Nintendo CEO: 90 Percent of New Gamers Unable to Finish Level 1-1 in Original Super Mario Bros

Update 7/10: It has been brought to our attention that the source reference site's report for this story was actually based on a satire, not based on facts.  Rather than pulling the story down, we're alerting you to the fact that we were mislead (as were others). However, we will pose the question that seems to be driving a lot of debate: are games getting easier just for the sake of quick-fix game play?

During a Q&A at Nintendo’s recent shareholder’s meeting, Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata said several things that are alternately painful, amazing, and sad in response to a question from a stockholder about how games seem to be getting easier, and how that may be contributing to the Wii U’s lackluster sales.

First of all, Iwata agreed that games have gotten easier, and he affirmed that the trend could be a reason that interest in the Wii U hasn’t been as strong as it could be. Still, he defended the company’s strategy for making games easier by revealing the results of gamer testing that Nintendo has conducted that demonstrates gamers’ decreasing ability to do well in games.

Wii U Controllers In Action

“It may come as a shock to some of you that most gamers today cannot finish the original Super Mario Brothers game on the Famicom,” he said. “We have conducted this test over the past few years to see how difficult we should make our games and have found that the number of people unable to finish the first level is steadily increasing.”

At this point, a whopping 90% of participants couldn’t finish the level. (We presume that means they used up their few available lives before having to restart the game.)

He also noted that most didn’t understand basic game mechanics such as the run button, or that coins are to be collected and aren’t enemies, or the concept of a bottomless pit. About 70% died at the first enemy, and half of those died at that same spot twice. (Twice! At the hands [or lack thereof] of the first Goomba!)

Super Mario Brothers Level 1-1
Watch out for those tricky, impossible-to-kill Goombas (Credit: TalesofGaming)

Participants said that they wanted the game to be easier, and that Mario should perhaps start the game with a sword or a gun. Some didn’t even realize that Super Mario Bros was an actual vintage game.

If we can put on our old fart hats for a moment: What on earth is wrong with kids today? Mario was a famously tough game to beat, for sure--saying that you beat Mario was a legitimate boast among the neighborhood youths--but not being able to finish off the first level is ridiculous, and suggesting that the game should be made easier instead of begging to try the level again is offensive to our sensibilities. (Now if someone would hand us a handkerchief to wipe the soup off our chins, we’d appreciate it.)

All joking aside, that’s a sad state of affairs for the gaming community in general and Nintendo specifically. Iwata, to his credit, sounds just as downcast about it as everyone else.

“As a stockholder, you should be relieved to know that our games are easier in order to attract a wider audience,” he told the crowd. “As a gamer, you might feel a little sad, and you should be. It is quite sad.” Indeed.
Comments
AllenJun one year ago

noobz

SemHamblok one year ago

those people are probably hand picked noobs who never really played games I know some too, or girls

SamiChoiAldeguer one year ago

I resent that SemHamblok, I'm a girl and I'm no noob. But I agree, whoever they signed up for this might not have known what they were getting themselves into.

CharlesEaton one year ago

oh and before i forget @SemHamblok i think your statement about girls and gaming is kind of rude seeing as they could most likely beat you at any game you may play so watch out gamer girls gonna get ya hahaha

ImreSaks 4 months ago

I agree because im ten and i think that SUPER MARIO 3D LAND IS to f***ing easy!!!

marco c one year ago

I don't buy it.

JvanHummel one year ago

Seems too weird to be true.

DylanWhite one year ago

Theres no ****in way thats true unless your sampling people under 18.

Joel H one year ago

Hrm....

No, I think I do. I'm just not sure it means what he thinks it means.

Think about it. The first time you brought up a Nintendo, you died on World 1-1. Maybe you died to that Goomba. Because if you didn't read the instruction manual and just dived into the game, you have to figure everything out from scratch.

So you walk into the Goomba, die.

Next round, you try some buttons. One button doesn't seem to do anything. The other makes you jump.

You try to jump on the Goomba, misjudge, die.

Next round, you try to jump over the Goomba, hit a brick, die. But now you know the bricks explode.

New game.

"If bricks explode, I must be supposed to jump *into* Question bricks."

Hey! Something came out -- ***, the Goomba!

*die*

Etc.

Also, if you aren't familiar with the concept of points, you might wonder what collecting power-ups is for. SMB was written in a very different era, and it borrows conceits from that time period. You get points for breaking stuff. You get points for picking up random objects. But if you've only played modern games that don't use points or power ups, you have to learn that from scratch.

I expect people who have never played a side-scrolling platformer to suck at it. The bigger question is, how many people can't beat World 1-1 after 30-40 minutes of practice?

GregSliwinski one year ago

Joel H is absolutely spot on. I first played this game as a 3or4 year old around '87. It was the first video game I ever played. If youve never played it before it takes some learning but even after 30-40 minutes I could even beat the first level.

MarcinCyran one year ago

I hope your mentally challenged. Because what you said made no *** sense. First time anyone that plays Mario.. we try buttons first..A jump OK GOT IT. B run... OK GOT IT. Beating 1-1 world takes less that 10min for a beginner player.. where the hell you got the 30-40min... who the *** knows. Try to remember your childhood.. unless you had some issues with you god dam finger.. no way.. it takes that long..

ChuckRenninger one year ago

Games being too hard for people to play making the sales of the Wii U Stagnant?

More like, they gave us a console with the power of the last generation of consoles...What's good enough to run a simple Mario game isn't good enough to run a graphically intense game...

(Iwata) Don't try telling us that we're dumb and that's why your console isn't selling... Sounds the other way around to me.

And by the way...

I've beaten the original Super Mario Brothers... several times, and SMB : The Lost Levels on Super Mario All Stars for SNES...

ChrisLittle one year ago

Christian Magee some andre stuff haha

MarkSalopek one year ago

Lol guess 2 buttons and a cross pad throws a wrech into their gears

TomXelSolomon one year ago

lol how level 1-1 is sooo easy! you can speed run that thing and stay itty bitty the whole time :P

RZielaskowski one year ago

"new gamers"

NickModrowski one year ago

that old stuff is HARD.

Dave_HH one year ago

Hahah! So true but my son can still kick my ass with a couple of those stupid thumbsticks.

KitCargile1 one year ago

It's been heading that way for a long while now, not sure why they seem surprised. Gamers today are all about instant gratification and have no pride in a lengthy, troublesome accomplishment. I'd look to blame the investors looking for returns instead of the developers trying to make something good and worth while. Again, games used to come out every few years and they would be GREAT, have vast improvements.. it was around the same time releases became 'yearly releases' where the dumb down of in depth games went to the wayside.

Look what we can do! --VS-- Look how much money this makes in x days! These days the latter always wins, always.

ALash one year ago

Old gamers can! B|

Hell i've played Mario for years! B|

ScottRRedman one year ago

I've never felt so old.

ScottRRedman one year ago

I've never felt so old.

Joel H one year ago

*shakes head*

This isn't about games being easy, it's about what people *expect* when they start a game. Let me give you an example.

Imagine you had never played anything but Super Mario brothers or other 2D, side-scrolling games. Then you sit down to Call of Duty.

"What? Look around? I don't even...woah. WOAH. I'm dizzy."

"There's more than one gun? How do I -- which one am I supposed to use?"

"Where's my power-up bar?"

"What's a saved game?"

"I can go BACKWARDS?"  

"Why can't I see behind me all the time?"

And on, and on, and on.

It's not about "good" vs. "bad." It's just a question of what you're familiar with and what you aren't.

MistedHeart one year ago

The article says they did a study, maybe 90% of new gamers are not able to complete 1-1 because they have steadily decreased the difficulty level of games. If games stayed as hard as they used to people would adapt and actually try and think and try and solve the conundrums poised by these games. I grew up playing mario on my super nintendo, it was always so fun that i could play for hours, now days ill be lucky if i can sit through 5 minutes of some of these newer games just because of how boring they become.

AKnudson one year ago

Yea it seems to me that kids are getting better and better at video games not worse and worse.

Take League of Legends for example i have 3 younger brothers who have logged around 500 hours each on that game alone and they have played WOW and Starcraft over 100+ hours not to mention the diablo series....

This is really a flawed experiment/conclusion. older games aren't as familliar as newer games. i play mario or i did and if i started playing again i would probably die in the first level. it takes a while to remember the timing you learned.

Nintendo obviously hasn't been successful with their make game simpler strategy and it actually hurts their market. i have always played the games my brothers and those around me have played. in fact one core tenet of modern gaming is the ability to multiplayer and or discuss the outcome of a game with your friends and family. that's what makes a game truly addicting when everyone you know is playing it and they are each constantly trying to one up the other.

Its almost impossible to maintain unless you have a game that has depth and advancement opportunity static games die faster than evolving games. hence the major success of an MMORPG,

MayhemMatthew one year ago

Are they sampling people who have never played games before, ever, is that it? Are they sampling people that are incapable of learning. I remember when I started playing games and when I first started playing SMB, I sucked. I died a lot even in the first level and still will, but you get the hang of the mechanics and you learn to use them to your advantage.

All that said, I am terrible at platformers.

JakobOhm one year ago

Well to those people sayin that it is a matter of being familiar with a genre: I am 15years old, and grew up with WoW; LoL, uncountable single-player RPGs and cs (prefer 1.6 ;))

2years ago a friend pressed a Gameboy advance in my Hand and said "Try it". i got hooked the first minute, and i think the first time loosing all my lives was around 2-2 - while never having played either mario or on a handheld.

acarzt one year ago

I can see this... especially if they had people playing that had never even played the original or ANY of the early Mario side-scrollers. The goomba could be presumed to be a non threatening NPC. Most games these days don't go right into the "action" and have some kind of tutorial. A lot of assumptions could be made based on how todays games are played. Most of todays games will only let you go where you're meant to go and won't let you fall to your death.

karanm one year ago

I honestly don't remember how far I got the first time I played SMB but I do remember me and my buddy were trying to see how fast we could beat the game after a couple of months. Battletoads and Contra were tougher games and in both cases there were guns. SMB was different because of that but after you got used to it the game was easy.

BlackOpsPenguin one year ago

I think Joel H said it best.

Also I think we have the memories of beating the games after we got good. I'm sure as kids most of us took a few rounds to get the hang of it.

RichardArceeCardenas one year ago

I cry bullshit. My kids (6, 5, and 4) can all finish at least until world 5-1 of the original Super Mario game. Hell, my son's first time playing the game, he got to 1-3 on his own. I say that statement by Iwata is pure and utter bullshit.

JoshuaPatillo one year ago

Don't make these games easy. I've been looking all over for games that were as good as the old nintendo games, and it's no wonder that many of those old games are still enjoyable and purchasable from the wii u e shop. Games used to have enough challenge that you won't beat them 4 hours after you start playing them or just 2 days in. Remember Solomon's Key, Final Fantasy III, games on NES took days and days to beat, I remember when I got my sega genesis I would worry that leaving it on overnight to keep my game loaded would break my console but I left it on for weekends sometimes weeks just to keep the content loaded, and that was the good days when games weren't easy to beat. I like having to entirely restart a difficult game or go back to a save point more than a dozen times to beat a hard level more than a game that's so easy a 5 year old could take turns beating it with me.

JustinRoberts one year ago

http://www.p4rgaming.com/majority-of-gamers-today-cant-finish-level-1-in-super-mario-bros/

Protip: don't steal articles from satire sites.

Dave_HH one year ago

Umm... no one was "stealing' anything.  It's called reporting and source was cited.  That said, clearly we were mislead by the satire piece.

LukeBailey one year ago

*suggesting that the game should be made easier instead of begging to try the level again is offensive to our sensibilities*

I fully agree with this statement

and its the same reason I jump to the defense of games like Dark Souls where people who to put it bluntly suck at the game are crying for a easy mode

I am fully against this mass production of games that hold your hand and make it almost impossible for you to fail

when did gamer's get soo lazy that they would rather have a easy version of a game rather than take the time to learn how to play the game and learn from their mistakes

its insulting to us older hardcore gamer's that such people have soo much control over the industry today

hell we have Driving games that play themselves, RPG's with automatic battle systems, FPS games where you can run around with a sniper rifle and one hit kill everyone what the hell happened?

where is the challenge? where is the sense of achievement when you beat something that you've been stuck on for months...

the simple truth is that its not that games are difficult

its just that most new age gamer's are rubbish at them and complain about the difficulty instead of learning how to play

I will applaud any game studio that stands up and says well its your fault for sucking at the game not ours for making it too hard

JamaalOkeenEphriam one year ago

Hard Mode - For the non pussies in gaming -_-

But seriously, there's a line between a game being hard, and a game being cheap. The original Super Mario Bros. was hard yes, but it was balanced. The challenge and reward of real gaming is overcoming those difficulties and in the classic days, in a limited run. We had no save points, we barely could afford strategy guides. All we had were our thumbs and our whit, and that is part of what is missing in gaming today.

We're too reliant on the fact that we just want the game to hand us the ending or tell us what to do without actually using our brain or our skills of deduction to try to figure it out. If the game asks us to try, we call it work. If the game doesn't, we call it too easy. When game mechanics actually work, a lot of what you are supposed to do can be learned over time...this time to learn is part of what enhanced the gaming experience in the first place. When done correctly, the accomplishment is nothing short of ecstasy...that is...if the entire challenge wasn't annoying to begin with.

If sections like Level 1-1 in Super Mario Bros is too hard for a poll where 90% say it is, then all the more importance for a Hard mode. Seriously, games are too easy now and it seems like nowadays it takes an Open World experience or a convoluted RPG with an absurd difficulty curve (FF13 I'm looking at you), or actually being cheep, to get 40+ hours. That shouldn't be the case.

Lets make better games people :)

DanielEBrewerII one year ago

By God, A Link to the Past, for example, is a game that is as hard as balls. But it's a good game because its so hard. The reward for beating it is that you feel like a boss afterwards. I AM THE MASTER COMMANDER!

ReeceBeardsall one year ago

Rather than making games easier for these dumb fucks to understand, they should have done humanity a favour and snapped their necks so they couldn't pass on their retard genes to another generation.

Gotta say, we really need to think of a way to re-incorporate natural selection into everyday life. :/

JesseJHeichert one year ago

I can't either! I am so used to the 3rd dimension of of most game's now!

JesseJHeichert one year ago

I can't either! I am so used to the 3rd dimension of of most game's now!

ObViBritannia one year ago

How did Nintendo, of all people, manage to find participants for this study who quote: "didn’t even realize that Super Mario Bros was an actual vintage game. " ?

RZielaskowski one year ago

._.

RZielaskowski one year ago

._.

KDelphi one year ago

uhhh bullshit

KDelphi one year ago

uhhh bullshit

AldoAraujo one year ago

For those wondering, the article (and website) is satirical in nature, like The Onion.

It's not real, folks. Funny, but not real

CharlesJernigan one year ago

And people wonder why I can consistently whip them in video games... My bad for growing up in the era of difficult games?

CharlesJernigan one year ago

And people wonder why I can consistently whip them in video games... My bad for growing up in the era of difficult games?

JohnGrande one year ago

This should be a real study using pacman and finding the average amount of levels beat per 3 lives. I bet that would end disappointingly.

JohnGrande one year ago

This should be a real study using pacman and finding the average amount of levels beat per 3 lives. I bet that would end disappointingly.

BrandonDodge one year ago

By "new gamers", I assume they are talking about kids. Who else would want Mario to have violent weaponry than the generation that can't beat anything that doesn't hold their hand for the entirety of the game?

I could understand dying in the first level with no prior practice, but not getting the concept of enemies and pits?

That's the sad part.

WillSnizek one year ago

Not a surprise at all. Modern gamers think Demon's Souls is extremely hard. Lol

LozanoOzzo one year ago

LOL too much COD? xD

LozanoOzzo one year ago

LOL too much COD? xD

LozanoOzzo one year ago

LOL too much COD? xD

RanzePerez one year ago

I can finish this Mario version even without the multiple life cheat.. hehe .. and yep.. I'm good with Pac-Man too :P

RanzePerez one year ago

Yea.. games back then are pretty hard core.. shows no mercy... no guides, no game genie.. just gotta figure it out..

SaraiKindred one year ago

I remember failing and failing at that game, and after years of practice I finally beat it on my ninth birthday. I bought it the other day from the wii market and I failed hard. That game takes practice, especially if you're not used to the platform.

CraigFender one year ago

Those noobs!

JasonDavis1 one year ago

... I hope that's a joke.

CharlesJernigan one year ago

Game genie... you can't even use something like that in today's games though. Most games don't have cheat codes anymore and companies have started putting disclaimers that state the use of such devices constitutes a breach of EULAs and can result in getting your account banned from Xbox Live and PSN.

CharlesJernigan one year ago

Game genie... you can't even use something like that in today's games though. Most games don't have cheat codes anymore and companies have started putting disclaimers that state the use of such devices constitutes a breach of EULAs and can result in getting your account banned from Xbox Live and PSN.

AStroup one year ago

I thought this was supposed to be a joke that stupid people took seriously.

MattyPhillips one year ago

Your point is Charles?

JesseJHeichert one year ago

I can't either! I am so used to the 3rd dimension of of most game's now!

RZielaskowski one year ago

._.

KDelphi one year ago

uhhh bullshit

AldoAraujo one year ago

For those wondering, the article (and website) is satirical in nature, like The Onion.

It's not real, folks. Funny, but not real

CharlesJernigan one year ago

And people wonder why I can consistently whip them in video games... My bad for growing up in the era of difficult games?

And yes, I get the joke...

JohnGrande one year ago

This should be a real study using pacman and finding the average amount of levels beat per 3 lives. I bet that would end disappointingly.

WillSnizek one year ago

Not a surprise at all. Modern gamers think Demon's Souls is extremely hard. Lol

LozanoOzzo one year ago

LOL too much COD? xD

RanzePerez one year ago

I can finish this Mario version even without the multiple life cheat.. hehe .. and yep.. I'm good with Pac-Man too :P

RanzePerez one year ago

Yea.. games back then are pretty hard core.. shows no mercy... no guides, no game genie.. just gotta figure it out..

CraigFender one year ago

Those noobs!

JasonDavis1 one year ago

... I hope that's a joke.

CharlesJernigan one year ago

Game genie... you can't even use something like that in today's games though. Most games don't have cheat codes anymore and companies have started putting disclaimers that state the use of such devices constitutes a breach of EULAs and can result in getting your account banned from Xbox Live and PSN.

AStroup one year ago

I thought this was supposed to be a joke that stupid people took seriously.

MattyPhillips one year ago

Your point is Charles?

TimothyWittik one year ago

that is pretty sad

MattBarton one year ago

I would personally be more likely to buy a game if it were challenging. The sense of achievement when you finally beat something difficult is so much more satisfying. Easy is less fun.

JoeyForman one year ago

Now present them with BattleToads Nintendo

GarrySmith one year ago

Wow.. That is seriously sad if it's true. I was burning through this at 5 years old! (No, seriously. I got my first Nintendo in 1985, and was playing this as one of the first games I ever experienced.)

JaysonSargent one year ago

totall bullcrap but still, it makes you think. Games have gotten a lot easier since the days on NES. ah, nostalgia...

DanielMeiers one year ago

Eve online players the lot of them.

JustinBakos one year ago

I'd do my own study..... 25 gamers and let's say 5 non-gamers (I don't wanna be waiting all day for them to finish) & see just how they fair. Though, I have see those non-gamers (like my sister, the most non-gamer ever) kick some serious @ss at complex games. But I do believe that most games are getting easier.... It's the controllers that are becoming difficult. Especially with the way Nintendo shapes there controllers.

MichaelBergland one year ago

I see many good points from a lot of people; however, I think the problem (of the games being too easy) is easily solved with difficulty levels and an in-game explanation of what each difficulty represents. The new gamers could love and play the game on a 'casual' difficulty while the veteran gamers can enjoy a much harder difficulty level that we came to love from the first two generations of Nintendo consoles.

KenEdwards one year ago

You say "as were others" excuse me by WHAT OTHERS? You were the only idiots who could not see the forest for the trees.

JesseJHeichert one year ago

I can't either! I am so used to the 3rd dimension of of most game's now!

RZielaskowski one year ago

._.

KDelphi one year ago

uhhh bullshit

AldoAraujo one year ago

For those wondering, the article (and website) is satirical in nature, like The Onion.

It's not real, folks. Funny, but not real

CharlesJernigan one year ago

And people wonder why I can consistently whip them in video games... My bad for growing up in the era of difficult games?

And yes, I get the joke...

JohnGrande one year ago

This should be a real study using pacman and finding the average amount of levels beat per 3 lives. I bet that would end disappointingly.

WillSnizek one year ago

Not a surprise at all. Modern gamers think Demon's Souls is extremely hard. Lol

LozanoOzzo one year ago

LOL too much COD? xD

RanzePerez one year ago

I can finish this Mario version even without the multiple life cheat.. hehe .. and yep.. I'm good with Pac-Man too :P

RanzePerez one year ago

Yea.. games back then are pretty hard core.. shows no mercy... no guides, no game genie.. just gotta figure it out..

CraigFender one year ago

Those noobs!

JasonDavis1 one year ago

... I hope that's a joke.

CharlesJernigan one year ago

Game genie... you can't even use something like that in today's games though. Most games don't have cheat codes anymore and companies have started putting disclaimers that state the use of such devices constitutes a breach of EULAs and can result in getting your account banned from Xbox Live and PSN.

AStroup one year ago

I thought this was supposed to be a joke that stupid people took seriously.

MattyPhillips one year ago

Your point is Charles?

TimothyWittik one year ago

that is pretty sad

GarrySmith one year ago

Wow.. That is seriously sad if it's true. I was burning through this at 5 years old! (No, seriously. I got my first Nintendo in 1985, and was playing this as one of the first games I ever experienced.)

CharlesEaton one year ago

i sure am glad i was one of the few that was able to beat the entire game in one day nevertheless it is a great classic game and i still try to play it from time to time these days

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