Disabled gamers who have been around long enough no doubt remember the frustration of playing old-school Mario games. It seems that the developers at Nintendo delighted in seeing how many people they could bring to tears with their maniacally hard platforming. I’m happy to say that New Super Mario Bros. 2 illustrates a change in the franchise that will make it possible for most disabled gamers to enjoy Mario as much as anyone else.
First of all, both those with hearing impairments and those with sight impairments should have very little problem playing New Super Mario Bros. 2, since Mario has never had anything in the way of dialogue, or even any serious amount of in-game text. As a result, all the sound is purely add-on, and frankly there were times when I found myself muting my 3DS because the music was so repetitive. Visually impaired players will only have slight problems if they play in multiplayer mode, which requires the ability to differentiate between Mario and Luigi, who look virtually the same on the small screen except for a difference in color. But since this does not come into the main mode of the game, it shouldn’t be a factor when you are deciding whether or not to purchase it unless you are purchasing it specifically to play co-op with another person. The only other area where color is important is in the collection of coins. This is because different types of coins have different colors. But the main objective in NSMB2, even moreso than in its predecessors, is to collect coins. So it doesn’t matter what color they are—they belong in Mario’s pocket! Similarly there are several different power-ups that are only differentiated by color. But any time the player has the opportunity to pick up a mushroom or flower, they should. The only issue colorblind gamers may have is that, if they are unable to tell the difference between the gold flower and the fire flower, they might miss out on one of NSMB2’s cool new features. But honestly, it’s pretty obvious when you turn into “gold Mario” because you throw out a massive projectile that turns everything it his into gold coins. Along the same lines, if a player jumps through a golden ring, all the bad guys turn to gold, and their projectiles turn to gold coins. But golden goombas and koopas can still kill you if you come in contact with them, so they need to be squished or avoided regardless of their color.
The only disabled gamers that may have a hard time with this latest title are those with fine motor challenges. True to form, this game is a straightforward platformer, which means if there’s a particularly hard sequence of jumps in front of you, your only options are to keep trying or to get somebody else to help you. And you can count on these moments coming often in NSMB2. But the good news is, the game itself wants to help you succeed. For example, all of the new Mario games for 3DS include a feature where the player is granted a new life for every hundred coins they collect. Guess what? That’s the beauty of this game—there are so many coins that most disabled gamers will be able to gain lives almost as fast as they lose them. And if that’s not enough, the game has a feature where, if you keep dying on a particular level, it grants you a special invincibility power-up that you can use through the entire level you are struggling with, which allows you to run through enemies with impunity and gives you the ability to hover and fly over large jumps.
The only other issue to keep in mind with NSMB2 is that it requires players to use both hands. But the pressing motion is so simple and repetitive that it doesn’t require much in the way of precision.
So in general, yes, New Super Mario Bros. 2 will be hard for players with fine-motor challenges. But the game makes it possible for you to get around these issues with time and a little persistence.
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