We've all been there at one time or another: one specific spot in a video game is just slamming your frustrated head into the wall over and over, and no matter what you do, you just cannot move forward. If only someone more skilled could step in for a moment and beat that boss or land that tricky jump. As part of this gaming generation's ongoing developments designed to make the medium more inclusive for everyone, Nintendo is preparing a new help system called Super Guide in which stumped and stuck players have the option of bringing in a little CPU-controlled help after repeated failed attempts at completing an objective. Kotaku has the details on how Super Guide works with the upcoming highly anticipated Wii adventure, New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
New Super Mario Bros. gives a starting player of the game five lives. So, to activate the Super Guide option this morning, a Nintendo representative had to sacrifice her Mario character five times, then use a Continue option to replenish her lives before losing the rest needed to enable the help. Once she did that, a floating green box appeared at the start of the level she had repeatedly failed at. Hitting it with Mario — the only available playable character in single-player — will restart the level in Super Guide mode. Mario is replaced with a computer-controlled Luigi, who then proceeds through the level on his own.
What separates Super Guide from traditional video-based playthroughs of game levels is that the player can assume control during the Luigi run. At any moment, the player can press a button and cancel the computer control of Luigi. An indicator showing that that game is in Super Guide mode stays on screen, and the player assumes control of Luigi, rather than switching to Mario. But the breakthrough in the feature is that the player is not starting the level from the beginning. They are taking control in the midst of the Super Guide run. Thanks to this, players who repeatedly struggle with a tough part of a level in New Super Mario Bros. Wii will be able to let Super Guide Luigi get past that tough part for them. Even though a player takes over as Luigi using this help system, the completion of the level counts and they can play deeper into the game.
At first glance, this is the kind of development that made me grouse about how this is the latest step in the increasing casualization of what have traditionally been core gaming properties, but then I remembered that if last generation's Metroid Prime (a core game if there ever was one, incidentally) had featured Super Guide, I could have tasked the CPU with defeating that pesky Omega Pirate that ended my Samus Aran experience prematurely. Then I could have retaken control and moved on to the next challenge. So I'm coming around to be in favor of Super Guide. Anything that helps players — casual or core — move past that seemingly insurmountable barrier we all hit at times can't possibly be a bad thing.