23 March 2014

March 2014 Update: Me and Video Game Difficulty

Exams and homework and Spring Break and DDS-Net and Skype stole my attention from this blog. ...My bad. ^_^'

By this point, just assume there will be a month or two per year when I suddenly vanish or provide no content. It doesn't help if I have writer's block. Like I do now. It's not just Rants From a Fangirl; my fanfic hasn't grown much in terms of length. Maybe I'm still burned out from the October 4th subplot ordeal or maybe I'm pretty close to the worst part of the original game: the horrible November-December angst festival of awful pacing.


To combat my everyday laziness and persistent afflictions of writer's block, I've made tons of progress in Shin Megami Tensei IV. My play hours sat at 15 for so many months, but now I've added another 17 or so in the span of a week. It's not a bad game, but the first several hours were just... frustrating to put it mildly.

Either Medusa - or Minotaur depending on your luck - can be a lot harder to fight than this video makes it look. I was not lucky enough to have as many useful skills for my demons. (Plus, my Flynn is more oriented to physical rather than magic attacks.) Then add my unfortunate luck in recruiting and negotiating with demons, often to the point I would run out of items, macca, HP, MP, or all of the above. I died... many times. I lost count. But if I can make a humiliating estimate, I died at least twice per hour. For twenty hours straight.

This game is the reason I can never go back to Persona 4 Golden. This game destroyed whatever faith I had in my already minuscule abilities and skills as a gamer. Shin Megami Tensei IV made me commit to forever starting off at the lowest or second-lowest difficulty setting in a video game. No exceptions.

Whenever I pick up a new game, I used to sometimes start on the easiest difficulty. Now, it will be a mandatory standard.

Feel free to call me a wimp, a weakling, a little girl, and a child crying over a video game that a manly man can handle but I can't. Considering this is how the video game culture can be at times, I'm not shocked anymore. I am well aware that I'm not the most competitive, the strongest, or the brightest tool in the shed, but for me, entertainment and immersion is my preference. If getting get used to a game's mechanics involves asking for help, consulting a guide, or lowering the difficulty, I'm not ashamed to do so. Besides, the guys on DDS-Net have scolded me for my newly cemented approach.

Now that I'm more interested in playing MegaTen games, I've started to notice that many fans in the fanbase have admitted to going online or asking friends for help on boss battles, negotiation techniques, and demon fusion. Sure, there is still some mocking and teasing going about to separate the chosen elitists from the demon chow, but I have not met one MegaTen fan who said, "Oh, yeah! I totally beat the demi-fiend in Digital Devil Saga in one try without any guides!" or "You can't beat Persona 2 Innocent Sin without a guide for persona fusions? You really suck!" If you are such a person, most people would assume you are lying through your teeth.

I once suggested on Skype for someone to play Nocturne on Hard Mode without dying once. One person - who first played Nocturne as a child - nearly started crying. Another told me to stop taking so many crazy pills. The rest said to leave that idea by the curb, run VERY far way, and never look back. Because... need I say anything more than check TV Tropes for the short answer?

Torturously stupid ideas aside, once I scaled down the difficulty of SMTIV, I enjoyed the game so much more. I went through normal mode for twenty hours before finally giving up my masochistic crusade. I sacrificed my pride and vowed to beat the game, even if everyone mocks me over "EASY MODO". So, believe it or not, I may review the game not long after I complete it! From what some friends told me, I'm at the halfway point and coming closer to the alignment lock. Whether I will be Lawful, Chaotic, or Neutral will be revealed soon.

My overall feelings of the game will be saved for once I review it. I don't want to cause a big stink like I did for Persona 4. But I will say that I'm enjoying SMTIV FAR BETTER than P4 overall.

Call me an elitist all you want, but I have more experience in school kids saving the world. Fighting through the demon apocalypse is still pretty new for me. I ain't a full fledged member who's committed to either side of the fence.

Once I'm done this game - and either Strange Journey or SMTI - I may have my answer.

Now excuse me, but I just ran into my archnemesis while wandering around Tokyo. And I'm at level 44.



Chalgyr Vokel said...

Difficulty is an interesting thing in games. I've written about it on my site before too. I used to, when I was younger, take a ton of pride in getting ridiculously good at very difficult games. Ghosts n' Goblins? Check. Ninja Gaiden. Double check. Contra in one life? You betcha.

I couldn't do any of those now to save my life. I think though, part of it is I had fewer games to play back then, and games took a lot less time to beat. In today's games with frequent check and save points, games have gotten longer and my own patience for replaying parts due to my own failure has greatly diminished.

My son's 15 now, and he's probably better than me at most action-based games (he definitely owns me in all things FPS). I find myself turning down the difficulty in a lot of games now, largely because I have too many others I want to play, and if I can cut down on time spent replaying difficult sections (while reducing my stress), that's the option I tend to choose now myself.

Melanie~Light said...

Time seems to be a greater factor for playing games once you become an adult. With SMTIV, I had to force myself to keep going. I forced myself to pick up more challenge quests, to grind, to fuse better demons just to survive the next section. Otherwise, I had to focus on other projects and maybe never return to the game. Going to easy mode helped me stick to this.

Honestly, at least if you go on easy mode, you can swap back to normal if you're feeling unchallenged and bored. No harm. Sure some hours may be lost sometimes, but it's better than rage quitting constantly in the first 20% of the game. I did that and don't want that to happened again.

It's funny. P4G was too easy, then SMTIV was hard for me. How odd and coincidental...

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