Recently I started playing Odin Sphere and Iíve commented several times on the games beauty and difficulty but it wasnít until someone mentioned Super Paper Mario did I start thinking about their similarities and the effect the games respective difficulty have had on the overall outcome.
Super Paper Mario (Wii) and Odin Sphere (PS2) are very different games but there are a few key things that tie them together and make them fairly interesting to compare. The first thing is obviously the very interesting art style. While both are different, they are both very simple compared to many of the more complex games such as the ultra realist Gears of War or the stylalized Crackdown. The next interesting thing to compare is the story of the games. Odin Sphere may not have the best writing, but it does have a fairly interesting story and is told in a very clever manner. Super Paper Marion on the other hand may not have the most compelling story but it does have absolutely brilliant writing. The last thing to compare, and the point of this article, is the difficulty. On the easy end of the difficulty spectrum you have Super Paper Mario and on the hard end you have Odin Sphere.
Now to the point: how does difficulty affect a game?
Iíve played through Super Paper Mario and played a good deal of Odin Sphere and I have talked to several friends who have done the same and we all feel as a group that story is an important aspect and we all feel that a good art style is more important than realistic looking. We all say that story and style are important and that we can be entertained by these things alone, but what effect does difficulty have on this idea?
All of us enjoyed Super Paper Mario for its great writing and wonderful graphics. We all had gripes about the lack of difficulty but it wasnít something that stopped us from wanting to play or even had a real negative effect on the most part. For Odin Sphere, once again we all loved the story and how it was told, we all fell in love with the spectacular sprite work and detail, but insane difficulty of the game stopped just about all of us. Only one of my friends has decided to actually stick with the game but that is only because he is incredibly stubborn.
So it seems you can have a game that excels in several areas with almost no difficulty whatsoever, but if the same game was so hard that itís frustrating, those areas that the game excels in just donít matter. This may seem a bit obvious (and it should be in that frustrating = bad) but I think it is interesting that a game without any difficulty is actually fun when you would think it really shouldnít be.