Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 17, 2013

Why 2d Mario doesn’t sell me Nintendo hardware anymore

There is a saying that if a bunch of monkeys got trapped in a room typing randomly, eventually they would crank out the works of Shakespeare. Thanks to Internet Gaming Forums, we know this can be true.

Consider this message post which nails much of my disgust at Nintendo’s current 2d Mario:

I bought a Wii-U for SMBWU and I strolled through worlds 1-7 with ease. I’m 3/4 through the first post-bowser world and I still have yet to be challenged. Switching the challenge from “making it through the level” to a challenge of “collect 3 green stars” kinda takes away the main challenge. I don’t want the collectables to be the challenge…I want the overall game to be the challenge.

If I ignore the green stars, the game becomes ridiculously easy. Like insultingly easy. That’s not something I’m used to when I grew up with an arcade game that required a flying turtle to be in just-the-right position in world 6-2 to facilitate a successful jump and if that turtle wasn’t in the right spot, you died. Those were the days.

Nintendo has lost the challenge, so all their franchise rehashes lack the weight of their earlier releases.

I DESPISE the collectibles. It’s like Nintendo designed an ‘anyone can win’ game but then added ‘collectibles’ for the more experienced players. But ‘collectibles’ revolves more about time than skill, so additional post-game stages are put in. These post-game stages always feel like some third rate mission pack and not like I’m on an adventure.

The solution to the challenge was already provided in the original Super Mario Brothers: provide warp zones. Miyamoto said he put them in there so experienced players can skip to the more challenging parts. What actually happened is that the more experienced players played the entire Super Mario Brothers game. It was the less experienced Super Mario Brothers player who skipped to World 4 and then to World 8 to try to slip to the end of the game to say they ‘beat it’.

Another solution that indie games are offering is to have the stages randomize and self-design based on what skill level you want. An example is Rogue Legacy and the curse runes. You can make the castle easier or harder (harder means better rewards). Every gamer gets to select their ‘sweet spot’.

One thing that really turned me off of 2d Mario started in Super Mario World. There is a certain excitement knowing you cannot go back. It is the feeling that you’ve not only landed on the enemy beach, you have torched the boat behind you. In the original Super Mario Brothers, you could scroll only one way which is not what I’m referring to. I am referring to Super Mario World’s allowing players to move backwards in ‘worlds’ and replay stages that have already been beat. What happens is that players return to World 1 and farm up 1-ups or power-ups. The game loses all sense of cohesion. Once you beat a stage in Super Mario Brothers 3, you could not replay it. You also couldn’t go BACKWARDS to prior worlds. You could only go forward. This is what makes Super Mario Brothers 3 so special is that you have to replay the game in order to replay the stage. It is why Worlds 5, 6 and 7 are special because they are harder to access, and the rare power-ups such as the Tanooki Suit or Hammer Brothers Suit are so special. If Nintendo allowed modern 2d Mario mechanics, every player would farm Tanooki Suits or Hammer Brother suits in Super Mario Brothers 3 and those stages and power-ups would lose value. Then, the entire game would lose value.

Perhaps Nintendo was correct with thinking the Game Genie was a threat to games’ values. It is one thing to allow cheating in video games. This is why the Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, START was so well known. But everyone knew it was ‘cheating’. Today, Nintendo is allowing cheating but trying to remove the stigma of cheating.

It’s bad enough that colleges refuse to flunk students. Why must our video games be as corrupted?

‘Everyone is a winner!’ is an oxymoron. In order for there to be winners, there must be losers. Life is about winning and losing. So are video games.


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