Hard Mode, only for seasoned experts?

Pokemon Black & White 2 has an interesting item. A challenge key, which basically unlocks hard mode. I thought this was awesome until I found out you don’t get the challenge key until after you’ve beaten the entire game. So we can’t “challenge” ourselves until we know every battle inside out. Does anyone find that exciting?

Tons of games these days only start with Easy and Normal difficulties, with an “unlockable” hard mode. Two games I’m playing RIGHT NOW are guilty of this, Shadows of the Damned and Project Zero 2. I’m not singling them out because I think both games are amazing, but it highlights how common it’s become. Shadows of the Damned is extra annoying because I played through it on Normal the first time, and I’ve got to play through it again on Hard to unlock Extra Hard. It’s a very gradual road to kicking arse, and I want all the arse on my plate right now.


Maybe not, but that’s the whole point! This is a trend that I can’t wrap my head around, what’s the point of doing hard mode AFTER you get good at the game? Hard mode should be hard, it’s a lot less interesting when you’ve already invested 20 hours into a game. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen next, I want a challenge I have to think about, not more grinding. By the time we beat a game we’re pretty damn familiar with the game mechanics, so replaying hard mode usually ends up being exactly the same experience as the first time.

Does anyone support this? I’m not saying I want every game to tear my balls off, some games I like to take it easy. The whole concept of locking an option feels destructive to me and it lessens the impact of a challenge when you’re just going through the motions. It feels like a side-effect of the Achievements / Trophies mindset where people just play games to tick the boxes. Not exciting at all.

One thought on “Hard Mode, only for seasoned experts?

  1. The fun of replaying on a harder mode as an exercise of your experience – that’s a separate purpose and is good on its own…

    However, “I want all the arse on my plate right now.”
    I agree and it’s a big deal, since I prefer to be hit by the first-time surprises and first-time struggles at the same time – the first time; then over the course of the game you can feel the world of difference not just in your character’s abilities, but your own – like actually achieving something (as long as some in-game stat/mechanic doesn’t absorb most of the real merit).

    But telling me that repeating the motions and defining the revisited experience with “2X more hits needed to kill” is my 20-hour-later reward? IT WOULD bother me wondering if a game’s first impression was sabotaged by hiding the “real” experiences the first time around. Enduring hours of “kids” mode is a frustrating wait before gameplay gets an opportunity to shine.


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