Daily Archives: 13 - Jun - 2009

New playing mechanic for Nintendo games

So I guess that some upcoming Nintendo games will have the ability to go on auto-pilot if you’re facing difficult parts of levels, and have the game essentially play itself.

Needless to say it’s a controversial move. To be honest I’ll admit that 10 years ago I would have been of a much different opinion.

But nowadays, I think this is a great move. I’m not worried about actually having to use it for the game in question (New Super Mario Bros. Wii). But over the years, something has been happening to me. Games which I would previously play again, and again, and again, in order to finally play through I found that I couldn’t muster the will to now.

I’ve had a GameFly subscription for awhile now and I’ve not bought one game based on playing a rental. I’ve come close on a few, such as Geometry Wars for the Wii. But for the most part the game would either be immediately annoying, and get immediately returned, or I’d play it for a couple of hours and realize that it wasn’t really that fun.

This was most disappointing for me on the latest Prince of Persia game. I played through the game, had to sleep on it overnight to figure out what wall I had to run up to reach the first boss, and the reward was that I had to choose my own path to retrieve energy balls or something. It was around this point when I realized that so far, it was still just like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time for me, only less fun. And I already owned Sands of Time.

Even simpler games I’ve had a patience issue with. I’ve already mentioned my displeasure with Mario Kart Wii for instance. I was having fun with a DS game called The World Ends with You until it abruptly became no fun today. I was a passenger on a car ride playing the game, realized I had a hojillion more “pins” that I would have to master and use, and shut the game off. I actually preferred at that point just sitting and watching the signs go by than playing the game. I’m not sure at this point when (or if) I will pick it back up. :-/

So, if this actually allows me to bypass areas of the game which are no fun, so that I can actually get into the meat of a game, then I think this would be a wonderful idea to adopt (in some form) across the industry.

People complain about how it takes skill out of the equation, but that has been happening in large degree for years already. We didn’t use to have easy access to sites like GameFAQs, it used to be toll-call phone numbers, and then later “game guides”. The difficulty in games has in general gone down over the years, and that’s not even counting games with multiple difficulty levels.

I think I’ve seen this handled best in Super Smash Bros. Melee. For the most part the unlockable levels and features and such were achievable by mere mortals (since I managed to do it). Harder achievements stopped unlocking levels and were noted simply as messages or trophies, items which signified that a significant amount of skill was required, but without changing the game. Some levels which could be unlocked merely by playing the game for long enough could be unlocked much faster by demonstrating ability. It was overall a good system I thought.

Some have mentioned about how people won’t get the exhilarating feeling of having surpassed some extremely difficult task. I know this would be a concern for a friend of mine, who prefers games like this. But in my case I completely lost that particular trait in around 1996 or so. It’s not like I’d like to be held up at knifepoint just so I can experience the incredible joy that would come of making it out of that situation alive and unscathed, for instance. The ends just do not justify the means for me.

Others complained that it would make people feel entitled to be able to beat any game they want and thereby increase cheating. But people already feel this entitlement — online games are already flooded with cheaters (one reason why I don’t play online games).

Personally, I don’t see why people would pay $60 (or €60 – ouch!) to play a game which is basically the equivalent of getting punched in the solar plexus over and over. And not only that, but in a lot of games you don’t even get all the rewards without subjecting yourself to tons of punishment (which is what I consider it). Poor controls (any modern console FPS), cheating AI (such as in Mario Strikers Charged), I’ve dealt with it all, and it’s always annoying, and even moreso now because there is simply no excuse.

Anyways, this is growing into a rant. I just want to say that although I don’t think this is going to impact my opinion of the game they’re putting it on, I think the idea could be wonderful if it’s more widely adopted in the industry. It’s already getting to the point where most of my Wii collection belongs to WiiWare and Virtual Console games.