precious Medkits to heal your body parts. And seeing how I was on the last leg of the mission with my Head and Torso areas in the red, a single direct hit meant I was a goner. Deus Ex is already a game with multiple options to any situation, but as I locked myself into a set path, clearing out one guardhouse to get to the plane was a problem. I stood by the wall opposite the house's only entrance, and a few yards away in the corner of the area was a pair of cameras and a pair of turrets to go with them. Having already drawn the attention of some of the guards inside, I faced a difficult task: Kill the guards and not die. Yeah, simple isn't it? Even on Easy, the guards had no trouble killing me, and since my sniper rifle was out of ammo and I specialized in Rifles, the only good weapon I had was a shotgun and ... yeah ... so what I wound up doing that worked was, run blindly at the cameras and turrets. It was a guard tower with a locked door, so I hastily lockpicked it before the cameras turned the turrets on me, and I made my way upstairs and reprogrammed the turrets, taking out two of the guards. Turns out there were three people total, so the last guy put up little resistance. I'm amazed that the guards didn't just waste me while I was fiddling with the door.
I'm actually kinda sad I missed out on God Hand. Trying a constantly-evolving difficulty system would've been interesting to see. The better you do, the harder the game is, so it's always "just right" in most cases. Or, that's how I've heard it. I do things on Normal/Medium/etc usually since that's meant to be the middle ground between Easy and Hard. If I plan on multiple playthroughs, then yes, I will go on other difficulties, but Normal is the "I'm going to play this once and this is what I should expect out of the game as a whole." And while I'm on the subject, what is with the idea that "harder" has to equal higher health/stats/etc.? Artificial difficulty in my eyes. Like, take a typical FPS game. Normal you can guess, but crank the difficulty to max. What changes? Usually, your attacks do less damage and your enemies' do much more to you. Oftentimes there's very little change of tactics, just a change in how dangerous situations get, and how long it takes to dispatch your foes. Diablo gives your enemies higher stats, more resists/immunities, and gives you a nice big penalty to your resists the harder the level (though the second game does balance this somewhat by having the best items in the game be available only on Hell mode). I do admit, just changing the stats does make the game harder, but what incentive is there to keep going? To say you beat it? That just doesn't work well with me, sadly. You can make the first Goomba in Super Mario Bros. invincible, but you'd just avoid it. Make all of the enemies invincible, and the game would be a little different. But what if that first Goomba grew big and chased you through the level? That'd be a massive change, sure, but if I play on Hard, I want a challenge that's outside of higher stats. Which takes me to another example. Yay!
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