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I guess I just like liking things

Back in the day, games would just get harder and harder and then you would die. Much has been made of how today’s gamers have it so much easier because they can save games whenever they want and besides, the games hold their hands all the way through, so there’s no challenge and everything new is horrible. I have one word I would like to say to people who believe this:


You spin me right round, baby, right round like a Mandara baby, right round round round.

You spin me right round, baby, right round
like a Mandara baby, right round round round.

Let me be clear: yes, games of yore would kick your butt. I’ve seen video of people “beating” Pac Man and Donkey Kong and it makes no sense to me. First, I don’t understand games like that having an ending, mostly because they don’t. What they do have are limitations, so when the code can’t handle how far a person gets, it screws up and boom, there’s your “ending.” Second, I don’t understand a person being able to play any of those games well enough to cause the code to be all “I’m out!” and run away. It boggles my mind. The closest I’ve ever come is being able to beat the arcade version of Shinobi with one quarter without losing any lives. Of course, that “one quarter” didn’t give any indication of how many other quarters I’d spent to get there. First there was “oh, what’s after this?” mixed with “argh, I just spent three dollars trying to get past this boss battle.” Then there was “okay, how far can I get on one quarter?” Then “how little can I die while using only the one quarter?” Once I got to that point I didn’t really have much else to shoot for, so I’d show The Whole Game to anyone who wanted to watch it (more people than you’d think – like, 4).

Now I have Shinobi on Xbox Live Arcade, the same exact game I spent who knows how many quarters on 20 years ago. It’s the same exact game (aside from a graphic here and there), but I can’t get past the spinning statue boss for anything. All those hours as a youth perfecting my performance, wasted. Worse, I’ll never get the gamerpoints from this version.

A friend of mine has been waiting for me to finish Arkham Origins so he could borrow it, but after I finished it, I started on Game+ mode. The enemies have more health, hit harder, and don’t have the warning lines above their heads before they strike. It is the worst.  Wait, scratch that – beating Game+ mode unlocks Dark Knight mode, and I have to imagine it will be even worse. The reason I’ll have to imagine that is because I will never, ever get to see it. Every fight in Game+ has been a slog, frustrating me to the point of anger more often than I’d care to admit. I’m not the sort to throw controllers, but I now completely understand a person’s desire to do so. So. Very. Frustrating. I made my friend take the game a few days ago because I was stuck on a fight with Bane that I retried and retried for two hours and couldn’t get past. Now I’m back to Mass Effect 1 on Insanity and thinking back on a time when I used to enjoy games.

See, that’s the question: why do it if it’s no longer fun? And believe you me, there is nothing fun at all about playing games on a higher difficulty level for me. My main reasons for doing so anymore are one of three:

  1. The game’s hard mode isn’t really all that hard
  2. I really liked the game and want to play it again
  3. The rewards I’ll get from playing the higher difficulty

For Arkham Origins, the thing I really want is an avatar award of a Batsuit for beating the game on its highest difficulty. Plus, there’s a pile of gamerpoints. But at some point the frustration level is so great it retroactively makes me dislike the game that I loved the first time around. And I know the older I get the worse that’s going to get because my abilities are going to get worse and worse. Pretty soon I won’t even be able to handle Normal mode, and nobody’s handing out avatar Batsuits for Easy mode.

I don’t have a complete answer for why I still play a game when it’s no longer fun, and I’m not sure I ever will, but it’s been on my mind lately and I wanted to see if any of you have run into this.

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