Choose one- Easy. Normal. Hard.
But why are there options anyway? And why would you ever choose Hard Mode?
Well, there’s the simple answer, it’s more difficult. Rather than just waltzing through your favorite Halo game, you can up the difficulty and up the frustration level. But then again, you can experience your games in a new light. Games that you remember as too easy can be breathed with a new life. The games that you remember playing after daycare don’t have to be forgotten.
But there is another reason that’s hidden beneath a thin veil. I’m currently playing through Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Now, I’ve played through this game a million times. I know it inside and out. But I’ve never played Hard Mode (or as it’s called Hypermode). Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been terrified of Hypermode. It’s fabled to be devastatingly difficult. And now, after half of a lifetime, I decided to finally face the beast that is Metroid Prime 2 Hypermode.
Now, I see the game with new eyes. I’ll do my best not to sound conceded here, but I’m pretty freaking good at Metroid Prime games. I’ve been playing them for what seems like forever, and during that forever, I’ve gotten pretty good. I just recently finished Metroid Prime 1 Hypermode, and it wasn’t too hard. So I felt pretty confident coming into Prime 2 Hypermode. But let me tell you, it’s as difficult as they say. As good as I am (or I think I am), I’m struggling.
So that got me thinking. Why is this Prime 2 Hypermode so hard? I think I’ve come up with an explanation. I believe that Hypermode is the way Metroid Prime games were supposed to be played. The Metroid Prime series follows Samus, an intergalactic bounty hunter, who goes on missions all over the universe. But in Metroid Prime 2, I think she may be experiencing her most dangerous mission yet. And in Hypermode, I feel the danger.
The mere fact of existing in Dark Aether inflicts damage., and the inhabitants of Dark Aether are creatures that know nothing but war. The darkness even permeates into the calm world of Aether, infecting everything it touches. The threat level is almost tangible. The first steps into Dark Aether do not prepare you for the horrors that await you deeper in the belly of the darkness ahead.
In normal mode, it’s just another video game. Players gallop around through the varying worlds and settings, blasting every living thing in sight. Sure, you may struggle against a boss every once in a while. But in Hypermode, every single enemy encounter could spell the letters D.E.A.T.H.. As the player, you can imagine the fear that Samus is feeling as she tiptoes around the horrific landscape of Dark Aether.
This, I believe, is how Metroid Prime 2 was meant to be played. Of course, this insanely hard difficulty could never be the preset difficulty level. It would scare the crap out of the average gamer. But those who want to experience games in a new or even a more accurate perspective should give Hard Mode a try.
However, many games don’t have a “Choose your own difficulty” setting. You’re stuck with that invincible final boss. Some games without difficulty options repel players. The preset mold serves as a hole that gamers try to shove themselves through. Oftentimes, players don’t fit through the proverbial hole, and they move on to another game.
But when the option of Hard Mode is a conscious choice, casual gamers can play without feeling worthless. But best of all, those gamers who want to experience raw thrill have that option. But remember, survival is not guaranteed.
Editor Note: Andy contacted us wanting to share his passion for Nintendo with our loving readers. If you would like to share your passion here, with words, video, song, etc, feel free to email me at James AT purenintendo DOT com and we can discuss making you a contributor.
March 29, 2015
I hear what Peter is saying here. In fact I have always felt similarly about the much maligned “R.C. Pro Am” Controls of the early Resident Evil games. What made those first RE games so terrifying was that death was always around the corner. A room with three or four zombies posed a real challenge because your ability to move was so restricted. I know 4 was seen as a revolution in RE games, but in my opinion we traded the sense of horror for more fluid controls. Don’t get me wrong RE4 was still a good game, but it wasn’t really a horror game anymore. Sure there were scary situations, but the most effective scare tactic was sacrificed.