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.