I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was 10 years old, playing my old SNES cart of Final Fantasy III, going through Baron Falls when out pops Ultros, and my party becomes Seafood Soup. Kicking and screaming I throw the controller on the ground as the all too familiar screen flashes before my eyes.
There was no "blacking out," but taking half of your money, or "continue" or helpful hints to get by; when you lost, you lost! End of story, shows over, pack up your make-up, dancing shoes and go home. Gone are the days of "..and they were never to be seen again..." only to be replaced by, "We're sorry you can't figure out the pattern to our boss yet, would you like another go?" Recently, RPGs are using the aforementioned methods to make save points relatively obsolete. They're meaningless except for saving you're data before shutting off the game.
Recently Bart published an editorial about the dummying of RPGs and I feel these save points are a great example that modern day companies do not have any faith in their audience. The other day, I was playing through Kingdom Hearts on expert mode, and found after 3 whole hours of gameplay that I hadn't saved once. Being on the harder difficulty, I died against bosses such as Ursula and Captain Hook countless times, but never really felt the need to save. I would just die, watch the screen with Sora's Heart floating above him flash before me, select continue and jump back into the ugly fray.
Where has the challenge gone? Where did the ideals of trial and error go wrong?
There were times when I would play Final Fantasy Tactics for an hour to an hour and a half in battle, only to die at the very end, and start right back where I had last saved. There were times where I lost 3 or 4 hours of my life by simply forgetting to save that one time. Did this become such a challenge? Have gamers become that lazy? Or is the developer to blame? Is the target audience for the RPG beginning to drop? Are developers targetting younger gamers now, hoping to grab a bigger slice of the pie? In order for them to do that, do they have to make games easier so that the gamers don't become frustrated like me?
I admit, at times it is comforting not to have lost so much time and effort in your game, but the point of the "game over" is the fact that you must start again. If we are going to skip this challenge, why not just make eliminate "game overs" altogether?