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Nintendo Discuss Balance And Difficulty In Mario Games

Ever wondered how Nintendo manage to find the perfect balance of difficultly in the acclaimed Super Mario series? Well, Nintendo’s very own Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka have explained just how they manage such a tricky task and as you would expect it isn’t easy. The firm employs testing teams to play through the iconic games, but Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Tezuka often find themselves stepping in.

“For me one of the things was maybe the gap between the really advanced players and the first-time players. The difficulty balance is always something that I hear frustrations about from the public, whichever way we decide to go. We always have the testing team test our game, but whatever they say is really fun, the first-time players might consider to be very difficult. One of the things I do sometimes at the later phases of development is go in and hear the testing team’s requests and actually pull that away and lower the barrier or change what it is they want. Sometimes I even hear from the testing team, ‘You’re destroying the fun’, but on the other hand, the flipside is you hear the first-time players saying ‘If I can’t clear a level it’s not fun for me. If I can’t complete a game it’s not fun for me’. The more years that have passed, the gap between advanced and first-time players has become wider.” – Miyamoto

“Even though we put a lot of time and effort into trying to balance the difficulty, when we actually release there are a good group of people who can’t complete the whole game, and so we always have that internal struggle of the gap between the advanced and first-time players. That’s why one of the things we’re trying with Yoshi’s Woolly World is to have two different versions of events for the advanced and the beginner players. We changed the performance of it, but then even in the beginner mode we did put a lot of stuff in there so that advanced players can still have fun. We put a lot of time and effort into trying to balance that out.” – Tezuka

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45 thoughts on “Nintendo Discuss Balance And Difficulty In Mario Games”

  1. Just want to say that the IQ of the comments section appears to have risen by about 100 points here following the much needed changes.

          1. Rogue Master XenoRidley X3

            You could always post an article about certain celebrities and/or known youtube users reactions to the fan getting fined by the Pokemon Company. That will more than likely get well over 100 comments.

          2. Rogue Master XenoRidley X3

            More Nintendo games need to do like Yoshi’s Woolly World & Fire Emblem Awakening where there are two modes. It’s a damn shame there are still games out there that force a certain difficulty on everyone with no option for an easy and/or hard mode. Zelda & Ninja Gaiden come to my mind as the two biggest offenders of this. Zelda always having a forced easy mode & Ninja Gaiden always having a forced hard mode. Sure Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge had a normal mode that was easier but you could only play through that mode ONCE. After you beat it, if you want to use normal mode again, you have to start an entirely new save file & thus lose access to everything you unlocked in the previous one, including the costumes. (I hate the fact the costumes were tied to leveling up. Grr!)

              1. Rogue Master XenoRidley X3

                But only Wind Waker HD, a re-release, used Hero Mode right where you could use it from the start. Skyward Sword & Link Between Worlds had you beat the game once before you could access them. So my point about Zelda still sticks.

                1. It’s still an option eventually. There’s also master quest modes in ocarina of time, and majoras mask. It doesn’t really matter if it was a re-release or not. Plus it’s not like Zelda is just an incredibly easy series either, especially if your going for 100%. It’s not rediculous hard, but it’s also not laughably easy. Though I do hope with Zelda U hero mode is available from the start, for those who want it. Personally I want to fully experience a game at its normal difficulty before going on to the harder mode.

                    1. Rogue Master XenoRidley X3

                      I said waiting for something behind a stupid, retarded 9 day waiting period sucks. Now working towards it is another thing entirely. I don’t have a problem with that & much prefer that. But if I want to play a game on a more difficult mode, I shouldn’t have to wait to clear the game once to play that more difficult mode. If I beat the game on easy mode, the drive to complete the game on a higher difficulty is lost because I’ve already experienced the ending that would have been EARNED by beating it on a higher difficulty. But nope! Nintendo’s got to please the casuals that can’t handle a little difficulty. Some of us want OPTIONS for difficulty at the beginning, not after we’ve already beaten the damn game. Otherwise, a big chunk of the motivation to clear said game is now gone because we’ve already experienced the story’s ending on a very easy mode.

                        1. I’d love to use Disqus but as it’s a hosted blog we have to use their commenting system. I’ve asked them many times to switch to Disqus.

                      1. I don’t mind the general Mario concept of completing the game (i.e. getting the end credits) quite easy but everything after that being challenging. I guess in a perfect world I would raise the difficulty a small amount, because surely you do have to earn those end credits at least a little bit, but overall I’m ok with it the way it is.

                      2. I’ve just created Mario Maker course, I think it’s balanced and difficult, I hope someone played, there are too many courses. Well I let my code here in case that someone wants to play it. D2CD-0000-008D-B642

                        1. Cool I will try and check it out… wish you could search courses by name, these codes are a bit of a pain. I have to write it down and yada yada, but all good. Game is awesome

                      3. I don’t get. it I struggled with mario galaxy when I played it the first time ( and that was one of the first ever console games I ever played) did I give up? no I kept going until I 100% the game. I love that game even thought I sucked at the game the first time through.

                        1. I do too(not suck but persevere), but some people just quit when it gets too hard. Dang, my brother even thought the snow head dungeon in Majoras mask was hard!

                          1. Sometimes it’s the difficult games that we (as gamers) remember and respect the most. Why do you think so many people still love the NES? There’s SO many brutal, unforgivingly challenging NES games. Super NES had a lot too.

                            Balance is important. The games can be ruined if they’re too easy OR too hard. For example, Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS was too easy for me. And I didn’t really enjoy it very much because of that. Beating it didn’t feel very rewarding. Super NES games Earthbound and Super Mario RPG were very challenging (brutal at times), but man, they felt SO rewarding when beating them. If Earthbound was childishly easy, I don’t know if it would have had the same appeal as it does with gamers today.

                            Super Mario World was a very fun game, with a near perfect blend of challenge for the most part. However, it’s still a tad on the easy side. I can breeze through most of that game with no problems. It always bothered me how the bosses (Koopa Kids) only took 3 little hits. I always thought they should take WAY more hits than 3.

                            Party games is what REALLY needs some major help! Look at what happened to Mario Party 9 and 10. Ugh! Who wants to play a game where winning is based on freakin’ luck? That robs all the fun out of it. I want to win by skill and have bragging rights. Why aren’t there anymore fun party games?

                            1. Rogue Master XenoRidley X3

                              Because casuals want to win but don’t want to put forth the effort to actually get good at games TO win.

                              1. And that’s probably why my Mario Maker levels have such low completion rates- casuals die once, sometimes on the first fucking Goomba, and then give up. My levels aren’t even very difficult- my hardest is probably Grampykoopa’s Spooky Attic and that’s partly because there’s an area I designed where you need to lead the Magikoopas into erasing blocks so you can keep moving through the level.

                              2. I like their implementation of the invincible /skip power up. That allows the newbies to finish the level and myself to rip my hair out endlessly.

                                I thought Wolly World was overall too easy no matter what from what I read. And hearing that there’s two types of events is news to me. I guess a hard mode in the end? I really don’t want to have to play through ‘baby’ mode.
                                Oh well, it’s already preordered and full of nostalgia.

                                1. Actually GameXplain says the game can actually be really hard at times if your going for 100%. Not sure exactly how true that is, but hey, I’ve not heard anything but praise for that game.

                              3. Or, you know, they could just give people the option to choose between difficulties like other developers do, so everyone could decide for themselves if they want it to be easy or hard, instead of having Nintendo baby them by forcing everyone to play overly-easy games for the sake of casuals.

                                I want a game to be worth my time, and if I don’t even need to expend the least bit of effort into it to finish it, it definitely does not meet the criteria of being worth the time I invest into it.
                                I do understand that not everybody is into challenging games, and that some people indeed want to just breeze through levels without needing to put any effort into it, and that’s why Nintendo needs to try a bit harder to make it work for both groups; there’s no such thing as finding a perfect balance of difficulty both casuals and experienced players will be happy with. You can’t have both easy and difficult in one unless you offer options – without actual options, one group will always be favored.
                                But yea, at this point I think it seems rather obvious that Nintendo does favor one of those two groups – I’ll leave it up to everyone themselves to decide which one it is.

                                1. Nintendo Tetrarch Quadramus-NX

                                  >>>Exactly, your very first sentence is exactly my most directed complaint against the empire, what happened to difficult settings since the N64?>>>

                                  >>>I can’t stand easy or normal difficulty games because it’s a waste of resources and my time>>>

                                2. What I hate is when a game has a normal and a hard mode, yet you see the full game and same cut-scenes and everything on either mode. I always thought that different difficulties should offer different content. Like, the only way to see the TRUE ending is if you play the hard mode. I just hate when even the easy mode lets you see all of the same stuff, and you can just breeze your way through, finish the game and move on.

                                  The Street Fighter II games did it right. Depending on which difficulty setting you played on, you either saw only the credits, or the character’s cut-scene ending and THEN the credits. And/or a special final screen with artwork.

                                3. Rogue Master XenoRidley X3

                                  Yeah. If it’s not even a little difficult, you might as well be watching an entire television series of 5 20-episode long seasons.

                              4. Pingback: ¿Cuál es el balance entre la diversión y la dificultad en Super Mario? | Atomix

                              5. Miyamoto had become the main offender when it comes to making games over easy. His reluctance to add in a simple difficulty setting is very disturbing… I fear for the new Zelda game… Like someone said above, there is no middle difficulty between the hardcore and casual players. Nintendo will favor one or the other….

                                It bothers me that Miyamoto cares about the first time players MORE than he cares about his life long fans… First time players can adapt to a harder difficulty. Vice versa is not possible…

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