As I mentioned in this week’s speak up, I had a crazy week. As a result, I only devoted a couple of hours to playing Nintendo’s latest Mario & Luigi RPG. Ironically, this was not a problem, because the game is so fundamentally inaccessible for fine motor that even though I played for a short time it became very clear, very quickly what an accessibility nightmare Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is.
From a fine motor standpoint, this represents an all-time low for accessibility in the recent Mario franchises. All of the standard Mario barriers are there—it’s a platformer. So you need some modicum of timing and precision. But the game’s main mechanic is what turns Dream Team into a nightmare for anyone with delayed reflexes. Players control both Mario Bros. at once. And while it is true that the circle pad on the 3DS is used to move both at once, they each jump separately, using the A and D buttons respectively. This means that in the overworld traversal and the dual battle mechanic, players will have to switch between two buttons in order to make both Mario and Luigi jump in tandem. Unfortunately, this mechanic is everywhere. Not only will you have to make both brothers jump together when traversing Pi’illo Island, but there are also QTE-like mini-games where each brother has to take turns jumping as quickly as possible in order to collect coins (the game’s main currency). Combine this mechanic with the fact that the turn-based battles heavily rely on timing to defend against the multiplicity of enemy attacks, and it is clear that this game poses major problems to gamers with fine motor limitations.
Even though the game features extensive character customization and other aspects of RPGs that usually promise greater accessible, these benefits have no impact because Dream Team’s fundamental mechanism is inherently inaccessible for most players with fine motor disabilities. It may be true that there are parts of the game that eliminate this issue, but if even the simplest overworld transit is plagued by this troublesome mechanic, I wouldn’t hold out hopes for later portions of the game.
Unfortunately, because of this game’s fine motor limitations, I wasn’t able to see enough of it to speak definitively about its visual accessibility. I can say that if I had seen it, I would have expected it to be barrier free, since nothing in the game relies solely on color. Furthermore, everything uses easily readable text and Nintendo’s signature cartoony art style which makes everything easy to see even on the small screen of a 3DS. But since I haven’t seen as significant portion of the game, I simply cannot speak authoritatively.
However, I can say definitively that if you have a hearing disability, this game should pose little issue to you, because Nintendo has never used voice actors to communicate their dialogue, and I would be very surprised if anything in the game used sounds as anything more than an add on.
My apologies to my readers for this short review, but the reality is because of the game’s massive inaccessibility for fine motor, I couldn’t speak definitely on the other categories. But Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is somewhat accessible—as long as your hands work well.
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The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
– Art style that makes everything easy to see.
|Fine Motor||– Game compensates for left-handed/right-handed gamers.
– Timing is a must.
– Dialogue is all communicated via text.