This is going to look at the top 5 reasons video games from the NES/SNES/N64 eras are more difficult than games now in the Xbox One/PS4/Wii U era.
5. Experience- Now this might be a given, but back when video games were first introduced, balancing was not something that creators were too familiar with. Take for example,
World of Warcraft. If you ask any player from Vanilla (the original WoW with no expnsions), what classes were the best for any role, they would almost all say the same class depending on the role you asked them to pick for. Now looking forward to today with Warlords of Draenor, all classes and specs are viable for all roles (cloth users cant tank, but you get the point). This holds true among all games though, as Mario titles now are easier, the same with Zelda titles, and most other RPGs.
4. They never held your hand, and rather dropped you in the ocean and said “Swim!”.
Chrono Trigger, every Zelda title including the N64 ones, and various other RPGs back in the day gave you vague hints at what to do without ever really telling you what you need to do. On top of that there are games that have a clearer way of beating the game, but as far as full clears go you literally just need to try everything possible and hope something works. Most games nowadays are pretty clear on what to do, if not being very open world and at that point the main story isn’t even that important, and the side quests are more rewarding. Remember the water temple in Ocarina of Time? Dear God, the horror!
3. Trying a full clear was almost impossible.
Now this admittedly still happens, just not as often. As with number 4, if clearing the game was vague, full clearing was worse. For example, in Chrono Trigger, to get over half of the items in the game you need to have a certain character in your party and use an ability she has on each target in each boss fight. On top of that you need to get items from areas you visit in time in reverse chronological order. That’s not to mention Star Fox 64 not giving you any idea how to unlock different pathways, or even the hunters quest in Vanilla WoW to get the strongest bow for the time.
2. Uncommon trash mobs were basically mini bosses.
Iron knuckles from the Zelda titles, Mousa from Mario Bothers II, you get the idea. Again, this plays on the balancing issue, but still proves it’s own point. Iron knuckles sucks, man!
Combine reasons 4 and 5 and you have big issues with bosses. In everything from Contra, to Chrono Trigger, Ocarina of Time, bosses were always difficult. Even after I figured it out, playing death tennis with the phantom Gannondorf was a fun way to break a controller, so was the fight against lavas core, which would sometimes one shot me even at level 99 with the best gear.
I do want to say that this list is entirely arbitrary, especially since i do love older games more than newer ones, but I’ve always found “most difficult video game lists” to contain almost entirely NES/SNES games save for Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden. So i mean i might be onto something!