Are Old Games Hard or Am I Just Dumb?

In today’s age of reboots and remakes, I’ve been lucky enough to try out many old games that I missed along my gaming journey. It’s great to see older games receive a second life in a new generation. It gives them a brand new audience, some who may not have even been around during the initial release.

The trouble with these old games and remakes is that I always end up getting totally lost and need help finding my way. Whether it’s through guides, YouTube videos or just taking a long break. It’s very common for me to come to a point where I don’t know what to do and I sometimes even end up just walking away for a bit (or forever).

I’ve compiled a list of some older games and remakes I’ve recently played and got stuck in:

KINGDOM HEARTS 1.5

When Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far was announced I was so excited to finally try out some Kingdom Hearts games. I love everything Disney and always have. I’ve also been wanting to get into more RPGs and JRPGs, but have trouble finding the right ones for me. There are many that I really enjoyed, but put down after getting a small taste (aka a few hours) just because I didn’t have the time.

I’ve been told many times about how strange the Kingdom Hearts story gets, and I was totally ready for it. What I didn’t know is how hard and confusing these games are. I’m still on the first game and have been for months (possibly for over a year). I partly blame the difficulty of this game on the wonky/old controls. The controls can feel weird most of the time (strange camera control, the lock-on target is a bit wonky, the fighting mechanics and dodge can be all out of order).

After aimlessly walking around and not finding anything to do, I knew I had to pick up a guide or find one online and I did. Thanks IGN! Even with the guide I’ve come across many stopping points, where I’ve taken many weeks (even months) off from this game. Many of the “brick walls” I’ve hit were due to confusing boss fights or just being lost in a strange Disney town.

I recently picked the game back up and finally made it through two of the last three towns, thanks to some help from a Facebook gaming group. I do intend to beat this game and continue my way through Kingdom Hearts 2 and 3 (I will also give each of the spin-off games a try. The whole Kingdom Hearts thing is very, very confusing).

• • •

LINK’S AWAKENING

My first real play through of a Zelda game was Twilight Princess on the Wii U (yes, that Wii U). I didn’t roll credits, but I did play a good chunk of it. I picked it up toward the end of my Wii U’s life, right before getting my hands on a Nintendo Switch. It did get me excited for Breath of the Wild (my second Zelda game) which I really loved, but I also have not finished. I do plan on getting back to that one, especially with the announcement of a Part II (I’m sure once they give us a release date for BotW II, I will definitely jump right back into BotW).

Link’s Awakening (Remake) on the Nintendo Switch was my third experience with a Zelda game. I had never played the original Game Boy version. The art style of this remake is so cute and wonderful. I love the way it looks and it’s insane to think this is just a redo of a game from 1993. They made it play and feel like a brand new game.

The only problem for me was the progression in this game. I had to find a guide online (Thanks again, IGN!) to make it through to the very end. I did solve some dungeons on my own. The guide was mostly used to answer one question, What comes next? Over and over again.

The guide itself was actually quite fun to read, it wasn’t written like a normal dry and boring guide, telling you exactly what to do. Take three steps, go right, kill the monster, go left… No, this guide had personality and was written more like a story about Link making his way through this world. It was like reading the novelization of the game (with a few more directional cues).

I did beat this game. I made it to the very end. And I really enjoyed it, guide and all. I just have no idea how — back in 1993 — anyone could figure out how to beat this game. It’s insane to comprehend that children have beaten this game, back in the 90s, with no form of help. They just figured it out or they moved on.

• • •

FINAL FANTASY VII (ORIGINAL, NOT REMAKE)

One game that recently got the full remake treatment is Final Fantasy VII. I’ve only tried out the demo for the remake and it was gorgeous. This is a full reimagining of the original game, where they used the skeleton of the old game and recreated it using today’s technology. The only thing that’s the same is the story, but the mechanics, graphics and everything else have all been redone.

I’m not talking about that game though. I’m talking about the original Final Fantasy VII, or a port of the original on my Nintendo Switch. I was totally making my way through this one, rarely looking for help online. I was moving right along. Going from fight to fight, moving through each area.

I was enjoying the turn-based combat and everything about this game. Especially the music. I’ve been listening to Final Fantasy game music for a few years, without ever really touching any of the games. That’s part of the reason why I finally wanted to pick up Final Fantasy VII. That and because two of my close friends call it, “THE BEST GAME EVER!!!”

It wasn’t until I got to the big Shinra building that I got stuck in a fight from one elevator to another. The enemy was able to attack me, but I couldn’t hurt them back. I’ve tried it out a few times but just kept losing. I hope to go back before borrowing the remake from a friend (yes, one of the two who called this, “THE BEST GAME EVER!!!”). I was also recently informed that I’m still in the very beginning of the game.

• • •

GOD OF WAR III: REMASTERED

God of War III Remastered was another older game (not as old though) that I tried for the first time way after it’s release. I hadn’t played any of the God of War games. Before my PS4 I had an X-Box 360, so I didn’t get to play any of the God of War games. The first ones may have been released on PS2, but I missed out on those.

With the new God of War coming out soon (back in 2018), I knew I had to try at least one of the old games before getting my hands on it. I loved these type of hack and slash, action adventure games where I could just mash combos and take out overpowered enemies. I have also always been a fan of Greek mythology too, so that was a plus. I had no idea that God of War (2018) would totally change the mechanics and feel of the franchise.

I made it through most of God of War III with no help at all (as most people would). It wasn’t really guidance that I needed. It was more of a glitch that got in my way. I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I was doing everything right (and I know because I ended up watching a YouTube video telling me to do exactly what I was already doing), but it still didn’t work.

I got so angry that I turned the game off — for months. Later on, when it was finally almost time for the release of the new God of War (2018), I gave it one more go. I decided that I needed to finish God of War III before moving on. I had a little bit of trouble with the same glitch, but it finally worked out. After that I made my way through the rest of the game in just a couple of days.

• • • • •

It’s understandable that older games are harder. Game developers couldn’t do nearly as much as they can today. They didn’t hold your hand as much while showing you the ropes. Sure, some may do so for accessibility reasons and that’s a great thing. Most things in gaming keep getting better and better, faster and faster. There are still some games that are purposefully made extremely difficult, and some people are into that. There are games that are meant to punish us (Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Bloodborne). I do enjoy a good tutorial, but I enjoy it more as part of a game’s story. Instead of an NPC telling me, “Press X to jump.” I’d rather they say, “Why don’t you try jumping over that thing,” even if text comes onto the screen right after explaining that, X is used to jump.

I’ve also created a short list of some newer games that I didn’t make it all the way through (mainly because I got stuck at some point). I believe I only used a guide for one of these, the others I just straight up quit:

HOLLOW KNIGHT

Hollow Knight was one of my favorite games while I was playing it. It was also one of the most frustrating games. Having to find a save point in Hallownest was always tough, especially without knowing when your next death would come (and having to go back to your last save, losing your Geo and breaking part of your soul meter).

I became so obsessed with this game that I was drawing Hollow Knight and the characters from the game on paper while at work. There was a point though, where I had to fight a big, bad, floating boss on a roof top and I kept on dying. I finally beat him after many, many tries, but I decided to take a break.

It was so hard to get back into the game after a long break that I just sort of quit. The more you play this game the better you get at the timing of your strikes and using your upgrades. If you walk away for too long, you come back all confused.

I came back recently and created a new save in Hollow Knight, but I’m not sure if I’ll just get another short taste of the game or jump back into my old save once I’ve become more familiar with the controls. I also may just continue moving through the game on this new save, or I may just quit. Who knows? I do know I’m excited for Hollow Knight: Silksong, if that ever comes out.

• • •

SHOVEL KNIGHT

Ah, another tough Knight game.

I don’t really know what happened with me and Shovel Knight. It was one of the first indie titles I owned on my Nintendo Switch. I first owned in for the Wii U (physically), but since I hadn’t opened it I returned it once I bought my Switch. I loved the retro feel of this game, but it also made it kind of hard to control. The game looks beautiful too — all of the “Shovel Knight & Friends” games. In all their pixel-y glory.

I know I tried out some of the other games within the Treasure Trove of Shovel Knight games. It was hard jumping into different games in the collection. This is another character I really love, but I’m not sure why I just fell off this game. Possibly too many games in my library after a while of owning the Switch.

Now I just have sort of an unfinished, half-started Treasure Trove of games. Oh, and a fighting game recently was released within this game, which I only have tried out a few times.

• • •

THE. MESSENGER

The Messenger is another tough but cool game. It is the first game I have ever seen switch from 8-bit to 16-bit graphics midway through. I guess that means I’m about midway through the game, because I’m pretty sure I stopped shortly after the graphical change. This one also had some hard boss fights and it kept getting exponentially tougher as it went on.

I found myself getting confused since you can go literally any way you want. Through portals and all over. After the switch from 8-bit to 16-bit I told myself I was taking a break, but I don’t see myself going back again. I may have gotten what I needed from it. I think about restarting the game all together, but then I think of those tough boss battles and how I don’t want to go through them a second time.

• • •

STEAMWORLD QUEST

This is the latest in my indie game lineup. A lot of games are using the card fight mechanic, but this game does it very right. The SteamWorld games and the universe is very charming and wonderful to look at. I love that each character has their own unique deck and you can upgrade them in so many different ways.

I did use a wiki guide for this game, not for the fights themselves. And sometimes not for traversing each chapter. I mostly used the guide to check out the deck builds for each chapter. In real life I’m not very good at deck building in card games (that’s why I enjoy KeyForge, with it’s prebuilt decks).

I really enjoyed choosing which cards to use during fights and creating chains for bonus actions, but any time I tried to put together a deck for battle it usually failed. This is why I didn’t really stray from the decks in the guide I found (Also, IGN). I would sometimes make small changes to the decks, switching out one card for a similar one.

I’m currently so close to finishing this game. I’m on the last chapter and the second to last boss (maybe the last boss). I just want to beat it so I could say I’ve beaten all SteamWorld games (SteamWorld Dig 1 & 2 were two of my favorite games to play). And although I used help and guides for this game, the battles have all been very fun (except when fighting someone who thinks it’s cool to fully heal in the middle of a battle, that’s not cool!)

• • • • •

There are many tough games out in the wild, but there are also many easy games, too. It doesn’t matter what kind of games you are into. Or how you play them either. Sure some people may use guides for all kinds of reasons: not enough time to figure it out, lazy, stuck, too hard… We can all play and enjoy games our own way, the important thing is that we all enjoy video games.

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