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Hand-holding in videogames

Hand-holding in videogames
Donkey Kong Metal Gear Solid 4 Ratchet and Clank And More

I’ve always had an issue with tutorials in videogames. At the risk of sounding old, back in my days, you were literally thrown into the game and expected to get the hang of it almost instantly. Some times, it was pretty straightforward (Tetris, Mega Man, Rad Racer, etc.). Some other times, not so much (Lemmings, The Jungle Book, any other unsuccessful third party game). As gaming was accepted by more and more people, videogame companies deemed it necessary to introduce more accurate tutorials. I mean, I get that. An average gamer will more than likely  try and get the hang of a game at all costs. But someone who might just be picking up a controller just for kicks might get tired of a game pretty soon if they have no idea what to do.

However, in some other cases, tutorials are not needed. They might just make an appearance for the sake of having a tutorial level in case there’s a kid out there that’s too dense to understand what to do. For example, I believe the Ratchet and Clank games are pretty easy to understand regardless of your age.  I loved playing them when I was younger; I always thought of them as the proper introduction to modern platformer games. But the latest games released include tutorials that will teach you important skills such as: Jumping, running, attacking, etc. Seriously?! Do we need a tutorial to learn how to move the character? Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 40 years without any access to technology, I think you can figure it out. And although I believe there is no age limit to play any videogame (Except, you know, if you're under 18 and want to play a M rated game), it makes me feel as if those games are targeted only towards a younger audience. I believe it is more rewarding to discover new special moves on your own. It feels more satisfying and it gives you a sense of expertise over the game. It makes you want to keep playing. Who know what else you’ll find, huh? Mind you, notice how I said people should be allowed to discover secrets on their own, not life-saving moves. I agree, without a tutorial as to how to control Metal Gear REX, I probably would have stopped playing Metal Gear Solid 4. This was a special occasion, something that the game had not touched upon or introduced before and I needed to know immediately in order to move on.  Something that probably all my gaming years of experience wouldn’t have helped me at all. And even so, the tutorial quickly explained it to me and allowed me to figure out the rest. They didn’t pause the game or kept bugging me every five seconds about something I needed to do.

But the real reason behind this article is this: The new NES remix games being released for the Wii U. Hey, great addition, Nintendo. I’m all up for playing those games all over again and introducing kids nowadays to some good ol’ classic fun. But Nintendo didn’t just stop there.; they did some tweaking to these new versions here and there. Because they know kids nowadays are either lazy or have trouble playing simple videogames, they added “hints”. For example, if you’re playing Super Mario Bros, you will notice a blinking arrow pointing out where to go. Because, you know, it’s easy to get lost in that game. It also tells you which button to press in order to dash. Because, again, with all the plethora of moves available, who knows which button combination allows you to run? But alright, if you don’t like that games, try playing something like Donkey Kong, a game full of ladders (Often used to climb up to somewhere) and a giant evil money at the top. But in case that sounds too complicated, have no fear! The game politely indicates you to “Get to the top” in order to win. Phew, and here I was thinking I needed to know rocket science or something in order to play this game. Or try Baseball! In case you know nothing about that weird sport, the game indicates you to hit the ball and get on base. Now you can show off to your friends about your newfound knowledge.

Alright, forgive my extreme sarcasm but you get the idea. Tutorials are good in some cases. When used correctly, it will give you an incredibly advantage over the game and will make you enjoy the game even more. When used incorrectly, as I elaborated before, it just makes you feel dumb and frustrated. In my case, it makes the game less challenging and almost boring. And in turn, it makes me put the controller down and look for a better game. I believe that’s where Nintendo went wrong with the Wii. There was too much of that hand-holding in most of their games released and less of that smart-challenging  gameplay like in the good ol’ days. But that’s just my opinion.

Nintendo, you’ll always have a special place in my heart so here’s my humble advice: Don’t be afraid to let kids stumble around a little. That’s how you raised us so why are kids nowadays getting special treatment? We turned out just fine, right? So just consider that. I’ll call you so we can hang out when the next Smash Bros game is released.

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About the Author
Katia Ayala
Katia Ayala

350 Points, 2 Comments, and 8 Articles.

I like games, man. True story.

2 Comments
  1. Chris Perkins
    Date: December 20, 2013
    Author: Chris Perkins

    10140 Points, 126 Comments, and 176 Articles.

    My question with NES REMIX, is can you turn the “hints” off? If so, then I have no problem with it. It’s when tutorials are not optional that it’s annoying.

    Course in the old days we just had manuals (that most gamers probably didn’t read) so I guess tutorials are a replacement for that!

    [Reply]
  2. Katia Ayala
    Date: December 22, 2013
    Author: Katia Ayala

    350 Points, 2 Comments, and 8 Articles.

    So far, it doesn’t seem like it. The NES Remix versions seemed to be sniplets and small challenges integrated into the original games, in most cases. But because it’s “emulator style” (Played on an arcade-looking screen, some new graphics added, etc.) it seems you can’t. If I am wrong, please someone let me know.
    And yeah, I admit I have a soft spot for manuals. But if you ask me, even manuals didn’t go as far. They would teach you basics and throw you in and only IF you were patient enough to read the manual before jumping right in.

    [Reply]
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