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.


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.

Doing Difficulty Right: Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden 1

So, the posts have kind of slowed down a bit, haven’t they?  Yeah, about that… Life’s been kicking my ass pretty good lately, and I haven’t had much in the way of time.  What time I did have for the blog, I’ve been devoting to the next post in my Saints Row Retrospective series, which, as you may guess, take a little while to finish up.  With luck, that should be coming down the pipe sometime this month.  I know that’s not going to be good enough for you, though.  I know you’re just pleading “Please, Aether!  I love your wit and intelligence and beauty!  Please give me some or your glorious content!”  Well, don’t worry.  I haven’t forgotten you.  In fact, I wrote this entire post, all just for you.  Yes, you personally.  This one’s yours.

I beat the Xbox Ninja Gaiden recently.  It’s kind of a hard game, you may have heard.  And it expects you to be just as hard in return.  However, there’s a lot of hard games out there.  That’s not unique.  What is unique is that Ninja Gaiden actually makes its difficulty fun.  It’s easy to make something hard, making that difficulty engaging takes a lot more work.  In this world of video games, there’s good difficulty, and there’s bad difficulty.  But what makes that difficulty good or bad?  Well, there’s a lot of ways to do it.  Let’s dive into Ninja Gaiden, and figure out how they made it work.

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