While I know this is definitely a minority thought, it’s something I think about a lot, especially when revisiting old games and what really frustrates me with newer games: The required skill ladder.
For me, the difficulty is really the least important part of a game to me. I play the game because of the story, to have fun, the characters, silly little trinkets, etc. I don’t care if a game is too easy, but nothing really frustrates me more than when a game is “too hard”. And some games definitely exist just to be hard! That is totally a thing, but at the same time, some games do add an option so even more “casual” players or those who may have some disabilities can still play it–like for example, Celeste. Celeste came out early this year and actually comes with an Assist Mode which allows you to customize your gameplay experience to an extent. And even with the normal mode, if you do die, you will respawn in that same room and can try again. I think my only real issue with it is that by using the mode, you get a stamp next to your file for doing so… Which I… don’t think it’s needed.
Kind of like if you end up using the Invincibility Leaf in Super Mario 3D Land/World and New Super Mario Brothers 2, you may finish the level, but in some way it won’t be fully completed until you do so without the handicap such as preventing secret areas from unlocking or things gathered not counting.
For some people, whether it be a disability or someone who may not be as well-versed in video games or just may have trouble with certain things (For example, I tend to be pretty good at games and am a quick learner, but to this day my aim is terrible and I am really awful with any kind of games that require aim for something), this may be the only way they can play and despite putting in all their effort into it, even if whatever instance they use is a bit overpowered, they get punished for it and I don’t understand the point of that.
It’s one thing if people were trying for like… high score tables or other things, but most people just want to see everything a game has to offer. They want to earn all the little trinkets, explore all the levels and areas, and just play the game to their heart’s content without hitting some stark difficulty curve or a certain piece that says “You can’t do this because you’re not good enough to” and I miss when things could be completed because the person was dedicated and had a lot of heart even if they weren’t the most skilled.
I still managed to get first place in every course of Super Mario 64 despite never drifting because I didn’t even know drifting was a thing. I managed to earn all the trophies in Super Smash Brothers and Super Smash Brothers Melee because most didn’t require crazy high scores or the highest difficulties. There were very few, unlike the newer iterations where you often need to beat things on the highest difficulty and get certain scores in certain modes and I just… I don’t find that fun. That isn’t fun to me.
And it’s the same issue to me with Pokemon where they have endgame that is for IV/EV trained Pokemon and ribbons and things exclusive to it and again, I feel there’s such… a difference between people who want to play and have fun but still SEE everything with the things they love and enjoy versus those who want to get to the highest skill level. (A good example is the minigames in Super Mario Odyssey–there’s a volleyball one and one for jump rope. They both have high score related achievements in those minigames. My personal preference would’ve been “play once” and “play 10 times” for each and then the high score table just be those who want to see how far they could go.)
And when it comes down to it, people who play for those high scores and high skill requirements are playing for those reasons more often than not. Those are fun for them. The extras/rewards/prize(s) are just bonuses.
But those who maybe just enjoy collecting and seeing everything may not have the ability to reach the skill ceiling that gets higher and higher and it just… It’s disappointing, I guess.
I miss being able to collect without being a super hardcore min-maxing video game strategist and when achievements focused more on progress over high score tables. And it makes me sad that video games seem to be going in that direction more and more, tying the two into one category (Because contrary to belief, not all collectors are hardcore high score table champions–there’s different levels of “completionist”) when it’s… really not.
It just makes me sad because I think one day there will be a time video games won’t be for me anymore and I’m sad for that day to come.