Hello Mr. Hardcore Gamer, sir. I bet you’ve found yourself often complaining about Nintendo and their lack of hardcore games, yes? I bet you’ve been saying things like, “Oh I like Nintendo but I wish more hardcore games involving guns, boobs and fire featured on their consoles! Then they’d be all kinds of hardcore!”
Well Mr. Hardcoriest of the Nintendo Elite Uber Explosion mister, I have something to tell you. Being hardcore is not about the type of game you’re playing but about the player holding that controller. Hardcore gamers must be able to appreciate multiple genres. In addition, they should try to get the most out of every game. While playing through to the last boss is fun, there is often much more to be discovered. I don’t want to simply beat a game; I want to conquer it. Hardcore gaming is all about how you play, not what you play.
Just because a game doesn’t strike you as something that could ever be considered “hardcore” doesn’t mean that it can’t be played as such. Take Kirby for example. While this franchise isn’t exactly casual, it certainly has a tendency to be very easy and is accessible to people with very little gaming experience. The bright colors and catchy music set a very light tone. Despite its appearance as a series that is only for little kids, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages, although some people are not willing to look past its outward appearance. However, those of us who don’t judge a game by its cover find a very unique experience with Kirby and its gameplay mechanics.
One of my favorite titles in the series is Kirby’s Epic Yarn for Wii. This game is incredibly easy to beat, as it is impossible to die in any level. But while it’s not hard to simply play through to the final boss, there is much more to this game than that, and I certainly played it with the intention of finding everything that the game had to offer. You receive a rank (gold, silver, bronze, or nothing) for each level based on the number of beads that you collect, which are scattered throughout the levels. This can be very challenging on some levels, because even though you can’t die, if you fall off or get hit by an enemy, you drop a good number of your beads. They then disappear very quickly, making it difficult to grab them all again. There are also three pieces of furniture hidden in each level, which Kirby can place in his house, and finding those is quite fun, as well. In addition, in the boss battles you can receive a rank that is beyond gold, which unlocks two extra optional levels in that world. So, although the main game is very easy, there is a challenge there if the player looks for it.
While you may see a multi-colored adventure of minimal difficulty, I see a Herculean task. This is my Everest.
The Animal Crossing series is more difficult to turn into a challenge, because you never win. Sure, you can pay off your house, but the game is never really over. The keys to completing this game (to the extent that it can be completed) are determination and time. Many people will play an Animal Crossing game religiously immediately after they get it. Fishing, catching bugs, searching for fossils and collecting the various furniture and clothing items are very appealing tasks when the game is so fresh. However, there are always those who grow tired of this routine and give up, leaving their town to be taken over by weeds an some may even stop before their debt is settled.
Yet there are those who persevere, working toward the seemingly impossible task of beating a game that has no end. I was quite proud when I finally filled the museum in Animal Crossing: Wild World, probably more so than I should have been. And even after years of playing, I still don’t have a complete museum in City Folk. Crazy Redd rips me off more often than not with his paintings. But I haven’t given up yet, because, as I said before, the keys to truly beating an Animal Crossing game are time and determination.
Hardcore gamers don’t choose what they play based on what others think; they play what they like and make an effort to get the most out of each game. Whether the goal is to unlock every kart part and triple-star every cup in Mario Kart 7, complete every puzzle in Pushmo, or catch ‘em all in Pokémon Black and White, the mindset of a hardcore gamer can be applied to almost any game, regardless of genre. Even if a game is intrinsically easy, like Kirby, or never actually ends, like Animal Crossing, a challenge can be found if the player is willing to look for it.