Do you often find yourself struggling with the games of today? Do the cops keep catching up with you in Liberty City and beating you to death? Do wolves frequently devour your rugged cowboy or does your brave marine end up as an alien’s entrée? If the era of high definition gaming is getting the better of you, take a deep breath as we take a trip into the bygone age of games that would truly make you sweat.
The corridors of video-game history are littered with games of such immense difficulty they leave you incapacitated with rage or sat crying in a corner begging for mummy. I bring to the table my own personal nemesis, Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, released in 1991. At the tender age of seven, I found myself exposed to a level of fury only invoked through games of such difficulty. For those of you unfamiliar with Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, you play as Arthur, a noble knight on a quest to release a captured princess, such were the story telling skills of this gaming epoch. Arthur could both acquire and lose armour, ending up in his boxers depending on how reckless you were. Sadly, I saw more of Arthur in his boxers than I care to remember. To this day, Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts remains unconquered and still haunts my gaming nightmares.
However, my recent attempt at the classic Sonic The Hedgehog made me realise that nearly all games of this period required both the skills of a ninja and the patience of a Buddhist. Lest we forget titles such as, the badly spelt, Mortal Kombat or the incredibly colourful Street Fighter, with their insurmountable button combinations and final boss battles, that uttered no mention of the word mercy. Playing these retro games, alongside recent releases, clearly reveals the brutal learning curve of yesteryear has been replaced in contemporary gaming by a modest incline. Games of the past were devoid of the helping hand offered by save points, infinite continues, health packs and optional difficulty settings. Games of the past were hard and they knew it.
With the recent avalanche of retro games being re-released on current generation consoles and mobile phones, I implore everyone just to try one and revel in the likely overwhelming challenge it poses. Although it may leave you in tears, at least next time you’re waving your fists at highly detailed inanimate digital villains, responsible for your sweaty palms, you may recall this simpler age of nigh-on impossible 2D gaming. After all, the games of old have forged a generation at peace with recurring and humiliating defeat, giving us the will to persevere and nimble finger skills that make lesser primates jealous. We are a product of our difficult gaming experiences and I urge you, next time you start a game, to nudge up the difficulty setting and remember what is it to be truly challenged.