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Your Choice of Difficulty Level with SNES Platformers


NESfiend
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I thought about this when I was playing Super Star Wars earlier. NES didn't have many difficulty options, but lots of great SNES games do. I play most of them on easy. Once I can beat it pretty easily there, I move up to the middle setting. From there, I rarely get too far into the game, but have beaten a handful. In addition to the star wars series, some others that come to mind are sunset riders, knights of the round, final fights, and lion king. And most fit into the category, for me, that its too easy on easy and too difficult on the normal setting to be able to beat it without putting in a lot of time/work. I have kind of always assumed I am one of few who plays on easy, but maybe I am wrong. 

Strangley, for me, its only platformers as I don't alter settings on sports, racing, or head to head fighters like street fighter and mortal combat. 

 

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Administrator · Posted
4 minutes ago, NESfiend said:

 

I know you play a lot of SNES. Do you play the super star wars series and can you beat those games on brave? They are punishing. 

I've only beaten them on the default settings. It's been a while though. Tbh I'm not a huge fan of em; great games, I like the graphics, but I'm not a fan of the gameplay. Not so much that it's punishing, just the style. 

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Administrator · Posted
14 minutes ago, mbd39 said:

I generally go with default when it's an option.

I never beat Super Star Wars but I did beat Empire with passwords.

I can't even get past the first level in Jedi. Not sure why.

 

Almost every part of all 3 games has like a trick where once you see it you go "oh that's dumb, I'd never figure that out" and that's why I'm not huge on them.

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1 hour ago, Gloves said:

Almost every part of all 3 games has like a trick where once you see it you go "oh that's dumb, I'd never figure that out" and that's why I'm not huge on them.

 

Edit: I misread the original quote. I don't know about every level, but yeah, that pretty well describes the frustration. 

Edited by NESfiend
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Default, always really have over the years.  I see no reason to play into hard because it's usually by design more cheap = hard which is just infuriating, so unless the game is already overly easy on normal I will leave it alone.  These days I'll play easy or normal, kind of depends how obnoxious the game is in how their idea of difficulty should play out.  I don't think it's that I've become worse over time, but my tolerance for BS is shot compared to 20+ years ago.  I have a far less/lower amount of tolerance/time to waste on such things so I'd rather enjoy it than get pissed off and dislike what I'm doing.

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As a kid I'd always play on easy because I had the presumption that I just sucked at video games. Or rather, back then a video game was considered a challenge that you have to beat - very different from nowadays where a developer is typically afraid that any player might not see the ending. And as a kid, how could I be up to that challenge? 😛 

The problem with playing on easy of course, is that you're never gonna get any better that way. When I play "retro games" nowadays I always leave it at the default, including dipswitches on arcade games (though some times the jury is out on what "default" is there). If I can't beat it, I'm just not good enough, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But I think any really good game deserves to be played on hard. If the game is super well designed, then the gameplay should be more pronounced when the stakes are higher. IIRC the "hard" setting in Shinobi 3 does nothing outside of making your life bar smaller. But it's a game a good player might be able to beat without getting hit, so it's a perfect solution. Contra III feels like it's designed around the arcade-like Hard mode, with Normal added in as a way to better appeal to the players, rather than immediately scaring them away. Ghouls n Ghosts on MegaDrive defaults to the easier of the two difficulties, but slams a huge "PRACTICE MODE" label over the bottom of your screen.

On the other hand, if the game has issues, that might also be more obvious when the stakes are higher.
IMO the Super Star Wars games are terribly designed. I loved them as a kid, and I still have a soft spot for them due to the cool graphical style and all the crazy setpieces they managed to cram into the game. But they are also just absurdly unfair and punishing. Most segments of the game will reward rushing through them an tanking damage rather than trying to stop up and fight anything. Enemies will come at you straight from outside the screen giving you no time to react, and shooter sections has your hitbox take up like 25% of the screen. I have no idea what they were thinking.

(that Indiana Jones game with a similar graphical style, but made by Factor 5, however. That's a real gem IMO)

Edited by Sumez
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Graphics Team · Posted

I always appreciate when games offer an 'easy' difficulty setting. I like to play retro games for fun, not to challenge or frustrate myself. Plus, I like to experience as much of a game as possible on my own merit (without excessive use of hints or walkthroughs) - so easy settings help me progress further than I otherwise would.

-CasualCart

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I start with the default. If I can't do it, then I try an easier setting to get more practice and see more of the game, then move the difficulty back up. If I can finish a game on the default, and I enjoy playing the game, I always give harder modes a shot. This goes for games back then and now.

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10 hours ago, Sumez said:

On the other hand, if the game has issues, that might also be more obvious when the stakes are higher.
IMO the Super Star Wars games are terribly designed. I loved them as a kid, and I still have a soft spot for them due to the cool graphical style and all the crazy setpieces they managed to cram into the game. But they are also just absurdly unfair and punishing. Most segments of the game will reward rushing through them an tanking damage rather than trying to stop up and fight anything. Enemies will come at you straight from outside the screen giving you no time to react, and shooter sections has your hitbox take up like 25% of the screen. I have no idea what they were thinking.

(that Indiana Jones game with a similar graphical style, but made by Factor 5, however. That's a real gem IMO)

I agree with you entirely on the 4 Lucas games on the system.  Those Star Wars games are nearly intolerable due to the problematic issues you listed exactly.  Yet when they handed off the work to someone who really knew their jam, Factor 5 just killed it with Indiana Jones and his Greatest Adventures and that one I've held onto since the day it came out.  They didn't milk it with 3 dragged out carts, no cheapo hit boxes, none of the take a death off screen mechanics, or any of the other intolerable abuses.

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2 hours ago, Strikezone1 said:

I start with the default, and usually I'll try and tackle the hard setting after completing normal/default. In a lot of games it seems that beating it on the highest difficulty shows the true/final ending, which I like to go for.

This is pretty much what I was going to say except I was going to add that I always found it kind of annoying when a game gives you the option of choosing a difficulty, but then makes you beat it on hard/expert to get the ending since that basically defeats the purpose of giving you a choice.

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Editorials Team · Posted
51 minutes ago, Sumez said:

I've seen games giving extra endings, either secret stuff or goofy/gimmicky endings for beating them on hard mode - and cutting the game short early on easy wasn't uncommon either.
But actually holding on to the "real" ending on normal mode? I'm curious to know which games do that?

My SNES thread in the events forum basically has the list

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Graphics Team · Posted
13 hours ago, Sumez said:

I always play games on "normal" because I hate having fun.

Haha touché. Didn't mean to sound judgmental - I was only trying to justify myself for being bad at video games. Nothing but respect for people who can handle retro games on harder settings.

-CasualCart

Ya Got Me.jpg

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I like my platformers challenging but not torturous. Super Mario Lost Levels, beat that once ever and will never ever play it again, I hated it right from the start and forced myself to stick it out and beat it, and it was a good decision they gave us the Doki Doki hack Super Mario 2 because the original SMB2 would killed Mario for me. Actraiser 2, beat that a long time ago on easy and normal, but I did it, but hard mode... was normal not hard enough? And what I hate is they force you to play on a higher difficulty other than easy in order to fight Tanzra (same shit that Double Dragon 2 does on the NES, why even have selectable difficulties if they are going to screw you out of part of the game?). Actraiser 2 on easy mode was hard but fair, but beyond that, fuck this game! The Super Star Wars games I don't remember the difficulty I played on, probably easy, let me look, see if I have notes on that... ... okay, beat Super Star Wars and Super Empire Strikes Back each on "Brave" difficulty, but as for Super Return of the Jedi, gave up on the game early, wasn't worth the frustration. Now I did beat Contra III on all difficulties and what I hated most in that was the overhead areas, otherwise even on the higher level it was fair, never felt cheap other than the one overhead boss with the moving sand. I could play most games on the default normal difficulty, but aside from just doing it so that I can get that true ending or whatever, I mostly play on easy so long as I can play the whole game, because it's more enjoyable. There are more but my memory on many of the games for the SNES is not as clear as with NES, and I've found that most SNES platformers in general are tougher than NES ones, especially so when it comes to ones with selectable difficulties, because most of the time it is artificially increased by more damage done and enemies taking a ridiculous amounts of hits, no balance, not fun, hard for the sake of being hard and nothing more.

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You beat Contra 3 on hard, but "Lost Levels" was too much for you? I'm surprised. I absolutely love the Japanese SMB2. I can see why its release might have turned people off from the franchise, but it's not like it's frustratingly or unfair hard. It's just a more challenging version of the original SMB with a bit less "conventional" level design (people who compare it to Kaizo hacks are out of their mind, though!)

The game has an amazing sense of flow and original ideas same as the first game, and for someone who's played a LOT of Mario through their life, this approach to a Mario game is a rare shining gem among the attempts to keep the other titles in the series a little too child friendly.

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1 hour ago, Sumez said:

You beat Contra 3 on hard, but "Lost Levels" was too much for you? I'm surprised. I absolutely love the Japanese SMB2. I can see why its release might have turned people off from the franchise, but it's not like it's frustratingly or unfair hard. It's just a more challenging version of the original SMB with a bit less "conventional" level design (people who compare it to Kaizo hacks are out of their mind, though!)

The game has an amazing sense of flow and original ideas same as the first game, and for someone who's played a LOT of Mario through their life, this approach to a Mario game is a rare shining gem among the attempts to keep the other titles in the series a little too child friendly.

I was going to say the same thing. I can beat Contra and Super C on 1 life, but Contra 3 on hard seems borderline impossible. I've beaten the Japanese Mario 2 and it didn't give me much trouble at all. 

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