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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?