The Exigent Duality
Appeasement - 18:12 CDT, 4/30/17 (Sniper)
I've been playing "Puyo Puyo Tetris" on the Switch, and it's yet another example of a game where the difficulty is tuned for the hardest of the hardest core.

I watched all of the game's built-in tutorials, and have practiced and practiced, to the point where I can regularly get two and even three chains in Puyo Puyo, along with routine "Tetrises" and two combos in the Russian classic.

In games of yore, which were designed for ordinary people who had actual lives outside of video games, that would be enough to beat the AI on their default difficulty level. But in a game from 2017, I can play the AI one-on-one, in thirty consecutive matches-- I even did so earlier today-- and win maybe twice.

There was one stretch in that span where I was on fire in Tetris, building massive, hole-free walls, then dropping line blocks right down-- "Tetris! ... "Tetris!"-- only to then have the AI start practically chaining together "clear Tetrises"! It was astonishing!

I wrote about this phenomenon in my "XCOM 2" review, then again with "Total War: Warhammer". I ran into it yet again with "Super Bomberman R", except in that case I really am "just that good" at Bomberman, so it wasn't a personal issue-- but any casual Bomberman player would have found it too difficult. And now, here I am with "Puyo Puyo Tetris"-- same deal.

What's interesting is that Konami very recently patched AI difficulty levels into "Super Bomberman R", and guess what the old, unchangeable difficulty was in the title as it originally shipped? You guessed it: "Hard". Which just confirms the notion that game designers today are balancing games to appease the totally elite players.

I've been playing video games non-stop since the 1980s, and have plenty of evidence to support that I'm in the upper echelons in general video gaming skill, even amongst other regular players-- but just not in any single game. And it seems like the culture today is that people-- my wife is an example-- basically just focus on one game, or one genre, at the exclusion of everything else. Whereas when I was a kid, everyone played a wide variety of titles-- which is the pattern I still maintain today.
This site looks best in a CSS3-capable browser. Atom 1.0 feed is available