Have you ever played the first Super Mario Brothers game for the Nintendo Entertainment System? Did you beat it? Actually forget that question, instead, did you get past level 1-1? If so, you are more skilled than today’s gamers!
During a recent investors meeting with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata he was asked by an investor why games were so easy these days.
Mr. Iwata explained why by recounting the results of a recent study they did:
“It may come as a shock to some of you that most gamers today can not finish the original Super Mario Brothers game on the [NES]. We have conducted this test over the past few years to see how difficult we should make our games and have found that the number of people unable to finish the first level is steadily increasing.
This year, around 90 percent of the test participants were unable to complete the first level of Super Mario Brothers. We did not assist them in any way except by providing the exact same instruction manual we used back then. Many of them did not read it and the few that did stopped after the first page which did not cover any of the game mechanics.”
He goes onto say 70% couldn’t even make it fast the first enemy! Although, to be fair, I think everyone died on the first goomba the first time they played Mario almost 30 years ago, and the only time I read video game instructions was to keep myself busy while waiting for my turn or in the car ride home from the video store to amp myself up for the game we were about to spend our weekend on.
A lot of gamers in the study wanted the game to be easier, include a mandatory tutorial, or even have Mario start with a gun or sword to kill those koopas.
Honestly, I don’t really think Mario games have gotten much easier. The first few levels tend to be cake walks but if you’ve played that damn level with the flipping tiles as Luigi in Super Mario Galaxy you know what hell is like.
Some of the people participating in the study may have missed the point anyway, as Mr. Iwata weighs in with a few more remarks:
“Some of the people seemed to be unaware that this was an actual old game that existed as they asked if the retro-style graphics were supposed to be a throwback to old Nintendo games. Some missed the point of the questionnaire completely and said that the graphics and music were terrible and needed to be improved in order for the game to sell. They also wanted a deeper storyline and voice acting.”