A curious thing happened on one of my playthroughs of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. I realized that the difficulty I had things set on was actually making my life harder, despite the fact that it was down at Easy.
I’d beaten the game before, and this was just meant as a fun run using the relentlessly overpowered final form that can then be used to play through the game. What made things difficult is that there’s a boss where your goal is to parry her attacks, then grab her machine and delete a virus that’s manipulating her controls. Hack at her actual mech too many times and it’s game over. Between the difficulty setting and my machine, every time I would accidentally hit her instead of parrying her attack, she’d lose a good third of her health – compared to a normal playthrough, where a few misses were unfortunate, but you had to be really trying to kill her.
This was an isolated incident, but it also serves as an interesting introduction to how difficulty levels alter games, sometimes unsuccessfully. While the dream of multiple difficulty levels is that the same content can provide entertainment for different sorts of players, in practice it doesn’t often work out that way.
There’s no game in the series that’s had a more tortured path coming over to non-Japanese markets than Final Fantasy III, but Final Fantasy IV certainly deserves a nod, especially as it’s the subject of a lot of rumors and aspersions that simply aren’t true. Everyone knows that it was released as Final Fantasy II originally, that the version released in the US was easier than the one released in Japan four months earlier, that a lot of it was censored… you get the idea. And, unfortunately, even with the ability to clear up a lot of misconceptions now, they persist just the same.
Let’s start at the beginning. Final Fantasy IV started development after Final Fantasy III‘s release simultaneously with Final Fantasy V… sort of. Square was working on two titles for the two Nintendo consoles: Final Fantasy IV for the Famicom, Final Fantasy V for the Super Famicom. Limitations of resources meant that the idea of another Famicom game was scrapped, and instead all of the resources were brought over to the retitled Final Fantasy IV. The Famicom game was apparently about 80% done and some elements were supposedly reused, but it’s never been stated what, exactly, got reused. (I have speculations, but that can come later.)
If you don’t know who Zoe Quinn is, that’s fine; this post isn’t about her. If you do know what happened recently, that’s good too. Although I’m using a very loose definition of the word “good” here, because what happened to her is another example of a problem that’s run rampant in gaming for years and just keeps getting more problematic. But she doesn’t want her personal life being dragged out for discussing something that’s completely unconnected to what she does for a living, and the fact is that asking that is beyond fair. Her personal life is hers. The whole “scandal” was, essentially, someone violating that boundary.
And there’s been a lot already written about it, many pieces within days of the event, and they all had the same tone to them. Hell, some of them had probably been written beforehand and were just sitting around ready for use as soon as something happened, because something was going to. It was inevitable. There was always going to be another one of these situations, and the same wave of “I can’t deal with this again” began to break.
Some people clocked out more or less as soon as it started happening. Because exhaustion had already set in.