Over at Gamasutra today, they have a game-design article by John Harris on “20 Difficult Games”.

Not surprising, the majority of titles are early arcade games. Two RPGs show up: Rogue and Bard’s Tale II (a game I heartily disliked). What is oddly missing from his list is any adventure game.

That is a surprise. Many of the early adventures were tough going for a lot of players, as I know from the mail I received.

I can’t quarrel with his list, because of them all, I played only BT II, and agree it deserves a place in the roster. The descriptions of the others do indeed make them sound difficult (and, for that matter, unappealing). Yet I think he could have found room for one or two adventures.

That was a time of few resources for the stumped gamer. Hint books were rare, and only a relative handful of players were online, where access to message boards or walkthrus could provide help.

And if there was room for only one, I’d have to nominate Suspended, one of the hardest adventures I ever played, from Infocom or anyone else. It was a steep learning curve just to figure out the robots – who each had different sensory apparatus – never mind the actual puzzles. Along with that, the longer it took you to figure things out, the more people died on the surface world above.

How John came to miss this, or a couple other titles that come to mind, is amazing. Then again, as his bunch focuses mainly on the arcades, perhaps he never got around to playing many adventures.

Of course, “hard” is an elastic term. What some find difficult, others breeze right by with no trouble at all. Sooner or later, however, almost everyone gets stuck somewhere, though it may not be in the same place.

On the other hand, when a game is, so to speak, “tough all over”, then we can really call it “difficult”, which is the quality all the titles in John’s article share.

Check out the article and see what you think. Would any of those games be interesting to today’s gamers? I have my doubts.

20 Difficult Games on Gamasutra