Is it possible to revert to noob status?
I fear danfangled new age video games have turned me into an incompetent n00b. After previewing New Super Mario Bros. 2 for 3DS last week, Heller and I dusted off our cartridges and delved into some Super Mario World and All-Stars on the SNES.
That wasn’t always the case. I used to dominate the NES and SNES Mario games and the likes of Donkey Kong Country in my teens, and even below, but now I’m just...terrible.
In the interest of full disclosure, there was some debate over the functionality of the aging SNES controller, but that’s no excuse for running directly off an edge. Several times.
As much as I love retro games, especially platformers, my skills have deteriorated faster than an aging football star who clearly played one season too many.
I lost at least five lives on the same relatively easy jump. And therein lies my problem. You see, older Mario games had a slight delay between pressing the jump button and Mario actually performing the leap. It’s a fraction of a second, but when you’re blasting through a level at speed, the result after playing more recent games is running directly off the edge. By the time Mario starts to jump, he’s already long-dead.
It’s amazing how much of a difference this makes, especially in contrast to the slowed-pace of New Super Mario Bros. 2 with its emphasis on coin collecting, rather than speed runs.
There’s always going to be a moment of lag between pressing a button and seeing the action executed on-screen, but it’s unnoticeable in the more modern, noob friendly Mario games. Even if you manage to exhaust your hundreds of lives in the New Super Mario Bros. series, you can resume right where you left off; 1ups have become meaningless.
The original Super Mario Bros. gave you three lives. Once you’d burnt through them, plus the handful extra you toiled away to earn, that was it. You’re back to the beginning, DayZ style. Not brilliant when your constant death is the product of mistimed regulation jumps.
As much as I love retro games, especially platformers, my skills have deteriorated faster than an aging football star who clearly played one season too many. Modern platformers just aren’t the same. They’re simpler, enemies are less threatening, it’s impossible to really die and controls are considerably more responsive, all in an attempt to make them more accessible to a larger, less skillful audience.
Challenging platformers are still out there, as indie or smaller releases, but the mainstream evolution of the genre has, generally speaking, been simplified well beyond the trying foundations that had us raging with frustration and cheering with jubilation in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
It’s just not the same now, and I appear to be awful at retro games. I fear modern, easier games may be turning me into a noob. Will I ever be able to finish Super Mario World again?
By Ben Salter