Some people may argue that games nowadays are too easy, and I would agree with them. The "old-skool" difficulty of the NES days is simply gone now. The glory days of having 3 lives to complete a level has been replaced with refilling health bars, or checkpoints placed at almost every jump. Does this make the game experience less frustrating, or does it just make the games easier?
This is a question that I think everyone will have a different opinion on, and there isn't really a right or wrong way to feel about it. And, the views can also very for game to game. Maybe lives are necessary in a platformer, but they have become unneeded in a shooter? Do lives make Mario Galaxy harder, or more frustrating?
Lives in a game, to me, are necessary. I always think it's kind of unfair to be able to die as many times as I want trying to make a jump, with no real penalty. Here's an example. In the Jak and Daxter Series, when you miss a jump, you restart at the nearest checkpoint. This is all well and good, but there's really no penalty for messing up. Okay, maybe you have to walk a few steps extra, but really, what challenge is that?
In Mario Galaxy on the Wii, there are certain spots where you have to get to a certain point. You have so many tries, and then if you fail, you are kicked out to start the level over again. This feels like a better setting because it gives you some incentive to take your time, and try harder not to fail. The punishment is just right, not frustrating, but reason enough to avoid failing 100 times. (Unless you have 100 lives, which in Mario Galaxy, wasn't an overly difficult task)
The shooter genre today also seems to have wimped out in some regards. You take hits, but in many games, you are no longer frantically seeking out those health packs. Instead you simply hide in a corner, and wait for your no doubt magical blood to make it all go away. (I'm looking at you, KillZone) This makes the game have more flow, yes, and your characters do feel somewhat fragile, as it doesn't take many more than a few bullets to make you a mangled corpse, but still. Find some cover, stay there for 5 seconds, and it's ALL better. Let's go men! We all have that magical blood, right?!
I know I'm exaggerating a little, but do these changes to make the game flow better really make the game all that better? I suppose this brings up another question then.
Are Difficult Games Fun?
Personally, I think so. I love trying really hard to beat a boss or whatever, only to lose a few times, throw my controller in frustration, and then pick it up an hour later and then finally win! Victory comes with a feeling of pride, but if there is no difficulty in getting there, it feels like a cheat, and leaves me personally with a hollow feeling inside.
So, yeah, I love struggling in video games, but I can understand those who want their games to just flow, and be an experience. But, I can understand those who might be frustrated with the life-system. It just comes down if you like struggling to beat a boss, or if you prefer to just move through the experience in a continuous flow.
And that's my first editorial-style blog about video games. I hope you enjoyed, and I hope I wasn't -too- all the over place.