Critical Play: Is This Game Balanced?

Game Overview

New Super Mario Bros. is a 2.5D video game developed by Nintendo and available on the Wii, DS, and other supporting platforms. The target audience for this game is 6+. The overall goal of the game, like previous versions of Super Mario Bros. is to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser’s Castle by passing different levels of different sceneries.

The game is very fun and has a good balance between difficulty levels and good use of adaptive messaging, depending on the player’s skillsets. This game is typically very fun in multi-player mode of groups 3 because 1 player can help with assist, and the remaining 2 players can work on collaboratively gaining coins and avoiding obstacles. With multiple players, it is possible to “revive” another player or a player who is “left behind” too far down the map, allowing this to be a very good collaborative game.

The type of fun here is a mix of fantasy, narrative, and challenge. The goal of the game is to rescue Princess Peach and Mario, the main player, has the help of companions like Luigi. I think Luigi is a great addition to the game because Luigi typically shows up when the player is struggling and has not been successful in passing the level after multiple attempts. This is to avoid frustration and players exiting the game.

Successes and Failures

However, I think the balance of gameplay here could be reconsidered. As a stubborn player, I tend to want to complete levels on my own without help. This might hurt similar player’s confidence levels as well. One suggestion I have is a better balance between game objects before offering the Luigi tutorial. More specifically, it would be nice to be able to unlock more items or power-ups in later rounds after a few attempts, where the “tutorial/assistance” is built into the game itself, rather than interrupting the flow of the game and having the player just watch instead of doing.

Additionally, I think when playing with 3 people and one player can help assist by placing blocks, I think there should be equal cost/benefit ratio to taking on this role. The “assist” player may feel a little left out because although they are helping with boost blocks, that is their core functionality in every round. This can get boring very quickly. Ensuring a good ratio between player roles and making upping the power the “assist” player holds would lead to an interesting turn of events.

Overall, the game is super fun and there are a variety of levels to explore. Although I think the boss levels are hard to beat, I don’t think this detracts from the overall game experience. I enjoy the mini quests (e.g. gathering more power-ups or as many as you can within a timed setting) as well!

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