Author Topic: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?  (Read 943 times)

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Offline Strato Incendus

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What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« on: June 03, 2018, 09:07:57 am »
Occasionally, I see pack creators describing the difficulty of their ranks in comparison to the original ranks. For example, the first rank is "between Tame and Fun", the second may be "late Fun to early Tricky", and so on. Since a lot of packs have more than the original four ranks, but fewer levels per rank, for the last one you usually find a description like "Sunsoft" or "way beyond Sunsoft" in that case.

Having now played through almost the entire Sunsoft rank (which I probably should have done a lot earlier, I admit ^^), I'm a little bit confused by what that's supposed to mean ??? . I used to think "well, duh, it just means 'as difficult as it possibly gets'", but many forum packs are already much more challenging on lower ranks than a lot of stuff I got to see in that rank.

Of course, when referring to the original Sunsoft rank, one has to factor in the execution difficulties that are rendered irrelevant in NeoLemmix. But I was still expecting more of the puzzly-type of levels that many forum members have come to appreciate - level creators must be getting their inspirations from somewhere, I guess, so I thought the "secret" Sunsoft levels were where everyone had learned their tricks from.

Instead, a lot of what I got to see were either X of everything levels, providing the player with way too many skills to make the level challenging - or levels that were more akin to what I knew from the "Troll" rank in nin10adict's CasuaLemmings. :D

"Everybody turn left", "Private room available", "I am A.T."... seriously? It's obvious right from the getgo what the player has to do, and it's not only a difficult execution, but also extremely repetitive.

(No offense to nin10adict here, I know that for the Troll rank, this was done on purpose ;) ! )

There were a couple of exceptions, like "Anxiety", which I haven't managed to solve yet, or the 28th level, right before "I am A.T.", this gate-trap thing (forgot the exact name).

But overall, I don't really consider the Sunsoft rank something to aspire to anymore when trying to create difficult levels of my own.

Perhaps it's just because I don't like 10-of-everything levels, but I'll explore that in a separate thread... ;)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 01:20:45 pm by Strato Incendus »
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Online IchoTolot

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Re: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2018, 01:26:14 pm »
I think you are right.

I thought for quite a long time now that using the old difficulty ranks to describe the difficulty ranks in custom packs is not really fitting.

1.) The difficulty in the oiriginal packs is way too inconsistant!

So what does Mayhem difficulty mean?   

"Steel Works", "Rendevous at the Mountain", the "Fast Food Kitchen".....    These are quite easy levels compared to "No added colors or Lemmings or "Save me" And even some lower ranked levels I would call harder.

What does Tricky difficulty mean?

"This should be a doodle", "A ladder would be handy" or "Postcard from Lemmingland".

I think you see the point here, but I guess most people only reference to the hardest levels in the rank when comparing and simply not count in the rather easy ones.

2.) The difficulty in custom packs is topping "Mayhem"/"Sunsoft" difficulty even in the earlier ranks!

I am an offender here as well when describing Reunion's ranks with original messurements. I descibed rank 2 with "Tricky-Taxing" and I can easily see quite a few levels not fitting that.

I would say most custom packs are "beyond Sunsoft/Mayhem" from rank 2 or 3 on, even with throwing out the easy original levels like "Everybody turn left" in these ranks.

Let's take "No added colors or Lemmings" as an example: It has the "free the blocker with a miner" trick and the trick to get the miner back up again by mining with the last lem. This is called by nearly everyone as at least one of the hardest if not the hardest level.

Now be honest: I think nearly everyone here goes beyond those 2 tricks pretty fast in their own packs. ;)

In conclusion: I think comparing custom pack rank difficulties to original rank difficulties is outdated and doesn't give a good comparison to other players. It rather just confuses them.

Custom pack difficulty exceeds the difficulty of the original games pretty fast and the difficulty of the original stuff is very inconsistant to begin with.

I won't use them to describe United's ranks. I still did this with Reunion, but back then I did it as all the cool kids were doing it. :P Instead I will simply use my own words to describe what the player will await in the respected rank: X of everything, trick introduction, easy puzzles, hard puzzles, ...... you get the idea.

Offline Crane

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Re: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2018, 07:59:06 am »
Well, SUNSOFT was originally a Japanese company who did some of the console ports for Lemmings, so it was just them plastering their name on it.  It is meant to be harder than Mayhem, but both Present and SUNSOFT have "schizophrenic difficulty".  It's obvious what you have to do with "I am A.T." and "Private Room Available", but it's difficult to execute and, with the former, it takes time to experiment in order to find the best release rate.  Then you have levels like "Anxiety" and "Evil Whisper" which are indeed pretty difficult.

I think most people, or at least I did, listed "SUNSOFT" as approximately harder than Mayhem, or if going by a 1-to-5-star system, then Mayhem would be 4-star and SUNSOFT would be 5-star.  Granted, after spending some time here, even those become ridiculously tame in comparison to some of the puzzles that the forum members can come up with.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2018, 08:25:15 am »
Sunsoft was a ranking that was added to both the SNES and Genesis ports of Lemmings (both of them were done by, you guess it, a company named Sunsoft).  In SNES it was actually just 5 extra levels after Mayhem.  In Genesis you have 2 extra ranks of 30 levels each after Mayhem, and Sunsoft was the final rank of 30.

Either way, ignoring the popular opinion that difficulty can often be inconsistent within and across ranks in general, Sunsoft is the final ranking for two of the official ports which also featured more than the usual 4 ranks.  So I guess the Sunsoft ranking may, for some people, simply be an easy shorthand for "the most difficult rank, beyond even the usual Mayhem", even though in reality the actual average difficulty may not really be the case.

There are some challenging levels in Sunsoft, but overall I feel ONML's Havoc ranking probably has harder levels on average.  Either way, perhaps fewer people have even played the ONML levels so "beyond Havoc" may not be as popular an expression.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2018, 08:35:10 am »
Maybe a better way to think about is to consider the maximum difficulty level of a rank, rather than the average as weighted down by easier levels.  That's probably how some people think about rankings and difficulties anyway, being reminded of the levels that most stumped them.  I mean, the final repeat of "We All Fall Down" with 80 lemmings is technically a Mayhem level, but probably not the level that first came to mind for most people when talking about Mayhem.

Interpreting that way, you can think of the comparison to Sunsoft as "be warned, this could get as hairy as that level in Sunsoft that totally stumped you!"

Now, maybe for some people they would still argue that they had more trouble with a level in Mayhem compared to such a level in Sunsoft.  Maybe not typical but certainly conceivable.

Offline Nessy

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Re: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2018, 06:56:59 pm »
Time to insert my two cents here :devil:

First of all what we need to understand is that these official levels were designed during a time when the concept of such a game as Lemmings was brand new. No one has really seen anything quite like it and so this was brand new territory that DMA was going through when designing levels for this game. The FIRST levels ever created. Therefore, when I come across people talking about levels like "We All Fall Down" I think what we need to understand is that this was considered to be a challenging level for an audience that has never played this game before. The concept of digging to avoid a splat was just literally unheard of and mind-blowing for the very first time. Because of that I don't agree with the "it's so obvious what you have to do" argument because this implies a perspective of experience instead of a perspective of someone seeing it for the very first time. Sure, maybe this doesn't apply to everyone, but the opposite doesn't apply to everyone either.

Throw in A LOT of years later and people who have played the game and have created fan-made levels can now see things that a person seeing the game for the first time or creating levels for the first time doesn't see. Have you ever figured out everything something has to offer in a first go? Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and figured out every little detail it had your first time? Probably not. That is why fan-made content is generally tougher because we are able to push the limits of it.

Therefore when I see someone say that their rank is "Tricky" or "Sunsoft", I think they are describing how that rank would play in comparison to how a new player experienced the "Tricky" or "Sunsoft" rank for the first time.


« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 07:04:32 pm by Nessy »

Offline nin10doadict

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Re: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2018, 02:26:52 am »
I agree with Nessy's viewpoint about how these comparisons make more sense if viewed from a lack of experience, i.e. "This custom level is as hard for an experienced player as a Sunsoft level is to a newbie." That's kind of a confusing comparison to make though, so I find myself trying to compare custom packs to other custom packs. "Wow, this level is really hard. That's like, Sharp-level tough."

Offline ccexplore

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Re: What does "Sunsoft difficulty" mean anyway?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2018, 06:47:42 am »
I find myself trying to compare custom packs to other custom packs.

A sensible approach, of course the obvious problem is that it wouldn't mean anything for those who haven't yet played the custom pack you are comparing to.