And therein lies the game
March 29, 2010 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I grow weary of hard games and/or games that require massive investment of time and energy for any payoff. Please recommend easy, casual video games for me.

I've been a gamer since the NES days and I've noticed a disturbing trend in my gaming behaviors: my reflexes and patience are both diminishing. I was never especially hardcore, and as I've aged, I think I've softened even further. For example, I recently purchased a Resident Evil game and already regret it: after two or three days I've reached a point I know I'll never get past. I also tried playing Mario 3 last night and not only sucking from being years out of practice, but lacking the will to work at it. These days I seem to prefer console gaming as a lark, rather than a committed pursuit.

I have the following consoles: SNES, PS1, PS2, Gamecube, GBA, and XBox (not 360). I also have emulators but I don't like using them if I don't have to.

I like:

Super Metroid - but I can beat it in one sitting and have done so way too often.
Metroid Prime - but I can't ever get past the Omega Pirate.
Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - but I've beaten it a few too many times.
Yoshi's Island - but I'm not always in the mood for its distinctive tone.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - but only because of the vast space to explore, and only when I cheat.
Star Wars Battlefront II - but it gets old quick.
Lego Star Wars/Indy - but they get old quick.
Mario Kart Double Dash - but I'm too good at it, and it also gets old quick.
F-Zero for the Gamecube - but the aesthetic is so annoying that I can't spend too long on it.
The Suikoden series - but I can't usually maintain the stick-to-it-iveness.
Final Fantasy ONE - and the others are all way too story-thick for my tastes.
Rock Band/Guitar Hero - but I don't own it and I'm not about to shell out that kind of cash.

...and, though it's not directly relevant to my console-specific request, my absolute favorite game of all time is Civilization II. I can play that basically anytime. I don't need PC suggestions, though... we have no shortage of good stuff for the PC. I'm just trying to get more mileage out of my existing consoles.

Additionally, Mrs. Augustus loves games where she can obsessively level-up everybody and everything, such as Final Fantasy Tactics. I sometimes enjoy that too.

I do not like:

Resident Evil - too hard.
Elder Scrolls - ggggyyyaAAHHHHhhhhh
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - annoying characters.
Mario Party
Fighting games, like Soul Calibur or Super Smash Bros.
War games that attempt hyperrealism
Most games that attempt to be funny (exceptions: Monkey Island and Sam & Max)
Sports games

Other parameters:

  • Two-player capability a plus.
  • Nothing too cutesy. Mario games are basically the limit.
  • Nothing too anime. Suikoden is the rare exception, and it still grates on me.
  • Please make suggestions based on your own experience. I don't trust professional video game reviewers—their definition of "moderate difficulty" equals my definition of "sweet Jebus make it stop, where are the cheat codes?!"
  • posted by AugieAugustus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
    On the Gamecube I really enjoyed Beyond Good and Evil. Great fun, plenty of variety, never so challenging that you can't complete a bit in a couple of attempts. To give you some idea, I can't even get past the first part of the first level in the new Super Mario game.

    The Burnout series of racing games on the Xbox/Gamecube are also fantastic. Insanely fast but somehow you'll find you can control the cars just fine.
    posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:00 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

    And the best two-player puzzle game I've ever played is a fairly rare title called Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo on the PS1. Depends on how much you like falling-block puzzles, but it's the best one ever made.
    posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:03 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

    Additionally, Mrs. Augustus loves games where she can obsessively level-up everybody and everything, such as Final Fantasy Tactics. I sometimes enjoy that too.

    Any of the games released by Nippon Ichi for the PS2 fit the bill here: La Pucelle Tactics, Disgaea 1 and 2, Phantom Brave, and Makai Kingdom. All of these games have so much levelling that their mechanics play like parodies of other turn-based strategy games. (Disgaea 1 is the best out of those games in my opinion; Phantom Brave is a close second.)

    Also recommended: the Arc the Lad Collection for PS1, and Growlanser Generations for PS2. And maybe take a look at the Shadow Hearts series for PS2--Shadow Hearts, Shadow Hearts Covenant, and Shadow Hearts: From the New World.

    Caveat--I no longer keep up with the rarity of previous-gen games, so I'm not sure how easy any of this stuff is to find. Disgaea 1 was quite rare at one point, but I think there was a reprint. And the company that published Arc the Lad and Growlanser Generations (Working Designs) is out of business.
    posted by Prospero at 8:31 AM on March 29, 2010

    If you liked Link To the Past then you'll like Secret of Mana (also SNES). It's not huge or terribly time-consuming to beat by today's standards, but it's incredibly atmospheric and, for me, strikes a good balance between just fighting/exploring, and levelling up.
    posted by caek at 8:42 AM on March 29, 2010

    I came in to say Beyond Good and Evil as well.
    posted by Frasermoo at 8:47 AM on March 29, 2010

    I love the Zelda games and also like all the GTA games but find the missions difficult.

    Games I love:

    Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. I can't endorse the sequels, 2 and 3.
    Ratchet & Clank (One, Two, Three). All are awesome.
    Kingdom Hearts (I & II) - sort of cutesy, but not too bad IMO.

    You might like God of War I and II. They have an "easy" setting. It's sort of violent, but also really puzzly and cool.

    All PS2.
    posted by peep at 9:17 AM on March 29, 2010

    You mention Super Metroid (which is my favorite game of all time), but I see you have a gameboy advance and you don't mention either of the two great metroid games for it: Zero Mission and Fusion. They're both like super metroid in style and quality, only smaller in scope.

    Also, have you considered Ratchet & Clank? I think it's pretty easy, and I think (but not positive) that by the sequel there's also difficulty levels you can set yourself.

    I also agree that God of War, on easy setting, should be very easy.
    posted by kingjoeshmoe at 9:27 AM on March 29, 2010

    Plants Versus Zombies. One of the most enjoyable gameplay experiences across many platforms (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox, PS3, PS2, Wii, Gamecube, N64, SNES, etc) and genres I've enjoyed over the years.
    posted by PonderousPursuit at 10:00 AM on March 29, 2010

    My recommendations...

    For PS2: Shadow of the Colossus. Lots of atmosphere, stuff to explore, intuitive controls, and the difficult parts are really just a series of 12 boss battles with good stopping points between them. You can sit down for a bit, kill a colossus, save the game and call it a day. Some of the battles might be a bit frustrating as they could take several attempts.

    TimeSplitters. It's a whimsical time-traveling FPS. I enjoyed the heck out of this one. It didn't require too much time and wasn't especially challenging (I suck at FPS's). Not sure if you'd be averse to this one because it is a funny game. In my Monkey-Island-loving opinion the humor is good though, and even if it weren't the time-travel element would make up for it.

    XBox: Shenmue 2. It's an exciting, atmospheric game. Not too difficult or long. You don't need familiarity with the first game (a Dreamcast exclusive) but this sequel comes with a video you can watch to bring yourself up to speed with the story. I highly recommend this one.

    Seconding the Burnout games. Those are way more fun than any driving games have a right to be. Extremely addictive while still un-hardcore.

    SNES: The Donkey Kong Country games. You ever get into those? That's one of my favorite series from that era. Lots of barrel-smashing side-scrolling platformer fun. The levels are short and not too hard with lots of secrets to discover and some atmospheric world concepts. Yes, I'm a sucker for atmosphere. ;-)
    posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:10 AM on March 29, 2010

    I recently played Heavy Rain for PS3. Finished one variation of the game in one sitting (it was a long sitting). A sort of dramatic-thriller-'choose your own adventure' game. It's actually fun to finish the game once, then watch other people play it and see how their decisions affect the overall ending of the game.

    I can't say that this specific game is a good enough reason to pick up a PS3, but they are starting to get in the $250 range if you jump on a good slickdeal's deal.

    On the Xbox 360 front, I loved playing Castle Crashers with my friends (downloadable content). Reminiscent of those old four player arcade games like Simpsons or TMNT with a leveling component and minimal learning curve. Things to unlock, achievements, all sorts of fun stuff.

    Suffice to say not too many console games I enjoy, play on my PC most often.
    posted by liquoredonlife at 10:59 AM on March 29, 2010

    Response by poster: caek: I have tried Secret of Mana. I found the movement and attacks to be clunky. Mrs. Augustus likes it, though.

    kingjoeschmoe: I do have Metroid Fusion and I'm working on it. I find it harder than Super Metroid, mainly when the other Samus shows up! I may well pick up Zero Mission if I can find it cheap... I enjoyed the original Metroid.

    Winsome Parker: I do own and enjoy Donkey Kong Country and was able to beat it once, long ago. I agree about the feel of the game, but it's very frustrating at times. Some of those jumps are just murder.
    posted by AugieAugustus at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2010

    +1 Shadow of the Collosus

    Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is a good 2 player Action/RPG (lots of button mashing fun).
    posted by MesoFilter at 12:05 PM on March 29, 2010

    I asked a sort of similar question. The answers might be helpful to you. I love Civ II as well. Our tastes differ but a lot of the answers I got were across a much broader spectrum than I specified.

    As for game suggestions, I know that they cost a pretty penny, but I honestly must recommend getting a PS3 for you. I've found that the downloadable PS3 games, like Burnout Paradise, flOwer, and a smattering of others manage to hit that sweet spot of beautiful, engaging, but not too difficult. And the ones that you have to buy in disc form, more often, it seems, than things for the xbox, just have that higher level of polish and ease of gameplay and consistent logic that takes a game from being obtuse and anger-inducing to pleasant and fantastic.

    For Xbox360, you should check out Puzzle Quest and Gyromancer. They're kind of level-uppy-light, but they're ideal for playing on a whim after not touching it for months, and are definitely beautiful in a more abstract kind of way.
    posted by Mizu at 1:16 PM on March 29, 2010

    Actually I'm sorry, I misread your question; you don't have an xbox360. Well, I suggest getting a PS3 anyway!

    Relevant suggestions:
    Zelda: Four Swords Adventures: This is my favorite Zelda game and the only one I can beat without assistance. It's pretty cute, but more on the side of little Link with a flamethrower and not princess sparkletimes. You can play it with other people, or on your own.

    Okami: Although this borders on difficult in a lot of places, it's pretty much considered the most beautiful game ever made. It's also, in a lot of ways, the best Zelda game ever made, despite not being a Zelda game or having similar controls. Nobody with access to a PS2 should be without a copy.

    Ico: Atmospheric, compelling storytelling, a definite lack of cuteness factor but replaced with a sense of melancholy struggle, and one of the best block-pushing escape games ever. There's occasional button mashing but it's mostly pulling levers and climbing ledges. I find it helpful to play with an audience.

    Beyond Good and Evil: Other people have recc'd this and for good reason. I found it difficult but only for very specific things that I acknowledge are my lack of gameplay historical knowledge, like, why the heck would I need to look at the ceiling at this point in the game and not at all other points? Or, why would I need to talk to this guy and not that guy to progress the plot? It's a cult favorite, basically.

    If you don't want to spring for a PS3, I suggest a Nintendo DS because the majority of the games for it practically defined the modern "pickup and play" genre. There's Puzzle Quest, Meteos, lots of Gamecube and SNES Ports with refined gameplay, Cooking Mama, Phoenix Wright, and so-on.
    posted by Mizu at 1:53 PM on March 29, 2010

    One of the greatest days in my gaming career was the day I decided that I bought games to have fun, not get frustrated at failing over and over again. That was the day I first set the difficulty to 'easy' and I have not looked back.

    My geneal math for games is that a 50 dollar game should last 10 hours minimum (this is based on old AOL hourly cost math) so if I can get my ten off playing easy, then I'll play easy.

    This opened a world of games for me. Halo, the BioShocks, Batman: Arkham Asylum, all instantly became 20 times more fun.
    posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:54 PM on March 29, 2010

    Metal Slug!
    posted by themel at 2:10 PM on March 29, 2010

    If you can find a N64 somewhere cheap, GoldenEye is obviously one of the most well received games of all time. Excellent single player and multiplayer mode is legendary. Getting a N64 would also let you play Super Mario 64, which is the best Mario game in my opinion.

    If you don't want the new console, you could get Timesplitters for the gamecube, which is built on the same engine and style as GoldenEye
    posted by trialex at 2:48 PM on March 29, 2010

    Okami really is a fabulous, fabulous game. On the wii, at least, I think I only died maybe twice in the whole game (near the start, when I was figuring out the controls), it's easy enough, but oh so beautiful and fun, and funny. Great game. Best thing I've personally played on the wii (it's on ps2 as well).
    posted by smoke at 3:08 PM on March 29, 2010

    You might enjoy both Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Mario Kart: GBA.
    posted by bettafish at 3:34 PM on March 29, 2010

    Katamari Damacy -- each level has either a size limit or a time limit. You save at the end of the level. The controls couldn't be easier. Once you find the cousins, you can play cooperative two-player on that or its sequel, We ♥ Katamari. Both are very fun, and the first has the bonus of some really great Japanese pop/lounge music, too. (Both PS2)
    posted by parilous at 5:38 PM on March 29, 2010

    Another vote for Shadow of the Colossus here. And I am psychologically incapable of not recommending all things Katamari, although they may be too cutesy for your needs.
    posted by elizardbits at 5:38 PM on March 29, 2010

    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (the "first" one in the recent trilogy) is challenging without being too difficult (there is a good deal of timing, but virtually the entire game is controlled with the left stick and the A button), relatively short, and one of the better games of that generation. You can get it on the XBox or PS2.

    Eternal Darkness is a must-play for the GameCube: very atmospheric, great story, pretty easy to plow through except for the occasional and rare item hunt. One of the best GC games out there.

    You might try Bully for the PS2, which is from the guys who did GTA but is centered around a delinquent kid at a prep school. It has the open-world sensibility without the hyper-violence or difficulty curve. Also The Warriors, for PS2 or XBox, a fun open-world brawler by the same team.

    Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Dark Alliance 2 are Gauntlet-style action rpgs which have some shallow levelling and power choices and can be played cooperatively 2-player. Champions of Norrath is another game in the same vein. X-Men Legends and X-Men Legends 2 are similar but allow for up to 4 players, with the AI taking over for characters not controlled by players. I've gotten a lot of cooperative joy out of all those games, and on the medium or easy difficulty they should be untroubling.

    I'm going to presume that if you like Monkey Island, you like the humor of Tim Schafer, in which case you should probably try Psychonauts. Third-person action-adventure, genuinely funny, criminally overlooked, deep without being difficult (although finding all of the optional collectibles can be frustrating).
    posted by Errant at 5:41 PM on March 29, 2010

    NO NO NO DO NOT GET Shadow of the Colossus. I cannot say this more strongly. A great game it may be, but I gave up in frustration at the first boss (and as others have mentioned, the game is nothing but bosses) because it was too hard. You people just don't realize your own skill. Definitely not what the poster is looking for.

    AugiAugustus: I understand what you're saying about Fusion. For what it's worth, I played on an emulator, which gives you the ability to save at any point. That makes dealing with the other Samus much easier, because you can cut the sequences into manageable chunks.
    posted by kingjoeshmoe at 5:44 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

    Eh? I'm savagely uncoordinated, but the first Colossus takes almost no time to kill. Two stabs in the leg and he drops, jump on to his head, stab stab stab stab done. This guy does it in 2:48 including finding the bloody Colossus in the first place. The killing takes place from 2:12 to 2:58.
    posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:28 AM on March 30, 2010

    -1 on Shadow of the Colossus. It's not casual in any sense of the word--defeating the colossi takes a lot of patience. The first colossus takes little time, sure...but as you progress things get much more difficult.

    Ico is more casual and less time-consuming, and save points are about 30 minutes apart. I won't recommend it whole-heartedly (for your purposes, anyway), but you should give it a shot. It's an excellent game.

    Zelda: Minish Cap was enjoyable and not too difficult. Hell, Windwaker was also enjoyable (although some hate the sailing).

    PS3 is great for casual gaming. Seriously, I've taken the same turn you have and the PS3 has worked out great. Fat Princess, the PixelJunk series (all with 2-player capability), and Flower immediately come to mind.
    posted by achompas at 8:06 AM on March 30, 2010

    PS2 has a Sega Genesis Collection, which has tons of easy fun. And if you've always been a Nintendo lover from way back, there will be things you've not enjoyed yet. I'm a big fan of the Galden Axe series, all three are there. 28 old cart games from a bygone era of simpler times when gameplay was king and graphics a distant 2nd
    posted by Redhush at 4:16 PM on March 30, 2010

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