How Modern Games and Consoles Can Learn From NES

Anthony examines how modern consoles could improve if they took cues from NES.

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 04/21/2014 09:00 6 Comments     ShareThis

4. Lack of Hand Holding

Have you ever noticed how bad hand holding has gotten over the years? I’ve played many games that have told me exactly how to kill bosses and solve puzzles without my own consent. What’s the fun of playing a game if it’s just going to play itself? Unfortunately, this kind of approach is adopted in many of my favorite franchises, especially modern Zelda games.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was probably the best thing to happen to that series. The game was a huge return to form, boasting non-linear dungeon structure, an emphasis on exploration, and no annoying assistant that pesters you every five seconds with various hints. If you ever needed help, the game gives you an optional item that puts you in the right direction, which works rather well because you’re not constantly reminded about its existence.

I hope that the new Zelda on Wii U uses this kind of game design. As good as Ocarina of Time is, the introduction of helpers like Navi stained the Zelda experience for me with their constant and often unnecessary interjections. I get that their purpose is to help people who might be lost, but I don’t want constant alerts if I don’t need guidance.

In contrast, this is something I never have to worry about when I play either The Legend of Zelda or The Adventure of Link on NES. Upon starting either one of these titles, I immediately have control over Link and can do as I please without being interrupted.

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6 Responses to “How Modern Games and Consoles Can Learn From NES”

  • 102 points
    Hawthorn says...

    You’re rebooting the issue numbering? O_O Does that mean those pages that preview the content of the issue will return? And the unique editorials?

  • 1507 points
    penduin says...

    Hand-holding in games has certainly gotten out of control, but even at their worst, Navi and her successors do have one redeeming quality.

    My free time comes in completely unpredictable chunks. I might fire up a backlogged epic I’m halfway through and then … crap, what was I doing again? Looking for a cave south of some town? Or maybe it was east? Was I collecting something? Backtracking with a newfangled ability? As much as I hate little miss “Hey! Listen!”, sometimes I do need to have my memory jogged.

    Now, all the unskippable spell-everything-out-for-you crap, yeah, that has to die in a fire. But a chirp every now and then from which you can optionally be reminded “hey, weren’t you going to go see what became of so-and-so?”, that can actually be useful.

    • 180 points
      Anthony Vigna says...

      I totally agree. I would just like it to be a lot less in your face. Like for example, Star Fox Adventures lets you know what to do and where to go if you choose to communicate with Slippy and Peppy. I really like that. God knows how annoying a constantly interjecting Slippy would be :p

  • 1285 points
    Robert Marrujo says...

    Good piece, Anthony. For me, the Plug and Play aspect is the thing I miss most. I can appreciate all the things that today’s system can do that the old ones couldn’t, but man, it was nice to just hit power and start playing. I turn my consoles on to play games almost exclusively; the rest is just noise.

  • 1379 points
    xeacons says...

    I remember telling my wife, “Remember when you could just pop in a game and play it?” Now we have to sit through ten minutes of installation with every disc. Luckily, the 3DS seems to be following this your code, and it’s success is proof.

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