First Against ‘The Wall’

I stand, back against the wall, dust – contained within a small breeze – blows past my sun burnt grimace. I wait, and my friends eventually arrive. “I’m going on ahead” I say, “You wait here and I’ll call you as soon as I can.”

I cross the road and slowly start moving past a burnt out car, all is quiet and the end of my journey is in sight, just a little… bit… further…

Then, oh dear, my brains appear to be on the pavement.


‘The Wall’ – worse than Hitler, Revolver Ocelot and Superman 64 combined. It makes grown men cry and gaming pads become one with the wall.

We’ve all experienced ‘The Wall’ – It’s the point in the game that you just can’t get past, it’s the insane boss level; that jump in Mario you just can’t do; it’s the point where the game that has been the focus of your life leaves your console and gets stacked up to collect dust because you’ve hit ‘The Wall’.

‘The Wall’ comes in many different forms: end level bosses; not knowing where you have to go to get further in the game or even thinking that you’re effectively hiding, and then someone, somewhere, still caps you in the head, like in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfare with that cheeky sniper, high in the heavens, whose accurate eye is better than Columbo’s and the Terminator’s combined.

Making games easy allows more people to access them, although the ‘easy option’ seems to be the source of derision in gaming circles. For example, when designing ‘Rainbow Six Vegas’ who decided that only a certain chosen few should actually be able to see the game through to the end. Or is it that some games are only designed for gamers who can already kick ass at FPS genres?

Imagine if you were to watch the movie version of ‘Tomb Raider’ then twenty minutes into it, it stops and won’t continue until you can work out how to solve a logic puzzle. You’d be desperate to see more of Angelina running in slow motion, not see her drag large stone blocks slowly across the floor of a tomb.

Luckily for me, films do not do this, so if gaming is trying to become a form of entertainment accepted on the same level as film, why does is constantly feel it needs to rip your teeth out with a Gravity gun and then throw them back in your face?

Nintendo seem to realise that the casual gaming market exists because since the Wii there have been more demand for games that are accessible to everyone and a lot more new gamers.

Nintendo have patented a new gaming system that essentially treats a game as a movie. If you stop playing, the game carries on, letting you take part when there’s something that looks fun to play. You don’t get any achievements or unlockables in this mode, but you get to see how the game is played. Help with hints and options to watch the game being played is great for people who are newer to gaming or just need some small guidance. And if you want to play through yourself, at any time you ‘jump back’ into the action when the infamous wall has been crossed.

I know that some people think playing games on the easiest setting or being helped along is taking away the challenge, but for some people the ‘easy’ setting on a game will be a challenge. It’s better that people who are being introduced to gaming find it a fun experience, rather than being turned off it. The hardcore gamers of the future have to start somewhere. To be able to have options to help people ‘break down’ the wall could quite easily be an option in all games. If you’re an elitist or Columbo then you don’t need to touch it, but for me, I just want to see the end of a story for once. People who have been asked to play through ‘Ghouls and Ghosts’ a second time just to get the princess a bracelet should be able to sympathise with me.

“Just one more thing. If she sends you back for her necklace, she’s having an affair with the end game boss.”







21 responses to “First Against ‘The Wall’”

  1. Kirsten avatar

    Any blog with a picture of Peter Falk in it automatically becomes the best blog EVA!

  2. GamerGeekGirl avatar

    I couldn’t agree more.

    I found getting into Gaming very difficult; because almost all games (FPSes especially) seem tailored to people who’re already good at/used to them.

    I worked my way up through more accessible stuff (RPGs, Beat-em-ups) and these days I consider myself a fairly good gamer…

    But god, FPSes are the worst – I only really got good at them when Left 4 Dead came out… And I’ve played maybe… Oh, 25-30 hours of it?

    But being given a game that lets you improve at your own pace, and tailors the game for you based on what you can handle is just awesome! (I always have the highest number of head-shots, It only takes me a split second to get an infected off one of my buddies…)

    And all it took was a game that allows the player to learn at their own pace, and keep the challenge tailored to their skill level!

    I hope more developers learn from Left 4 Dead 🙂

  3. Snozzeltoff avatar

    “Rainbow Six Vegas’ who decided that only a certain chosen few” – That’s me! 😀 hehe

    I too hate ‘the wall’, i was playing more of ‘The Darkness’ the other day and stopped because i had no idea where i was going, why or what i was supposed to do.

    FPS are the devil when it comes to walls, though when you finally scale that wall its the most satisfying thing ever.
    Like getting the ‘Mile High Club’ achievement in CoD4. Took me 4-hours solid gaming but i got there eventually.

  4. Michael avatar

    Well, what about FPSs with tutorials? Hmm? But, generally, I agree that the skill level can be a barrier… sorry, wall to new players. I like that Prey had that no-death aspect – mainly because I used it to try and get my sisters to play FPSs (after they’d played FFX and some other stuff) and learn the skills etc without that frustration of being unable to progress.

    Also, liking the Columbo stuff! 😀

  5. Nick avatar

    Sadly I came across too many walls while playing Mirrors Edge. Enough to make me lose interest in playing it. Shame as it could have been such an excellent runner.

  6. Lorna avatar

    You mentioned Columbo twince and even included a picture…you are a truly brilliant person. Just for that, I love your blog.

  7. Kate avatar

    I remember Kotaku contacting a few industry peeps to see what they thought of the new gaming feature you mentioned. For me, I just can’t see how it would be pleasurable. If gaming no longer needs to be interactive, then what is it? And although we always look to films as the benchmark, is it somwhere we necessarily want to go? I think if you have to implement something like that, then surely it’s a sign of a poorly developed game that is either boring or too hard.

    But regarding games being inaccessible in general, I think you definately have a point. I personally love it if a game can scale the difficulty depending on how well you perform while playing – I know some games do this, I just can’t think of any to hand! But obviously I have no idea of what a nightmare it is to do this, especially as games and hardware become more advanced and more expensive. It’s great when there’s an easy option, but as you say, there is a stigma. But if you make a game easier in general, you risk alientating the hardcore and ruining the challenge.

    I think what I’m trying to say is, thank fuck for GameFaqs.

  8. MrCuddleswick avatar

    The farm bit in COD4. And then the bit in the final level with all the alarms and corridors in the underground bunker. Oh my life, I wept tears of joy when I completed those.

  9. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I encoutnered ‘the wall’ many times playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Haven’t went back to it in a while but I have nearly fisnished the game. I just refuse to set it to the easy diificulty level. The wall versus stubbornness, I will succeed, eventually.

  10. Michael avatar

    Kate, the game you’re trying to think of is flOw.

    Having re-read the blog (this sounds like I didn’t read it properly the first time; au contraire or something), you say that hardcore gamers of the future have to start somewhere. True, of course, but then consider where we current hardcore gamers started. Was it through casual games a la Wii? Erm, no. No it wasn’t. I’d go on but you get the idea with that… right?

  11. Fran avatar

    Well, when I started gaming, it was on the Commodore 64 and the NES which generally had simpler games, with a nice balanced difficulty curve, (apart from the Mega Man series.) It hadnt have been for looking up endings on Youtube, I would have never seen how those ended.

    …but maybe not ‘this’ ending

    We have all grown up with games so we have an array of gaming skills. Growing up with 8bit pixels, then graphics gradually getting better, 3d games and games becoming more complex due to the improved technology. We grew up with constant upgrades! Some people will have grown up with just the Xbox or PS2. The Wii is allowing people to start from the beginning, just like we did 20 years ago.

  12. Power Up avatar
    Power Up

    At first I thought this was going to be about invisible barriers that stop you moving to areas it would appear you could reach but can’t ’cause you’ve reached the end of a map.

    Are you saying that games are generally too hard and should be easier? There are usually options to play on easier mode if it doesn’t harm one’s dignity too much or just go for games aimed at kids and breeze through them. Games need to be challenging otherwise we would get through them too quickly and although you compare games to films; short, easy, on-rails games aren’t usually very good. A film isn’t interactive. In games you are the star and have to pass the challenges yourself rather than passively watch.

    There’s always online guides to help out. Games are generally much easier than they used to be on the home micros of the 80’s anyway. I swear most Spectrum games didn’t have endings and the NES had more harder games than the current generation. With only a few exceptions, I’ve not played a game on anything since the NES that I didn’t complete. That isn’t to say I’m a good player but that I have perservered, been patient and also been humble enough to consult walkthroughs or tips after being stuck longer than I can bare.

  13. Power Up avatar
    Power Up

    BTW, nice photo caption.

  14. Michael avatar

    Touche! Yeah, I don’t know why I keep throwing in the French but anyway… some of the earliest games I played were, to me, quite difficult (though if I played them now I would probably fare better) – yet here I am still, playing.

    I feel that maybe, just maybe, there should be some kind of limit to how easy a game should be – now maybe that’s the bias of a hardcore gamer but, hmm, part of the appeal of games is cracking that hard part, accomplishing the win, achieving what you’ve set out to do. No?

  15. big mean bunny avatar
    big mean bunny

    whilst I enjoyed the article I can’t help but feel that the fps examples you have chosen aren’t great for making your point. Rainbow six and ghost reacon are notorious for being harder and less forgiving than other games and this is there appeal to many. I feel that fps get an unfair amount of flack sometimes and don’t think an easy mode is the easier, easy controls seems to be the issue with new players I know. No one berates RPG’s or hardcore JRPG’s for not being accessible to new gamers.

  16. Andy Turner avatar
    Andy Turner

    The use of Columbo is welcome in a blog of any topic as he is my hero…

    I know too well the pain of hitting “The wall” It’s had many other names in the past including…”That dickhead boss” a concept in dead or alive called being “Stuck in the moves” sang to the tune of stuck in the moment by U2 or my personal nemesis “Final Fantasy disease” which has left many an epic RPG shelved for months / eternity after a trouncing from a ludicrous boss.

  17. Lorna avatar

    Personally I don’t think making them easy or film-like is the solution. I, like many gamers started off on the Spectrum/C64 and those games could be hard as nails to the point where a person could cry blood. It may have made me furious, but I’m still here and gaming decades later. Let the casuals eat cake I say and leave the difficulty settings as the only nod.

  18. Barry avatar

    Cant say Ive found many walls in gaming, I am devious, have a never give up attitude so usually find my way out of any situation. But theres a few games which had me completely stumped.

    -most recently RAAM on Gears 1
    -Gaining a Megalopolis on the SNES version of SimCity.
    -getting off the very first screen in Gregory Loses His Clock on the Speccy, all I had todo was press down apparently, but I was 8 and well, yeah, I was 8.

  19. Fran avatar

    “I can’t help but feel that the fps examples you have chosen aren’t great for making your point”

    Well actually they are good examples because, this is me hitting ‘the wall’
    I’m writing about them because its my personal experience of ‘hitting the wall’
    I never hit the wall so hard due in an FPS before, and with R6V for instance, you get the difficulty settings of ‘Normal’ and ‘Realistic’ (where is easy?)

  20. Tony avatar

    “Gregory Loses His Clock”

    Nasty! Oh wait, “clock”. My mistake.

  21. Uzi avatar

    Yeah, I MIGHT expect a Columbo reference from someone MY age.

    My 100 year-old grandfather liked to watch him.

    Thanks for reminding people that old doesn’t necessarily mean bad.

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