This morning, I got an e-mail from a Kotaku reader named Jaime.
"I am married to a wonderful woman," Jaime wrote, "but she doesn't enjoy playing videogames. She has from time to time, sat down to watch me play games like Okami, Ico or Shadow of the Colossus. She's a big fan of Studio Ghibli so it was natural for her to have an interest in Ni no Kuni."
Ni no Kuni, a role-playing game that came out last week for PlayStation 3, was in part developed by the animation house Studio Ghibli.
"With that in mind... I think it would be a great idea if they were to release a patch to introduce a 'Very Easy' mode to allow new players (and younger players!) to enjoy the game," Jaime wrote. "It could be anything from dumbing down the AI to lowering the damage received... I certainly wouldn't mind paying extra for such a mode, if it means my wife will finally take the step into actually enjoying games."
I'm with Jaime. Why shouldn't video games like Ni no Kuni come with a Very Easy mode so that anyone can appreciate them?
This is hardly a new concept: Mass Effect 3, for example, lets you play in Story Mode, which makes combat significantly easier. L.A. Noire allows you to bypass action scenes entirely: fail a few times during a car chase or shoot-out, and the game will offer to let you skip ahead. The New Super Mario Bros. series gives you over-powered power-ups if you die too many times (and seeing that golden power-up box is always an embarrassing moment).
But this sort of thing should be more common, don't you think? I'd love to see more games offer a Very Easy Mode for people who don't have the instincts or skills required to take down tough bosses in an RPG—or in any genre, really. Some people might want to experience the world and story of a game like Ni no Kuni without any of the challenge. It'd be nice to see more game designers allow for that approach. Why not allow people to skip over tough combat sections? Why not give people super-powered boosts and other optional ways to get past big bosses if they so choose?
This would all have to be optional, of course. I'm enjoying Ni no Kuni's challenges quite a bit. But I also think games like this should be as appealing as possible to as many people as possible. A difficulty-reducing option wouldn't be particularly hard to implement, nor would it detract from anyone else's experience. Just don't call it Girlfriend Mode.