One thing I was reminded of while I was playing was how much harder these games are than the standard fare today -- so difficult that in the days before the Web, $2/minute hint lines seemed like a reasonable idea. And there's even a specific idiom to describe the unique brand of torture visited upon classical gamers.
As game publishers begin to monetize their back catalogs through digital download services like Steam and XBL, they should consider how to repackage these games, with their sometimes-absurd difficulty levels, to appeal to an audience that's used to fewer arbitrary deaths and obtuse puzzle solutions.
Lucasarts, Monkey Island's developer, has addressed this issue by adding in-game hints that are never more than a button-press away. But while softening up these games makes them more accessible to more people, will it take away some of the fun of the old-school adventure game?
I'm interested to hear what some of the veteran gamers who read this column think. Excessively hard puzzles: Are they a bug, or are they a feature?