There once was a time when you had a set amount of lives to finish a game, and if the developers were nice they would throw in maybe three “continues” if you were lucky. If you lost your lives and continues quickly, your progress in the game was lost and you would have to start over again, from the beginning. I just re-entered this world of limited continues and lives and it has made me question how I use to beat video games as a small child. I vividly remember beating Mega Man 2 when I was 8 or so, but now I can’t even beat one boss. I die too many times then get thrown back to the beginning having gained nothing. I thought Dark Souls was tough, it has nothing on some the older Sega Genesis games I’ve been dying to play.
I recently got a clone Sega Genesis system from Castlemaniagames and I recently set it up and began playing all the games fourteen year old me wanted. When I was little, I chose to buy comic books over video games, and they slowly took over my life; as of right now they both take about fifty percent of my life. I think that’s fair. Anyway, I finally got myself a copy of Maximum Carnage and The Adventures of Batman and Robin for the Genesis. These were not easy to find, but man I’m thrilled I hunted them down. It was great seeing these amazing 16-bit graphics, problem was that I also my limited life amount and my limited continue amount. Needless to say these were used up very quickly by a gamer who has gone soft with today’s hold your hand games.
In today’s games you seem to have unlimited continues and lives as you play through the campaign, the only game that comes to mind that had any sort of semblance to these mechanics was Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. In this game if you died a certain number of times your save file was deleted and you had to restart the game again from the top. That use to be the norm with ALL games back in the SNES and Genesis era, it’s only until recently with the PS1 and up that you can keep enjoying your playthrough even after lots of failure. If you were a failure on the SNES or Genesis you would know it and would never complete your game. I found this out with The Adventures of Batman and Robin, as I learned the controls I was getting pretty nicely wailed on by the standard enemies, and by the time I got to the main boss I have no lives left and died pathetically. I plan on getting better at the game, but man it sucks to suck so bad at a game that you’ve wanted since you were fifteen.
Maximum Carnage was no less cruel. I succeeded a little bit better in the first chapter of the game, but then web swinging got me zapped over and over by some mysterious villain I never got to see because I let Peter Parker die a smooshy death. When I decided to jump back into modern gaming I decided to continue Kiryu’s quest in Yakuza: Kiwami (which is an amazing game) and while the game was difficult, seeing I was at the endgame, I still triumphed without the use of a continue or a life. Maybe I would have felt more satisfied beating the game knowing that my lives and continues were limited, but then I look at how long it took me to beat the game, 21 hours, and I think that would have been such a waste if I had to start ALL OVER!
I’m thankful that developers have decided to remove the limited lives and continue system. I don’t think that we would be able to enjoy the large worlds and all encompassing stories if we had only three lives to go through God of War with. That would have been damn near impossible, for me anyway, and I really wanted to see that game through to the end. I did however enjoy that Hellblade threw that mechanic in to mess with us a little bit. Every now and then is a great thing, and the ability to remove the mechanic at the gamer’s digression is also very welcome. I try my hand at Fire Emblem games, which I am insanely bad at, and I like the fact that I can disable perma-death. Had Nintendo not done that I probably wouldn’t be playing those games, albeit badly. So good job developers for being on the right side of history with this decision, all gamers appreciate it!