Why Were Retro Games More Difficult Than Modern Games?

BY FRANKLIN: Many adult gamers say that modern video games are easier than the classic retro games we played when we were younger. Some feel that that joy of overcoming the odds and finally completing a difficult level is a thing of the past. Are developers becoming lazy with simplistic game designs or are there are factors?

Join me as we look at some of the reasons that retro games were more difficult than modern video games.

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NecrumOddBoy1275d ago

Generally they weren't. As kids, we beat most of these games several times over. The problem is that we have adapted to a new control system and games with archaic controls (plus a lack of a forgiving save function) makes them harder to play now.

Fist4achin1275d ago

Limited lives and no save function made them really hard. I remember the first couple of games to break the mold with Contra and the famous code and Ikari Warriors with ABBA.

TheScotsman1275d ago

I'm with you on this, head over heal and batman by ocean were nightmare games and very difficult and very limited lives and possible kill scenarios were you fall to your death forever. These games took hours to finish, even jet set willy was a Knight are, think it made us all better gamers mind as there was no let's save here.

1275d ago
DerfDerf1275d ago

There is no doubt they were more difficult. E.S.W.A.T was the game for me that made I just couldn't beat. You go from regular cop to super soldier but your play through has to be damn near perfect before you get to that point and you can lose it all in an instant.

WelkinCole1274d ago

Yes those plus no regenerative health.

It was basically one hit and you die. One fall and you die.

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FlyingFoxy1275d ago

Don't think it's just that, i played Ghouls n' Ghosts over and over on the Megadrive and still didn't beat it, i managed to get quite far and never did it.

I thought Final Fight CD was extremely difficult as well and never beat that either, i was able to beat Streets of Rage 2 without much of a problem after some practice, so i don't think it was me being sucky.

Fist4achin1275d ago

Ghouls and ghosts?! That was a tough one. Never beat it and I remember being unkind to my controller over it.

derek1274d ago

GnG was hard I still have a copy on my PSP.

Smitty20201274d ago

Iv just added a comment about ghouls and ghosts it’s a solid game but I was lucky to finish it the second round for the ring was solid

Highlife1275d ago

Tell that to battle toads. The only time I ever rage quit. Took the cartridge out of the nes and threw it at the wall.

thorstein1275d ago

and Mike Tyson's Punchout!

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TKCMuzzer1274d ago

Nope, old games are definitely harder.
Just think how many times you boot up a new game and you have to go through the left, right, up and down tutorial.
I went back to play Flashback (great game from the Amiga era) and the save points are brutal, one mistake and all the way back.
Plus you do sort of contradict yourself, as saving is part of a games makeup, with more save points (or constant saving) modern games are just easier, even most modern games on the hardest level have very regular save intervals.
There were loads of games I just didn't complete as they were that difficult, today, I complet games quite regularly.

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DaleCooper1275d ago

I remember one of the developers of the Lion King mentioning that Disney told them to make the game harder so that players couldn't beat the game during the course of a rental. That's why you see the difficulty spike during the "I can't wait to be king" level (level 2 or 3, I can't quite remember).

I assume many of the publishers at the time may have had the same thoughts on that.

Minute Man 7211275d ago

We could never pass that stage with the limited time we had with that game (as a rental for me)

NotoriousWhiz1274d ago

I couldn't beat that stage until I was grown lol

Shiken1274d ago

Lion King was easy for me as a kid, and as an adult. I have no pronlem going back and playing retro games now, so to me it just seems like that as children there was more of a learning curve. This makes it seem like they were harder in retrospect.

The only thing "harder" about them was the lack of tutorials and the trial and error nature of the games. The game itself was not harder, but it did not hold you hand in the beginning like so many of today's games tend to do.

NotoriousWhiz1273d ago

I was able to consistently get to Mr. Dream on punch out as a child.

Now, I struggle against Sandman and have yet to beat Macho man. My reflexes have apparently dulled since then. That game is no joke.

Kumakai1275d ago

different mindset. Today everything is about story and characters. back then the story was a small detail to give your character context. the challenges weren't leveling up your character and modding all your loot - the challenges were literally jumping, timing things out and button mashing. They were more a contest of skill than a story you play - so the contest part was priority.

locomorales1274d ago

Much more than that. Games emerged in arcades, which as a business, aimed to make money. The first generations of home games still carried the DNA of arcades, offering games to be enjoyed in short periods and "killing" the player as much as possible.

Allied to that, the games of the time were very simple and short. If they were also easy, they would not be worth their price. Imagine that counting inflation, the first MegaMan of 1987 with its 8 phases would cost more than $ 125 today. Knowing what to do the game does not last 40 minutes. This is another reason for the difficulty: to create longevity artificially.

Segata1275d ago

Because they used Arcade game design philosophy. Arcades were designed to suck quarters. Games were designed around this logic plus the idea of artificial length since games were very short, to make up for it, they were difficult.

Cobra9511274d ago

This also is true. (I posted about the limited amount of available memory and storage, which meant that games had to be difficult to give them enough play time.)

BrainSyphoned1275d ago

Because every time a Sekiro or Cuphead releases journalismists cry wanting to be excepted into the group of people that can play. They then wage Twitter war against the developers for not being accepting of all levels of gamers in this inclusive era of pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Edgelordsupreme1275d ago


Your brain really was siphoned.