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1980's arcade gaming difficulty question

1,424 568 July 12, 2018 at 01:30 PM in Question

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I played around with MAME a bit back in the late 90's, but only recently found out that there was a version for Android, (Mame4Droid). Over the past couple of weeks I've been having some fun with Frogger, Dig Dug, Ms. Pac-Man and others. I've been using a Thrustmaster GPX Lightback Xbox 360 controller. Unfortunately, control is unplayable for Centipede, and many of the fighting games need 6 or 8 buttons, so I can't play them. (can anyone suggest a joystick that would work well out of the box?)

My son and I have been playing another old favorite on there, Wizard of Wor. For anyone who hasn't played it, it is sort of like Pac-Man in that it has a maze, but you shoot at the bad guys, and there are invisible monsters, so you have to glance at a 'radar' screen to get an idea of where they are.

I remember playing this hundreds and hundreds of times as a kid, so I have a lot of familiarity with the game. When playing the rom, it feels like the difficult ramps up LOADS faster than I rember with the arcade game, to the point where it is so hard that it isn't that much fun. I also tried the version that was released that my kids had on the Wii, and it also seems that way.

I'm wondering - is my memory completely faulty? Have my game skills deteriorated so much that I can no longer play some of the games of my youth well? Hopefully not - I still seem to be able to get about the same high score in Ms. Pac-Man as I recalled.

Or, might there have been some way to set an arcade machine on different difficulty settings? If so, and the ROM is on its default setting, that might explain why this game feels so much harder. Perhaps the arcade operator from my youth thought that the game was too hard, and made it easier for us so we would get more game play from it. (and spend more quarters on it)

If anyone has personal experience about there being different difficulty settings on arcade machines in the very early 80's, I would love to hear about this. Thanks!



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Joined Nov 2011
SHD Agent
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I've found the older games are a lot easier now. Most, anyways.

Donkey Kong. I remember fighting tooth and nail trying to beat it on arcade and old school colecovision. Years later on Wii U virtual console... Beat it without dying.

My grandmother owned a tabletop Ms. Pacman for years and it did not have a difficulty setting that I am aware of.
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Schrödinger's Frog
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Yes, there was more than likely an option to set DIP switches or something to modify difficulty. MAME for PC used to have options for changing settings of that nature.

ETA: Maybe not [arcade-museum.com] for Wizard of Wor, though, other than lives per credit/changing when extra lives are given.
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Last edited by Frogstar July 12, 2018 at 02:19 PM.
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You could be rusty. I don't have patience for Hard games like I used to. I think some of the older games were hard to add longevity. I don't like stuff like Super Meat Boy, Dark Souls, or even the side scrolling Mario. I've never beat a Mario game. I even tried recently when the snes classic released and my roommate got one. It's like they had every level memorized. I couldn't get passed the 2nd level without dying and getting pissed off.
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Quote from slugbug
to the point where it is so hard that it isn't that much fun.
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