About the Difficulty

Some people enjoy the original version of La-Mulana so much because of the level of challenges it offered.
These people must have been disappointed each time a remake of a favorite classic game is released. Because a remake of an old game often has decreased level of challenge.
NIGORO, of course, considers such concerns.

We decreased the difficulty level.

I mean, what can we do. We have to consider WiiWare’s players.
I’ve grown up.

If you said “god damn, NIGORO!” Right now, hold on.

While some people hold La-Mulana in high regard because they’re used to this kind of game, the others may consider it as “too difficult” or some even say it’s “crappy game”.
It is understandable. I didn’t expect the game to be so popular. This was made for those players who are accustomed with MSX. It was just what I wanted to make.
It’s natural that people need to use keyboard a lot. Arrow Up is for jumping and pressing keyboard opens the door.

By decreasing the level of difficulty, this game can be more friendly for beginners.
Now, button 2 is for jumping and they don’t have to use a keyboard. Doors open more easily.

There are still some difficult operations and new operations people will need to know.
It won’t be a stone monument, but there will be some sort of explanation for those operations.
People don’t have to pause the game to see the explanation. They can choose whether they read it or not.

Also, there will be a character that will assist players with setting, how attack and directions.
It is kind like the elder in the old version. But he wasn’t really useful in that version.
We have developed this character so that it would be more helpful.

You may be thinking “Hey, the level of difficulty is down then”.
We mostly kept the difficulty of action moves.

Except in a few area in the game.
For example, climbing a tower will be easier. In fact the player will be able to stick on the tower easier. Rescue actions will be taken as well.

We are trying to make changes in areas where it’s more trouble than fun.
The most important thing is to make it interesting. Then we can consider the challenging part.
We would appreciate for all the honest feedback on what parts make you feel that don’t make sense or are too difficult.

You may be thinking “Oh, well new players are always more important than us”.
We will have something ready for players who mastered the original version.

If you are thinking like, “Baphomet? It’s so easy” then you may die in the game.

If you are thinking, “This block puzzle is fake”, then you will die in the game.

You will also die if you just guess that, “This quiz is just to erase this or that”.

You can’t rely on the memory from playing the old version thinking “there were ROM and 100G in here”.

What I’m trying to say is,
We will fix the lack of guidance. We haven’t worked on it since it was for MSX.
We will make adjustment on actions for US players.
We will make it in a way that Japanese players would enjoy it as well.


  1. Garanthor says

    I do agree to some of the points made here, it was annoying to figure out what a certain item did since there were little to no description about them in the instructions and some roms like the keyfairy and warp to backside areas as mentioned. Also the “never be able to solve after one try”-puzzles annoyed me. You could save and come back to try again so what was the point really?

    About the bigger puzzles… the confusion gate 7 weight placement is totally reasonable. if you go by the tablets, you can narrow the chances to about 3 (if I remember right) and if you choose the wrong one, all you get is a lightning to the face and you can easily try again after moving away making the weights disappear. I found the hidden pedestal + invisible ladder things more unfair.

    2012? A really tough cookie. I solved it, but it made me quit the game for a good while since I was stuck and couldn’t figure it out for a good long while. if I look back at how I finally cracked it, I believe I would’ve figured it out faster if I had paid more attention to details.

    Mantras I don’t see a problem with those at all, what was so hard with them? Some of the placements for the tablets were easy to solve and others you could just “brute force”-search after you figured out the area order after first few. and the places where you had to chant them…well, I just tried every single room until I found the right one.

    places where to bring the keyfairies weren’t really a must know to complete the game and once you brought them to a room where they were needed, they started to fly away from you to the point which they had to touch by themselves so to figure out where to bring them was just going to room, waiting for a bit to see if it goes somewhere, moving to other room etc. Annoying I admit, especially with the timer to resummoning was so damn long.

    the woman statue riddle was more than enough tipped (after you actually found the statue) in several tablets, I have to admit that this was rather interesting riddle.

    dance of life. This one pissed me off seriously. I found the tablet with the pictures of the dance, and where to do it, but nothing happened when I did it. what I did not know was the attacking part. how should I know that from the pictures? Also the god damn time stopping to kill the drillamajigs. I killed one in that room during time stop, but how would I know to kill 2? and the time isn’t that long to accidentally kill 2 unless you’re lucky. plus I tried killing several of them out of time stop and it didn’t work, so I figured that it doesn’t mean these things or I’m doing at the wrong place.

    one last whine is about some of the rooms that are essential to completing the game like woman statue and tower of ruin jewel(which was kinda tipped in a picture, but it was unclear) hidden in a random wall you have to happen to find otherwise you’re stuck. Also, some things opening after beating a boss or after gaining a “quest item” such as the crystal skull with no indication where or what opened pissed me off. I had to search all the areas at least 10 times through during the run of the game to find IF I missed something.

    I’m eagerly waiting for the wii version, even if it’s delayed, since it will let me play the game again, with a new experience.

    BATS. My god.

  2. rorrim says

    I don’t really like the idea of lowering the difficulty, but I understand it. Like some people have probably mentioned, I think there should be an original difficulty mode with all the original puzzles and none of the new stuff to make the game easier.

    Maybe it’s just me but I thought all of the puzzles were fine except maybe the “Controlling The Heavens” one, that was just complete guess work. The rest of the puzzles, though, I thought were all perfectly do-able provided you can memorize tablets(since a lot you find aren’t useful until much later) and be able to figure out what they mean. But what ever happens, as long as you don’t lose the sense of exploration and wander you get just from moving around the maps, and the sense of accomplishment when you complete something ridiculously hard, I think lowering the difficulty a bit is fine.

    And as for the Hell Temple, I’m not one of the crazy people that say it was too easy, but I like the idea of making it harder. Frustrating as it may be, in reality it really is easy-ish. You go through most of the rooms probably upwards of 20 times, so naturally those rooms get a lot easier. And I’m hoping for an even more “amazing” treasure at the end, long as this one doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out afterward.

  3. Tye The Czar says

    How about for the main game, you just add a harder difficulty level for those used to the original version. In fact, you could just add another difficulty level that goes above and beyond the original difficulty. Maybe you could call that Lunatic?

  4. Sutibu says

    I like the idea of the decreased difficulty, but I also think difficulty settings would be a nice addition. With that aspect, you can please the new gamers that play easy games, and the veterans that love the hard ‘old-school’ games of past generations.

    Speaking of which, I’ve heard rumors that Hell’s Sanctuary in the WiiWare version is going to be MUCH harder than the original version. I really hope that’s not true.

  5. why don’t you just have different difficulty levels like easy normal and hard, so how are you working with nicals who have made cave story.

  6. The special thing about La Mulana is that the puzzles have a “context” in the ruins. Understanding this context leads to the solutions, rather than just “flip that switch” or “push the block onto the pressure plate”.

    So long as “reducing the difficulty” doesn’t mean making the game about following a set of rigid instructions given to the player, then I think the game will be ok.

  7. Since its going to be extremely evident that La-Mulana is inspired by old-school games, I think having to refer to some sort of manual should be kept in tact.

  8. Aegeus says

    The changes you described sound good. It seems like you’re trying to keep the difficulty the same but reduce player frustration. For example, you are making it easier to pick up and play by explaining how to open doors (which I don’t think was explained *ever* in the original) or how to use certain items, so that the player doesn’t have to read the manual just to play the game. Also, said you would reduce infuriating and repetetive puzzles like the Tower of the Goddess, where a missed jump or dodge sends the player back to the bottom. Similar infuriating issues would be the breakable walls (which I only figure out in hindsight) or the numbering system (which comes out of nowhere for two puzzles and then is never used again).

    One big idea about the difficulty could be having more hints on where you can use certain items or where you can’t go until you have some. For example, once you get the Bronze Mirror you have up to 9 new places to go to, but no clue which one you need to visit first. Metroid: Zero Mission does this really well by occasionally having statues that give you a general idea of where your next upgrade is coming from, but letting you figure out how to get there (or even letting you sequence break past it!).

  9. Nicholas says

    Clearing up confusion is definitely something that needed fixing at the beginning of the game, however to tell the player where to go and what to do later in the game might ruin the whole Indiana Jones exploration feel. None the less, does sound like you know what you’re doing.

  10. Artemus Harper says

    The instant death puzzle that is guarding the woman figurine item needs to have a bigger warning on it that you cannot escape this puzzle with the grail. Since for most of the game, the player learns to explore the various areas and teleport out when their health reaches a low level.

  11. FirePhoenix says

    A lot of difficulty things have been mentioned by people already but one in particular I would like to point out is the fight against the bird sub-boss in the Confusion Gate. I’ve always disliked fighting him not because he’s hard, but because his movement patterns are very random and you have very tiny platforms to stand on while fighting him, and if you get him and fall, it’s a 5 minute walk back to be able to try fighting him again. I think a bit more leniency in this fight would be nice because I know I’ve gotten frustrated at it plenty.

    Other than that, I’ll agree with others’ suggestions about the mantras, 2012, Confusion Gate logic puzzle, where you must take key fairies to, and how many coins it costs to buy things initially.

    As an aside, I’m confused about one aspect. Since the original was a PC game, we had a keyboard for typing things like spells and warping with the Grail. How is this being addressed in the transition to a console? Hopefully you’ll have an update explaining this at some point in the future.

  12. Ah, thanks for clearing this up, Naramura. I was a little worried by what you meant.

    So, its not like Japan’s game will be harder and US’s game easier, they’re both the same difficulty, but just not as hard as the original.

    I shouldn’t get so worked up.

  13. Abster says

    I think what Nigoro is saying here is that the difficulty will be adjusted to appeal to both US and Japanese audiences. I don’t think they’ll disappoint us.

  14. naramura says

    I received the coverage of foreign countries in TGS2009.
    I answered them, “My work is a thing to kill the player”.

    We think that the difficulty of an original version is appropriate.
    I do not intend to change them.
    If it is interesting even if this game is difficult for the United States, the user in Japan is sure also to enjoy it.
    I think that happiness that masters one’s difficulties is unrelated to the difference of the country.

    We keep making this game now.
    The operation feeling of two step jump is new, and a new action limitation arises along with it, too.
    The one that we seem to be the highest at that time is only made.
    Therefore, this game will always change in the future.
    Please believe and wait for NIGORO.

  15. indeed what majutsukai said… although what you’re going to do about the ‘120,000 here’ puzzle…. I guess it depends on what minigames you’ll include huh?

    Didn’t you make a shooter called ‘bounce shot?!’ you could use that!

  16. Majutsukai says

    One more thing: while more reasonable difficulty is a good thing, Hell Temple should not pull any punches. It just wouldn’t be Hell Temple.

  17. 64th Bit says

    You guys seem to really know exactly how much to listen to your fans. I do think some things need descriptions. I’m thinking you should do along the lines of what The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time did, where the items were described as you get them. The puzzle I think most needs changing is the Confusion Gate pedastal logic puzzle.

  18. MacDaddyNook says

    I’m actually pretty pleased with this news. From what I come to understand, you’ve decreased the difficulty without decreasing the challenge by reworking areas of the game that were just too hard to be fun.

    I’m also really curious as to the character that will help the player that you mentioned.

  19. I already knew that Japanese games, when released to America, were made easiser (For example, Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn’t even released in America for this reason), but I had no idea it was so apparent!

    Why do I say this? Well, to quote:
    “We will make adjustment on actions for US players.
    We will make it in a way that Japanese players would enjoy it as well.”

    So, this means America gets an easier version, right? I hope I speak for more people than myself when I say I feel insulted by this. (Unless, of course, I misunderstood that message.)

    Please, please, PLEASE do not make the US version any easier for such a reason! It would be an insult to do so. I mean, look at the guy who translated La-Mulana to English. He did it with the extreme difficulty in-tact.

    Also, in regards to an earlier post here, I agree with the Elder giving you the Hand-scanner, and lowering the prices a tad. Even if that is in direct conflict to what I just said.

  20. Mad Surge says

    Okay, at first seeing the word “decreased” I had a bad feeling and a bad taste in my mouth. After which I read on and found out the “decreased difficulty” is just better controls and more help about combat and items. Much needed, seeing how the only help came from Xelpud and even then he would spout it after you already solved the puzzle (like the mine cart in the Temple of the Sun). I see how this is to encourage new players and to not frustrate them enough to quit the game, and I can only think “well done”.
    Also, THAT’S what I was hoping from you guys: scrambling up the previous items and traps locations to confuse expert players, as many of us want a “new” game, not just an upgraded version. And changing the boss attacks is always good news to me.
    In short: you guys are GREAT. Removing contents from a game really sucks; substituting contents with new and updated contents is the best way to go.

  21. Blechy says

    Oh nevermind what I said about elder Xelpud being more useful. I see now you’re already doing that, on my first readthrough I read it more as a Navi-type companion.

  22. Blechy says

    I agree that the difficulty of the game due to not knowing how to proceed should definitely improve. The fun in the Metroid series is seeing something in an early area that you know you can’t surpass without an item you’ll be getting later (such as a green door for super missles). There’s lots of these in La Mulana, but frequently logic & common sense can only go so far. Here are some specific points of the game I can remember which were ridiculous for me without a walkthrough:
    The 2012 year puzzle madamluna mentions.
    The Chamber of Birth dance. To this day I don’t know how you’re supposed to know that.
    The Confusion Gate tablet order puzzle. It’s a good idea, but I think there’s more than one possible answer, just using the tablets available.
    The woman statue puzzle – both impregnating in sun and sleeping in moon.
    Slowing time in that room in the Tower of Ruin to kill the snake dudes.
    The dark part of the Chamber of Extinction. So few players will have this area lit at all, the entire game.

    Other misc notes:

    Overall, I think Xelpud could be more useful in helping to determine where to go. Since the game is so very open ended, I suppose what he suggests would only be one option.

    It’s a little silly to hit every wall to find the breakable ones. Mostly there are obvious spots where there’s a floor leading directly to “nothing”, but there are quite a few which would only be found by hitting every wall.

    Knowing where to bring key fairies is a little insane.

    The mantra puzzles could be simplified a LITTLE further, but honestly I think they’re just about where they should be in terms of complexity.

    The block puzzles can be a little hard, but they’re certainly not unbeatable for a casual player.

    I’ve always hated, in any game, points where you can miss an item and never go back for it. I forget what exactly there is in La Mulana, but I know it includes the Chain Whip and Mace. I think I’ve read you can even screw up getting the Death rune so you can never finish the game, that one should definitely be fixed.

    The grapple claw was pretty finicky when you had to hit 2 buttons simultaneously to launch yourself off a wall. But it sounds like since you’reaiming to make climbing the tower less difficult, this is being resolved.

    Important MSX rom combos, ESPECIALLY the reverse-side combo, should be pretty obvious. Key fairy combo too.

    Grinding coins & weights in the beginning is EXTREMELY offputting to a new player. It’s easy once you know the best grinding order (knowledge which, incidentally, makes me want to sob into my pillow), but on that first playthrough you expect to be able to at least save & inspect things very quickly. Maybe something as simple as Xelpud gives the Hand Scanner for free, and the Glyph Reader is only 50 coins.
    Grinding coins later on sucks too. I’d say lower the price of several expensive late game items such as the Lamp of Time, Heatproof/Waterproof cases, Dragon Bone, and Bracelet.
    I saw in the video that some monsters dropped 3 coins at a time rather than 1, so this may already be resolved.

    The difficulty in terms of losing health is definitely fine as is. After 2-3 life jewels really the only risk of dying, even for a casual player, comes from the bosses throughout the game. I think that’s exactly how it should be, and I definitely think that players should have to give bosses like Viy, Baphomet, Tiamat, Palenque, and especially Mother several tries before noticing their patterns and winning.

    The difficulty in terms of game physics & falling is definitely fine as is too, and I think is pivotal to the game. I absolutely adore the variety in weapon physics and how everyone has their own favorite (except awful keyblade). Character movement is very fluid as well, and the limitations of the feather’s double jump are wonderfully implemented. I sincerely hope the game’s physics do not get changed much.

  23. BackInAction says

    I look forward to the changes made for new players. I believe La-Mulana will be a big hit with gamers accustomed to the difficulty found in most ‘Metroidvania’ games.

    I appreciate a challenge, but I’m an older player with less free time on my hands these days.

    (By the way, I am buying a Wii just for La-Mulana! :))

  24. chicobo329 says

    I apologize for the double comment, I made a spelling error:

    “I hope I’m just reading this wrong, but I hope that you do not adjust the difficulty differently for each reason.”

    ‘reason’ is supposed to be ‘region’. I apologize! X^D

  25. chicobo329 says

    I have absolutely no problem with everything in this post except for the very last two sentences:

    “We will make adjustment on actions for US players.

    We will make it in a way that Japanese players would enjoy it as well.”

    I hope I’m just reading this wrong, but I hope that you do not adjust the difficulty differently for each reason. Many times in the past have games from Japan have had different difficulty levels when released elsewhere. In the past games weren’t even released outside Japan at all because they were considered too difficult (Fire Emblem and Super Mario Bros. 2 for instance).

    But perhaps you just meant that you’re considering difficulty changes based on feedback from people in the US and Japan? Could you clarify that statement?

  26. Majutsukai says

    Of all the things about the original version, I didn’t think that the jump being on the up button was one of the things that made the game difficult. It seemed intuitive to me, and it seems strange to me that it’s being changed. It would make more sense, to me, for the jump to be on up, the main weapon to be on 2, and sub weapon on 1. I can’t think of any other place for the sub weapon button that wouldn’t be awkward to use, especially if the 2 button is being used for jumping.

    Other than that, however, I support the changing of difficulty in the places where it needs changing. “Difficult” and “unintuitive” are not the same thing, and by the same token, “more intuitive” does not mean “too easy”. The original version was unintuitive in some respects, and fixing that should not be looked down upon. Those who say that the game needs no changing at all may be looking at it through rose-colored glasses, because there are a lot of things about the game that were not just difficult, but outright hostile to players.

    One thing that I think will require adjustment is the operation of the Grapple Claw. Doing so will be required in order to accommodate the WiiMote controller, first of all; and besides that, it was very easy to accidentally miss the finicky timing that wall jumps required in the original version. It took me hours of experimenting the first time to even realize that wall jumps were POSSIBLE. Perfecting them took longer still.

    The scanner (or whatever will replace the scanner) could have its own button; perhaps A.

  27. We will have something ready for players who mastered the original version.

    You mean the new Hell Temple? :3 Hopefully the difficulty *there* won’t suffer… iirc you sounded like you were making it harder?! (As if such a thing is possible??!!)

    Thanks again for the update, the wait is killing me!!! 😛

  28. so what you are saying is the controls arre easier but it will stay dificult in combat and puzzles. Even though i hate them i hope the bats will still be annoying

  29. madamluna says

    God bless you, NIGORO. I had kind of a “huh?!” reaction when you guys said you were decreasing the difficulty level, but here’s the thing: all of what was said in this post are very judicious changes. Sticking to the wall easier? I think we all wanted that in Tower of the Goddess. Button 2 for jumping? A lot of us changed it just so that we wanted that, too.

    And about the puzzles, I don’t know anyone who’s managed to solve things like 2012 or the position of the Mantra rooms without actually having to go and look them up, so in those sorts of situations then I would actually be begging for you guys to change the difficulty anyway. This all sounds pretty well thought-out to me, and I’m very impressed with you guys: even though you’re decreasing the difficulty, removing the MSX references and updating the graphics, you’ve encountered a remarkably tiny amount of negative feedback for it.

    You guys knew what you were doing when you made La-Mulana, and you know what you’re doing this time around. I’m not worried.

    One question, though: will this new character have anything to do with that unusual girl (sage?) we saw on the promotional poster? I’m still wondering who she is.