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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:22 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
Am I the only one who find SMB difficult ? I mean there's only a single hit point, and the movement control is so erratic, I hate it. I prefer heroes running at constant speed, I hate how Mario accelerate and decelerates so slowly. I probably didn't get much further than world 2-4 or something. However in SMB3 it's much more easier for some reason, this is the only Mario game where I really went far (although I don't think I've beaten it).

Taking the games stage by stage, and not taking your additional resources (extra lives, powerup storage on the world map, etc.) into account, SMB3 is definitely much harder than SMB. Some of the stages are really genuinely challenging in a way no stage in SMB comes even close to.
SMB might be harder to make a 100% run through, due to SMB3 giving you so many of the aforementioned items that you can afford to die over and over again before running out of lives, and easily cheat your way through any stage giving you problems. But looking at just the stage design, there are many harder obstacles around.
I'd throw both games in the "easy" category though.
Nintendo expected kids to play these games and didn't want them to get stuck and give up.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:40 am 
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Rush'n Attack is just ungodly unforgiving.


It certainly puts up a fight, but there are strategies which makes it fair in my eyes:

Often when there's too much heat, there's also a safe spot to retreat to (another elevation level, hanging from stairs).

Heat can cool off. Basically, it heats up because you've got two spawn modes:
-The cycling spawn pattern left and right, which is continuing.
-Scroll-triggered spawning

-Time these patterns (requires some preknowledge but sometimes intuition should work) so they sync up in a manner that's easy (as opposed to the deadly jumper stacked on runner combo, for example).
-Some type of enemies will follow you up/down stairs, those are easy pickings.
-If you can't time spawning or pick them off one at a time, try to retreat to a safe spot. Once the scroll-triggered anemies has run off screen, you wait for a pocket to reenter whatever path you need to move forwards.

-Runners can always be jumped over
-Jumpers can always be ran under
-There's ample space where snipers and grenadiers can't reach you.

All that said, RnA is a bit like Castlevania I and III in that it's more about positioning, rythm and timing, and less about speed, physics calculation and reaction (SMB1). I don't think these two categories can be wholly on the same difficulty scale because they require different skill sets, beyond what i'd call general platforming skills.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:45 am 
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Two games I think we can't afford to forget in a discussion about challenging NES games:

1. Batman. SunSoft's first Batman is a pretty typical NES action platformer with an average challenge level. Most stages will kick your ass at first, but you'll eventually learn how to tackle them, and which enemies are better to run from, rather than fight.
But then there's the final boss. I have never been able to beat him. Not ever.

I have spent countless lives, continues even, getting to him and just gotten my ass handed to me over and over. I've read guides and watched videos, I have an idea of how to do it, but I have never been able to pull it off. Maybe if I "get the trick" (sort of like finding the rhythm with the second phase of the NG1 final boss I guess) I will consider the game simple enough, but as of now this battle alone makes me consider Batman a really hard game.

2. Battletoads - one of the games you'll see mentioned most often when people talk about difficult NES games. And yeah, this game is really difficult. I think there's a common misconception though, started by AVGN, that this is due to the Turbo Tunnel, the third stage of the game. But as anyone that has spent time with the game will know, that level isn't particularly hard. In fact, once you start to remember what obstacles are gonna show up ahead of time, it's even one of the easiest in the game.
But Battletoads is a good example of one of those games that gets extremely challenging simply due to how long it is. Almost every new stage throws a completely new mechanic at you that it expects you to learn and master before you can move on to the next stage that just repeats the process over again. And then a little over halfway into the game you get to Volkmire's Inferno. Another autoscroller that pretty much requires you to remember a sequence of walls coming your way so you can know ahead of time where you need to be to dodge them. No friendly warnings like you get on the Turbo Tunnel.
This is by itself not a particularly difficult challenge, as you can just memorize them all. But this is just one small part of a big game with 12 long stages. I want to love the game, but I hate this part. Any individual stage could probably be considered easy to average with a little practice, but as a full game, it's definitely tough.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:11 am 
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Sumez wrote:
Two games I think we can't afford to forget in a discussion about challenging NES games:

1. Batman. SunSoft's first Batman is a pretty typical NES action platformer with an average challenge level. Most stages will kick your ass at first, but you'll eventually learn how to tackle them, and which enemies are better to run from, rather than fight.
But then there's the final boss. I have never been able to beat him. Not ever.


2. Battletoads - one of the games you'll see mentioned most often when people talk about difficult NES games. And yeah, this game is really difficult. I think there's a common misconception though, started by AVGN, that this is due to the Turbo Tunnel, the third stage of the game. But as anyone that has spent time with the game will know, that level isn't particularly hard. In fact, once you start to remember what obstacles are gonna show up ahead of time, it's even one of the easiest in the game.
But Battletoads is a good example of one of those games that gets extremely challenging simply due to how long it is.....


I have to completely agree with you on both of these. We spent ages as kids fighting the joker OVER and OVER and OVER again. Great game. And battletoads -- definitely. The turbo tunnel is nothing compared the vast depth of anger that that game produces.

The other one that never gets mentioned is Snake Rattle n Roll. It starts off super easy, but the last 3 stages are pull-your-hair-out difficult. And I've never in my life beaten final moon battle (without save state cheating on an emulator). It's one of only a couple games that I owned as a kid but could never beat.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:25 am 
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Sumez wrote:
Contra and Ninja Gaiden are very similar in both how fair/unfair they are, and the amount of memorization "required".

I disagree.

"Ninja Gaiden" has stuff like:

A bunch of gaps with enemies on them that you have to slice as you run along. If you stop, they will gang up on you and you will die.

A bird that flies towards you when you climb up stairs. You need to know that you have to continue climbing and the bird will miss you. Otherwise, it will hit you.

A boss where the intended method of evading his projectile is basically impossible during normal gameplay, so your only tactic is attacking him and hoping that his energy bar gets emptied before yours.

A small platform with a guy with a machine gun on it. I tried so many times to time the jump right until I saw in a video that you can simply let yourself fall and get on the platform just fine.

A huge gap with platforms that barely take you over the gap and then you have to time your jump exactly, otherwise a single bird will knock you into the gap.

Three opponents coming out of nowhere shortly before the last boss' door. If you don't know this ahead, they will hit you.


I've seen none of these cheap tricks in "Contra". If this game only had infinite continues, it would be great. But I tend to get bored if I have to restart a game too much.

Sumez wrote:
Meta Man 1 is definitely the hardest of the NES Mega Man games.

Interesting. The Yellow Devil is of course the big exception, but everything else was pretty average for me. I made it to the Yellow Devil in my first ever run. (With continues of course.) Then I tried him on an emulator. Later, I beat the game easily.

I wasn't able to use that same attempt on "Ninja Gaiden": I practiced that last level over and over. Next time I did a real playthrough: I didn't get any further than in my very first playthrough.

Regarding "Mega Man": Even that clone is not so hard. Sometimes you can defeat him by just shooting your standard weapon. If you want to be sure, use the fire weapon. This way, he will get hit as soon as he gets close to you.

"Mega Man" is also the reason why I thought: "Maybe games like "Contra" and "Ninja Gaiden" aren't so hard after all and people are just whiny." Noope. They are difficult. "Mega Man" is not to me.

Sumez wrote:
I consider all of these games harder than any of the games we've mentioned continously in this thread

Even "Vice - Project Doom"? I was under the assumption that this will not be one of those Nintendo-hard games, but more in the average difficulty category.


I'd really like to be able to beat "Rush'n Attack". Yes, it's less advanced than later Konami titles, but I love the atmosphere.
Most NES games have you fight aliens, robots or monsters. But it's pretty rare that you have a side-scroller where you have to fight against actual "real life" opponents. "Cross Fire" is similar, but in this case, it's a terrorist organization somewhere in the future.
I like it that in "Rush'n Attack", you actually fight against the Soviet Army in the 80s.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:28 am 
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I'm not sure what you people mean by unfair? Ninja Gaiden is unfair because it respawns enemies? That's just part of the mechanics and can be prepared for (although it can still be frustrating). It's unfair because it requires memorization? I think about any hard action game requires quite a bit of memorization and preknowledge that can only be gained by practising a lot.

Megaman games can be hard to get into until you find the boss that is easy to beat with the Rockbuster. The rest is just memorizing patterns and figuring out weakness weapons. I think the only really hard part in Megaman 1 is the end where you need to fight both Iceman and Fireman before Dr Wily. Both these bosses have a pattern that's really hard to beat without taking damage. The Yellow Devil however is extremely predictable and can easily be beaten every time after you have memorized his pattern which has zero randomization.

Batman? I could never beat this game as a kid when I borrowed it from friends. It has some very hard wall jumping timing that got me every time. I want to beat this game someday though.

Yeah Battletoads is one of the hardest games to NES because of a combination of the facts that it's long, you have limited continues and many levels (especially all the racing levels) requires a lot of memorization and quick reflexes.

I also had Snake Rattle n' Roll as a kid and have yet to beat it. The only time I beat it was when a friend came over with a Game Genie. We used cheats like unlimited with lives and mega jumping. It was still hard to beat the moon level. I got to see all the last levels and the ending but I can't say I've beaten it.

Ghosts n' Goblins is hard and unfair because of the random factor of many things like the Red Arremers' patterns. The arcade version requires you to hold a button when pushing start when the continue countdown is counting, and the Famicom version requires a cheat code to continue. I don't think I ever beaten stage 5 without continuing. Usually I don't get past level 3 though, I think it's possibly the hardest level in the game due to tons of Red Arremers.

Rush n' Attack yeah it's more about good timing than quick reflexes and memorization. I think it doesn't really get hard until in the end, but as a kid I thought it was very hard.

And finally Mario, probably the action game series I've played the most. I love the slow acceleration and physics, I think it's what defines a Mario game and it probably played a big role in making Mario extremely famous.


Last edited by Pokun on Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:33 am 
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Sumez wrote:
Most stages will kick your ass at first, but you'll eventually learn how to tackle them

In Batman, how do you tackle the toad man and tank? I like batman because of the graphics and the great movement scheme, but these guys make me not choose batman when i arrange time to play through a game.

DRW wrote:
I like it that in "Rush'n Attack", you actually fight against the Soviet Army in the 80s.
Just 2 guys invading a country, killing off a whole military base, blowing up an atom bomb... armed with a knife. 8-)

Yeah it's great. To this day it's a favourite go-to.

pokun wrote:
Ghosts n' Goblins
I can't stand it. For me it's the definition of frustration. I remember i borrowed it and was able to beat it in a weekend (one time, not twice in a row as instructed to - i just turned it off). But was it fun to beat? Not too much, it felt a bit like a chore. So it's not as difficult as it is frustrating. There's games i haven't beat which i'd gladly play over and over, and then there's this sort of punishment of a game.

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Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:39 am 
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Quote:
Meta Man 1 is definitely the hardest of the NES Mega Man games

Are you crazy ? In my opinion it's the 2nd easiest, Mega Man 2 being the only one easier than the original. The Yellow Devil and Ice Man's platform being the only real difficulties of the game. The rest is just a walk-through, basically, unless you add restrictions such as not using boss'es weakness, but then it's another talk.

In most of the later Mega Man games, hitting a boss with the buster removes a single hit point, and with the weakness it removes 2 or maybe 3 hit points. With Mega Man 1, you can kill most bosses with only 3-4 hits of their weakness. For example Ice Man's attack can't be avoided (technically maybe it can but it's very difficult), but it doesn't matter because you can kill him very easily before his first attack hits you. On later Mega Man games such a kamikaze strategy would be unthinkable. Same for Elec Man, he moves extremely fast and has an almost unavoidable attack, but he's so weak to the cutter that I never bother even trying to evade him, I just spam cutters to kill him quickly.

Boss battles in Mega Man and Mega Man 2 are just a speed contest, if you're faster you win. From Mega Man 3 on, it's much harder, you need to actually avoid the attacks and counter attack at proper time, or else the boss will reflect your attacks. The stages grew typically a bit longer too, increasing the penalty for loosing. I'd say Mega Man 4 is the hardest.

Quote:
Regarding "Mega Man": Even that clone is not so hard.

The doppelgänger is pathetically easy. Just stay with the buster, shoot, never move nor jump, and you can beat him in a matter of second. You might get hit once or twice but who cares, he takes damage more quickly than you.


Quote:
[Battletoads] is by itself not a particularly difficult challenge, as you can just memorize them all.

I'm fairly sure the rockets in Volksmire's Inferno acts randomly, and they're annoying to avoid. The fireballs, also acting randomly, can be avoided by simply staying at the very bottom of the screen and never moving (unless it's the other way around, I don't remember). But then it's more exploiting a bug in the game than actually beating the game. (Just like relying on the select glitch to beat the yellow devil in Mega Man 1).

Quote:
until I saw in a video

Quote:
I've read guides and watched videos

This wasn't an option when the NES was mainstream, and it also still wasn't an option in the 2000s when it saw its first significant revival. Yes, technically you could shoot gameplay on a VHS and distribute it, but I don't think this was common.

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Just 2 guys invading a country, killing off a whole military base, blowing up an atom bomb... armed with a knife. 8-)

Pretty standard video game stuff :)

Quote:
it's not as difficult as it is frustrating.

But then it's difficult to stay calm and not explode in anger and not smash your controller into the TV. Especially when you're still a kid/teenager.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:56 am 
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Although Megaman 2 is probably the easiest game in the series, it might be the hardest to 1cc. This is all because of the Boobeam Trap boss that doesn't allow you to make a mistake with the crash bombs.

Quote:
In most of the later Mega Man games, hitting a boss with the buster removes a single hit point, and with the weakness it removes 2 or maybe 3 hit points. With Mega Man 1, you can kill most bosses with only 3-4 hits of their weakness. For example Ice Man's attack can't be avoided (technically maybe it can but it's very difficult), but it doesn't matter because you can kill him very easily before his first attack hits you. On later Mega Man games such a kamikaze strategy would be unthinkable. Same for Elec Man, he moves extremely fast and has an almost unavoidable attack, but he's so weak to the cutter that I never bother even trying to evade him, I just spam cutters to kill him quickly.
Sure the bosses platings are weaker than in later games but so are Megaman's. Elecman can beat you in maybe 2 or 3 shots, and if you are low on energy you can't beat him using kamikaze methods. Even worse are Iceman and Fireman that are very hard to dodge and you have to beat them both right before the final boss.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:04 am 
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The NES version of Ghosts 'n Goblins is ported by Micronics, a team that's notorious for making horrible versions of popular games. The arcade game is great, but the NES one is not. I love the original, but I can't stand this one.

DRW wrote:
A bunch of gaps with enemies on them that you have to slice as you run along. If you stop, they will gang up on you and you will die.

No, this happens if you try to go back. Ninja Gaiden is a game that encourages (and rewards) aggressive forward pushing, and punishing attempts at retreating. This makes it a harder game, but in no way does it make it unfair or dependent on memorization.

Quote:
A boss where the intended method of evading his projectile is basically impossible during normal gameplay, so your only tactic is attacking him and hoping that his energy bar gets emptied before yours.

That one is pretty stupid. All the bosses in NG1 are terrible except from the final boss which is excellent. At least the game has the courtesy to always refill your health before that fight that you mention.

The rest of the things you mention are just examples of challenges in the game. I don't see how any of them can be perceived as unfair.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
In Batman, how do you tackle the toad man and tank? I like batman because of the graphics and the great movement scheme, but these guys make me not choose batman when i arrange time to play through a game.


Depending on their position on the stage, I will either cheese them from afar, or try to dodge their attacks and just book it.

Bregalad wrote:
This wasn't an option when the NES was mainstream, and it also still wasn't an option in the 2000s when it saw its first significant revival. Yes, technically you could shoot gameplay on a VHS and distribute it, but I don't think this was common.

We've had this discussion before. Back then, magazines would always provide sections with tips for various sections of games, especially specials on how to beat final bosses were popular, and mailboxes where kids would ask the editors about specific problems in various games. And then of course you'd have real like friends with the same games you could exchange strategies with. It definitely wasn't as easy as going on YouTube, but it was fun and I miss it! :)
Even then though, I think when judging the difficulty of a game today, every tool we have at our disposal should be taken into account! Anything else will just be a weird handicap.

Pokun wrote:
Although Megaman 2 is probably the easiest game in the series, it might be the hardest to 1cc. This is all because of the Boobeam Trap boss that doesn't allow you to make a mistake with the crash bombs.


Even if you make this easy-to-make mistake, you can still just farm crash bomb energy on your next life. It's extremely tedious, but it's not difficult.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:06 am 
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DRW wrote:
A boss where the intended method of evading his projectile is basically impossible during normal gameplay, so your only tactic is attacking him and hoping that his energy bar gets emptied before yours.

I guess you're talking about Malth? I never knew there was an "intended method" to avoid the projectiles, what is it?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:07 am 
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Btw, here's my approach for judging "how hard" a classic style video game is. I'd say it's some sort of combination between how much time I need to spend with the game to be able to 1CC it (compared to my current "general skill level", not when I was a kid and only had played 3 games before), and how consistently I'll continue to be able to do it afterwards. Other people might have other standards, but I think if you judge a game based on how many time it allows you to continue you're kinda cheating yourself. It totally depends on what type of game it is though (I don't care about a 1CC in StarTropics)

Some examples, from various platforms, just to give a perspective regarding the "difficult" games on the NES. Some people might take longer to beat Contra for example, but the same people would probably spend longer on GnG too, so it still works relatively speaking:

* Kirby as OP pointed out, is a perfect example of a very easy game on the NES. I think anyone should be able to beat the game just by starting it up and then fool around until you somehow find yourself at the end. You can take multiple hits, and will find health pickups around every corner. The game allows you to try again and again until you're through, and almost every enemy will give you an ability that allows you to wreck all other enemies. Great and super fun game, but zero challenge.

* Contra took me around a day. Picking it up one day, playing around with the Konami code until I got an idea of which powerups to get, where the enemies were placed etc., followed up by a 1CC the following day. As long as I'm not terribly out of practice, I'll easily be able to loop this game multiple times whenever I pick it up. Despite being somewhat challenging, it's always fun to pick up and play as a "casual" game.

* Ninja Gaiden took me at least two or three days, probably a good weekend. I started out a couple of sessions where I just kept continuing until I'd brute forced my way through. Following that I'd pick up an emulator and practice the second Jacquio form until I felt I could do it consistently. After that, it was just a question of getting a run where I didn't waste too many lives. Definitely harder than Contra, but not the hopeless effort that a lot of people make it out to be.

* Ghouls 'n Ghosts (arcade version). Famous for being a very difficult game, but I'd say this is only compared to the typical console game - for an arcade game, it's actually among the easier games out there. Playing it on/off for a week after I got the PCB I managed to get a pretty convincing 1CC. I already had some experience with the game beforehand though, having credit fed through it before on the PS1 port, and played around with the MegaDrive version a few times. Easy for an arcade game, but definitely harder than most of the stuff you'll find on NES. And I definitely wouldn't be able to 1CC it consistently without a lot more practice.
I know people who have beaten this game with just a couple of days of practice, but I'm still proud of my feat.

* Rainbow Islands (arcade, again). Now we're getting into the big league! Beating this game took me around one and a half year from the point I started playing it "seriously". Of course it's difficult to compare directly to the NES games I mentioned, since I've obviously been going for long periods without playing the game, probably a month or more at several occasions. I did this before even getting the arcade PCB myself, so most of my practice was done at the local arcade or a friend's place, but I'd still say that getting through it took some genuine effort over a very long period of time. Even today, when starting a run of the game, there's probably only a 1/10 chance I'll be able to beat the game at best. Most of my runs will end on Island 9 (the Darius levels).
With one possible exception (TGM2 master mode) I'd consider this the hardest game I have ever beaten, so it's a good standard for me to use when comparing the difficulty of other games. I'd love to play an NES game that's able to provide me with a challenge on this level, but even picking up the most difficult games on the system, I doubt any of them would be able to also feel as fair, well designed, and fun to play as Rainbow Islands still does to me.
Battletoads might scratch that itch a bit, but I have a hard time believing it will take me more than a year to get through. :P Maybe a week?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:36 am 
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Are later Dance Dance Revolution games harder than Rainbow Islands? To "clear" those requires a AA (93%) grade on songs' "hard" step charts, followed by a very fast boss song (600 or more steps in 90 seconds) played with inverted scrolling and no recover, and a second boss song played on battery with 1 HP so that any step less accurate than "Great" counts as an immediate fail. And since Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA, these boss songs have included BPM gimmicks, so you have to memorize them.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:24 am 
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Sumez wrote:
The NES version of Ghosts 'n Goblins is ported by Micronics, a team that's notorious for making horrible versions of popular games. The arcade game is great, but the NES one is not. I love the original, but I can't stand this one.
.


That's the thing with Ghosts n Gobins -- it's hard, yes. But more bad than hard. If you sit down and make an effort to play through and beat it, you can do it. It's frustrating, but possible. But it's more that you'll want to quit from it being terrible.

Quote:
A boss where the intended method of evading his projectile is basically impossible during normal gameplay, so your only tactic is attacking him and hoping that his energy bar gets emptied before yours.


Yeah, that's cheesy. But we figured it out pretty quickly as kids. That was always a fairly standard thing to try on any hard boss back in the day. He definitely wasn't the first boss fight where the best strategy was just to spam him and not bother dodging. So I didn't find it to be that odd.


What about Blaster Master? That's another one where the game is pretty easy other than 2 bosses which are just crazy hard. (unless maybe I just haven't figured out the trick to them? I mean the crab on level 5 and the final boss combo)

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:32 am 
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tepples wrote:
Are later Dance Dance Revolution games harder than Rainbow Islands?


This touches on one of my initial issues. Some games require completely different skillsets than others. That's also why I left TGM out of the equation - Tetris is a good example of a game that doesn't overlap much with other types. You can easily be an incredible Tetris player but have no skill in traditional action games, and very much vice versa as well. TGM2 took me almost two years to conquer on Master mode, from the point when I started actually playing Tetris for score/winning. I think Tetris as a general concept could be considered one of the hardest games ever due to how insanely high the skill level can potential be, even for people who have been playing it non stop their entire life. But there are many individual challenges in many Tetris games that are absurdly easy for anyone with some skills to beat. At this point I could easily beat TGM2 rather consistently - it's the "riding a bike" kind of skill.
I think similar points are valid for many other unique types of games, such as rhythm games, or even shooters.


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