Feature Article

How Nintendo Uses Luck To Make Games Fun For Everyone

Luck be a blue shell tonight.

Since its pre-video game years as a Japanese playing-card company, Nintendo has designed games that combine strategy, competition, and luck. This mixture takes competition-centric pressure off players, making the game less about winning and more about having fun.

Franchises like Mario Party, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. are designed to put advanced players and novices on a more equal footing. These games are easy to pick up and understand, can be played alone or with others, and have high replay value.

However, some players rebel against luck in video games, arguing that skill and technical prowess should be the ultimate arbitrators of who wins or loses. They see games as a meritocracy and view luck as punishing some players for being good, while unjustly rewarding other players who didn’t put in the time and effort to improve. But for many Nintendo games, the focus on competition isn’t the point.

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Dr. Nicholas Bowman is an associate professor at the Interaction Lab at West Virginia University. He researches interactivity and media psychology, analyzing how people react to media on screens. Bowman says Nintendo games such as Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros. use elements of luck to downplay cognitive aspects of gaming (strategy, reflexes, choosing what button to push at the right time, etc.) to enhance the social experience of playing.

"In some ways, they take after board games, which always have that element of luck, whether you are playing Monopoly or even something like Dungeon and Dragons," Bowman explained. "No matter how good you are, you still have to roll the dice."

What Nintendo knows is that an important part of having fun is those around you also having fun. Adding dice rolls to Mario Party, or items based on your place in a Mario Kart race, or stage obstacles to Super Smash Bros. creates an element of surprise that makes each playthrough unique and offers novice players a chance to win. Bowman argues that these Nintendo games are meant to allow players of varying experience levels to have fun playing against each other.

"You know that if you had five friends come over, and they never touched a video game in their life, you could have them play one of those games and they'd be fine," Bowman continued. "But the most important thing is they think they have a chance of winning."

Bowman also studies video games and nostalgia, and said the ease and casual nature of these Mario multiplayer games facilitates greater levels of social connection.

"What you find out is people aren't nostalgic for the game itself, but the game reminds them of the people they were around when playing it," Bowman said. "Putting Smash Bros. on 100 lives is ridiculous--unless you want to spend hours with your buddies--then it's awesome. The things that are most nostalgic are things that have these social connections with them."

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But many casual gamers, for whom competition isn't a big motivator, often feel the broader gaming community looks down on those in it for the "play." In his book, "The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games," Dr. Christopher Paul is critical of the ways in which gaming culture has come to over-emphasize meritocracy at the expense of enjoyment. He writes that, as games became more popular and the community sought to carve out space as a legitimate sport, gaming culture uncritically accepted the idea that "success in video games is something that is properly earned by players through effort and labor."

Paul, an assistant professor at Seattle University, argues that this thinking and other cultural assumptions underlie toxic in-group versus out-group dichotomies of who gets to be called a "real" gamer. Those who accept this framework are likely to think luck has no place in a game, because randomness erases complete control and makes the game "unfair."

The logic goes that if a game is easy to learn, it takes less skill and less time to learn that skill; therefore it isn't a good or fun game, and those who play games like Mario Kart or Party are not serious about gaming or are "not real gamers." If luck makes it so that "anyone" can win, why play the game?

Super Smash Bros. is the traditionally considered the most skill-based of the Nintendo games previously mentioned; there are tournaments such as EVO, where items and certain stages are banned in order make the battles solely about skill. Mario Kart, meanwhile, has gotten some of the worst flack, mainly for what critics feel is the unfairness of the "blue shell." Many advanced gamers are critical of Mario Party, seeing it as too random, as opposed to being a genuine test of skill.

These critiques are indicative of what many more advanced gamers feel about Mario spin-offs, but also highlight that they are likely conflating skill, competition, and technical mastery on one hand, and "fun" on the other. Not being able to see the value of games like Mario Party is overlooking and diminishing the social intent behind them.

The rationale behind critiques of these multiplayer Mario games can be a bit contradictory. The stigma placed on luck or randomness is often at odds with how unexpected moments in games are often the most enjoyable. If you flip through Fortnite highlights on Youtube or Twitch, a constant thread is moments where players, even professional ones, get lucky. It doesn't mean these players didn't have skill, but shooting an opponent from a distance so far that you can barely see them is as lucky as hitting the first place driver with a red shell right before they cross the finish line.

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Also, some gamers defend gaming as a sacred space of competition in ways they would find unacceptable in more traditional sports. If you and your friends went to shoot some hoops, and someone came over to say what you all were doing wasn't "real basketball," what would your reaction be? So why do we do this--either implicitly or explicitly--in the gaming community? Bowman thinks sometimes our competitive drive can bring out the best and the worst in us.

"Most people don't realize, it's not the in-group that's dangerous, it's once you start calling other people out-group," he said. "It's okay to be proud of who you are or the time you put in, but when that means other people who aren't you can't be proud, that's a problem."

What may be overlooked is the fact that the chance and probability elements of these games are meant to alter and augment player strategy, not diminish it.

There are scenarios in Mario Kart games where the best position to be in is second place, but if you are in first, you may want to hold on to a Super Horn to neutralize attacks from possible red and blue shells. After a few times playing Smash Bros. games, you understand how going after items is both an opportunity and a distraction. The randomness of their appearances forces players to constantly adjust their strategy and to see offense and defense as simultaneous choices, not separate ones. In Super Mario Party, players can take a risk and roll their special dice to move around the board faster, but also have to account for the probability that buying a star can help an opponent as well, since it moves the Star Space to another place.

Good players learn how to not only navigate the balancing elements of these games, but use them to their advantage. But while these games use chance as a way to even the odds a bit, they don't overcorrect to the point where skill and strategy are no longer vital.

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For example, being good at mini-games gives you a big advantage in Mario Party. Anyone who has played Smash knows that the random item appearances or the obstacles on different stages aren't going to help a novice opponent who doesn't know how to block and dodge, or who hasn't learned how to overcome edge guarding. Mario Kart's director and producer Hideki Konno previously noted that Nintendo wanted an experience where "everyone was in it until the end," but the "best" player is still going to win most of the time--like they would in pretty much any other game.

On its website, Nintendo's marketing for the Switch includes phrases like "keep the focus on fun," "connect and make memories," and "something for everyone." These Nintendo favorites don't eliminate the incentives for mastery or autonomy, but they do place a premium on social interaction. Nintendo designs its games for families and those who want to have fun social experiences.

Skill and technical prowess will always be a key aspect of gaming. Wanting to win isn't an inherently bad thing. But adding a little bit of luck can make each playthrough unique and give players of different skill levels a chance to compete--all of which place more emphasis on the "fun" and not the "win."

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Avatar image for JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

For those that don't understand the toxic meritocracy concept, I'll just revert back to the Dark Souls easy mode rumor. I don't know if anyone remembers or not, but there was a rumor that From Software was going to add an easy mode to Dark Souls and some people lost their minds. They went about attacking people who got excited that they could finally finish a Dark Souls game, thus the "get gud" mantra arose, a saying that I'm sick to death of hearing about. For one, someone playing a Dark Souls game on an easier level in no way invalidates your accomplishments in the game. You're still better than them at Dark Souls; you don't need to make them feel like shit because they can't beat it on Normal/Hardcover or whatever. That's the toxic part of meritocracy, although I personally would drop the toxic adjective entirely as it's redundant. Meritocracy itself is toxic.

I'm of the belief that gaming is for everyone. So people who bully/troll/demean the lesser skilled players are the ones that's actually ruining gaming and giving other people negative stigmas about our culture. There's no defense for people who act like this. If you're upset about this article, there's a good chance that the shoe probably fits you.

You also need to think about something, too. Gaming is the only entertainment medium that some people cannot enjoy completely because they need skill to finish some games. You can pick up any book and read it from start to finish. Same with movies and music. You can be a horrible person at sports but go to and enjoy a sports game of which you paid 60 dollars for a seat... But games, an average player will probably not even make it a quarter of a way through Sekiro. They bought the game thinking that "I can just practice and get better", but they found out they don't have the skill for it and just ended up wasting their money. I'm not saying every game needs an easy mode or a ton of luck added. I'm just saying that options are always a good thing, and it's ridiculous to make someone who wants to use those options feel ostracized because of your "get gud" mentality. The sooner we start becoming a little more empathetic with each other, the sooner our culture can earn some more respect. But it's not just gamers who have empathy problems, it's humankind in general.

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Thanatos2k

@JustPlainLucas: Gaming is for everyone, but not every game should be for everyone. That ends up with a watered down experience for all. Games that are laser focused on their target audience usually end up being the best at what they do, even if not everyone will like them.

"Gaming is the only entertainment medium that some people cannot enjoy completely because they need skill to finish some games."

Really? Ever done a puzzle? My grandma can put a 1000 piece puzzle together pretty fast, but the puzzle doesn't assemble itself. You can absolutely fail to be able to assemble one, and give up, like people do with video games.

Avatar image for P00DGE
P00DGE

4 player smash, or smash with items, is boring. Even when my group of 6+ gets together for smash nights, we cant play anything but 1v1 with no items. Its far more fun to watch a fun, skill based, luck free match and wait your turn, then to play a 4 man chaotic free for all. Whenever we try that, we all get burnt out on the game after a couple of matches because it is just too random. So even from a social standpoint, luck just doesnt make games fun, but rather boring.

So yeah, this article is retarded

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: 1v1 stock no items is the most boring mode you can possibly play in Smash.

Avatar image for P00DGE
P00DGE

@Thanatos2k: That's going to be a hard no from me. It is the ONLY fun mode in the game. All the other chaotic BS is boring because it usually just robs you of control of your character, and sometimes even vision of your character. Fun is when everything is down to your skill and your opponents skill. Not some BS that hits you from a blind spot.

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Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: There are many facets to skill, and restricting yourself to most boring mode just to pretend like you're only having fun when "skill" matters is just sad.

I bet you turn the stage hazards off too. I wonder why you even bought the game at all when you could have just kept playing Melee.

Avatar image for P00DGE
P00DGE

@Thanatos2k: and I dont think its boring at all. Boring to me is 4 players throwing bombs and pokeballs, and getting blindsided by random explosions and having vision obscured by 6 different sources of bright light. At that point, im playing an interactive cutscene, amd it gets exhausting quickly.

No need to turn off stage hazards, I only play on battlefield and FD versions of stages. I hate stage hazards, or really anything that randomly changes the tide of battle that is outside of either player's control. It doesn't make games interesting, it makes them feel frustrating if you are on the losing side of a random thing blowing you up, or makes the game feel cheap if it happened to your opponent.

Ive never cared much for melee. I mean it was okay in its time. I really like the physics in this new game, and the new characters are fun. That is far more than enough of a reason to buy the new games. The best part about the smash games are the really refined controls and battle mechanics, and they are all but hidden when items are turned on and random chaos is happening every few feet of a stage.

If that's your thing, cool. I find it mind numbingly boring, and whenever I have to play that way, I grow tired of playing smash after about 2 rounds.

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Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: So you only play on one stage in a game with dozens. You have a multiplayer game that supports more than four players even, but only play with 2 people at a time even when more are present and must sit and watch.

That is the most boring thing imaginable. I would just go home. I can only imagine the simmering resentment of the other people there forced to kotow to the system owner who enforces such boredom.

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P00DGE

@Thanatos2k: the 7 of us that play every Friday night all frequently take turns hosting and we all swear by only these rules. I enjoy watching intense 1 on 1 matches more than taking part in aggravating chaos, and we all share similar feelings.

By all means, continue enjoying your casual play. There isnt anything wrong with it. But the article is wrong in assuming that competitive playstyle are not good fits for social gatherings, because our group, and many other groups, do just fine.

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Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: And there's the delusion that only 1v1 stock same stage no items is competive. It's that attitude that prevents you from having fun.

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P00DGE

@Thanatos2k: im not prevented from having fun though. It is fun, for the people who play like that. And there are a lot of people who play like that, and have fun.

And if we are strictly talking about competition, and not casual fun, then yes, the less RNG the better the environment for competition. Playing competitively isnt the only way to play, but it is the only way some people have fin with the game.

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Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: If you were designing Magic the Gathering, you would change the rules to be "At the draw phase of your turn, select a card from your deck and add it to your hand."

You know, because then it's pure skill based and no RNG! But what a miserably boring game it would be. And yet, the game is still played very competitively. So much for that.

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P00DGE

@Thanatos2k: In Magic, players still create and stack their own deck with the cards they want. When cards are drawn, there are few surprises, and just about everything works together, so you arent drawing anything bad. Deck construction is even more important than the actual draws and plays themselves. Players arent just playing with decks built by random number generators.

I liken items and stage hazards in Smash, and allll the BS in Mario Party, to a game of Magic where every turn, a random event card is drawn that just damages one of the players randomly. That isnt fun. It is aggravating and cheap, and lessens the impact of decisions and strategy.

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Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: Saying draw RNG is unimportant and you can't draw bad is insane.

Stage hazards are predictable. Items can be avoided. You act like you can do nothing, when that is patently untrue. There are a few items with no counterplay (pokeballs, assist trophies and stuff like the star), but you can selectively disable those.

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P00DGE

@Thanatos2k: stage hazards are annoying, some far more than others. I am mostly talking here about pokeballs and assist trophies, which are trash for the same reason, and because they only reward simplistic gameplay (who can reach the item first, or who does it spawn closer to).

For the rest of the items, they fall into 2 categories. 1) useless and in the way. You try to do some sick setups and approaches, and instead you pick up an item, interrupting your attack or blocking the opponent accidentally. Or 2) too strong and often spawn nearer to one player than another, tilting the advantage heavily to the other side. Sure, this is funny for players during casual encounters, like a drunken party, or playing with novice nephews or something. But for two players on equal footing and skill, trying to best each other, it is annoying and saps the match of any fun when a hammer spawns next to the other player.

Some items, like bob-ombs can even spawn right in front of you when attacking, causing you to explode and die out of nowhere. This kind of unfair RNG is exactly the reason people HATED tripping in Brawl.

My other problem with items, ESPECIALLY when item frequency is high, is that they start to drown out the personality of each characters move set and the battle mechanics, and matches devolve into mad dashes for items, and spectacles of light and explosion all over the place. Just thinking about it exhausts me and makes me want to do something else.

Like I said, people arent wrong for enjoying this stuff. It is a game that can cater well towards a casual audience looking for a party game. But a lot of it has no place in competitive play, and people arent wrong for enjoying competitive play either, and the game is balanced well for it. It was even a huge focus from the developers this time around. I think competitive play is a blast and never get tired of it.

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Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: I know you're extremely desperate to justify your identity, but your version of competitive play is not definitive. There's a reason video games are not chess. You're obviously never going to convince me the only competitive play is to strip a game of all variance.

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P00DGE

@Thanatos2k: yikes dude, Im not the one desperate here, you are the one fighting against the established rules of EVERY competitive tournament. I never said you had to like it, but that's how it is, and for good reason. If you can't accept that, well get over it in your own way. Competitive rules arent changing anytime soon, and ALOT of people enjoy those rules.

Not quite sure why you are so worked up over what the rules for competitive play are. You clearly seem to be more interested in "fun" matches (or what fun means to you), so let competitive players be. We are enjoying our "stripped game" (lol) very much. Hope you are getting your enjoyment of the game in your own ways too.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@P00DGE: They don't play basketball one on one. (PURE SKILL!) You're purely referring to 1v1 fighting games, the most boring type of game to watch others play. There are countless other games played competitively in the world that thankfully ignore such a narrow sighted and flawed definition of competition. Plenty of RNG and variance exists in Dota, for example, and few would say that game is not competitive. They rightfully recognize how you react to variance is also a facet of skill.

Avatar image for Poodger
Poodger

@Thanatos2k: Boring for you, perhaps. It is a huge esports genre that MANY people watch. 1v1 is not boring for the many many people that watch and play in Smash Tournaments. I hate team games myself, Basketball is horribly boring to me. Boxing/fighting is also a big RL sport, and that is 1v1, so yeah. Not everything bends to this weird idea you have about what competitive gaming should be. I also don't quite know why you brought basketball up... the rules, skills required, and audience for all sorts of things are different. Not everything follows the same template. Just because it works for something like basketball doesnt mean it invalidates what works for smash.

I can think of handfuls of other types of games I wouldn't want to watch others play, but I find watching competitive 1v1 smash to be quite entertaining. I can't quite think of anything as RNG as randomly spawning items in mobas. Most of it follows a pretty predictable path and pattern of spawning. There are rarely ever any moments of "hey, that's not fair, you just got lucky" moments in competitive moba gaming. Team fights are what decide games, and those come down to reaction time, aim, strategy and skill. Not RNG.

You have some weird, stubborn, thickheaded resistance to accept that people enjoy playing this game in a way that you dont. Oh well, your problem, not mine.

Its also silly how much you think items add to the game. If smash were like a pizza, removing things like items and stage hazards would be like taking off toppings on the pizza. In the end, it is still a pizza. One of the most popular pizzas around is a straight cheese pizza. I personally can't stand onions, no pineapple, on my pizza. When I remove these items from my pizza, it makes the pizza better for me. Items and stage hazards are just like those extra toppings. They add a different flavor to the game, not strip the game down by excluding them. And it just so happens that a lot of people who take the game seriously, like their "pizza" without items and stage hazards.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Poodger: Did you just switch to an ALT? Wow, I knew I was being trolled.

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Poodger

@Thanatos2k: You know someone is out of arguments when all they have left to say is "you're a troll".

My PC is tied to one account, while my phone is tied to another. Oddly, they both seem to send notification to the same email, so I respond to stuff depending on which device I am using my email on atm.

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Poodger

@Thanatos2k: Do elaborate how. If that is all you have to say about it, you are reaching for anything to keep your trashy opinion afloat.

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Thanatos2k

@Poodger: I don't need any, you just massively contradicted your alt's points with your whole pizza argument.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

@P00DGE: Well, my friend and I got bored with just one on ones. So we played 4 player with items and suddenly, it was far more entertaining. It was refreshing to see players come in using different characters with completely different play styles and having to adjust to people you weren't familiar with. And items gave matches a level of unpredictability that always kept everyone on their toes. I've watched matches where two players knew each other so well, it just went on and on and on. Waiting for someone to die so you could get next... that's boring to me.

So when you say something like "this article is retarded", you may want to consider that your perspective is not definitive.

Avatar image for P00DGE
P00DGE

@JustPlainLucas: well the article certainly seems to try to make the idea of RNG more fun and social come across as definitive, which IS retarded.

Avatar image for Sepewrath
Sepewrath

To say that luck is punishment for being good, is idiotic.

However, thing is I wouldn't qualify the items in Mario Kart as luck. It would be luck if you could literally get any item at any time. Meaning you could get a star and a lightning bolt in first place. Its a design to keep a race fun an hectic, what fun is it to get out to first place and never see anyone again for the remainder of the race?(even though that can happen still even with the item algorithm)

In smash items are not luck, what happens to be in a pokeball or a capsule is random luck, but using those items is not luck. And a skillful player can defend against them, it does give people a chance who aren't as good to steal a KO or two, but ultimately its not the end all be all. I don't mind playing with items, because if your good you'll win most of the time anyway.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Sepewrath: "Meaning you could get a star and a lightning bolt in first place."

No, you cannot. There is a very specific set of items you can get when in first place, and items have quality buckets that you pick from based on distance from the first place player. But it is also completely random which one you get from those buckets, so yes, it is luck.

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Sepewrath

@Thanatos2k: You might want to reread that, reading comprehension is your friend.

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Thanatos2k

@Sepewrath: I know what you said. You tried to say luck doesn't matter in Mario Kart because they don't let you get any item at any time, but it very clearly does to those who have played the game. The difference between a golden mushroom and a star, for example, is massive given how many things a star protects you from while providing nearly the same ground coverage. Golden Mushrooms also block the second item slot from being used and prevent you from picking up another item to fill its slot which the star does not. Both are in the same quality bucket, so races (or vastly increasing your place near the end) are often decided by which one the game decides to give you, which is luck.

A bullet bill from the second-to-last item can often flat out win the race, but again, only if you're lucky.

Whether you get a sound box in first place to fend off blue shells often wins races, and that's pure luck. At what time on the final lap the game doles out a blue shell to a player (if at all) decides races. Again luck.

Mario Kart is one of the most luck based games Nintendo makes.

Avatar image for P00DGE
P00DGE

@Sepewrath: I disagree. Many of the items in Smash, with assist trophies and pokeballs being the biggest offenders, simply turn the stage into far too much chaos to be anything but a cinematic pong cutscene in which you are blasted around. It just isnt fun.

Blue shells in Mario Kart are the only item that is absolute BS.

Avatar image for nintendians
nintendians

nintendo always have pure good luck.

NINTENDO POWER!!!

Avatar image for GambreGoemon
GambreGoemon

I despise luck-based games, mostly because I have consistently terrible luck. I don't play local multiplayer, and I avoid online multiplayer because online gamers are petty, vindictive and will do anything to increase their gamer scores and leader board ranks. So social appeal is lost on me.

I prefer skill-based games. I like feeling "in control", being able to determine my own outcomes. Nothing enrages me while playing games more than that feeling of losing regardless of my controller input. To me, it's the mark of a poorly made game.

Avatar image for Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@GambreGoemon: Outside of Mario Party, which is built like a board game which is in fact designed around the luck of probability(You cant be "good" at Monopoly) But Smash and Mario Kart are not luck based, its not even luck in Mario Kart. Its an algorithm to give losing players a shot at coming back, just because you get a lightning bolt and bullet, doesn't mean your going to win. Smash is even more skill based, because a more skilled player knows the stage hazards and items and how to use them and counter them. The items just give a novice player a chance to not be absolutely hammered, but it wont replace skill.

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Daian

Tell this nonsense to anyone who's ever played or seen Mario Party or Mario Kart.

Avatar image for tomwenz
tomwenz

I remember playing Mario Party 6 (I think) with my old room mates back in the day. Did good in the mini games, but wound up dead last. I commented on how the game was pure luck and no amount of skill could guarantee a win. The others joked that I was just making excuses and that I sucked.

So to prove my theory, next round I purposely failed each mini game as fast as I possibly could, and made sure to wind up dead last in every gameplay segment. Sure enough, my dice rolls ended up being more and more epic, and thru those alone I stole enough coins and stars etc. to win the game by a landslide.

I can understand the point where Nintendo programs their games to help the struggling players (ie. So little 6yr old Timmy can play with his older siblings/parents and not wind up last all the time, crying) but at the same time, I don't see a point to a game where you just need to push A to continue and beat a fellow player who is actually participating.

Avatar image for Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@tomwenz: And if you tried that again, I bet you would lose. Its a board game, board games are based on luck. You won all the mini games and lost, because I'm guessing you had crap luck getting to the stars and opportunities to steal stars. Skill in MP is for the mini games and the mini games alone, but its a board game so that doesn't guarantee you'll win. That's like being an expert in finance and real estate purchases, you expect to win at monopoly every time lol.

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P00DGE

@Sepewrath: if you are going to talk like you know board games, dont use casual filth like monopoly, which is one of the worst, bland board games ever made.

Good board games and card games (and games that combine both) only have a miniscule amount of luck, and are more about playing the stats, knowing when to use certain cards, and using strategy.

Avatar image for Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@P00DGE: Spare me the board game elitist routine, Monopoly is a classic board game. And no matter how much skill one thinks they have at a card game etc. its predominately luck. If your dealt a crap hand in Poker, you cant skill into a good hand.

Avatar image for P00DGE
P00DGE

@Sepewrath: monopoly is a casual board game. For children and soccer moms. Akin to Candy Land. It is quite a good comparison to games like Mario Party though. A game where you literally play on autopilot, with very few choices to make, and hope luck is on your side.

There are far better board games and card games that actually feel more like games and less like lottery ticket scratchers.

Just like Smash Bros is a far better game when items are turned off, and Mario Kart would instantly be better if blue shells could be disabled.

The only time these things are fun are when casual gamers are playing, or when you are drunk. And even then, there are still better "casual drunk games" options.

As far as poker... yikes man, is that what you go to when you think of more intense card games? What a bland tabletop experience you must have had. Hundreds of high quality board games, and the examples you bring up are monopoly and poker. How drab. But poker, at least, is about far more than luck. Winning is less about the hand you draw and more about your ability to get in peoples heads and force them to fold by bluffing. That element is why poker is actually an okay game... very much unlike the bore fest that is monopoly.

Avatar image for Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@P00DGE: Never seen an elitist with board games, that is pretty funny actually. And when it comes to Poker, an ability to manipulate people is not a skill developed for that specific game, its just something people can do. So at the end of the day, you cant call it a poker skill. Compare it to say a jump shot, a jump shot is a skill developed in basketball and only for basketball and cant be used for anything else, like say when a poker hand. The ability to read someone and manipulate them is learned outside of poker and can be learned by someone whose never played one hand of poker in their life; hence its not a poker skill. Which in fact makes it a game purely based on statistical luck.

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P00DGE

@Sepewrath: actually a retarded comment. Just because a skill wasnt developed specifically for something doesn't mean it still isnt integral to how a game is played. Bluffing isnt exclusive to poker, but is still an important aspect of it, and the entire point of professional poker. Skills are not isolated to specific activities, and entire new games can be developed from the same set of skills required from another game.

You can keep laughing about board game elitism, but its actually silly to me that you can say board games are all luck when it seems like you have barely scratched the surface of tabletop and board games, with only the experience of the most basic, entry level children's board games available. Exposing yourself to better board games than the likes of monopoly would show you just how good board games can be, and just how little they can rely on luck.

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Sepewrath

@P00DGE: Nah, your just a contrarian dbag who cant be happy with their opinion unless its against that of everyone else--like refusing to admit that monopoly is one of the best board games ever.

Now let me put you down once and for all. To say that a skill is developed somewhere else and applied to a different game is fine, but the major difference here is that skill is not REQUIRED for this game. You cant be good at passing a football and then translate that into making a jump shot, doesn't work like that. But you can be successful in poker, without a lick of the "skills" that people talk about, they even have a phrase for it, beginners luck. Here's an example: World Series of Poker player vs rank amateur who never played a hand in their life; one hand, winner takes all. The former is dealt ace high, the latter dealt a royal flush, who wins that game?

Take an expert Mario Kart player, put them against a rank amateur who never played once. Have all items on, they know the controls, who wins that race?

In the former example, no amount skill or knowledge will overcome that bad luck of a crap hand vs a great hand. In the latter, the bad player will get stars, golden mushroom, lightning bolt and they will still lose. So now tell me which one is skill and which one is luck?

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P00DGE

@Sepewrath: do you even know what contrarian means? It is when someone disagrees or argues against something just because others like it. Someone just trying to be different. You have a small sample size of comments, and all I can tell you is that for just about everything, I am basic AF, and share the same opinion as the masses. I am not in the least bit contrarian. Using the word contrarian to try to shut someone down is the same as calling someone a troll just because they disagree with you.

Saying Monopoly is one of the best board games ever is like someone who has never left their little town saying their little town is the best place in the world. Its like someone who has only ever had McDonalds saying McDonalds has the best burger ever. Or someone who has only played Nintendo games saying Nintendo is the best developer. Now if they go out and experience everything and still hold that opinion, that is totally fine. But in my experience of introducing people to newer board games beyond Risk, Monopoly and Yahtzee, they ALWAYS agree that the games I introduce them to are more involved, and more fun, than the basic games most American families play growing up. Monopoly is a popular selling game for sure, but only because its one of only 3 or 4 board games most people have ever been exposed to. They arent wrong for liking it, but it is certainly a form of ignorance. Most people have no idea what they are missing by not expanding their board game horizons.

As far as your poker example goes, you just helped prove my original point. Sure, if you take the full game of poker, and isolate it to a single winner take all hand, it becomes pure luck. And also now becomes boring. The example you provided is the exact kind of game that isn't fun to play at all, because its purely luck based. You also isolated a single instance of poker and compared it to the full game of Mario Kart, which is a tilted comparison. In a full game of Poker, there is a lot of skill/strategy involved, which transcends it beyond a game of luck.

The biggest problem with Mario Kart's randomness, and the blue shell in particular, is that the person that uses it rarely benefits from it. Last place gets a blue shell, uses it, and stays in last place. Meanwhile, the first place person gets punished and the second place person pulls ahead and wins. That is horribly unfun to play against and I always feel bad if I am that second place person that pulls ahead. It doesnt feel like a real win.

For the record, I dont like poker much, and I like Mario Kart a lot... I just wish you could turn certain items on and off like in Smash Bros (which is Nintendos best series by far, IMO)

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jinzo9988

As long as they have a way to play the game with luck removed, then there's nothing really to complain about. Smash Ultimate has stage hazards, Pokeballs, assist trophies and all that shit going on, but you can tailor a match to be completely fair with no luck factor also if that's your thing. Options are never a bad thing.

I'm mixed on Mario Party because almost every board game on the planet has an element of luck to it... so is it really any surprise that Mario Party has an element of luck to it also? Nope. Mario Kart 8? Sure, the items... but if you're playing with friends, you can simply get everyone to agree not to use any items and there you go. And even with items, you have several ways to counter. You may not always have the right item to counter or defend yourself, but they're there.

Let's suppose I had a few friends over to play Mario Kart and they were all garbage and I was God. Fun game night, huh? For me maybe. But once you start introducing luck into the mix, someone can squeeze out a surprise win and now you've created a memory. If you're playing online with people then who the **** cares that someone won because of luck? But when you're playing locally with friends, that dynamic changes an awful lot.

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Dark_Mits

Backgammon has RNG in it (the dice); the skill of the player is determined by being able to overcome their opponent despite how bad dice they can have.

Card games have RNG, and similarily the skill is determined by the player calls (and card counting in some games).

Games like Monopoly have RNG. But I haven't heard anyone say that having to roll a dice to see where you'll land is bad design.

Chess does not have RNG. And it is possibly the leading game in terms of what is considered competitive on a worldwide scale.

The issue is not if having RNG makes a game good or bad. The issue is that people try to shove it into each other's face when they are better, or when they associate themselves with an activity that is considered more hardcore or extreme or difficult. Not unlike those who like to point it in your face when they climb atop a mountain or dive into a trench. Too many people engage themselves in activities not because they like those as a hobby, but because they want to boast to their peers about it.

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