There’s been a lot of talk about difficulty settings in video games recently. While From Software’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the subject of the conversation this time around, this is a pretty old argument that has left players split. Some think games should be accessible to everyone, while others believe the only true path to victory is an unpaved road full of thorns and broken glass.
We here at TheGamer don’t have a specific side in this fight, instead, we look at each game on a case-by-case basis. So, we’ve compiled five games that should have an easy mode and five that could use a hard setting. Before we start, however, we want to point out that we are going to avoid any spoiler talk, so the discussion of the difficulty in these titles will be kept in more broad terms so everyone can enjoy.
Super Meat Boy was one of the first real breakout indie titles from the last generation, and it gained notoriety for how insanely hard it is. While that’s what got people talking about it in the first place, it did set a barrier of entry for those who are newer to the medium.
Instead of giving players an option, Super Meat Boy offers a difficulty curve that allows users to get a handle on the game’s mechanics before making things harder, just like the good old days. Still, giving players an option from the outset would have been a good move for some looking for a platformer that won’t make them grip their controller in rage.
The Pokémon franchise has always been a relatively simple RPG to get into. The mechanics aren’t too deep, yet your party’s progression is deeply rewarding, so it's a great first step for many new gamers.
When Crash Bandicoot first hit the scene in 1996, it was a game changer. The title put developer Naughty Dog on the map, while also giving Sony a mascot to challenge the likes of Mario and Sonic. They managed all of this without giving players a difficulty option.
The Crash Bandicoot games aren’t necessarily hard, but they aren’t easy either. For a series starring a cute furry mascot, one would think this could work as a nice introduction for new gamers—and it was back in the late 1990s. Yet, by today’s standards, these games are pretty challenging, and kids these days struggle without an “easy” mode.
The Kirby franchise is great for children and newcomers alike, yet for us veterans, the low difficulty curve is a little off-putting. Sure, we get a lot out of the pure charm of the characters and presentation, but a little challenge could go a long way.
Kirby Star Allies makes this list mostly because it’s the latest entry in the series, but also, with the Nintendo Switch targeting a more dedicated audience, this game could have been a great testing ground for a hard mode.
Battletoads was the Dark Souls of the gaming industry before we ever knew we wanted to praise the sun.
In this series, players are introduced to Rash, Pimple, or Zitz, giant anthropomorphic toads who knew how to beat up some aliens. While the game is extremely fun, its difficulty is legendary, and its lack of any control over that is kind of frustrating. Sure, this does make it more rewarding when you finally beat the game, but it does make for some annoying playthroughs. Regardless, the series is still one of the best ever, but it could have been even better with an “easy” or “normal” mode.
Sonic Mania is a fantastic game, and we’d hardly change a thing about it. Sega packed a lot of content in this game, with multiple characters to play as, different modes to enjoy and some fantastic DLC. As a title, Sonic Mania captures the essence of the classic games perfectly, but much like the original titles, a little difficulty would be welcome.
Sure, the Genesis games didn’t have difficulty settings either, and sure, getting all seven chaos emeralds isn’t “easy,” but a more challenging core experience could be a nice twist on a classic idea.
This is especially true when considering how long the Legend of Zelda franchise has existed for. Many users who grew up mastering the original title don’t have time to really sink their teeth into such a deep experience. An easy mode that makes Link a little stronger, the weapons a little more durable and the enemies a little more manageable could have made this title a little more accessible, but we don’t think it really mattered much in the long run anyway.
Super Mario Odyssey may be the best 3D Mario game ever made, but it’s way too easy. Instead of a dedicated mode, Nintendo designed the game in such a way that completing the game 100 percent is a challenge. Still, that’s an optional difficulty, and while it's a great way to cater to everyone, it doesn’t change the core experience.
Overall, of the games on this section of the list, Odyssey needs this mode the least.
Yeah, we went there. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice should have an easy mode. While we won’t go out and say From Software should add it, there are patches on PC that make this game way more accessible, and that’s not a bad thing.
Sure, “Git Gud” has been the unofficial catchphrase for these games for years now, but everyone needs to start somewhere, and as it stands, Sekrio is pretty difficult to just jump right into for newbies.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead franchise was a fun ride while it lasted. Giving players choice in a story-driven experience was something that felt new and fresh back in 2011 when the franchise first started.
Now, since there isn’t a lot of “gameplay” to experience here, a hard mode isn’t necessarily needed, but a little bit more of a challenge could be worthwhile.