Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Challenge

I was reading some stuff about Assassins Creed 2, and about how the directors changing his design metho’s a little in order to deal with its complaints. Now I could go on about that game and why I liked it and so on, but that’s in the past and were here for a different reason. Basically the article reminded me of the challenge I set myself while playing Assassins Creed.

Now for those of you who don’t know what Assassins creed is, it’s a game set during the medieval where your part of an elite group of assassins. Now it’s your duty to do everything within your power (Murder) to try and stop the war as best you can, even if you must strike blows against both sides. Those of you who know about AC and have played it, maybe you’ll have more of an appreciation of the challenge I set myself.

I decided to redo each mission without killing anyone but my target. Now the trouble with this is alot of time you’re expected to fight, and in some cases your even ambushed and surrounded by like eight other guys with big swords. It’s not impossible or even that hard, but it does fundamentally change the way you play the game. The second thing I did to make it actually hard is telling myself I was not allowed to hide at all. Now for those of you who have played this game, do you know when the knights stop chasing you if you don’t hide? They chase you for a noticeable long time (not silly long, but still). Now I didn’t compete this challenge yet, or see if it’s even possible towards the end, but I still got pretty far just doing this.

The game became very different and I no longer had the luxury of offing off anyone that saw me, if I was seen it was time to completely book it. It almost spilt into two different sections, me trying my best not to be noticed, or me running as fast as I could at my target or away from the twenty guards chasing me. Later on I redid a few of the earlier levels with a new rule, so that I could at least defend myself from attackers. I could counter blows, but only with the hidden blade. Surprisingly it’s that last rule that got me killed the most, because you see the timing is very narrow for the counter and if you messed it up it was likely the guards would just turn you into a kebab.

This made me think on what I do with games I get. It’s just odd when I complain a game is too hard and then I do things to make some games harder on purpose, and not always because their easy. I can’t remember any good examples but I do do it every now and again.

The reason I do it I suppose is this fascination I have of the perfect challenge. In many cases I actually enjoy challenges that make me physically exhausted, it’s such a rush to overcome something like that. Its why I like bosses that are difficult, or at least take a long time to beat. There have been some good games made in the past few years that have done this (I can’t remember any off the top of my head, I really need to have a long look back at some of those) but the one I remember the most at the moment is Epyon.

What an asshole.

He was one of the most frustrating end bosses I can recall, cause he would take me like a day to beat him. It didn’t even matter if I’d done it before, it would take me another day just to do it. This frustration comes from an old 2D fighter based on Gundam Wing, where giant robots fight each other. I could take down the other suits easily enough but when you hit Eypon... God.

I just couldn’t let it go. I would not let him beat me.

Now that I think back to those times I have to admit, I had to work out like all the moves from scratch (No tutorial or manual), and using the keyboard for a fighter was a pain in the ass, and I had set it to hard cause the normal guys were too easy otherwise. Basically everything was already set up for my massive failure. It all made it stupid hard. I couldn’t stop.

Basically when you fought one of the other mechs and it would go like this:

I use some of the moves I’ve worked out, they give me a bit of trouble here and there. I might lose once or twice against a few of them, but overall it’s pretty even.

Then I would fight Eypon and it would go like this:

Ok go... Why... Huh... why... why does his combo not stop? Oh I’m on the floor, that’s ok- He hasn’t stopped hitting me! Shit, I’ve lost like all my health, better block alot and wait my chance.

Whys he glowing?



He had this stupid super move that would cut right through your block and kill you. Whenever he did it I basically lost. I think that was the line he crossed against me, I just couldn’t let him get away with that.

I remember when I beat him. It was pancake day. Now when pancake day comes around for most people it’s just about eating your pancakes with your favourite topping. When I get a pancake I put everything on it. Hell yeah, put the maple syrup on it, put the strawberry syrup on it, then the other maple syrup and whatever else we got that has sugar in it. Get me ten of those.

Suffice it to say on pancake day I am pinging off the walls.

Anyway I had just drank down (There’s so much syrup you can’t really physically eat these things) ten of these pancakes, so I was f***ing ready for mister Epyon. I think the sugar made up for my previous poor reaction speed, and I was ready to take the fight to his level. It was still hard fought but I kicked his ass in the end and earned that bloody ending.

It felt so good when I did that, and I feel I sometimes do try to emulate that sense of complete smackdown in other games just so I can get that feeling at the end. What’s important about this I feel is that you can make any game harder and more challenging if you just think about it, to me just upping the damage level doesn’t always cut it... it has to be hard for a different reason sometimes.

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