Over the past decade or so games have really come into their own. Gone are the days of 8-bit side scrollers or text adventures. Games have matured, expanded, and added more depth and creativity than previously thought possible. Graphics alone have made tremendous advances in just the past few years. But with all the new features, the polished graphics, and the charismatic characters, games have also changed in another way—one that isn’t so great.
Nowadays it isn’t so much solving puzzles or overcoming obstacles as it is combat/violence or you know…shooting stuff. Just look at recent Resident Evil games or the upcoming new entry to the Metal Gear series. Metal Gear became popular because of its focus on stealth paired with its fun but challenging gameplay. The future Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, however, looks more like a slice and dicer that might lack some of the stealth and/or difficulty from previous installments.
If Super Meat Boy has taught us anything, it’s that gamers can love ridiculously challenging games. A superstar of the indie developer scene, Super Meat Boy—developed by Team Meat—proved that with smart level design and perfectly tuned controls, players can embrace even the most frustrating and demanding gameplay. Demonstrating once again that difficult games can succeed, Team Meat followed up their debut success with their second release, The Binding of Isaac. Reminiscent of the old Zelda games, The Binding of Isaac has players explore random, procedurally-generated dungeons. Deceivingly simple at first, the game gets more and more intense as players descend further down into the basement. But, as with Super Meat Boy, fans of the game respected the tough mechanics and the game developed a rather loyal fan base.
It’s understandable why developers don’t want to create games that are impossibly hard and frustrate gamers till they quit. However, gamers are a smart crowd and this constant coddling is almost to the point of insult. What we don’t need are more hour long tutorials treating us as if it’s the first time we’ve picked up a controller. Yes, there will always be that portion of gamers who shy away from difficult games, but the industry shouldn’t put games on easy mode just to avoid potentially losing a small percentage of the market. Team Meat is a perfect example of game designers willing to put enough faith into their fans to trust that they won’t throw their controllers across the room because a level may require multiple attempts. Frankly, half the fun of Super Meat Boy is getting to watch all your failed attempts once you’ve conquered a level. But Team Meat isn’t alone, there are multiple developers creating a lot of intense and fun games. What the industry needs now is for developers to look at these games and realize gamers don’t need to be babied with lengthy tutorials or restrained difficulty.