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Accessible Gameplay

11/03/2010 Family Family Gamer Article
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Accessible Gameplay

Previous articles from our editor Paul Govan are here.

Sometimes it takes our kids to remind us what we enjoy. Watching my son play New Super Mario Brothers inspired me to pick it up again and have a go. I'd played it when it first came out but had got distracted by the next new game on my PS3, Uncharted 2 I think.

His burgeoning platforming skills grappling with the jumps, runs and enemies reminded me of the enjoyment I used to have playing the original Mario Brothers in our local arcade. I recalled those moments where I realised you could push the limits of the environment - in particular breaking through the ceiling on level 1-2 and running along by the score. This was a game that seemed to offer endless possibilities to my childhood imagination.

It was also great to share the experience with him. On the DS we could each take turns on particular levels, egging each other on with encouraging advice. And on the Wii we could play together at the same time. We never quite managed to rope in my other half to play too, although my daughter did stump up for a few levels.

It's a simple addition, and one that I know has been debunked by many hard-core gamers, but for me and my son it's great.

The Wii game is certainly an improvement and we made easier progress there. But it still has some difficulty blind spots that surprised me. Firstly you can't save your game at the end of each level - you have to complete castles or buy saves with coins. This means if you have limited game time like me and my son, him because we say so and me because there is so much else to do, it often means you are relying on the DS sleep function and the remnants of your battery.

One thing the Wii version did put right though was the tutorial videos. These are available if you die in a particular level too many times, as well as being unlocked by your progress. Much like me watching my son, they not only provide a guide for completion but also offer some inspiration on how the game can be played. It's a simple addition, and one that I know has been debunked by many hard-core gamers, but for me and my son it's great.

Despite all this though, it's the easy accessibility of New Super Mario Brothers on the DS that wins out. Even though it's four years old now, and not as fully features as the Wii version, because you can pick it up ad play where ever you are it simply sees more action.

So while he carries on his first play through, I'm now well into my reinvigorated more recent attempt. This time round though, I'm determined to get every Star Coin on every level as I go. Competitive dad? Maybe a little.

Written by Andy Robertson

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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