I have single-handedly brought down the Umbrella Corporation. I have shattered the inter-dimensional portal between our world and the world of the Combine. I have rescued every Little Sister, and destroyed Andrew Ryan’s underwater Dystopia. Settings like “Legendary” and “War Hero” simply mean another 10-20 hours playing a game I have already savaged. With this in mind, why is it that I have never mastered a “kids” game? You can generally expect the same thing from games rated E (for Everyone!): it will have a colorful, approachable style. It will feature a likable, cartoonish protagonist. It will, more or less, be safe for a parent to leave their child playing it, knowing that there will be nothing too shocking or dark discovered along the way. It will also be insanely difficult.
As a 24 year old, I have played my fair share of games over the years, ranging from adventure to FPS to dungeon-crawler, etc. It’s not as if I don’t know how games work, don’t have timing, or can’t grasp the basic idea of what you’re supposed to do in a level. However, I have never beaten a Mario game. It’s true. In fact, it often takes me several tries to leap over the first Goomba in the original Mario. Even the non-sidescroller releases like Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy leave me with the overwhelming mix of failure and frustration.
Another game aimed at a younger audience, Banjo-Kazooie – the platforming adventure of a bear and his bird companion – has gone unconquered. There is a level in Banjo-Tooie (that’s Banjo 2) where your character has to beat 3 other NPCs at kickball. The mini-game was attempted, failed repeatedly, passed off, also failed repeatedly, and then given up on. In their newest (for the 360), there is another sidescrolling mini-game that has been tried and lost in the same fashion. Who is making these aspects of a game so mind-bogglingly difficult?
To answer the question of the header, it is not just me. In the sanctuary of GameFAQs and various message boards, I have observed countless other adults with the same struggles as my own. Sure, you occasionally have the board show-off who boasts to no one that cares, that “OMG that game was so easy whut r u n00bs crying about?”, but overall it is a place to commiserate about a controller broken in futility.
There are games out there that aren’t for everyone. I have accepted that I will never be good at Street Fighter. The problem I struggle with, is that these are aimed at children. Are the kids these days so tech-savvy that I am already outdated and, dare I say it, past my gaming prime? No, I am not willing to take that as an answer. Unfortunately, I didn’t come here with any answers, only questions.
If you’re like me, hopelessly incompetent at games that a 7 year old could master, do not feel alone. Topless Robot (http://www.toplessrobot.com/2008/06/the_10_most_punishingly_hard_videogames_ever_made.php) lists Super Mario Bros.2 (and it’s Lost Levels) as among the most frustrating . TechEBlog understands game developers are cruel. As mentioned before, there’s a world of frustrated gamers on GameFAQs, waiting to swap strategies and cheat codes.
Now that I have revealed to you the most embarrassing and humbling low points in my gaming career, I want to throw it back to you, reader: which games have made you tear out your hair and vow to never again trust the black and white E on the front of the box?