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"Cloud doesn't cry. CLOUD SCREAMS."
February 20, 2013 4:46 PM   Subscribe

I Wanna Be The Guy is a game so hard it borders on is outright masochism – hilarious, frustrating, glitchy masochism. One brave man, known only as Cloud8745, recorded himself playing the entire game, and documented his descent from frustration into incoherent gibbering madness. To get a feel for IWBTG, you may wish to start at the notorious Ghosts & Goblins section, which is particularly difficult, or, if you'd like a taste of its depraved sense of humor, this is among the game's funniest rooms. (The punchline comes two minutes later, but you can only truly appreciate it by watching Cloud struggle through it over and over again – generally, IWBTG gets funnier the longer you watch it be played.) If you'd like to watch the whole thing, there's

a convenient index presented here, for your convenience!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

But wait, there's more! Let me also introduce you to Syobon Action, a devilish reinterpretation of Mario that turns nearly everything in the world into a trap, often by breaking design conventions to do so. Not nearly as hard as I Wanna Be The Guy, and far less fingertwitchy, so even if you're not a hardcore gamer you might enjoy the heck out of this game yourself. There are playthroughs, of course – I prefer this one by chonnygame (2 3 4 5), though be warned, there is a lot of casual racism/misogyny. Here's the start of a less problematic playthrough, though it's less engaged and emotionally overwrought.
posted by Rory Marinich (50 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pro Gamer EG Floe plays a special IWBTG build for EVO 2012, with commentary by Justin Wong and James Chen.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:09 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried playing this years ago and just gave up after a while. Too much effort for too little payoff.

Also, when I am king the first thing I will do is mail a letter to every LP Youtuber that just reads "your commentary is not funny. please stop"
posted by hellojed at 5:24 PM on February 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Tried. Tired.

But I enjoyed the lengths it went to in order to torture the player.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:32 PM on February 20, 2013


Speaking of torture, I couldn't listen to this guy for more than 10 seconds without wanting to stab my earholes.
posted by naju at 5:43 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man I have never viscerally hated a game as much as this one. I found it cheap, repetitive and unfun. But that's because I was doing it wrong. I think games like IWBTG, Syobon, Yume Nikki et al aren't so much "games" as they are works of art that demonstrate exploration with aspects of video games (preciseness in platformers, freedom of exploration vs. sandboxing and so on) to be enjoyed as art rather than as "games". But more power to anyone actually taking a headlong charge at IWBTG because that is one tough nut to crack.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:44 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think games like IWBTG, Syobon, Yume Nikki et al aren't so much "games" as they are works of art that demonstrate exploration with aspects of video games (preciseness in platformers, freedom of exploration vs. sandboxing and so on) to be enjoyed as art rather than as "games".

This is well said, and I agree.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:45 PM on February 20, 2013


I recently set up several emulators on my wife's Wii, since I was missing some retro gaming action. The first night we sat down and I played DK Country, a game I haven't played since high school. Having seen a few speed runs of various games since then, I basically just held the run button and stabbed the jump button occasionally and almost instantly burned through the first four or five levels. My wife was floored. I was somewhat disappointed, that that was all it took. All those lost nights of Mountain Dew and Doritios and slow slogging and desperately reading Nintendo Power for tips when all I had to do as run really fast until something got in my way, then jump.

So for that reason I alone I'm really enjoy that these extra difficult games exist. Just to keep some of the magic that tormented my 13 year old self around.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:50 PM on February 20, 2013


Like grindcore, or Finnegan's Wake, you're glad they're there to define and explore limitations and tropes of the medium but this doesn't actually make them -enjoyable-.
posted by solarion at 5:50 PM on February 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


To be perfectly honest, I'm with slowbeef on the topic of Let's Plays of I Wanna Be the Guy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:52 PM on February 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Agreed with the statements above about intrusive commentary. Even on those rare times where it is funny, it's almost never as entertaining than just watching the play through. the only exception I can think of is DeceasedCrab's plain of the original version of LaMulana.
posted by JHarris at 5:55 PM on February 20, 2013


Especially considering that I Wanna Be the Guy sets up its traps as perverse jokes. Commentary is redundant.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:59 PM on February 20, 2013


Double Jump.

I thought I was hardcore when I beat Dark Souls, and the difficulty of that game felt like some sort of purification. But that was based on cleverness and patience, not reflex.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:04 PM on February 20, 2013


I love retro games but I'm really, really bad at them so when I've tried games like this (Eversion, specifically), I find them incredibly stressful. I mean, I already find platformers kind of difficult. These somehow seem to break the contract, and I know that's the point, but I wish there were more enjoyable retro-style games for people who suck at them, not just for the people who do stuff like speedruns (no 'ffense, 1f2frfbf).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:05 PM on February 20, 2013


I love the bit where falling apples kill you and then you are walking/jumping above a tree and the apple falls upwards to kill you. Subverting expectations. That said, I watched playthroughs when it first came out and though I get where it's coming from, its pace can get monotonous.

Having seen a few speed runs of various games since then, I basically just held the run button and stabbed the jump button occasionally and almost instantly burned through the first four or five levels.


It won't work that well in later levels. The first levels are there to familiarise you with the mechanics before the game starts challenging you. DKC3 has one of the easiest first levels I can think of, but its 'hidden' levels (that are obligatory for the proper ending) can be tough.

PhoB, have you tried Cave Story? I think I have a spare Cave Story + key (the original is freeware), so if you're interested, memail me.
posted by ersatz at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2013


Sometimes I like the commentary better than the gameplay. Northernlion's defensive self-referential humor, as he tries to think of everything commenters will say and defend himself while he plays. JohnnyKnodoff's reminiscences of heroin addiction. NintendoCapriSun complaining about how his nose hair tickles but he still refuses to pay 8$ for scissors.

I been thinking of doing a metafilter for LP's to highlight the better ones. Well mainly highlight the ones done by people over 12.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:10 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


ProGamer lethalfrag's takedown of the much harder IWTBTG-like I Wanna Be the Boshy.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 6:18 PM on February 20, 2013


There was a fun thread at Insert Credit arguing what to call these. I think we settled on 'masoochore platformers'. Kinda funny that in the years since IWBTG was made the whole 'ultra hard platformer' thing got replaced by Minecraft as the indie darling, though there are a few that survive like N+ and Project Mayhem on the iPhone.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:21 PM on February 20, 2013


Man, that guy doing the Syobon Action LP is awful. And I like LPs!

That said, there's no way I could want to be the guy. I feel my stress levels rising just watching try over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and almost succeed and start over and over and over.

I'd kinda like to see a break-the-contract platformer where there are super subtle changes to the movement and jumping of a character. You know how you play a platformer for so long you know exactly where each jump will land and exactly how fast you move? What if your jump heights were randomly changed by up to 5% variation higher or lower each time you spawn? And run rates, too? You could never quite get the hang of how your character moves. Even a simple platformer would probably be much harder (annoying) like that.
posted by barnacles at 6:52 PM on February 20, 2013


It's important to note that IWBTG isn't hard, it's obtuse. Yes, there are tricky jumps and whatnot, so it's also hard, but the point is that it will kill you because you don't know what's going on. It's really a puzzle game.

Some people enjoy learning the patterns and beating it, some people find it a pointless exercise in stupidity. Just like jigsaw puzzles, but with more blood.
posted by 23 at 6:54 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


barnacles: You don't have to screw with physics to make platformers about action and not memorization. Just randomize the levels, as in Spelunky or this thing.
posted by 23 at 6:56 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, years and years ago I would have been so into the super-hardcore gaming scene. Now, it's not that my reflexes are much worse, but just that it feels so arbitrary and pointless. All those apples fall down to kill you. This one falls up. Ha ha. This cloud in the background actually grows fangs and kills you if you pass in front of it. Ho ho.

It's not hard at all to make an arbitrarily difficult game. Making a tough but fair game, however, is much harder.
posted by JHarris at 6:57 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


23: "barnacles: You don't have to screw with physics to make platformers about action and not memorization. Just randomize the levels, as in Spelunky or this thing."

23, how did you know one of my all-time favorite things to read about is procedural game design?! Seriously -- thanks for the link!
posted by barnacles at 7:02 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Just released is a steam version of the procedural action platformer tower descent game super house of dead ninjas
posted by Ad hominem at 7:13 PM on February 20, 2013


PhoB: Don't get me wrong, I'm the most casual of casual gamers. In clothes terms: if this game is White Tie and Tails, I'm Boxers, Bathrobe and maybe Flipflops. I might play for 45 minutes if I need to burn off some steam after work. I usually don't even bother to save my games. My weird empirical mind just snapped back to seeing speed runs and said, "Hey, try this!" Of course after the first five, I had to start thinking again and was much happier, but flying through the first levels that quickly left me kind of stunned. I can totally understand the headaches of trying to play something just to PLAY and instead being thrown to the slathering wolves of one of these kinds of games.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:22 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


23 has got it. IWBTG, and Syobon even more so, are puzzle games that use platformers as their base genre. The fail state isn't actually a fail state – if you play these games to feel frustrated at your failure, they're no fun, but that's not the best headspace to approach them from.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:22 PM on February 20, 2013


Watching this stuff leaves me more certain than ever that gaming, as an entire realm of human endeavor, pretty much left me in the dust a decade ago. Longer, probably. I feel sort of abstractly bad about this. It's like waking up one morning to realize that one has lost an entire category of literacy. I'll bet people who never read novels and don't form opinions about music at all feel essentially like this.
posted by brennen at 8:12 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


barnacles, are you familiar with the Procedural Content Generation Wiki?
posted by JHarris at 8:55 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Watching this stuff leaves me more certain than ever that gaming, as an entire realm of human endeavor, pretty much left me in the dust a decade ago. Longer, probably. I feel sort of abstractly bad about this. It's like waking up one morning to realize that one has lost an entire category of literacy. I'll bet people who never read novels and don't form opinions about music at all feel essentially like this.

First, this was first linked 4 years ago - an eternity in tech/gaming terms. So culture has moved on. But also games like IWTBTG and Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls are the EXCEPTION, and they're an exception for a reason. As games get more mainstream and friendlier and easier, difficult games which used to be mainstream get more and more niche.

These are more 'tests' for gamers who consider themselves 'hardcore' - they're a reaction to the culture, not part of it. It's like how metal subcultures get more and more extreme as mainstream music gets less so.

The most popular games in the world right now are things like Angry Birds and Minecraft and Call of Duty, not super-hard platformers.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:59 PM on February 20, 2013


The most popular games in the world right now are things like Angry Birds and Minecraft and Call of Duty, not super-hard platformers.

Yeah, but I don't play those things either. It's not that I think this is where the mainstream of gaming is at - even from this remove, I know better than that. It's more that this kind of outlier feels like a signifier of an entire medium that's moved on well past whatever relationship I used to have with it. More, in a way, than a mainstream title would. It's not like most of the stuff I pay attention to in other areas is the functional equivalent of Angry Birds, you know?

Anyway, I think this is kind of a derail. Carry on. I'll be over here in a faintly bemused state.
posted by brennen at 9:35 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but I don't play those things either. It's not that I think this is where the mainstream of gaming is at - even from this remove, I know better than that. It's more that this kind of outlier feels like a signifier of an entire medium that's moved on well past whatever relationship I used to have with it

I think that, to extend the music metaphor, there's also something on the Ramones in both ultra-hard platformers and iPhone games that's trying to recapture something that was fun and essential in old games - they were tough, they were short, and you could play them endlessly just trying to beat them. Without the sadistic tricks, that's a pretty good model for games that still works.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2013


These are more 'tests' for gamers who consider themselves 'hardcore' - they're a reaction to the culture, not part of it.

Dark Souls, at least, wasn't about this at all - it wants to show you things in its own peculiar, esoteric language, it wants to enlighten you and humble you. It wants to be the video game equivalent of ego death. There are some things games simply can't make you understand by holding your hand and creating a comfortable, easy experience. A subsubniche of the 'difficult games' subniche isn't about hardcore gamers at all. It's about something way more mysterious and irrational. I'm thinking of the Souls games, some roguelikes, and Super Hexagon in particular, but there's probably way more I don't know about. In some ways that reference upthread to Finnegans Wake is extremely apt.
posted by naju at 9:57 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


MoneySeize is a favorite of mine in the Hard Platformer/Puzzle game genre, although it's not unfair about it like IWBTG is, or like Syobon (which I haven't played) looks to be. In particular I think it strikes a good balance in it's level structure: Each level is very short, and full completion of any given level will take a couple different run-throughs. It builds slowly for the genre of hard platformers, but once it gets to speed it really is a puzzle game of "how can I use these couple different jumping mechanics to get over there without dying?"
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:59 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. This guy is up there with those Japanese monks who spend three years eating poison in order to mummify themselves alive.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:29 PM on February 20, 2013


Northernlion's defensive self-referential humor, as he tries to think of everything commenters will say and defend himself while he plays.

I genuinely enjoy NL's channel, and I'm a daily watcher of his Binding of Isaac challenge runs. Not only is he occasionally LOL-hilarious, but also, and this may sound strange, he's got a great voice.

Speaking of Binding of Isaac, I beat Blue Baby today for like my third time, ever. And that was due to some seriously lucky pick-ups: Epic Fetus, Transcendence, Spelunker Hat, Mini Mushroom and 1UP practically conspired together to take me all the way through. If I told you how many hours I've put into BOI, dear reader, you'd feel sorry for me on many levels.
posted by Edgewise at 10:46 PM on February 20, 2013


Once you get epic-fetus, you almost have to work at losing. That thing is crazy good (and why I always carry the D6, gotta find the fetus, find the fetus, fetus fetus fetus... that game isn't good for the brain).
posted by Slackermagee at 10:50 PM on February 20, 2013


Dark Souls, at least, wasn't about this at all - it wants to show you things in its own peculiar, esoteric language, it wants to enlighten you and humble you. It wants to be the video game equivalent of ego death. There are some things games simply can't make you understand by holding your hand and creating a comfortable, easy experience. A subsubniche of the 'difficult games' subniche isn't about hardcore gamers at all. It's about something way more mysterious and irrational.

There's nothing irrational about it, I think. It's simply that some games like to remind you that you're not at the center of the universe – that some things are beyond you, not only physically but mentally as well. That if you don't understand the way the world works, well, sometimes you can't accomplish a damn thing, because you're just not allowed to. That sometimes, you have to make the effort, not because the other party is lazy or crappy but because they're good enough not to have to reach out to you.

But that's definitely what makes a game like Dark Souls mysterious. The unknown is at the core of all mystery, after all, and I feel that when mysteries are done well they pretty much have a spiritual component to them. Not when a mystery is explicitly a game played with your audience, that is – when it's simply about deceives and misleads – but when the mystery becomes about the fact that you're mislead about the nature of the entire world, suddenly you're dealing with doubt and self-limit, and that stuff's at the core of any religious or spiritual experience.

I mean, you don't even have to go straight to Finnegans Wake to see this happen in literature. Any great novel does this to some extent – 2666 hit me with it particularly powerfully, House of Leaves does it on a really accessible and readable level, Daniel Handler gets in it both in his adult writing and even a little bit in A Series of Unfortunate Events towards the end. It's also what makes directors like David Lynch and the Coen brothers so compelling (I just saw Barton Fink last night and boy is it a perfect example of this). I dislike using the word "irrational" to describe this – what's really going on is showmanship, pure and simple. It's setting the stage in a way that the audience doesn't have all the facts, isn't ready to understand the big reveal. That sense of mystery is one of the core components to good theatre or magic or entertainment, and I feel that the more we talk about it as if it's something without logic the more we convince ourselves that it's rare or special, when in fact it ought to be one of the most basic techniques of a good entertainer.

That modern games don't do this speaks leagues about how terrible modern developers are; you get this sensation even in good N64 games, and I bet in even older generations of games, though I'm too young to speak authoritatively about those.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:03 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


First, this was first linked 4 years ago - an eternity in tech/gaming terms. So culture has moved on. But also games like IWTBTG and Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls are the EXCEPTION, and they're an exception for a reason. As games get more mainstream and friendlier and easier, difficult games which used to be mainstream get more and more niche.

I'm not sure Super Meat Boy and N+ are in the same category as IWBTG. They are reflex-y, hard games, but you mostly know the environment, so if you play right, you won't be mauled by the background. Also, SMB seems friendlier somehow, but this is subjective.
posted by ersatz at 4:24 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Super Meat Boy and N+ are indeed a different kind of thing; IWTBTG is mostly about knowing all the dick moves you'll need to avoid.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:46 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


OT: I just had to praise Rory for his masterful use of " there's [more inside]"/" there's

a convenient index presented here, for your convenience!". That's a sweet little FPP move you got there, mister.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:04 AM on February 21, 2013


I agree with 23 etc. that IWBTG and other "masocore" games are more puzzle games than platformers. They exist solely to mess with the player's expectations, and I personally delight in having the genre tropes I grew up with brutally deconstructed in front of me. (I haven't gotten very far in IWBTG, but someday I hope to beat it.)

I wouldn't put N+, Super Meat Boy, etc. in the same category. They exist for different reasons.

> First, this was first linked 4 years ago - an eternity in tech/gaming terms. So culture has moved on. But also games like IWTBTG and Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls are the EXCEPTION, and they're an exception for a reason. As games get more mainstream and friendlier and easier, difficult games which used to be mainstream get more and more niche.

These are more 'tests' for gamers who consider themselves 'hardcore' - they're a reaction to the culture, not part of it. It's like how metal subcultures get more and more extreme as mainstream music gets less so.


I find it interesting how the same thing happened in the shoot-em-up genre. Companies like Cave have specialized in making "bullet hell" games, which feature nearly impossible bullet patterns for players who've simply become too good at ordinary shooters over the past few decades. It's also interesting how some elements from this hyper-difficult subgenre have trickled back down into more mainstream games, such as Sine Mora.

> MoneySeize is a favorite of mine in the Hard Platformer/Puzzle game genre, although it's not unfair about it like IWBTG is, or like Syobon (which I haven't played) looks to be. In particular I think it strikes a good balance in it's level structure: Each level is very short, and full completion of any given level will take a couple different run-throughs. It builds slowly for the genre of hard platformers, but once it gets to speed it really is a puzzle game of "how can I use these couple different jumping mechanics to get over there without dying?"

Matt Thorson is the developer behind MoneySeize. Have you played any of his other games? He's really quite a fantastic (and accomplished) designer in this genre. Jumper Three is a masterpiece and very similar to MoneySeize in gameplay.
posted by archagon at 1:38 PM on February 21, 2013


archagon: I haven't! Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

ersatz: You definitely can make that distinction, but I think the people who play IWBTG are a subset of the people who play games like Super Meat Boy and N/N+. It's the far edges of the genre versus the reductio ad absurdum of the genre.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:57 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've played a fair bit of IWBTG (six out of eight bosses in, I lost my save file when my laptop died, and I didn't really want to play through all that again), and I do think it's quite a good example of the sort of game it is. It's both a technically challenging platformer (but not, perhaps, to the extent that people make it out to be), and a puzzle game (in that you have to determine what the 'rules' of each room are and devise a plan to navigate it). IWBTG does a number of things well, I think:

- The platforming is actually quite good. The game is obviously 'unfair', but only insofar as it is designed to be. The actual physics of movement are predictable and mostly consistent, and most of the 'solutions' to the rooms require the use of a series of familiar platforming skills. The walljumping does suck though.

- Instant restart. When you die (and you will, a lot), you are pretty much instantaneously put back at your most recent checkpoint. Playing on easy (as I did), gives you a lot of save points (the frequency of save points is actually the only difference between the various difficulty levels, ranging from about once per room to none whatsoever), so you are rarely stuck in the tedious situation in which you have to repeat something easy in order to have another go at the hard thing you actually want to attempt. There are a few exceptions to this (some of the bosses even commit that unforgivable sin of game design, unskippable cutscenes), but mostly you can just keep attempting a particular room until you get it.

- The puzzles in IWBTG (that is, the process of finding a correct way to traverse each room) are based on the classic game scenarios that inspire the level. Being familiar with Mega Man 2 will help you solve the Mega Man screens et cetera. So, not only does IWBTG provide a nice homage to a lot of classic games by virtue of the visual aesthetic, but it also gives you a chance to use the knowledge and skill you have acquired from those games to solve the puzzles, which can be a lot of fun.

Dark Souls is a bit of a different thing, in my view. DS is a game that only really has one mechanic: the combat, and the process of the game is the process of becoming skilled at that one thing, which, because the combat system in DS is very good, can be immensely satisfying. It took me ages to complete the initial levels of the game on my first character, but I was able to blow right through those same levels rapidly on a new file, and this is basically down to the fact that in order to beat the game, you have to get pretty good at it. Of course, the other thing about DS is the incredible storytelling and set design, which is basically a non-gameplay aspect, but complements the gameplay very well.
posted by polychora at 10:55 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This might be a good thread for this (TAS obviously).

You definitely can make that distinction, but I think the people who play IWBTG are a subset of the people who play games like Super Meat Boy and N/N+. It's the far edges of the genre versus the reductio ad absurdum of the genre.

Agreed.
posted by ersatz at 6:21 AM on February 22, 2013


I find it interesting how the same thing happened in the shoot-em-up genre. Companies like Cave have specialized in making "bullet hell" games, which feature nearly impossible bullet patterns for players who've simply become too good at ordinary shooters over the past few decades.

Actually, the thing about bullet hell shooters isn't that they're strictly difficult, but more about pattern memorization and responding to set situations than general play. I wouldn't put most of those up against the arcade version of Gradius III, which once you get up to level three (of ten) is astoundingly difficult. I've been studying the Gradius games a lot lately, and there is definitely something there that is missing from the bullet hell games. The challenges are a lot more dynamic, yet are still fair, and there are interesting reasons for this. I might be able to explain those reasons in an article soon....
posted by JHarris at 6:56 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


JHarris: "barnacles, are you familiar with the Procedural Content Generation Wiki?"

!!!!

JHarris: you're an awesome person. Thanks!
posted by barnacles at 6:57 AM on February 22, 2013


Oh, no problem. Took a chance you hadn't seen it already. Glad you find it interesting.
posted by JHarris at 8:46 AM on February 22, 2013


I find it interesting how the same thing happened in the shoot-em-up genre. Companies like Cave have specialized in making "bullet hell" games, which feature nearly impossible bullet patterns for players who've simply become too good at ordinary shooters over the past few decades.

Actually, the thing about bullet hell shooters isn't that they're strictly difficult, but more about pattern memorization and responding to set situations than general play.

The bullet hell genre is a strange animal. I'm most familiar with Touhou Project where that's concerned, a series known for its difficult but pretty patterns. This series of shooters comes at the player in many different ways - some involve a lot of memorization, but you'll also find the bullet patterns change depending on where and even how you move. Moving into a so-called "safe spot" will often trigger the boss to throw a whole other set of patterns at you.

What really interests me is that some fans will decide that playing Lunatic Mode isn't quite insane enough, and will at times run a 90FPS patch, making the game 50% faster. They play these games for the difficulty, and once they've reached what they can achieve, take it upon themselves to set the bar even higher. It's a weird and fascinating symbiosis between creator and fan.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:55 PM on February 22, 2013


Reading Marisa's comment, I went and watched a couple of high-level playthroughs of Touhou games, to refresh my memory. I have to wonder how well a Touhou fan would do against a classic shooting game like Defender or (especially) Robotron, where the player has to deal with fewer, but better-aimed, shots, and a larger number of enemies acting much more chaotically. It seems to me that "bullet hell" games really test different skills than traditional shooters, they seem to be more about finding the way to get through a scene, falling back on basic strategies like moving towards where shot streams diverge the most, rather than trying to cope with a chaotically unfolding situation where what worked last time might not this time.
posted by JHarris at 8:39 PM on February 22, 2013


It seems to me that "bullet hell" games really test different skills than traditional shooters, they seem to be more about finding the way to get through a scene, falling back on basic strategies like moving towards where shot streams diverge the most, rather than trying to cope with a chaotically unfolding situation where what worked last time might not this time.

This is very true. Cave is a popular second for Touhou fans who play for skill and point runs, in particular DDP. The difference between them is evident in the bullet patterns. Although DDP is considered less about memorization than it is about reflexes, this means some chaotic scattershot and clusters. Touhou's maker, ZUN, spends a lot of time on the bullet patterns, which tends to increase the use of memorization. To counterbalance this, he'll introduce other, more chaotic aspects to the games for points, powerups, lives and bombs. A good example of this is Undefined Fantastic Object. The player has to maneuver through patterned, fast-moving bullets to collect unpredictably-moving items (This Lunatic Mode run shows how this works.) In DDP and Touhou, there's a lot of bullets moving fast, but they take two very different approaches.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:56 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Might add that the video features a nice homage to Space Invaders, too!)
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:58 PM on February 22, 2013


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