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Re(3):Do you play games?
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I know that there are games that I would find easy now that I would've found pretty damn hard in the past, and that there are games that I found hard in the past that are still pretty damn hard now. During the 8-bit days, I played everything I could get my hands on. Having a Famicom in North American meant that it was hard to get ahold of games, so if I got a game, it didn't matter if it was too easy or too hard: it was something new, and therefore something worth playing. Incidentally, I ended up with a lot of games that I'd consider challenging, and as a result one of the things that has colored my perception of a gaming experience is that it has to matter that I was there, that I was the one playing. One of my most favourite moments in all of Ninja Gaiden is a ridiculous jump in Ninja Gaiden 3 where you have to leap off of a moving platform down a nearly screen-tall vertical shaft that is only slightly wider than your character and is lined with electrical things that will shock you and make you die if you touch them... and you have to land onto a moving platform below. I'm not actually sure just how difficult that jump is, but it is so harrowing, and escape seems so narrow, that it creates a bowel-clenching moment that is always cathartic. I don't need every game to be like that all the time, but moments like that really leave me with the feeling that I had experienced something that was worthwhile. One of my favourite PS2 games is Sky Gunner. I could harp about any number of things about it that are excellent, but there's one tiny touch in it that really strikes a chord with me. When you take a bunch of damage, you have to mash buttons/wiggle the stick to regain control of your plane. When you do that successfully, a popup appears informing you of your success. In really, really tiny text on that pop-up, is a message saying something along the lines of "it was possible because it was you". One of the reasons why competitive games are fun for me is because there is an understanding that victory or defeat comes about as a result of ME playing; if anybody else played, the outcome would've been different. With many RPGs, victory often comes across as an inevitability, and instead I'm supposed to just enjoy the ride. If that's the case, then that better be a DAMN GOOD RIDE. I'd say that I've had a good time with a bunch of RPGs that I'd consider easy. FF3 (or 6) on the SNES wasn't hard back then, and I immensely enjoyed it. Chrono Trigger's new game+ was fun, and the game certainly isn't hard when you do that. But games which manage that have to have quite something around it in order for them to captivate me. Flower, Sun and Rain isn't exactly hard, and isn't exactly fun, and is somewhat questionably designed, but for me it is certainly engaging and interesting.
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