GamerSushi Asks: Gaming Difficulty?

Castlevania Lords of Shadow

The subject of difficulty in video games is a tricky one. On the one hand, video games in general seem to be too easy in a lot of ways, holding players’ hands from step 1 all the way until the final boss. On the other hand, it seems like many developers don’t know how to ramp the difficulty up in a way that is fair and organic, instead opting to throw completely ridiculous situations at you to frustrate you. It’s actually an odd trade off. The more I find myself grumbling about an easy game, there are just as many games that make me want to rage quit with unfair deaths, impossible sections, etc. This is one of the reasons I loved Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, because it kept ratcheting up the difficulty level without completely infuriating me.

Over at Gamasutra, Tim Keenan has posted a blog about this very subject called The Difficulty I Want. In it, he talks about how it’s often hard to know what you want in a game until you’ve had a chance to play the game yourself. He makes some great points about how many games just make you pick a difficulty and force you to stay with it to see the game through, rather than being able to switch down after dying multiple times or up after not dying enough. He also praises the difficulty sliders of Oblivion, which is one of my favorite games in this regard. It really is interesting to note that difficulty options haven’t changed much since the beginning of gaming. We still have the same generic options without much evolution.

So what do you guys think about gaming difficulty? Are games too easy? Is this an area where games can improve, and offer more dynamic ways to play that would make them more enjoyable? What games were unfair/too easy to you in recent memory? Go!

Source – Gamasutra

GamerSushi Asks: Exceeding Expectations?

Left 4 Dead 2

Now that we’re right in the middle of the fall of gaming, it’s probably good for us to take a moment to talk about expectations for the games we’re wanting to play. I know a few people who get so worked up over what they want out of something, there’s absolutely no way it could hit the target they’ve set. Every new movie or game becomes a unicorn hunt, and we all know how hard it is to bring one of those things down unless we’ve got some kind of homing missile.

However, it’s always nice when a game you pick up goes beyond what you hoped and expected for it. A recent example for me would have to be Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which far out shined anything I could have anticipated for the title. In past years, other titles that did the same thing would include Beyond Good and Evil, Grand Theft Auto 3, Metal Gear Solid 3, Final Fantasy IX (and XII), and Left 4 Dead 2. These were all games where I didn’t know what to expect when I played them, and then happened to pleasantly surprise me or blow me away.

What games in recent years have done the same for you? What games have disappointed you? What games left in the fall are you still looking forward to, and what do you think of the ones you’ve gotten to play? Go!

GamerSushi Asks: Skill Progressions and Ability Unlocks?

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Through a bit of a fortuitous circumstance, I found myself playing the first few hours of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow tonight. If you’re unaware, the newest entry into the classic series is styled a bit like God of War or Wolverine, with skill progressions and ability unlocks as you move along, collecting experience for each enemy you slash, decapitate or otherwise maim.

You see, I tend to treat action/beat-em-up games and RPGs with these kind of systems in almost exactly the same way: I horde. Perhaps this is because I’m a bit of a loot whore, I’m not sure, but I find myself desiring most of all the big abilities that you otherwise wouldn’t get until later portions of the game. I figure if I can make due with just the basic attacks, I’ll find myself with some useful combos or upgrades earlier than if I just bought every smaller thing as it became available. I do this with RPG skill points as well, or tend to max up one particular spell/ability rather than spreading it around.

My question to you is this: does this make me a crazy person? How do you handle skill progressions and the like? Do you horde what you’ve got for the big guns, or spend it as it comes in to get upgraded more regularly? Go!

Catching Up with the Castlevania Retrospective

When it comes to original video content, I think that GameTrailers has some of the best retrospective features around. They’re usually informative, entertaining and ridiculously well researched. And to top it off, they’re about some of the biggest franchises in all of gaming.

This week, in honor of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow’s release, they return with part 1 of their Castlevania Retrospective, which is all about the origin of Dracula and his sordid history with the Belmont clan. Having never played a Castlevania game (don’t tar and feather me, Anthony), this whole thing is pretty fascinating to me, and I’d be a crazy person to hear that music and see that gameplay and not start itching to pick those titles up. Going to have to add Symphony of the Night to the list, and soon. I seriously can’t get enough of these things.

Can we get a roll call from the Castlevania fans out there?