Because It’s There. The Allure of Challenge

I’ve been away.  But I haven’t been idle.

Because of the move, I’ve had to make do with my consoles.  That hasn’t really impacted the amount of gaming I’ve been doing or anything.  Just given me the opportunity to play some games that have been a bit farther down my backlog.  Games like Zelda 2.

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Zelda 2 is famously difficult.  Zelda 2 is not a good game.  By any means.  Even for its time, it wasn’t a good game.  Sure, it has some interesting things with the shield mechanics and defensive combat, but beyond that, it’s pretty much just a cut-rate Castlevania.    Beyond the difficulty, Zelda 2’s controls and mechanics are just poor, and often at odds with themselves.  There was never a point in playing it where I actually enjoyed the game.

I just finished the whole blasted thing.

And that’s left me wondering why.  I’ve enjoyed some hard games in my time.  The fun I’ve been having with Dark Souls is quite well documented.  I’ve got some fond, fond memories of the Ninja Gaiden series.  And yet, I’ve never enjoyed games just because they’re difficult.  They’ve always had something worthwhile underlying it.  Zelda 2 didn’t, and thus was never enjoyable to me.  But I do feel quite fulfilled at having finished it.

There’s a lot of things you can get out of a video game.  A good plot.  Immersion.  Exploration.  And, such as in this case, accomplishment.  Games don’t necessarily need to be fun to give a good experience.

And that’s where I’m at with Zelda 2.  It’s not a fun game.  But in having cleared the Great Palace, saved Hyrule, and established myself as a real hero, I have conquered a challenge that has been haunting people since before my childhood.  And that is worthwhile too.

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4 responses to “Because It’s There. The Allure of Challenge

  1. I actually sort of like Zelda 2, but I completely understand where you’re coming from. It does feel like you’re wrestling with the controls half the time, and that’s not the mark of a good challenge. It doesn’t help that the difficulty spikes to an absurd degree in Death Mountain with its convoluted maze. I honestly don’t know how anyone could get through that without a guide because it’s difficult even if you never go the wrong way.

    Then there’s the Great Palace which probably wins the award for the worst-designed dungeon in the entire series. You think you’re nearing the end only for you to hit a brick wall. You then take the other path only to realize that too is a dead end. Then it occurs to you; there’s no way out. I think that’s how 95% of most blind playthroughs go. Considering that you actually have to fall off a bridge and into a pit in order to advance, I can’t help but think that this was a ploy to move strategy guides. Worse still, you have to start over if you lose to the boss. I remember the Thunderbird being absolutely infuriating

    Conversely, Dark Souls has excellent controls, a great combat engine, and an intuitive, fun level design. All of that goes a long way in creating a legitimate challenge.

    • I was able to get through the maze mostly by myself, both both the Great Palace and the palace at Death Mountain, I pretty much required a walkthrough to get me through it. Tried them both several times by myself, found myself quite lost, and decided it wasn’t worth the time to do it myself. I’m glad I did. I can’t imagine how long it’d take me to discover the way through myself. The Great Palace in particular, I had taken a route I was absolutely convinced was the right way to go, only to find out I spent hours trying to explore a dead end.

      I think comparing this to Dark Souls highlights an interesting dichotomy. Some games are challenging. Some games are just hard. They may be just as difficult to get through, but there’s difficulty that adds to the experience, and difficulty that doesn’t.

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