I’m standing on a tightrope. Somewhere above me is a red coin. Despite repeated attempts at snagging it from the sky, I can’t quite seem to snag it. An angry cloud is whooshing back-and-forth, trying its best to snipe me out of the sky.
Again, I leap. Hurtling towards the coin, the angry cloud finally tags me. Reeling from the pain, my Mario falls like a rock to the lake below. In time with the splash, my controller gets spiked into the ground…again.
Over the past few days, I’ve been obsessed with 20XX. Clearly inspired by the Mega Man series of games, 20XX puts its own twist on the run-and-gun gameplay by housing the game in a Roguelike framework. While I gave heavy praise for the ways it stands out, it’s similarities with the most recent Mega Man game run even deeper than I thought.
Historically, difficulty settings have been rudimentary in nature. You either get a choice of X number of settings from easy to hard, or the game simply is what it is. Whether the option of difficulty should be in every game – or no games at all – is a frequently debated topic. Try starting a thread about the Dark Souls series needing an easy mode and watch the internet explode in all directions.
Celeste may not have started it, but it’s the game that got me thinking about difficulty in a more granular sense. Since then, I’ve noticed other games that offer different takes on more nuanced difficulty settings.
For a few days, I was on a roll with Split/Second. I was really enjoying the progression through the career mode and I thought this wouldn’t end like my experiences with Burnout Paradise or Blur, where I hit a figurative brick wall. In both games, I hit a point where I needed “x” amount of points to move onto the next set of challenges, yet I couldn’t muster up the skills to make the necessary progress. At first, I was finishing second or third in my Split/Second races, which was enough to get me to the next episode. However, my lack of perfection eventually caught up.