Why old games were so hard to beat?

Some of you might remember just not getting through the first levels of Ninja Gaiden or struggling to land that fighter jet on an aircraft carrier in Top Gun? There are a few reasons for this, and ultimately it all boils down to monetization.

  • First of all, many early console games were made by the same people who made games for arcades, where every last life brought another quarter to the game developers. While console games were monetized in a completely different way, the mentality behind the game design remained the same for quite a time.
  • Second, games were often rented the same way movies did, so the developers didn’t want you to complete them in an evening or two.
  • Third, the developers were limited in terms of content they could fit on a game cartridge and making you repeatedly retry the same levels seemed like the best solution to increase the playtime.

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