The 7 Easiest Old-School Games of All Time

By Jason Iannone in Daily Lists, Video Games
Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6:00 am

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Today's games are easier than heating up a can of Beefaroni. By and large, they're painfully simple, obsessed with hand-holding and spoon-feeding us everything so we don't feel bad after we die 800 times in a row. Whatever happened to the good 'ol days, when unforgiving enemies, hostile obstacles, no continues, and constantly having to start from the beginning were the norm?

Funny thing - a lot of them weren't anything close to that. Residing deep at the bottom of the Nostalgia Ocean is the realization that a lot of old-school games were actually quite easy. Like, stupidly so. And some of these incredibly easy games were some of the most popular in history! Games haven't gotten easier, because they never stopped being so.



7. Final Fantasy VI

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Never mind that the game itself took 60-80 hours to complete. Compared to the first five games of the series, Final Fantasy VI was an absolute cakewalk. Why? Because you could literally do anything with any character, and do it quickly to boot.

In past Final Fantasies, characters had jobs and classes that differentiated them from one another. Only one character could cast black magic, one could heal, another could use heavy weaponry, another was a bard whom everyone hated with every drop of blood in their bodies - point being, each character was a unique and special snowflake.

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Though the Bard was more like a heavy pile of muddy slush that soaked your socks and ruined your day.

But in VI, there were no snowflakes, just identical Big fucking Macs. Every single member of your party could use the same, insanely powerful magic at the same time, and gaining the experience necessary to learn this magic took very little time at all. Imagine if Doom had a dozen Marines, all equipped with unlimited-ammo BFGs halfway through. Same thing.

The most powerful spell was Ultima, which caused maximum damage damn near every time. If only one character had that power, it'd have been one thing. Then you'd have a challenge to keep that one caster alive and casting. Or maybe if everyone could've used it, but it cost every single magic point they had. Then you'd have a limit on its usage unless you stocked up on recovery items which, in a difficult game, would be rare finds from start to end.

Neither happened. Instead, everyone could use this spell over and over again, because magic points were numerous and recovery potions were more prevalent than air. This meant that you could simply Ultimagasm until whoever tried to kill you went away. This included the final boss, who you could finish off with a half-dozen Ultimas, no issue.

As awesome as its story was, Final Fantasy VI's gameplay offered less suspense than an episode of My Little Pony.

6. Wizards and Warriors

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Ghosts and Goblins, as any old-school gamer with 30 years of massive therapy bills will attest, was the hardest game on the planet. But Wizards and Warriors, its cousin in the Video Games Named After Stereotypical Fantasy Tropes Family, is the black sheep at every reunion. It was easier than the $100 questions on Toddler Celebrity Jeopardy.

On the surface, W&W seemed like your typical Nintendo Hard game (not to mention what Batman sees when he's hanging upside down and gets a craving for candy.) The controls weren't great, enemies flew in from everywhere, three seconds of repetitive music were endlessly looped until you got careless and died due to rage-induced blindness, and you only had three lives to boot. It sure sounds like it caused plenty of premature baldness, so why are we talking about it?

Simple: because you never actually died. EVER. Like that stupid Tubthumping song that you now have in your head, every time you got knocked down, you got right back up again, stronger than ever. Sure you had three lives, but each time you died (even if it means a Game Over,) you started right back where you left off, with all of your items and points intact. It's like you never died at all! If you're wondering who to blame for today's Ratchet and Clank-style games, where you die and re-spawn in the exact same spot like nothing happened, here you go.

To be fair, though, when a boss killed you, it would immediately return to 100% health, so that's a teensy bit of challenge at least. Sure, it's like munching on one carrot stick to make up for that entire triple-layer cake you just inhaled, but at least it's something.

5. Karate Kid

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Video games based on movies are almost never good, but at least most of them try to make a complete, challenging game before failing miserably. Karate Kid didn't even bother with THAT. Instead, it upchucked four stages of the easiest, most mind-numbing, most utterly pointless "gaming" imaginable. Or rather three, since Stage 1 was the All-Valley Tournament, where you did nothing but kick your opponents until you win. It took 30 seconds.

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Sadly, anyone who lost this stage didn't get banned from gaming forever.

As much of a putrid waste of time as Stage 1 was, it was actually a fine tutorial for the rest of the game. After all, every single enemy that showed up, regardless of which level you were at, could be floored with one kick. They briskly walked towards you, you kicked them, and they dissipated into nothingness. Kicking your cat is more challenging, mainly because the cat will claw at your skull and playfully bat at your exposed brain if you dare try.

Such pointless bullshit might have worked if the bosses were at least capable of sending you to that great waxed car in the sky. Naturally, this didn't happen. There were only two bosses, and each one upped the challenge ante by requiring three, possibly four kicks before croaking. Other than that, they were no more intelligent or cunning than a Power Rangers Putty battling a severe concussion.

Oh, and on the off chance that an enemy actually hit you, no need to fret - there were more than enough power-ups to go around. You simply kicked until you saw a "C," grabbed it, and swished all that delicious, delicious health in your mouth.

And if you didn't want to do THAT, the game offered an even easier victory strategy: run away. Never were there more than two enemies on screen at a time, so if you avoided their frail old man attacks and just walked past them, they'd follow you and NEVER CATCH UP. They didn't speed up, nor did they call for re-reinforcements; they simply power-walked behind you until they fell into some water. That's not spoon-feeding; that's nutrition from an IV drip.

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To be fair, if we found water in the desert, we'd be all over that shit too.

You kept this up until you won the game, a feat that probably took ten minutes tops, and that's including the pointless bonus rounds. Literally the only challenging part of this thing was figuring out that you jumped by pressing up, something the manual told you anyway. Get it? Because you jump UP, therefore you PRESS up as well. That's a pretty funny joke, especially if the punchline is "and they immediately fired the douchebag responsible."

4. Guerrilla War

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Here's a game that, before Nintendo and company got their mitts on it, was a normal old-school game that was just hard enough to make you question what loving God could so cruelly create such an instrument of torture, but not so hard you didn't want to play anymore. After all, it was an arcade game, and its existence depended on kids dropping quarter after quarter until they finally got past that one aggravating soldier who kept gunning them down.

If that wasn't enough, you got to play as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, out to liberate Cuba from the clutches of Fulgencio Batista. Now granted, this ended up being the Rat King and Baxter Stockman teaming up to overthrow Shredder, but it was still novel and cool.

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No adventure is complete without Freshman Dorm Room Poster Guy at your side.

Once Nintendo ported the game though, both features changed. Guevara, Castro, and Batista became anonymous, likely due to both politics and Nintendo thinking we were all idiots who didn't know anyone if they weren't 'murcan. But more importantly, the challenge level dropped significantly, to the point where anybody could play it. Even Guevara himself, who sadly never really found the time for gaming.

The game played much like the arcade game, in that enemies were everywhere and you died a lot. However, since NES systems didn't accept quarters no matter how much your evil baby sister insisted they did, it couldn't exactly charge you to continue. It got around that by ... offering unlimited continues. And each time you died, you picked up right where you left off. It was Wizards and Warriors all over again!

Oh, and your ammunition was unlimited too, meaning you just held the shoot button and pressed forward until you win. If you Game Over'd, you just kept going. Literally the only thing you lost were points, so if those numbers were actually a big deal to you, then sure, whatever. This game was harder then ten Contras combined, blah blah yak yak.

For the rest of us, you weren't controlling a revolutionary soldier, but a mindless, invincible zombie that never died and never will, no matter what others may do to it. Which, come to think of it, would explain how the fuck Castro's still kicking.


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