285: Hard-Earned Victories

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Hard-Earned Victories

Super Meat Boy may not teach us heady life lessons, but it does edify a core value: Victory is hard-fought.

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Haven't played in a bit but i've completed ~230 levels on SMB including Cotton Valley & "The Kid" Warp zone, although by all means most Dark World levels and "-" levels are harder.

I spent ~4 hours getting "The Kid". I was playing non-stop and my gf was just doing thing around the house. The last level took me the longest, probably because my thumbs were sore and my eyes were burnt from being focused for so long. My gf was able to watch Space Jam all the while I was constantly dieing from the flying spikes, eventually the movie was over, she was passed out and I was getting frustrated. I said to myself "Alright one last go", and then I made it. That feeling was absolutely awesome, it's like I'd been holding my breath for the past 4 hours and finally got to breath.

Nothing like a good challenge, is there?

But I can't stand the die, die, die, die, die challenge of games like Super Meat Boy and Megaman for more than a few hours. I like it enough to buy the game, but it ends up being a wasted purchase since I never see it through to the end. Generally only beat half the levels. I've never even whomped wily in any Megaman game yet.

I prefer the challenge of games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta.

Prolly not what I should be focusing on, but, "Next-Gen"? So The ps2 and NGC are Current Gen still?

What I've noticed about Super Meat Boy, is the only time it really frustrates me is when I only just miss an easy jump right at the end of a hard level. Since the game chucks you back into the fray immediately, I never have time to be frustrated. Not like as.... trying to get the International A license of GT2. Broke two controllers on that.

Supermeatboy is an excellent example of doing hard challenges right.

The controls are responsive, so you're fighting the levels and not the interface.
The levels are small and can be finished in a seconds, so you get to retry without much hassle when you fail, which helps you learn from your mistakes and improve your game.
The difficulty ramps up gradually, helping weaker players to get used to the game.

It's great to see an article in the Escapist mag that goes against the casual, story, cinematic, arty fart opinion.

Hey, good to see Super Meat Boy get a shout-out like this.

I like that nothing is given to you on a silver platter, and moreso, it's your own fault whenever you die; it's always because you misjudged a jump, or messed up the timing, pretty much never a problem with the game. If a game's challenge is based around trying to get the controls to work rather than actual skill, it's doing something wrong.

Super meat boy was pretty fun at the begining. Then It started getting a bit lame.

I'm never one to shy away from a challenge. I've made Battletoads and the first 9 mega man games my bitch on several occasions. I've beaten ever Mario platformer too many times to count and I've beaten ever pokemon game using only that regions version of Ratatta.

But super meat boy just stops being fun after a while... Yes it still has that element of cathartic YES! when a level is beat, but it the level design isn't just tough. Its nonsensical... Traps and instant deaths are always on full display, but the controls are very sloppy in my opinion and lead to you just sliding into a saw.

The reason SMB will never be as good as Megaman or Mario is because while there was alot of challenge in these games, they were always fair. Your control over the character was always perfect so deaths were your fault. there was always a pattern to things and the challenge was learning that, not fighting the controls. I died more often because meat boy would just move into random places, than my actual input.

Its a pretty fun game at points and worth getting at the price it is now on steam... just... Get Megaman if you want to get a hard earned challenge....

comadorcrack:

The reason SMB will never be as good as Megaman or Mario is because while there was alot of challenge in these games, they were always fair. Your control over the character was always perfect so deaths were your fault. there was always a pattern to things and the challenge was learning that, not fighting the controls. I died more often because meat boy would just move into random places, than my actual input.

We must be playing different games, then, or using different kinds of controls. Because I wouldn't say meat boy ever moved into random places when I was playing.

tautologico:

comadorcrack:

The reason SMB will never be as good as Megaman or Mario is because while there was alot of challenge in these games, they were always fair. Your control over the character was always perfect so deaths were your fault. there was always a pattern to things and the challenge was learning that, not fighting the controls. I died more often because meat boy would just move into random places, than my actual input.

We must be playing different games, then, or using different kinds of controls. Because I wouldn't say meat boy ever moved into random places when I was playing.

He's probably upset about super meatboy having a momentum and won't stop dead when you let go of the button.

veloper:

tautologico:

comadorcrack:

The reason SMB will never be as good as Megaman or Mario is because while there was alot of challenge in these games, they were always fair. Your control over the character was always perfect so deaths were your fault. there was always a pattern to things and the challenge was learning that, not fighting the controls. I died more often because meat boy would just move into random places, than my actual input.

We must be playing different games, then, or using different kinds of controls. Because I wouldn't say meat boy ever moved into random places when I was playing.

He's probably upset about super meatboy having a momentum and won't stop dead when you let go of the button.

Yes, I thought about that. But the controls are precise, in the sense that once you get used to them, meat boy's movements are predictable. Other playable characters have different movement characteristics, so you can try to pick another character if you don't like meat boy's movement style.

Super Meat Boy is one if my favorite games, and I love seeing it get this kind of exposure. I don't know why comadorcrack thinks the controls are bad; most people agree they are just about the most responsive controls in any platform game. Super Meat Boy isn't unfair; it's really, really hard. That's why it's so much more satisfying to beat a level, and save a replay to show to your friends. It takes the essence of a platform game, and perfects it. That's why it's so great: it doesn't need gimmicks. Just fantastic level design. Though the kick-ass soundtrack doesn't hurt either.

Chris Plante:
Hard-Earned Victories

Super Meat Boy may not teach us heady life lessons, but it does edify a core value: Victory is hard-fought.

Read Full Article

This is the axis upon which gaming can turn one way or the other--the way it instructs the player to handle failure.

On one hand, people who are unable to handle failure will be unable to learn. A player's failures within a game can spur them on into increasing their own ability--taking a task that was once impossible and turning into one that is easy. It's good for the player, it's good for the game, and it's good for the state of the medium itself. This path leads to games as something more than just "entertainment." Games can challenge the player, catalyze growth, and breed a sense of self-esteem that is firmly rooted in self-efficacy.

On the other hand, people tend not to tolerate any discomfort in their entertainment. They know what they like--they like what they know. Just having a bad guy is enough of a "challenge," so there's no need to make him difficult. If you make the game difficult, well, now it's like work or something. Don't get me wrong--there's such a thing as making a game "too hard," or more accurately making a game in which the gameplay doesn't adequately teach you the skills you need to meet the challenges ahead.

But we've been going to the other extreme. Making "cozy" games in which you can't really fail. Success is a matter of time, not effort. And as long as a handful of publishers are willing to make games like this, dumbed down to the point of being simple light-and-sound-diversions, they're handicapping the medium. If players have countless "easy" games that are visually pleasing and give them neat little achievements, there's no reason for them to endure the challenge of other games.

And nowadays? There are thousands of games available at every moment. It's not like the "old days," where you played Mario because that's what was out. With too many options available, players have lost sight of the need to see a challenge through to the end. Why climb the wall when there's a ladder to the right? Or a door to the left? Or a path around it? When so many easier options present themselves, there's no reason to take the more challenging one... despite the fact that it will make you better. Not just at the game, but as a person.

If we're going to move games out of the "fun distraction" category and into something greater as a medium (it doesn't have to be "art," by the way), we need to create games that elevate and engage the player, not just entertain them. This means striking a balance between:

1. "Too casual." Farmville is a good one. There's no challenge. No opposition. Click, click, click. Come back in a few hours. Click, click, click. And you "win!" What exactly did you accomplish? Who cares? The game says I win! It rewards only the investment of time and money, with no mental effort required.

2. "Too hardcore." Some games really are harder than they need to be. A small group of people like it that way, because it allows them to feel "elite." They fight for more games to be built in such an exclusive way... without realizing that, by doing so, they will cut off their own air supply. New players won't be able to break into that "elite" club, so they'll fall back into the "too casual" scene. And they'll become the majority. And the majority rules.

We need games that have challenge. Real challenge. Tasks that require you to improve yourself, as a gamer, thinker, or whatever. We also need those games to provide the equipment a player will need to meet those challenges. The game has to scale that challenge, giving the player time and opportunity to learn the in-game skills they'll need for the tasks ahead of them. We can't keep making "casual games" and "hardcore games." And no one wants to make games in that "in between" zone, because they'll tend to appeal to one side or the other anyway, but run the risk of alienating that audience by being to "moderate."

We need games that act as a bridge. Games that have the buy-in of a casual game, eventually guiding a player to the challenge of a hardcore game. (Of course, we could discuss at length what actually constitutes "challenge" in some of these games, but that's another topic!)

comadorcrack:

But super meat boy just stops being fun after a while... Yes it still has that element of cathartic YES! when a level is beat, but it the level design isn't just tough. Its nonsensical... Traps and instant deaths are always on full display, but the controls are very sloppy in my opinion and lead to you just sliding into a saw.

The reason SMB will never be as good as Megaman or Mario is because while there was alot of challenge in these games, they were always fair. Your control over the character was always perfect so deaths were your fault. there was always a pattern to things and the challenge was learning that, not fighting the controls. I died more often because meat boy would just move into random places, than my actual input.

Its a pretty fun game at points and worth getting at the price it is now on steam... just... Get Megaman if you want to get a hard earned challenge....

Sloppy controls? I thought the controls were incredibly responsive. I think just about every reviewer has mentioned how spot on the controls are. I hope your just taking the piss.

Are you referring to the newgrounds "Meat Boy"? Have you played using a controller?

I'm not into platforming games, really. But I agree with the article on challenge = rewarding experience.

Demon's Souls is my favorite example of it. Just watch Zero Punctuation review of it. The game is brutally punishing, and epically rewarding.

-SL135 Knight, NG++, 120+ hours.

Fantastic article. I was gifted SMB just yesterday and I love it to (repeated, messy, spattery) death, and I think this is why. Thanks for articulating it so well.

Well I haven't played super meat boy yet, but by God did I enjoy VVVVVV. The simple thrill of finishing a particularly difficult section, dying dozens of times, which in the end takes seconds. It's immensely satisfying.

However, when looking at old school games, high difficulty annoys me a lot more, and for one simple reason: A lack of checkpoints.

I found super mario world immensely frustrating because of it. I'd get through 3-4 levels without dying, then die a few times in the dungeon, sending me back to the levels I know I can do again. Perhaps it's just me, but I'm willing to bet a lot of gamers would accept more difficult challenges if you didn't have to repeat sections preceding it. Perhaps it would be a bit of a copout if every difficult game could only be enjoyable in this way, but it's a very difficult balance.

F-zero Gx has been the only game thusfar where I enjoyed the "Hold your nerve" style difficulty; it was fair, and I had a reasonable chance of getting it on my first go, in spite of it's difficulty. It also had short n stupidly hard bits too, which were also great. It's a paradigm of a challenging game for me.

I think Super Meat Boy is up there with the classics of Sonic, Mario and the like, it's damn addictive, damn mean and damn fun.

I got it for $3.75 yesterday on a Steam sale, but it's not working :(

Eh... I think you aren't playing the games correctly then.
There are plenty of hard-earned victories in todays games.

Granted they weren't as hard as the Nintendo ones was when we were kids but here's the thing;
We are not Kids anymore

When I feel like it, I boot up Megaman 1, 2, 3, 4 etc etc and I play through them.
I may die a few times but the games aren't really that hard as they were when I was young.

Yes, many games are holding your hands these days and I kinda hate it.
I usually play in the hardest difficulty setting, try that.

These two ideas can co-exist you know. Some games can be challenging, and others created so that anyone can reach the end of the narrative. Sure, one group might outsell the other by a huge margin, but that doesn't mean the other group will necessarily be completely wiped out.

Shamus Young has a couple of nice articles on this subject. One came out, what, two weeks ago? Essentially, it depends on the gamer. A gamer that wants to enjoy a world or a story doesn't want difficulty to get on her way, at least not unreasonably so, and doesn't want to get stuck because she wants to know what happens next. A gamer that wants to enjoy gameplay wants a challenge because that's what gameplay is composed of: if a challenge isn't hard she can just waltz up to the enemies and shoot them in the face, and use the tools a game provides to 'make believe' and play the game the way the devs intended when it's not optimal is unsatisfying.

Of course, a game with a good story that enslaves gameplay to it isn't doing a good job. It's like... It's like a Weird Al parody. It's funny and it'll make you laugh, but you're not going to compliment Weird Al on the melody, because he didn't even write it. He's just using it to deliver a joke. So your enjoyment of it depends on your enjoyment of the text, not on the enjoyment of the song, and in fact you may enjoy parodies of songs you don't like even better. You'll like it as a joke, not as a song. Likewise, a game that has great story but poor gameplay may be enjoyed as a story, but not as a game.

(Before someone points out Weird Al doesn't write only parodies, I know, and that's why I said Weird Al parody specifically. I guess his polka medleys still don't quite classify in my example. In sum, shut up.)

Under that division, it seems that gamers that enjoy a challenge are being more true to gaming. But exploration, enjoyment of a world, is also something that only games can fully provide and is also something that an easier game will do a better job at delivering. It comes back to what a gamer wants and expects of her games.

Looks like I just rediscovered the (genre) wheel here.

The Random One:
Shamus Young has a couple of nice articles on this subject. One came out, what, two weeks ago? Essentially, it depends on the gamer. A gamer that wants to enjoy a world or a story doesn't want difficulty to get on her way, at least not unreasonably so, and doesn't want to get stuck because she wants to know what happens next. A gamer that wants to enjoy gameplay wants a challenge because that's what gameplay is composed of: if a challenge isn't hard she can just waltz up to the enemies and shoot them in the face, and use the tools a game provides to 'make believe' and play the game the way the devs intended when it's not optimal is unsatisfying.

Of course, a game with a good story that enslaves gameplay to it isn't doing a good job. It's like... It's like a Weird Al parody. It's funny and it'll make you laugh, but you're not going to compliment Weird Al on the melody, because he didn't even write it. He's just using it to deliver a joke. So your enjoyment of it depends on your enjoyment of the text, not on the enjoyment of the song, and in fact you may enjoy parodies of songs you don't like even better. You'll like it as a joke, not as a song. Likewise, a game that has great story but poor gameplay may be enjoyed as a story, but not as a game.

(Before someone points out Weird Al doesn't write only parodies, I know, and that's why I said Weird Al parody specifically. I guess his polka medleys still don't quite classify in my example. In sum, shut up.)

Under that division, it seems that gamers that enjoy a challenge are being more true to gaming. But exploration, enjoyment of a world, is also something that only games can fully provide and is also something that an easier game will do a better job at delivering. It comes back to what a gamer wants and expects of her games.

Looks like I just rediscovered the (genre) wheel here.

I think the problem is that stories need an element of challenge to them, too. The best stories, at least. They should challenge you to think differently about something, challenge you to think ahead of the story, in some way engage you to think about what you're reading and then think just a liiiittle bit beyond it.

So, even if you're just playing the game as a mildly-interactive story, that doesn't mean it should be absent of difficulty, even if it's something so simple as challenging your expectations of a story or character. But if we get too wrapped up in the "comfort" of the player, we'll lose even that. Games will become eBooks on the level of Little Golden Books, telling the same story with different costumes over and over.

Damn this makes me want to get Super Meat Boy even more... On top of the fact that some of my friends have it or want it.

I've seen it being played and I gotta say I could really get into it but...

Still unnerved by the fact that I'd probably have to go buy another keyboard after playing just five minutes of such a game that's as frustrating as this.

There's something about your last line that I take a bit of issue with. There aren't arrows, but for the most part our paths are extremely guided. Advisers, peers, parents, banks, loans, scholarships, lecturers, teachers, brothers, sisters, fraternities, sororities, even the guy we talk to at the counter of the gas station all tell us to keep going, to do this, to do this, to do that, to keep going. Deviating from that at all gets all kinds of immediate feedback, both positive, and, mostly, negative. Try starting a project, telling all your friends about it. Be really excited for it. After a month, having worked for a time, abandon the project, leaving it prominently about, that others may see it. Do not alter it now, and when asked, look at it as if it has disappointed you, and say you have given up. I'd be willing to bet a few bills that someone will tell you that you should finish it. The same would happen with projects, schooling, housing, occupations, odd or eccentric collections, lifelong goals, what have you. We are very guided in our lives--even with out the arrows.

Super weird that I spent 5 hours playing "theworldshardestgame" today for the first time and then BOOM this article is up. Dunno if any of you have tried it before, its... interesting. Trial and error trial and error. And the controls (unlike SMB etc) are pretty balls. Controller > laptop arrow keys

I have to agree though, beating level 25 today after literally dying more than a hundred times (yeah I kinda suck) was super awesome good. I would have done all the way up to 30 after if I didn't have to start studying for my two finals that are now in less than 12 hours... :(

I purchased Super Meat Boy yesterday and I've put 3 hours into it since, it would be more by now but..stuff to do right? I have to say that it's one of the best games I've played this year. The controls are great, I'm using a Logitech Dual Action gamepad and Meat Boy does what I tell him to every time, the only time I die is when I fuck up...and that happens a lot...sometimes on purpose ^_^.

I think a pretty good chunk of the fun I have with it is seeing the replay at the end of any level where I've died a bunch of times, like more than 10 deaths, and seeing the number of Meat Boys get thinned out as they progress through the level in a bloody spray.

One of my favorite things about Super Meat Boy is that when you finally win, not only do you get a replay of your victory, but it shows all your other Meat Boys dying along the way. That certainly was a very nice touch from the developers.

I need to get a different controller though, because I have some problems with the responsiveness of my jump button from time to time. I'll probably just hook up my 360 controller to the computer pretty soon because this old gamepad I had lying around doesn't seem to be cutting it.

AngryMongoose:
Prolly not what I should be focusing on, but, "Next-Gen"? So The ps2 and NGC are Current Gen still?

Also this. 360, PS3, and Wii are no longer next gen. They stopped being next gen when they came out, at which point they became the current generation.

I discovered Meat Boy online...then Super Meat Boy came out
...good grief it's kicking my butt like no other

but yeah I really do feel what the article's talking about with what you remember
I've become a passive gamer since I no longer have as much time to game as before
but doing some runs through FPS games like MW2 and Reach on the hardest difficulties really did change how I recalled stuff from the game (like how I got through this insane part or that...I can do a walkthrough! even if I'm not the best gamer...altho not for CoD I basically just hid under a table the whole game through)

After I read the title to this article and the description I was like: Yeah, I was just playing Super Meat Boy the other day ... and then I clicked the link only to see Super Meat Boy picture. And I lawled.

I agree. I love the Mega Man games and similarly difficult games for this reason.

Well, other than finding the handle "The Tet Offensive" kind of tasteless, I pretty much agree with this article.

As the industry changes, and games become increasingly easy, I think it's hurting itself. I see people mentioning that they feel games just aren't all that fulfilling anymore with some frequency. As I mentioned elsewhere here on "The Escapist" that games are a hobby, and beating a game is sort of like a hobby modeler finishing a paticularly difficult boat or plane or whatever. In the end you achieve little of lasting value, but you know you did something not everyone could accomplish. In the end a model gets thrown away to make space, and a video game fades from memory, but what you were striving for was fundementally the same.

I think right now a big part of the problem is the idea that games are intended to tell a story, and as such it's unthinkable for a player not to be able to finish that story. I think as a design philosophy this is problematic, finishing the story being your incentive/reward for all the challenge that should be involved.

I personally am not a big fan of platformers or shooters (though I used to love them), personally I pine for the days of epic RPGs, with tons of stats and things to manipulate. Games where you would develop an entire party of adventurers from scratch (which still happens, but is increasinly rare). I like seeing those changes to numbers, gears,a and skill selections come together for differant reults, and having challenges to face based on the mental exercise of building my characters. Even with games like "Dragon Quest IX" you just don't see things like building up to beat "The Beast With A Thousand Eyes" in The Tomb Of Gorrors (not a mispelling) in "Wizardry: Crusaders Of The Dark Savant". The basic idea today being that your casual player will not be able to do that kind of thing, so it shouldn't be in the game, never mind doing things like navigating the Amazulu pyramid, or breaking the crystal prison in "Wizardry: Bane Of The Cosmic Forge".

Therumancer:
Well, other than finding the handle "The Tet Offensive" kind of tasteless...

What an odd thing to say. That's the common name for it; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tet_Offensive.

Fronzel:

Therumancer:
Well, other than finding the handle "The Tet Offensive" kind of tasteless...

What an odd thing to say. That's the common name for it; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tet_Offensive.

Somehow I misread the article's beginning and thought he was calling himself "Tet Offensive" on XBL or something, which isn't even close to say what he said. Hence the oddness.

Mister Benoit:
Haven't played in a bit but i've completed ~230 levels on SMB including Cotton Valley & "The Kid" Warp zone, although by all means most Dark World levels and "-" levels are harder.

I spent ~4 hours getting "The Kid". I was playing non-stop and my gf was just doing thing around the house. The last level took me the longest, probably because my thumbs were sore and my eyes were burnt from being focused for so long. My gf was able to watch Space Jam all the while I was constantly dieing from the flying spikes, eventually the movie was over, she was passed out and I was getting frustrated. I said to myself "Alright one last go", and then I made it. That feeling was absolutely awesome, it's like I'd been holding my breath for the past 4 hours and finally got to breath.

Wow,I only just unlocked Super Meat World (Mid-January patch for PC) with 20 bandages and before that I'm stuck on the third level of The End (Keyboard control is a pain in both the metaphorical and literal means,CARPAL TUNNEL LIMBO MAMBO!) Give yourself a cookie good sir!

Alphakirby:

Mister Benoit:
Haven't played in a bit but i've completed ~230 levels on SMB including Cotton Valley & "The Kid" Warp zone, although by all means most Dark World levels and "-" levels are harder.

I spent ~4 hours getting "The Kid". I was playing non-stop and my gf was just doing thing around the house. The last level took me the longest, probably because my thumbs were sore and my eyes were burnt from being focused for so long. My gf was able to watch Space Jam all the while I was constantly dieing from the flying spikes, eventually the movie was over, she was passed out and I was getting frustrated. I said to myself "Alright one last go", and then I made it. That feeling was absolutely awesome, it's like I'd been holding my breath for the past 4 hours and finally got to breath.

Wow,I only just unlocked Super Meat World (Mid-January patch for PC) with 20 bandages and before that I'm stuck on the third level of The End (Keyboard control is a pain in both the metaphorical and literal means,CARPAL TUNNEL LIMBO MAMBO!) Give yourself a cookie good sir!

If you can pick up a wired 360 controller, they work very well for most PC games and especially SMB. You can probably find them pretty cheap.

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