Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Super Guides and You

This article can also be found at The Yorker.

Nintendo's re-release of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the 3DS is almost upon us. In order to make it worth the buck of those who might have played it before, they've added in a remixed hard mode; but they've also added in something for the newcomers - the Super Guide system.
The Super Guide is a feature that was copyrighted by Nintendo a few years ago - a system where, if a player is struggling or repeatedly failing in a game, it will dispense hint videos showing you how to get past that tricky bit you're struggling with. In some cases, it'll even let you skip the offending stage for you to go back to later. The Super Guide has proven itself to be useful and non-intrusive in Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns; but some fans are fretting over its inclusion in Ocarina of Time, and I'm not sure I get why.

The main argument is that since Ocarina of Time is an old title (1998!), the long standing fans were able to beat it as kids, and so new players shouldn't be hand-held through Hyrule. That sentiment is more than a little bitter if you ask me, and reminds me strongly of That One Elderly Relative; the one who just doesn't get why everyone's standard of living is so easy compared to back in the day. They had fewer conveniences and they liked it that way, goshdarnit.

As a feature, the Super Guide does nothing detrimental. Those who fancy themselves skilled at games can breeze through with nary a hint of help; and those who aren't so confident - or new to this genre of game - can get help when they need it; no visits to GameFAQs.com, or purchase of a strategy guide necessary. It's funny that those who are complaining most about the idea of the game directly assisting them are those who are the least likely to see the Guide functions.

What might be an issue in Ocarina of Time's case is the delivery of the Super Guide advice. Protagonist Link is mute and works alone, so most of the advice and warnings dispensed to the player are done through his fairy companion, Navi. Navi is well-known among fans for being a little... overzealous when dispensing advice, and since she's also responsible for telling you about the Super Guide if you get stuck, there is a slight worry that even skilled players may be reminded a little too often. I can see the potential problem here, but it's very much a worst-case scenario, and no direct fault of the Super Gide system itself.

But what does the Super Guide mean for future releases? Honestly, not a whole lot, aside from making games a lot more accessible to new players. And that's definitely a good thing! Although games like New Super Mario Bros. get incredibly tricky in the later stages, anyone can see the game through to the end. I know for sure there have been times where I've stopped playing a game due to getting stuck and frustrated, and having that point mitigated is a wonderful thing. It allows games to be fun for everyone, not just the skilled.

What's more, even though non-Nintendo games can't use the Super Guide exactly, other developers have been taking note. L.A. Noire has both 'Intuition Points' and the ability to skip driving or shooting segments. It means that no matter what your skill sets are, progressing through the story is still a smooth experience - the execution of which I'm still very much impressed with. I'm not ashamed to admit I skipped shoot-out sections that I found hard, and nor should anyone else that wants to play games for fun and enjoyment, rather than bragging rights and latent masochism.

No comments:

Post a Comment