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Why Nintendo Thinks You’re Trying Too Hard, Part 1

By Tyler Morse

When video games were much, much younger they got made in a different way. Before everything had already been done developers took an idea, made it fun, and rolled with it. Now there is a science, a system, bug testing, focus groups, more testing, definitely more focus groups, and a mess of red tape more tumultuous than getting a Vogon driver’s license. Back then things could go wrong, and they did, but then things like damage boosts, invincibility frames, or warp glitches weren’t considered when making a game. It wasn’t because they didn’t matter, but because the developers forgot one important fact: I want not only to beat you at everything we do, but beat you so bad you don’t want to play anymore.

Nintendo started out in the video game industry by making games that they thought would be fun. Mario Brothers defined the platformer genre. F-­Zero and Mario Kart are two games in the same vein that couldn’t be more different. Star Fox is one of the most popular on-­rails shooters in the western world. They made games in ways that they thought would be fun to play, feel intuitive, and be entertaining. An excellent example of this approach is the company’s first venture into the third dimension, Super Mario 64. The first time I jumped into the painting to Bob-omb Battlefield I felt like I really was Mario, the buttons I pushed made him do exactly what I wanted him to, but at that time I wasn’t analyzing everything going on, I was just playing the game.

There is a phrase used in regard to fiction, “temporary suspension of disbelief.” It means that because you know the book or movie you’re enjoying is fiction you need to allow some of the unbelievable things in order to enjoy the media to its full extent. The same goes for video games, if you are just playing a game for fun you will experience the game the way it is meant to be enjoyed, and as the developers intended for you to see it, but if you pull back the curtain you might just find a little man instead of a wizard. I was playing SM64 as it was intended, and loving it, and frankly I thought I had a solid grasp on how the game played, however anyone who has ever watched Siglemic speedrun SM64 knows the limits you can push Mario to in that game. Sometimes while making games with the intention of being fun they accidentally made games with so much depth that they are still played extensively to this day, so much so that new things are discovered every day.

Nintendo has never liked this sort of mentality. They want to make games that the whole family can play and have fun together and the Wii was a prime example of this. Less precision, more interactivity, and more accessibility. The controller, the mouse, and the keyboard have forever been huge barriers of entry for games, the Wii allowed people who had never before held a controller to do things in video games that felt intuitive to them. While running then hitting Z and quickly after A felt like a perfectly logical way to make me long jump in SM64 people who didn’t play games didn’t seem to agree. The Wii was a preemptive strike by Nintendo against the competitive gaming community in a war that we didn’t know we were fighting.

Tyler Morse is a Contributing Editor for

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