We're Not Idiots, Nintendo

by Dan Ryckert on Sep 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

I’ve long considered Nintendo to be one of the most consistently great developers in the industry. Outside of the rare awful idea like Wii Music, the developer has a history of putting out quality software. That said, they’re also frequent repeaters of something that’s become increasingly bothersome to me in recent years. Nintendo seems to think that most of its fans are complete idiots.

I’m not referring to the super guides that allow players the option to skate through hard levels in recent games. Those don’t interfere with my enjoyment of Nintendo titles, as I can simply ignore them if I want to play games like Donkey Kong Country Returns or Super Mario 3D Land in the classic fashion. I’m mostly referring to the publisher’s insistence on overexplaining basic concepts and forcing players to slog through text that can’t be sped up.

While reviewing Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, I spent literally hours waiting for the game to just take off the training wheels and let me free. I’ve played every game in the series, but that didn’t stop Starlow from feeling the need to explain the most bare-bones concepts to me at every turn. All I wanted was for the game to let me run off and explore, but I still found myself wading through a mountain of text every time I entered a new area.

This carries over to many of the company’s games. I spent over 100 hours in the world of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but I bet a good 15 of them were dedicated to reading the basic greetings and goodbyes from Reese, Timmy, Tommy, and Blathers. What harm would it cause to let me simply tap A to fly through text that I’ve read hundreds of times? I also loved Zelda: Skyward Sword, but I hated the game pausing to explain every single bug and rupee to me, every time I played.

It seems to me that Nintendo believes that most of its fans are absolute morons, and it’s a running theme across many of their games and materials. Hell, just look at these images from the Japanese 3DS manual:

So let's see...don't spill full glasses of water directly onto your 3DS. Don't sit on the gaming console that you spent hundreds of dollars for. Don't play it until you're dizzy enough to get the eyes of a dead cartoon guy. Don't stare directly into the IR sensor for whatever damn reason. Don't wrap chains around your AC adapter before you plug it into the wall (what?!). And of course, don't run around knocking your mother's expensive flower vases off the counter with your console. Gotcha, Nintendo. Thanks for the heads up.

Nintendo has made some major efforts to make games more approachable via super guides and accessible gameplay, but it becomes frustrating when they don't extend any options to the other side of that equation. A simple "I've played [SERIES] before" option at the beginning of a Zelda or Mario & Luigi game could cut down on so much unnecessary stalling. Fans of Nintendo franchises are eager to jump back into their favorite worlds when new titles are released. If Nintendo is going to continue holding the hands of newcomers, then they should at least make some minor efforts to cater to their longtime fans that understand the basics of their games.