Hard Type
January 16, 2014 7:21 AM   Subscribe

InsaneDifficulty.com is a community site dedicated to modifications of classic games which make them more difficult and complex. There are many games hosted by the community: Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy VI and Dark Souls among others. Most mods are supported in dedicated forums (including installation instructions) on the site's message boards.
posted by codacorolla (53 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Dark Souls is the only game I've ever ragequit during the tutorial, so the idea of there being demand to make it even more difficult blows my mind.
posted by fight or flight at 7:28 AM on January 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

One of the most prominent Souls Youtubers did an overview of that aggressive AI mod. It looks really cool. As he says, it's lame when games are made superficially more difficult by merely increasing enemy health or increasing damage to you. This mod actually creates unique experiences and fundamentally alters the way you play the game.
posted by naju at 7:40 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Dark Souls is the only game I've ever ragequit during the tutorial, so the idea of there being demand to make it even more difficult blows my mind.

Dark Souls has a kind of Stockholm syndrome associated with it. When you embrace the fact that you will die a lot and the game does not care if you die a lot, it's a lot of fun.

Except I ragequit two weeks ago in the DLC and haven't picked it up again yet.
posted by dismas at 7:42 AM on January 16, 2014

When you embrace the fact that you will die a lot and the game does not care if you die a lot, it's a lot of fun.

Have I got a game for you....
posted by JHarris at 8:11 AM on January 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

Dark Souls is the only game I've ever ragequit during the tutorial

I was very close to tutorial ragequit myself.

Man, I thought, after a ten minute battle with a veiny zombie guy. I had inflicted so little direct damage that I could only win by forcing him off a staircase a half dozen times. And there were three more veiny zombie guys waiting behind him! One had a bow! No wonder they say this game is tough!

After another fruitless hour, I broke down and consulted a tutorial, which told me I had been meant to pick up a broadsword earlier in the dungeon. Once I started using that instead of the broken hilt I'd been wielding against the veiny zombie guys, they went down in a matter of seconds.

In retrospect, probably not the game for me.
posted by Iridic at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

I quit Dark Souls because it stressed me the hell out. After one session of fighting a particular boss over and over, I realized I was having a stress reaction. My hands were shaking, and my heart rate was up, and I just decided fuck it. I play games to unwind, not get wound up. What kind of maniac wants to make a game like that more difficult?
posted by dortmunder at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I bought Demons' Souls (the no less balls-hard predecessor to the Dark Souls franchise) for PS3 a few years back, got through the tutorial's introductory "learn to attack, learn to block, kill a couple skeletons, yadda yadda" stuff, got into a room glittering with treasure, and was promptly killed by a giant tutorial boss.

Which starts the actual game. Losing a fight badly is actually part of the game.

So when I picked up Dark Souls for PS3 after that came out, I jumped in and played through the tutorial and got to the great big boss at the end and was like, oh, this again. Made a token effort to fight it, got killed.

Tutorial started over. Getting pasted by the giant insane hulk as a poorly-equipped newbie zombie duder was apparently not the thing to do, now.

So I went back through a couple times and did manage to beat the huge hulk, using not so much what I learned in Dark Souls' tutorial as what I learned from playing through a decent chunk of Demons' Souls, where I'd learned the sort of aggressively punishing, You Got To Do This Correctly aesthetic of the series and drilled in some muscle memory that helped the fight go my way. And then the actual game started, and I made a bit of hard-won progress, then got distracted.

Time passes, and Dark Souls is on deep discount on Steam, so I pick it up for PC, and start it up the other day, and remember the tutorial as I play through it, charge right along, and get to the hulking tutorial boss, who promptly kills me. Come back, get killed slightly less promptly, am not even in the mood apparently, and ragequit the tutorial that I'd already beaten a couple years back.

This fucking game.

The worst thing is it turns out that if you really know your shit, you actually can beat the ridiculous tutorial boss from the Demons' Souls.
posted by cortex at 8:19 AM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

I was so excited about Dark Souls I picked it up on day one. After three hours of play, making it out of the tutorial but then heading completely in the wrong direction, I was so frustrated and confused I dropped it for a year.

A year later I picked it up again, made a plan for leveling, and persevered. Easily one of my favorite games of all time now. Worth playing almost entirely for the sense of discovery and insane art direction in each new area.
posted by mean cheez at 8:25 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I went into Dark Souls with the intention of never checking the internet, because I thought it would break my immersion. I don't really get frustrated by games anymore, nor do I like perfecting them through metagaming (both of which ruin my immersion) so it ended up being the most rewarding experience I've had in gaming in the last 5 years. That's not to say that it wasn't difficult. I took two month long breaks from the game, one before beating S+O and another before beating Artorias, which was nice because it let me naturally return to being interested in the game.

I've been playing the insane difficulty mod for Final Fantasy Tactics recently, and it's been a similar experience, although I ended up cheating quite a bit simply to skip levels I didn't care for. When I was a teenager this would have been taboo, but at this point I realize what most people realize - games are games. I can do whatever the fuck I want.

Edit: A large point of Dark Souls is dying, because the creator, Miyazaki, stated that he wanted to create a game that explored dying.
posted by womandad at 8:37 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love how any post that mentions Dark Souls becomes a thread all about Dark Souls. Not snarking. I love it.

The thing about the difficulty is that it's all learnable -- you master it through pattern recognition, not twitch reflexes -- which makes feats that would seem beyond impossible when you're starting out (beating it at level 1, with unupgraded weapons, with no shield or armor, etc) eminently achievable.

And what you get when you persevere through the game is lots of moments of your brain going from "I can never do this" to "holy crap, I DID it" which I'm pretty sure is chemically addictive on some level. Then once you've beaten the game six ways to Sunday you can get into PvP and have a whole new round of you know nothing, Jon Snow moments.

I don't have time to play like I used to, but whenever I go on Xbox Live, I see all my Dark Souls buddies on my friends list, and nine times out of ten...they're still playing Dark Souls. It's kind of amazing.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I also went into Dark Souls without consulting the internet (I didn't give in until I beat it the first time - I didn't miss too much beyond some of the covenants (I've now got a SL13 dark wraith, and thinking that I need a SL1 dark wraith - four kings was such a pain however even with a +5 lightning balder sword)). I didn't/don't have a lot of time for game playing, and lack of internet secrets likely made things take longer, but around a year after getting it, I finally beat it. Meanwhile, two of my kids have spent a non-trivial amount of the time that I've played watching me, and attempting to duplicate me.

Neither of them really made any progress past the Gaping Dragon. I sometimes give them hints / advice, but I want them to find things out themselves. Recently, the older of the two realized there are Dark Souls Wiki's, and finally got to and beat Qualag, but I don't think he's finished Sen's fortress.

The youngest, stopped playing one of his characters, because he used the shortcut he saw me take in the depths to easily beat the giant rat and get to the bonfire. But he couldn't find his way, becasue he never saw me leave the depths. And he wanted to get the pryomancy glove. And rather than do a little exploring (really, from the bonfire in the depths, it's not far/tricky to get out), he just quit that character. Until a month later when he finally saw me as I took the route out. It drives me insane how little he wants to explore when you don't really lose that much if you die and have a chance to regain it.

A week or two ago for my youngest, a white phantom dropped a bunch of +15 weapons and +10 armor - (In theory 20 titanite slabs worth of gear along with a +10 washing pole - I assume this all game from a character editor). So he's got a character at level 40 with multiple choices of ultimate gear and he still hasn't killed the gaping dragon because he doesn't want to risk losing the 5 (!) humanity he's holding.

In short, my kids are totally playing dark souls wrong (and possibly mainly/only playing it because I love it so).

... Sigh, 2 months until dark souls 2 comes out; it's probably time for me to get the DLC for 360. I wish this mod was available to purchase for the 360.

On preview; Dark Souls owns us; how can we not hijack any thread that mentions it? Call it Stockholme syndrome if you want, but as much as I've complained, ranted and yelled at it for flat out cheating, it's still my favourite game.
posted by nobeagle at 9:11 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I rage quit Icewind Dale 2 during either the tutorial or one of the very first battles and never went back. $15 well spent, at least I didnt pay full price. I figured, I loved both Baldur's Gates, Baldur's Gate in the snow? More of the best RPG story on PC maybe ever? More of the most immersive charcters in years? Sign me up!

No, Icewind has no immersion, no characters, no story. Just waves upon waves of ice cave spiders with freeze spells thrown at your unprepraed party of lvl 3 wizards, a druid with a broken quarterstaff and a thief no sneak skill.

Some games are difficult just to replace the otherwise glaring lack of compelling gameplay.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:12 AM on January 16, 2014

Man, this is so not for me. I just don't see how people can do it. I was playing Borderlands 2 last night on extreme easy mode, and was still having my ass handed to me by this one batch of those big ice bear things. I found myself wishing, as I often do, for games to have predictive difficulty - as in, it's smart enough to say, "Hello player, you've just had your ass handed to you three times in a row - would you like me to kill this ice bear for you?"
posted by jbickers at 9:15 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I bought Dark Souls for like five bucks during a Steam sale, because it sounds like the kind of weird, punishing but engrossing game I've been known to get into. From what I can tell, it seems pretty fun, but the biggest hurdle for me isn't the difficulty (although I did in fact get to the first boss and no farther), but the fact that it tells me I need to have a Games for Windows Live account to even save my fucking game.

I assume there's a mod out there somewhere that would allow me to circumvent this, but for the time being, Dark Souls sits unplayed on my hard drive.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fine, I'll be the weirdo in this thread who has never played Dark Souls (though y'all are tempting me since it's < $20 on Amazon).

This is a really great site - every few years I get the urge to replay some old 16-to-32-bit RPGs like a Final Fantasy title (lately I've been fixing for Suikoden 2), so I'll definitely try these out when I get the urge to playthrough them again. I love that for some games these modders didn't just do quick fixes, like making healing potions or spells less effective, they actually altered scripts for boss fights and made some fairly nuanced tweaks. I almost didn't want to read any more about them because it felt like cheating.

Hopefully the mods don't impact the game's stability too much - I had some problems applying mods to FFVII after I bought it on Steam. The mods made the game look great at first, but once I got to where I needed the World Map to navigate (about 8 hours in), the screen became a jumble of text and I had no clue where towns were, so I had to put it down. I wonder if it's because I grew up paying games on consoles that had to be perfect on release (read: no internet updates), I have zero tolerance for impactful glitches.

Also, not to criticize this amazing site, but is anyone else ever disappointed that Sega Genesis games never seem to get the attention they deserve? Everyone's so caught up in Chrono Trigger (which is arguably the best 16-bit RPG) that they forget about the amazing Phantasy Star series (at least 2 and 4, I never played 3). And how come no one ever mentions Shadowrun in these discussions? Because there were 2 different games - a mediocre Shadowrun game for the SNES, and a pretty damn sweet one for the Genesis. There were also a ton of great Sega Saturn RPGs if I remember correctly.
posted by antonymous at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

From the very beginning, Sega never, ever got the love it deserved. I can remember standing at the game demo kiosks in The Good Guys in, what, 1985? Super Mario Bros on one side, Alex Kidd on the other. Didn't seem like much of a contest to me, but things didn't pan out the way I expected.

Phantasy Star 3 is probably the weak link in the tetralogy (the visuals, in particular, have a washed-out, uninspired feel all throughout), but the generational stuff felt pretty ambitious at the time. Oh, and speaking of hard, god help you if you ended up four levels deep in a dungeon you hadn't bothered mapping out in the first Phantasy Star, back in the pre-internet epoch. Although you could always call Sega and they'd send you a photocopied booklet with maps and a walkthrough.

Can somebody tell me what's so great about Chrono Trigger? I never played it when it originally came out, but I picked it up recently and it's a perfectly decent RPG but the timeless appeal it seems to hold for so many isn't really coming through for me.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:40 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you gotten to the plot twist in Chrono Trigger?

People also really love the music.
posted by subdee at 10:02 AM on January 16, 2014

Phantasy Star IV is so unfairly overlooked. It's every bit as good as the classic SNES Final Fantasy games.
posted by naju at 10:06 AM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

I always liked Chrono Trigger for its engaging battles (much more interesting than watching a line of sprites attack monster portraits). At the time it was a good balance between challenging and forgiving that it felt like I was good at it (although a subsequent playthrough when I was older made me realize it's REALLY easy). The artwork is beautiful, and the environments are well rendered. The narrative is pretty compelling, with really lovable characters.

Also, I played it when I was a kid, so that's going to make you give almost anything a pass. I'm not sure there'd be enough meat there to get me to stick with it if I was coming into it blind in modern times.

However, it seems that the mod mentioned above fixes that, so I might give it a go again.
posted by codacorolla at 10:19 AM on January 16, 2014

I see Chrono Trigger through nostalgia-colored lenses, but not having replayed it for awhile, I remember that the story and characters were interesting (and occasionally silly - the game didn't take itself too seriously), and while the gameplay seems pretty simplistic compared to what is now a "standard" RPG, that template wasn't fully fleshed out before this game. There are also multiple endings to the game and the time-travel was an interesting wrinkle. The game managed to do everything very well at a time when it was easy to screw up by "innovating" too much.

Also, it would be nice if these Hard Type modders came out with some updated players and skills for Blitzball Recruiting Simulator (FFX)!
posted by antonymous at 10:21 AM on January 16, 2014

fucken blitzball
posted by cortex at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2014

One of the key things about Chrono Trigger for me was that it never gave you a chance to get bored. Sit down with the game for an hour or two, and you will probably go through several major plot points, dungeons, settings, timelines. It's incredibly economical and efficient in its storytelling and RPG experience. The whole thing including the endgame subquests is over in what, 20 hours? There's absolutely no filler. It's just a great, deep gameplay experience from start to finish, with colorful characters, atmosphere that just feels right, and a plot that starts out deceptively simple but grows into something significant. Now let's talk about how Chrono Cross managed the impressive feat of undoing all of this...
posted by naju at 10:49 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wonder if it's because I grew up paying games on consoles that had to be perfect on release (read: no internet updates), I have zero tolerance for impactful glitches.

It's funny this should come up in a article that mentions the Final Fantasy games.

From the Brave New World FFVI hack:

Verily, Brave New World is beyond all else everything I feel that Final Fantasy VI could (and should) have been if at least half of its dev team wasn't on crack.

This is important because, from luking around at Romhacking.net for years now, I can tell you that the Final Fantasy games are chock full of ridiculous bugs. Item duplication tricks are the least of it. The Final Fantasy Wikia site lists lots of bugs in VI.

Some chests actually give you a different item than it tells you on screen. One of them, the Vanish/Doom bug which lets you instakill bosses, is fairly well-known. When you beat SrBehemoth and his undead revival, you're supposed to get two Behemoth Suits. The stat "Physical Evasion" for both enemies and characters is completely non-functional, doing nothing, and is only partly functional for "Magic Evasion". The "Runic" ability is broken. It's possible to use an item, have it be consumed, but not get the effect. And of course, the Sketch Bug can erase your saved game.
posted by JHarris at 11:10 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Don't forget the music in Chrono Trigger, too. The soundtracks for CT and Final Fantasy VI (FF III for the US SNES release) were pretty much the high-water mark of cartridge-era chiptune compositions, before optical-disc storage and recorded music became the default.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:12 AM on January 16, 2014

The "Runic" ability is broken

posted by RolandOfEld at 11:13 AM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can somebody tell me what's so great about Chrono Trigger? I never played it when it originally came out, but I picked it up recently and it's a perfectly decent RPG but the timeless appeal it seems to hold for so many isn't really coming through for me.

I wouldn't call it timeless, because really I don't think a lot of this category of gaming is going to persist down through the ages. But Chrono Trigger is, at least, a lot of fun, manages to avoid many of the annoying cliches of the genre, can be surprising at times, and has a great deal of heart. It doesn't feel like a big ol' self-involved soap opera like the worst elements of Final Fantasy.
posted by JHarris at 11:41 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh, one additional thing about Demon's/Dark Souls - I've come to hold the opinion that the way I've beaten both of them is equivalent to cheating. I'm talking about summoning other players to help me with the bosses. It removes a HUGE chunk of the difficulty, and also offers a reprieve from the feeling that you're all alone in the world, the game universe is indifferent to your suffering, and the only one that can make things better for you is yourself. It's a concession towards easiness and cooperation in a game that otherwise doesn't hold your hand even a little bit. You don't even need to discover what makes a boss tick, if you've summoned 2 other players that know what they're doing.

I plan to play Dark Souls 2 in the purest way I can - no internet help, no PvE cooperation. Soloing all bosses is the way and the light.
posted by naju at 11:45 AM on January 16, 2014

Since Games for Windows Live is dying in the next month or so, you'll be able to play DS sans the help of others (or even the temptation for it, outside of the scripted summon signs for Solaire and the like).

Although a player supported multi-player service cropping up wouldn't surprise me in the least. Probably my favorite thing about this generation of gaming, as also evidenced by the FPP, is the ability of players to design games for their own needs.
posted by codacorolla at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2014

Maybe for some of us, Chrono Trigger came out at just the right time. Its a feeling that can never be duplicated and at the risk of sounding elitist, something I feel like fans of the game who weren't around when it "dropped" won't ever fully appreciate. I can hear a few notes of any of the OST and be transported back to that time.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:55 AM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Unfortunately, also from the FFVI Brave New World changelog:

Wrote out some of the more gratuitous profanity in the dialogue and added an optional patch that removes *all* of the mod's profanity (and other assorted naughtiness)

What in the name of fuck! What gratuitous profanity? What profanity at all?! I want to play this mod but I don't want a bowdlerized version of the game. This seems like overstepping, especially when the creator loudly proclaims that it is about fixing the game rather than changing it.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:55 AM on January 16, 2014

holy fuck am i to believe that there is a bugged fixed rom off ff6 i can grab and toss on an emu and be playing in the next ten minutes i am just so dang excited that i cant think of anyway to find this info out for myself and i hope some one in this very thread will help me please
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2014

Wrote out some of the more gratuitous profanity in the dialogue and added an optional patch that removes *all* of the mod's profanity (and other assorted naughtiness)

What in the name of fuck! What gratuitous profanity? What profanity at all?!

I took that to mean that they took out some of the gratuitous profanity in the new script that was added to the mod, not from the original game script.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ship: Sorry to disappoint, but BNW does fix bugs, but it also substantially changes around the battle system. So far as I understand, Espers have been reworked so that characters can only equip 5 or 6 (as opposed to any they wish) and the stat growths that they pick matter significantly more than in the original game. Therefore, you can choose to make Sabin either a fast and deadly combat machine, or a beefy support character who can tank damage (as an example).
posted by codacorolla at 12:01 PM on January 16, 2014

Maybe for some of us, Chrono Trigger came out at just the right time. Its a feeling that can never be duplicated and at the risk of sounding elitist, something I feel like fans of the game who weren't around when it "dropped" won't ever fully appreciate. I can hear a few notes of any of the OST and be transported back to that time.

I get this. To this day, I have a dewy-eyed Proustian reverie reflex on hearing certain BGM from Final Fantasy IV.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:05 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ah, ok, I see. Thanks Codacorolla. I might still check this out. I mean, a changed battle system is still a NEW battle system in a sense. Hm....
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:05 PM on January 16, 2014

prize bull octorok: When the red wings first show up on screen. So much nostalgia with that song...

posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:07 PM on January 16, 2014

One of my fav things to do is have lets plays of older jrpgs playing in the background while i do stuff. This is a FFIV play through with NO TALKING by the player. Very soothing to listen to.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:13 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wow soothing. So nostalgia. I'll try to exercise some self-restraint and limit myself to linking just my top three favorite FFIV tracks:

Troian Beauty

Town of Illusions

Giant's Dungeon

Dammit, once this process gets started it doesn't end until I play through the whole freaking game again...
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:30 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to say that I loved the artistic styling that you found in the manual, posters and players guide of FFIII*.

*Admittedly, I use the US numberings as I have a thing about doubting and having to recheck number swaps like that multiple, multiple times before I trust I've got things right. Probably as close to OCD as I come, please forgive me for not being as valid as some of you are in using the more accepted numbering nomenclature.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:06 PM on January 16, 2014

Bah, I've said it before: Dark Souls wasn't hard, it was just frustrating. I take heart in the fact that I have finally encountered other gamers in the wild who share this obviously correct opinion. All I can figure is that people who consider DS (and Demon's Souls) to be truly difficult games are relative newcomers who never played truly tough games like Spellbreaker or the like.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross are the only video games whose soundtracks I have purchased. Probably 20% the songs from Chrono Cross make me cry.

I would like a mod for CC that adds the thousands of hours of content that the designers had clearly meant to implement at some point.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:23 PM on January 16, 2014

Bah, I've said it before: Dark Souls wasn't hard, it was just frustrating

Really, what this comes down to is taxonomy, and the need if we're going to argue over what "hard" means to recognize that difficulty is a multi-dimensional thing with lots of different vectors to account for.

Because, sure: what's hard about Dark Souls is not the same thing as what's hard about some other games that it's legitimate to describe as difficult. You say frustrating vs. hard, but that's not really descriptive of the issue and dismisses the real fact that subjective hardness is a reflection of relative skillset and resources.

Dark Souls requires a lot of discipline: discipline in moment-to-moment tactical play (you have to fight with caution and care and time your attacks and blocks and dodges well or you will die pretty darned quickly), and discipline in learning about how the world works (the game does not hold the players's hand regarding sound methods or directions of exploration). Apply both those disciplines successfully and it's just a matter of time to get through the game; struggle with either and it is a very difficult game to make substantial progress in compared with otherwise superficially familiar fantasy brawlers and action-RPGs.

And that discipline isn't as easy to come by for everybody. I love the series, love the atmosphere, love the concept, but have trouble with it where I have to be in a pretty specific headspace to be able to summon up the proper kind of sustained effort to take both moment-to-moment and over-arching situational care with a game like that.

Infocom text adventures are a very different kind of hard. Street Fighter games, different still. Spelunky is different in its own way. Counter-Strike, a whole other thing. There's an argument to be made that Desert Bus is a very specific kind of hard, though that's getting out toward the weird edges of the question.
posted by cortex at 1:42 PM on January 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

RolandOfEld: FF6 was known as FF3e/6j to me and many others for years. I think that all kind of ended once they were reissued for the psx and then gba. FF2e/4j. Some one actually got upset with me for saying FF2e/4j. It should be FF4j/2e since the japanese version came out first they said.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 6:05 PM on January 16, 2014

Chrono Trigger is great for sure, and it was probably my favorite RPG when I was younger (it also didn't help that I was a gigantic Dragon Ball/Z fanboy), but I've been playing through Earthbound and I think I like it a lot more. I think I'll do another run through of Chrono Trigger though.
posted by gucci mane at 9:15 PM on January 16, 2014

Unfortunatley I am in the middle of playing Earthbound, Mother 3, AND Pokemon Fire Red, so I may have overwhelmed myself.
posted by gucci mane at 9:16 PM on January 16, 2014

No Earthbound is totally better. The US release even came with a strategy guide because of how extreme it is.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:53 AM on January 17, 2014

Apples and oranges. I replayed Chrono Trigger on the DS to see all the different endings in person, maybe a couple of years ago, and it still had very good pacing, great music and very vibrant colours. The story and the characters were not as mind-bending as they were back in the day, but they were still fun and I think CT might be the most easily replayable rpg from the glory days of SNES compared to other great games like Earthbound, FFIII or Terranigma, let alone games like Breath of Fire II that time left behind. Incidentally, Earthbound had an Anti Piracy check that made the game extra hard to complete and another version forced you to stop playing at the final boss, which was interestingly spiteful.
posted by ersatz at 4:55 AM on January 17, 2014

I tried the Chrono Trigger hardtype mod, and instantly got wiped out at the first "battle" - the singing robot in the fair. I guess they're not messing around.
posted by naju at 9:44 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cortex: I thought about your comment for quite some time because I couldn't identify anything about it with which I didn't agree and yet my intuition was that I did, in some part, disagree.

I think what it comes down to two things:

Firstly, with a game like DS you can almost always grind grind grind to make a fight less difficult. With many of the boss fights you can leave and return when you are much more powerful, which makes the fight relatively easy. For something to be truly difficult you should have to improve your own play skills until you are good enough to beat the problem, not just go do something easier which levels you up until, in turn, the original encounter becomes easier.

Secondly, with an action oriented game like DS where you can replay the same encounter over and over and over at some point you'll just get lucky unless you're truly terrible. You don't have to learn the best way to do something, or even necessarily a good way, you only have to find a way which has a very small chance of success and repeat it until you happen to have things line up for you. For many types of games that isn't really possible. You tend not to win, say, Civilization IV on Deity level because you got lucky despite being a bad player. Yes, certain things might become less difficult if you get a lucky start. But you aren't going to win.

With DS, lots of grinding + lots of repeating the "hard" encounters = win. Unless you're really bad to the point you can't even figure out tactics which give you a 1% chance of success.

To me a tough game is one in which the only choice is for you to get better in order to succeed. That's one possible way to beat DS but not the only one. Grinding + stubborness works just as well though it probably takes longer.
posted by Justinian at 4:40 PM on January 17, 2014

To be fair I agree DS is much more difficult than something like Skyrim which could be beaten by a blind monkey mashing keys.
posted by Justinian at 4:42 PM on January 17, 2014

Possibly interesting enough for an FPP of its own, but the recent Ludum Dare winner was Titan Souls, a game that takes the design principles of Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls and does something really cool with them. Give it a try. I can't believe this was created in two days.
posted by naju at 12:43 PM on January 18, 2014

So I played a little bit of this FFVI mod the other day. From the limited number of battles that I had, I can tell this game is completely different in a good way. The first battles when Terra has MagiTek armor are still a breeze, but everything after that seems a bit more challenging (which is definitely a good thing, as every early RPG is far easier than I remember). More status ailments, more monsters with spells, less mashing the Fight button - one of the folks you talk to at the battle school recommends turning off Active Time Battle and using Wait instead. The readme file that comes with the mod thoroughly explains the thought process behind the changing of overall gameplay (and those of characters) - it's an interesting read even if you don't want to play the game. It's really stunning how elaborate the alterations seem to be.

I also have started to appreciate the dialogue modifications that have been made - I played the opening scenes from the original as well and some of the translations are really quite terrible. The tone is still lighthearted and they've thrown a meta-joke or two in there, which is amusing if it doesn't get overused.
posted by antonymous at 8:04 AM on January 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

The tone is still lighthearted and they've thrown a meta-joke or two in there, which is amusing if it doesn't get overused.

Talk about eye candy! (gosh no one is going to get that why did I even say it?)
posted by JHarris at 9:37 AM on January 19, 2014

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