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.
We watched the replay videos of how the gamers performed and saw that many did not understand simple concepts like bottomless pits. Around 70 percent died to the first Goomba. Another 50 percent died twice. Many thought the coins were enemies and tried to avoid them. Also, most of them did not use the run button. There were many other depressing things we noted but I can not remember them at the moment.
A key part of that appeal was the infamous Licence to Kill. GoldenEye was a first-person shooter of course, but the decision to recognise body-specific hits introduced a new subtlety to the genre. Shoot a guard in the leg and he reacts differently to if you blasted him in the chest.
I was never terrifically good at first person shooters. Goldeneye was no different, I routinely had my ass handed to me by my little brother. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun playing the game. I loved the proximity mines, one of my few ways to achieve victory; pepper a map and hide in a corner. And there was that ridiculous laser watch.
Chris Covell posted images and translations of Stars of Famicom Games, a children’s book showing how Nintendo games were made, from start to finish. The book focused on the making of Super Mario Bros. 3, and includes shots of Miyamoto, developers and artists. He also posted scans from a book about Dragon Quest VI.
Tetris celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary this week. I remember long family roadtrips and playing Tetris against my brothers using two original gameboys that were tethered together. During my student days, there were also many evenings devoted to heads-up Tetris 2 with friends on a crusty old SNES.