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MajorMitch

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MajorMitch • 

@turboman: Thanks!! That hotel moment really was kind of magical at the time :) And I don't think it's crazy to hold this as your favorite SNES game. There are a couple I probably like slightly more than Mario RPG, but it's right up there for sure, the margins are slim.

@zombiepenguin9: Thank you! If you do get to play it, I'd be curious how it holds up for you!

@doctordonkey: It is kind of wild how turn-based RPGs have rarely used any timing based component, or otherwise tried to be more active. It's one of my favorite things about all the Mario RPG games (including Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi), and I think it goes a long way towards combating the stereotypical complaint that JRPGs are slow and boring. Agree it would have been cool to see Octopath Traveler try it!

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MajorMitch

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@johnseminario: I know I'm being a bit extreme :) That's kind of the point, and hopefully get people to think. Because you're totally right that we so quickly default to lazy language to describe things, and it bugs the living shit out of me. I know it's unrealistic, but I wish people would think about why they like or don't like games, instead of tossing out labels.

As for some of your other points, I kind of hit them in the post/other comments. I would argue that the tedium of going through sections you feel like you've already done (like in Hollow Knight) is more an indicator that you don't like the game, or at least parts of the game, than it's hard, which you also acknowledge to a degree. And where you mention patience and restraint being needed for Dark Souls but not Uncharted, I think that's again not a measure of difficulty. They're just different games, and you learn to play them differently, and that's going to click differently with different players. Again, all subjective. I have a hard time coming up with concrete definitions for any of this, which is why I think it largely is a mental/cultural thing.

But anyway, thanks for the response- this is a fun topic to discuss, I appreciate it!

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MajorMitch

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@arbitrarywater: Dark Souls , or really Demon's Souls, was (no surprise) one of the games that started getting me to think about this stuff, and how all of it is so subjective and based on our collective cultural definitions. At the time Demon's Souls was simply labelled as "the hard game", and Dark Souls was even marketed with the tagline "Prepare to Die." Nowadays we've come to appreciate the actual good parts of the game past the supposed difficulty, to the point where many other games use those same mechanics and we don't talk about them just being "hard."

And Dark Souls did come out at a time where most AAA games were meant to be as non-frustrating as possible for everyone. Dark Souls kind of showed how boring those games were getting for a lot of people, and pushed its players (and arguably the medium at large) to grow. The struggles that came with it simply spurred that growth, one of the themes I was talking about.

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MajorMitch

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MajorMitch • 

@slag: Hey Slag! Lot to digest here, apologies in advance if I bounce around. It is a fun topic though :)

I definitely agree with you that some things are impossible given biological and physical limitations: hitting a 1,000,000 mph fastball is not possible for humans. I can't fly, or breathe underwater, etc. But I think there is a distinction between difficult and impossible, and I'll stay within the realm of things humans can do. I am operating under the assumption that most people engaging in conversations on game difficulty are physically and biologically capable of handling a controller and playing games. I recognize there are disabled people, and they do have real limitations that may prevent them from completing certain game tasks. So the broader blanket is that within things that are possible, difficulty doesn't exist.

I also think most players would agree with you that some games are just harder than others, that's the conventional wisdom. I know I'm going against the grain here, and that's kind of the point of this one ;) To take you're example, I could very much argue that TWD Season 1 is a harder game than Getting Over It (I almost made that argument in the original draft, but between Getting Over It and FF15). Despite how hard people claim Getting Over It is, it took me 6 hours to finish my first run of that game. It took me over twice that long to finish TWD Season 1. I think it's very reasonable to say I had an easier time beating Getting Over It than TWD Season 1.

Which all circles back around to subjectiveness and definitions. I think how long it takes to beat a game is as reasonable a definition of difficulty as anything else. Usually we talk about "skill" needed, but that's also hard to measure and varies between players. Or we talk about number of times you died, but that's going to vary drastically between players for any given game. And I also don't think deaths inherently mean anything about difficulty. If I learn a mechanic through dying, I don't think that's any harder than learning the mechanic and not dying. I may have to replay something that I already did, but is that "hard?" It may be annoying to you (I don't like old stealth games for this reason), but that goes back to the "I just don't like those games" bit.

I think this is why you see lower completion rates- generally speaking people don't like Getting Over It as much as TWD Season 1, so more people stopped playing it before they finished. Or maybe there are even other spins you could put on that stat- I don't think any of this proves any direct correlation, people stop playing games for any number of reasons.

Finally, one last thing about those 2 games, if I were to unravel my experience with Getting Over It, and lay out my 6 hour run as a series of linear events (which will look different for different players), I don't think that series of individual steps would look any more daunting than TWD Season 1. We often get wrapped up in "losing progress" and "dying" and "replaying sections", but as mentioned, that can just be part of the process. I was always moving towards the end in Getting Over It, along my line I just laid out, even when I "failed" in the traditional sense. It may not be as obvious while you're playing the game, since you kind of have to unravel that line in your head, but in retrospect games are almost always easier when I look back on them.

Which brings us back to why I think it is all mental and subjective, and we could probably debate those definitions until the end of time. I know that's still not going to be agreeable to most people, and I probably sound like some weirdo zen nut job to some, but there it is :)

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MajorMitch

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@notnert427: I think you hit a lot of what makes Paradise stand out to me, a lot of it is in the way it creates that fun attitude every second. Even the soundtrack like you say manages to be endearing even when it's cheesy. It's just extreme all the time in a goofy way you can pump your fist to, and of course plays extremely well the entire time. It swung for the fences, and if that clicks, it's going to really click. I think that's why the people that love it (myself included) are so passionate about it. There's nothing else like it (even the Forza Horizon games don't quite nail that rambunctious spirit, like you said).

It makes total sense to me that a lot of people like Burnout 3/Revenge better, as they are more focused and traditional experiences that still play amazingly well. But something about the way Paradise just goes for it is special to me :)

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MajorMitch

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MajorMitch • 

@slag: Thanks Slag! I've been wanting to start these kinds of posts for a while, where I can sum up my favorites better than I can in a list ;)

I do wonder if it's more time and place for you and Burnout Paradise, or if maybe this is a kind of game that wouldn't have appealed to you even if you played it at the time. One of the most striking things about playing its remaster recently was just how apparent it made it that nothing else has done anything in the ballpark of Burnout over the past decade. So in a way it doesn't feel all that dated to me since nothing else has tried that stuff to surpass it. Or maybe that's just nostalgia speaking, idk. I certainly understand that this isn't a game for everyone though- you're right that there is a certain amount of aimlessness to it. But that's also part of the joy for me, having a chill driving game that controls so well, and full of a mess of fun things to engage with. If you can embrace that, it's pretty special :)

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MajorMitch

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MajorMitch • 

Great list, and thanks for explaining why each game was important to you. You do a good job here of acknowledging that these are simply your personal picks, and explain why you like a game over others that may (or may not) be considered "better."

Also, props for acknowledging that all FF stories are nonsense. People regularly harp on 8 for its story as if all the other games in the series aren't just as dumb ;)

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MajorMitch

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MajorMitch • 

Tennis, anyone?

Wouldn't that be nice?

As a big tennis fan this game bums me out. This Top Spin games were great, my favorite tennis games. I think a number of those folks went on to this too, but I don't get the impression it worked out. We haven't had a good tennis sim since Top Spin 4 in 2011, and as much as it'd be nice if Mario Tennis turns out well, it doesn't fill that gap...

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This is a good read, thanks for writing. Glad I finally got around to it. This game really surprised me too, and hooked me more than I thought it ever could. It does a great job at expressing the value of frustration and adversity through simple mechanics, and it's definitely one of the "realest" games I've played in a long, long time. I've played a number of big, polished games recently, and often come away not feeling much at all, good or bad. Getting Over It manages to be messy and vulnerable in a way that's refreshingly honest, and thus made me feel more than most games ever have.

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MajorMitch

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MajorMitch • 

@theflamingo352: Thanks for reading, and totally agree it's neat how different people have different preferences! I think each squad functions different such that different people's brains will click with them to varying degrees. I also think, after playing through the game with all of them, I've come to see the game differently. You get exposed to so many different ways of seeing the board via different squads, you eventually accumulate this wealth of useful knowledge. This game is great.

Still, I don't know how you can fare better with Blitzkrieg than with Steel Judoka or Flame Behemoths :P

@minipato: Thanks for reading! I thought the Steel Judoka would rely more on board position RNG too, but I've not had an issue with it. Their attacks seem just versatile enough, my only real issue is the Judo Mech's attack is very picky in tight spaces. I won a 4-island game on hard with them the other day, and didn't have much trouble at all, which surprised even me.

The Flame Behemoths are great :) They're the next ones I want to try on hard. In some ways they might be my favorite to play as well, even if I've found the Rift Walkers and Judoka to be more reliable. There's just something fun about burning everything, and you list out a lot of things that make them strong. Swap Mech rules.

You might be right about Charge Mech on Zenith Guard. My victory with them I used Abe on it to negate the self-damage, but then I had a harder time getting Laser Mech into position without any of the movement aids. A lot of people love the Hulks, and I admittedly need to try them again, but they didn't feel as natural of versatile to me. I kept getting into situations where I couldn't attack because I had too much smoke in the way, or the smoke would not kill enemies fast enough and I'd get overwhelmed. Not enough so that I lost, but it felt tougher than with some other squads.

Totally agree on Frozen Titans and Blitzkrieg ;)