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"With whom did my father fight and lose?..."
June 6, 2005 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Ikaruga putting you to sleep? Battletoads as challenging as Animal Crossing? If so, consider saving up for an XBox and/or Ninja Gaiden Black, expansion-of-sorts to the infamous Ninja Gaiden (the game so hard it kills your friends). Due out in September, the game's creator claims in an interview that roughly 1% of American players will complete the game's new "Master Ninja" difficulty. You can read the rest of the interview here or grab the outlandishly large trailer. Is there a legitimate demand for games this challenging, or is this just a case of misguided "difficult==better" thinking?
posted by Monster_Zero (31 comments total)

 
I loved the original on NES, but....

Maybe it's just me, but those graphics are hideous.
posted by Espoo2 at 5:34 PM on June 6, 2005


NO ONE HAS THE WILL TO BEAT ME!!

Hiyaaaaa!! (bring it on)

(Downloading rediculously large trailer, checking realultimatepower.com for pointers)

But there are some games, like Oddworld that I couldn't get past. Some level with a assinine 35+ move run-jum-spin-jump-run-backflip-etc combo that if you were off timing it from the start of the level by a milisecond or two, it didn't work. That kind of difficult game sucks. It has to be possible to win, and not only if you are the one who programmed the game.
posted by Balisong at 5:42 PM on June 6, 2005


Penny Arcade! Always good to see a strip from my favorite webcomic in a Metafilter post. I haven't played any console/computer games since starting college back in '02, but I still read PA religiously, and always laugh.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 5:59 PM on June 6, 2005


I haven't played any console/computer games since starting college back in '02

Oh, wait, not true; I did find time to play Half Life 2 despite finals week coming right after the release. But otherwise, I'm clean.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 6:06 PM on June 6, 2005


While it's not exactly the same thing, this reminded me of the full-page ad I saw as a kid for "Elite": "The first advertisement published in the US was for Elite, with the heading “20 million Americans are about to become dangerous”. The amount of interest the advert generated helped kick-start sales, especially when a major US distributor (Computer Software Services) signed up after seeing it." Dangerous and Elite were different ratings you could attain in the game (which I never actually played on my Commie), so in a way this ad also alluded to a game that was difficult enough that few would achieve the best rating.

Anybody have a scan of the ad? All I could find on short notice was this page about it.
posted by jepler at 6:09 PM on June 6, 2005


"..."
posted by Falconetti at 6:42 PM on June 6, 2005


I think there's more of a niche for really hard games than people realize. Especially if you issue what is basically a challenge to American gamers to beat the game on Master Ninja difficulty. Millions of people who consider themselves hardcore gamers will go out and buy this game thinking 'how hard could it be?'. They'll find out the answer is 'really damn hard' and chuck it in the closet, but they will have paid their money.
posted by nomad at 6:56 PM on June 6, 2005


MeTa
posted by mlis at 7:08 PM on June 6, 2005


We discussed challenging games in the green not too long ago.
posted by patgas at 7:57 PM on June 6, 2005


I really enjoyed Ninja Gaiden when I played it. I know I ended up beating it on Normal, not sure if I beat it on Hard (or just parts of it). I may or may not get Black (do you have to have the original to play it, or is it standalone?)
Another super hard game I've been playing is Devil May Cry 3. The graphics aren't as slick as NG, but I think it is even harder. Of course, part of that might be the shitty camera. But it's the same kind of non-stop action. I've almost beat it on both Easy & Normal, and it's taken me almost 35 hours of gameplay, and there are 2 or 3 levels of difficulty above that.

Both of these games are quite enjoyable despite their difficulties, although at times they can be maddeningly frustrating. The difficulty in making games tough is that too often developers just go the "cheap" route: the bad guys start healing faster, they are insanely fast, and they do so much damage it's ridiculous. Combine with sometimes hinky controls, as in DMC3, and it's enough to make you throw your controller through the tv screen. In Halo 2, I couldn't even get past the first level on the hardest setting, Legendary. They just threw so many enemies at you, ammo was low, and they were impossible to kill without perfect aim and timing.
posted by papakwanz at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2005


This post is restricted to MeFites 25 and younger.

If you haven't any interest in the Gaidan series, and are only interested in making broad, uneducated comments about "those durned games my kids are playing," you should back off. The Gaidan topic is important to gaming culture, almost as important as this game - and ensuing post (wherein many MeFites displayed a disturbing lack of... knowledge).
Sadly, it has become acceptable to discuss videogames as though they were all part of an amorphous body of art.

If you don't know the difference between Gaidan and Ikaruga, you've missed out on an important part of the 20th century.

Bring it.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:44 PM on June 6, 2005


just so we're clear, it's perfectly acceptable to repeatedly misspell the title, as well?
posted by jimmy at 9:29 PM on June 6, 2005


jimmy: duck.
posted by jenovus at 9:53 PM on June 6, 2005


This post is restricted to MeFites 25 and younger.
The arcade version came out in '88, the nes version in '89. that makes someone 24 today all of 7 or 8 years old when it came out.
How likely is it that these whippersnappers you claim this thread for have even played the originals on anything other than emulation?
posted by juv3nal at 11:27 PM on June 6, 2005


you've missed out on an important part of the 20th century

Well, that explains why I don't know where my pants ended up - but what the hell is the deal with Malta?
posted by freebird at 11:28 PM on June 6, 2005


Hey. I'm 23, and I still have all my original NES and SNES cartridges right next to me as I type. I review NES games on my blog! I play pac-man on my comp in the coffee shop! THIS WHIPPERSNAPPER IS O. G. RETRO, MOFO.

Seriously, though - "challenge" has many degrees and shades and faces. I could beat Ninja Gaiden II when I was a kid... I can't even beat the second freakin level now. I'm pretty good at Bionic Commando and Blaster Master though.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:50 PM on June 6, 2005


I've completed Master Extra on Super Monkey Ball 2. I no longer feel the need to test my gaming skillz -- I know they're mad.

I am preparing myself for a greater challenge, namely: finding a girlfriend when one of my greatest accomplishments to date has been completing Master Extra on Super Monkey Ball 2.
posted by JHarris at 12:05 AM on June 7, 2005


I am preparing myself for a greater challenge, namely: finding a girlfriend

I think you are on the right track for life..
posted by squ1rr3l at 12:21 AM on June 7, 2005


Monster_Zero, I think the demand for super-hard games might come from the (male, American? I don't know) desire to beat a game - there seems to be a tendency to treat the game as an opponent and kinda wrestle your way through, then stand atop your trounced digital opponent. I see people say 'I beat the game' an awful lot across online forums, and have always found it weird, since it'd never occurred to (female, British - again, not that this necessarily means anything) me to use the term. I'd always say 'finished' or 'completed' myself - I get to the end of a narrative-driven game to see where the story goes and explore the settings and characters, and I play a points-driven game to try to top my own best scores. I really don't feel any sense of competition with the game. Which, I guess, is why things like Gaiden fall flat for me - I found myself running through dull locations, doing essentially the same things to gradually harder and harder monsters. The story was non-existent, the sense of exploration was missing, there was no real scoring system by which to judge improvement at the game, and so the only thing left was battling against the ridiculous difficulty level in an attempt to 'beat' the game as if it was an opponent. Result: I gave up halfway through. I could have finished it, but I didn't see the point. On the other hand, I can rinse a whole bunch of 2D shooters, which are at least as hard as Gaiden (in that they take a similar level of skill and practice), and they maintain my interest because they give me my own best performances and progress as a yardstick.

So, Mefi gamers: is beating a game different to finishing it? Does it justify stupendous difficulty levels even when the game lacks a scoring mechanic besides simple progress? Apologies for the ramble, but I'd be fascinated by other people's views on it.
posted by terpsichoria at 2:33 AM on June 7, 2005


I think that for games like Gaiden, "score" is replaced by "progress", and the situation is functionally similar. 2D shooters maintain your interest because they give you your own best performances and progress (in the form of a score). Gaiden satisfies those that like it in the same way, but gives you your own best performances and progress in the form of progress through that game. "I finally got through to level 5!" is the same buzz as "I finally beat my old high score!" for the folks into Ninja Gaiden.
posted by Bugbread at 3:00 AM on June 7, 2005


Good point, bugbread - I just wish I could figure out why I didn't get on with Gaiden when I'll happily beat my head against the wall of a ridiculously high difficulty level in other games. I want to like it, dammit!
posted by terpsichoria at 3:22 AM on June 7, 2005


Are you over 25?
posted by Mr Bismarck at 3:48 AM on June 7, 2005


This is the same phenomenon that my old friend Doug observed back in college: "Challenge equals fun." Many game makers seem to be under the mistaken impression that people just want to play games for a long time, trying over and over again to meet impossible goals. Right now, for example, I'm loving the combat in "Viewtiful Joe," but the tricksy little counterintuitive puzzle rooms are driving me nuts. Why can't I just move on to the next bunch of goons to beat up?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:05 AM on June 7, 2005


Is there a legitimate demand for games this challenging, or is this just a case of misguided "difficult==better" thinking?

I think there is, as long as the difficulty doesn't mean counter-intuitive puzzles, stupid jumping tricks, and outright cheats to achieve that difficulty. I don't do well at difficult games, however, I love playing them, because it doesn't feel like everything is handed to me on a silver-platter.

The best example off the top of my head is the Arnhem Knights level of Medal of Honor: Frontline. It's completely do-able, however it takes more than just running in guns blazing to actually finish the level.
posted by shawnj at 6:05 AM on June 7, 2005


I've completed Master Extra on Super Monkey Ball 2. I no longer feel the need to test my gaming skillz -- I know they're mad.

JHarris, is Master Extra the extra levels you get for going through every level without dying once? If so, I salute you...I did finish all the levels, but only after dying about 28,000 times.
posted by The Dryyyyy Cracker at 6:15 AM on June 7, 2005


shawnj : "I think there is, as long as the difficulty doesn't mean counter-intuitive puzzles, stupid jumping tricks, and outright cheats to achieve that difficulty."

I think this is what's behind the popularity of the XBox Ninja Gaiden: it's really hard, but it's really really fair. It doesn't seem that way at first ("Man, this is just fucked up impossible!"), but the more you try and the better you become, the more you realize that progress isn't driven by cheats and tricks and cheapness, but skill.
posted by Bugbread at 9:41 AM on June 7, 2005


The arcade version came out in '88, the nes version in '89. that makes someone 24 today all of 7 or 8 years old when it came out.

Seriously. 25-and-under my ass. I probably pumped enough quarters into that game to buy an XBox and the new game, not even adjusting for inflation.

News flash: "Episode III" isn't the third Star Wars movie, either.
posted by mkultra at 12:48 PM on June 7, 2005


you've missed out on an important part of the 20th century.

Wow, way to make friends there. Somebody seems a little defensive about the amount of time they spent in front of the Nintendo as a child.

"Important to gaming culture"? Seriously? I think what you meant to say was "important to me", because I've never seen anybody refer to these games as all-time classics. Good games, sure, but neither revolutionary nor particularly influential.
posted by jjg at 1:46 PM on June 7, 2005


jjg:
Are you out of your tree?
Gaidan games are not revolutionary?? Ok. So, then, in that case, I suppose the hybrid side-scrolling fighter was never emulated, and the wall-jump completely fell by the wayside.
I may be drunk, but you're 12 and don't deserve to be discussing video games at the grown up table.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:23 PM on June 8, 2005


Baby_Balrog : "I may be drunk, but you're 12 and don't deserve to be discussing video games at the grown up table."

...With comments like that, I'm not sure you do either, until the booze wears off.
posted by Bugbread at 7:34 PM on June 8, 2005


Ninja Gaiden I and II were superb. Ninja Gaiden III was... really weird and insanely hard. I still have the Ninja Gaiden Trilogy cart for SNES, I think. Somewhere.

One of my proudest accomplishments back in those days was beating Ninja Gaiden I. The sequel just wasn't as difficult and so it didn't feel as good when I conquered that one. The first one was actually fairly easy up until the last level - and a few intense jumping bits in the second-to-last level.

I always loved the music in those games, I think it was one of the main reasons that I could play them over and over again.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 12:00 AM on June 9, 2005


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