Stuck? Find Out The Hard Way!

The current generation of gamers has it so easy these days. They can just hop on the Internet and search through GameFAQs to find all the hidden items and cheat codes for no cost and no effort. On top of that, most games hold you by the hand when you first play by telling you how you can control your character or having an auto easy mode. Here’s a relevant parody video to get us started!

So what was it like for us gamers who grew up with our Super Famicons and Sega Megadrives? Well for one thing, the majority of households had no Internet connection so we had to solve matters the old fashioned way…

The consoles that ignited my passion for games. R.I.P...

All we could do was buy monthly magazines and hope that your game would feature in the cheats section! We even had to resort to writing letters (yes, the paper and ink kind) to gaming magazines in hope that they would be answered in the next month’s issue.

I actually bought this very copy in my local supermarket...

There was another very unique method which I so vividly remember. Hotlines. In a certain dungeon in Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Gameboy, I couldn’t advance since I had no idea how to solve a particular puzzle.

That’s when I remembered that there was a Nintendo hotline printed at the back of the instruction manual. I rang them up (at a high fee) and to my surprise, a living human being was on the other end! I told them my situation and like some kind of all knowing wizard, told me the solution without a moment’s hesitation. Back then I thought that must have been the best job in the world!

Some of these dungeons were brain racking!

So far we have magazines and hotlines. But there was one more way to get information on all the secrets and treasures. Good old fashion word of mouth. When Street Fighter 2 was unleashed in the arcades, the cabinets never had a move guide stuck to it so no one had a clue how to pull of any special moves.

You can just tell how old this is by looking at the character designs...

Imagine the awe and satisfaction of pulling off a hadouken without knowing how you did it! As people spent countless hours and coins on this game, people eventually started to find out what input combinations had to be used. People with this knowledge became unbeatable and were considered Street Fighter masters.

The infamous 'hadouken' command (quarter circle forward + punch!)

Eventually, word got around and everyone knew how to pull the moves off at will so Capcom decided to play nice and give the cabinets a moves list.

A typical modern day command list for arcade cabinets

I’m not saying that what we have now is a bad thing. I would never want to go back to the way things worked since things are so convenient now. We just need to appreciate what it was like back in the day and remember that the things we achieved back then were mostly through trial and error and absolute refusal to lose!

So after reading this old man’s rant, here’s my question for you:

Do you think today’s easy access for game guidance takes something away from the experience? What memorable difficulties did you have with past games?

About Francesco

A former Tokyo resident and founder of As a video game and Japan enthusiast, Francesco intends to share his passion by using BakaPad as a platform to inform, share and entertain the masses.


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  • Fran

    These days I don’t have the patience or time to constantly repeat a certain aspect of a game so I go for the FAQs pretty quickly. Because we didn’t have such a luxury when we were kids, we were forced to do things ourselves.

    It’s a double edged sword because peeking at guides does take away some of the mystery and challenge from a game. On the other hand, I would have given up on some games if I didn’t look at these very guides as it can sometimes get very frustrating.

    I remember the day when I learned how to pull of a ‘hadouken’ like it was yesterday. My friend and I played it in a local corner shop before school every morning so we could figure out the input combination.

    After a barrage of buttom bashing, it clicked! That was such an amazing feeling. One that will stay with me until my grave.

    • Laurence Hind

      I agree. There was a magical feeling to not knowing what can be done in certain games. Pokemon is another perfect example. I already know what new pokemon are coming out because the internet tells me! Not like the golden days when i actuall had to hunt out all 150 pokemon not knowing what to find.
      Word of mouth was the biggest part of my enjoyment when i was younger. Even if they were mostly lies. Hearing someone at school talking about 1 hit KO’s being possible then rushing home to try and do it myself was all part of the fun. In my honest opinion, the internet has taken away alot from video games.

    • Shea

      I remember back in primary school when i was playing sonic and knuckles on the megadrive. I couldn’t get past this really difficult boss so i left it for a bit. I went to school the same day and was constantly thinking about the game and ways of beating that enemy. I remember forging a possible idea in my head then sitting through the rest of school with such excitement.

      I returned home later on and lo and behold, my idea worked. I felt like a proper badass lol.

      Also i have to say, being introduced to Street Fighter rather late, i too had to go through the trial and error of finding out how to do moves. I can remember me and Fionn playing the old 3D version on the PS. I was Sagat and when i managed to pull off a Tiger Shot i was like “OMFG, how did i do that.”

      As you say, the good old days, but i wouldn’t go back to them.

  • jidoujoe

    I agree with Laurence.

    Being able to easily access ‘faqs’ online makes the gaming challenge that little bit too easy. But I do also think that it makes games more accessible to more people, as I know there’s those who would give up if they were stuck for too long.

    Something else to consider is the fact that games themselves despite perhaps not being more difficult, have become a lot more technical in terms of gameplay. As a result of that we can see how websites like might thrive. Another reason for faq sites is imported, non-translated games. Even though a gaming grey area, imagine trying to play Super Robot Taisen in Japanese if you don’t speak it.

    • Shea

      Again, trial and error. That’s how i managed with Super Robot Wars Alpha. Although i can see your point.

  • Sheentaku

    Well me and Shea experienced this yesterday with Arcana Heart 3 for a while. Learning and figuring out moves was a blast!