Breaking the controller.
Back in the 80s there were immensely hard games that were both designed to be hard and in actuality hard because of complications during the games development.
During the NES days there was Festers Quest, Castlevania 1 and 3, Ghost and Goblins, Silver Surfer, Ninja Gaiden, Battletoads, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While during the SNES days there were games such as Contra 3, Castlevania Dracula X, and Super Empire Strikes Back. The list goes on and on. These were all incredibly hard games so much that I highly doubt most gamers of the era even managed to finish them. However it seemed as graphics got more advanced the games got easier.
After the SNES we moved into the PS1 and N64 days. Finally we had 64 bit graphics and 3d games. It was a dream come true for many. I remember thinking our games could never look any better than this. And while many of the games published during this generation were tough, many would argue they were nowhere near as tough as something like Ghost and Goblins or Battletoads.
They were tough to beat but I would hazard a guess that the majority of gamers of that era were able to finish them to at least the completion of the story. Although there were the rare few that were still immensely difficult to complete, but they were few and far between.
The Next Generation Of Hard.
Then came the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox. This generation jumped in pixel fidelity even more than before, making things look what at the time many thought to be ultra realistic. However again came the downgrade in easiness, most games just go easier, while the rare few stayed hard. Sure there was the rare ninja gaiden on the original xbox but while that was brutally difficult, it was easily the hardest game in a generation to defeat, and yet many still managed to do it. It is possible that gamers just got better at playing the hard games so the hard games stayed hard but became easy, but since this generation was the largest in history it is unlikely this was the outcome of aging gamers. And yet, still after more than a decade there had been no Battletoads contender for hardest game in the world, the graphics got prettier but the difficulty got shittier. Masochistic gamers longed for a game that would feed their want of a game that was so brutally difficult it could contend against the liked of Ghost and Goblins.
Finally we come to the most recent generation to draw to a close. In 2005 came the Xbox 360 while in 2006 came the PS3 and Wii. This generation jumped from SD to HD and the quality of the picture was truly stunning and would only get better with time. There came the next Ninja Gaiden games which some thought were easier than the first and some thought were harder. Again that could be because of the aging gamer although it is unlikely. However, eventually something emerged, something now thought of as one of the hardest games out there, a little game called demon’s souls.
Souls Of Demons.
In demon’s souls you fought against monsters, humans, things that I thought were zombies, and many other creatures, all of which felt like they could kill you a whole lot easier than you could kill them. The game was like a long trek through a swamp that comes up to your elbows and because of it you can barely move your arms and legs to defend yourself so you dying quickly. In short, gamers loved it and longed for more. From software had similar but different ideas.
Demon’s souls had been an exclusive to the PS3 but From software realized the niche they hit and decided they wanted to create a multiplatform title. Thus dark souls was born. The game ended up being easier than demon souls after the day one patch but was still brutally difficult even on easy. You face your first massive boss as the tutorial, and that alone can turn people off to the game since it is so frustrating. Dark souls became the successor, at least as far as we know, to demon’s souls, and while it may be easier, it certainly isn’t easy.
Dark souls fills a niche that hasn’t been filled in well over a decade, a game that is brutal, difficult, and yet still fun. Not to say all the games I listed at the start were fun, some were down right break controller infuriating. And yet so is dark souls. The charm comes from the want to break the controller, from finally defeating a boss after being killed well over a hundred times.
Dark souls is successful because of that, not because of the marketing, but because of word of mouth, although marketing does certainly help. Dark souls has forced some other developers to make harder games to try and tap into the same niche. Without dark souls 1 and 2, we might not have the new Shinji Mikami game, or indie games that are just as hard. I know one thing for sure, I would not want to live in a world without dark souls.