OPINION: Invincible mode in Star Fox Zero? Great, bring it on

Developer Shigeru Miyamoto has revealed that upcoming Wii U shooter Star Fox Zero will include the option for players to pilot an invincible Arwing.

The idea, Miyamoto explained, is to give less experienced, and typically younger players, an easier in-road into the game. The traditional play modes will remain for those who wish to play it as intended. Which means it’s OK, right?

Of course not. Take a gander at the comments on any of the sites that have reported the news and you’ll see a big dollop of frustration, dissatisfaction and anger. Criticisms typically insist that the challenge is part of the fun, or that the decision is symptomatic of the perceived ‘dumbing down’ of gaming.

Really though, how can this news be a bad thing?

It would be bad if gamers were forced to play in an invincible craft, certainly. But that’s not the case. Players will be completely free to choose. And for the vast majority who want to play the vanilla experience, complete with the very real risk of failure, this decision will have precisely zero impact.

For others, however, there will undoubtedly be an appeal. I’ve seen first hand with my daughter that the risk of failure or threat of death can be really off-putting in a game. She wants to explore a world, be a hero and beat the bad guys. She doesn’t want to feel vulnerable and she doesn’t want to fear what’s around the corner. ‘Dying’ or ‘failing’, or even just the threat of it, can be enough to put her off completely.

The removal of these factors in Star Fox could well be the difference between her simply playing more Animal Crossing, Noby Noby Boy, Goat Simulator or Minecraft (Creative mode) or trying her hand at something a little more like her dad plays. And that would make me really happy.

One particular reaction, picked up by Eurogamer on Reddit, caught my eye.

In case you can’t read that: As if ‘Kind Code’ in Skyward Sword wasn’t embarrassing enough they had to go and do this. If Miyamoto was in charge of Dark Souls he’d probably add a mode with no enemies.”

Now, I’m a massive, massive Dark Souls fan. It’s the best game ever made, I reckon. And don’t get me started on Dark Souls II, which I think was very unfairly criticised (don’t tell anyone, but I think I love it more than the original). But would an ‘invincible’ or ‘no enemies’ or ‘god’ mode in Dark Souls actually matter?

I mean, I wouldn’t play it. For me the challenge of Dark Souls is absolutely fundamental to the experience (although while we’re on the subject there are plenty of other games I’ll happily play on easy – normally games in which I’m there to experience the plot or the world, and don’t care for the challenge).

So hard Dark Souls is the right Dark Souls for me. For others it may not be. And for those people, why not give them the opportunity to explore that world in a way they might enjoy? It would not affect my experience of the game in the slightest. And I could certainly appreciate the appeal of a casual, uninterrupted stroll through the world of Bloodborne.

But this mentality is one we so often are forced to endure. I don’t understand and I don’t like it so I don’t think others should even have the option.” How you arrive at this conclusion I cannot fathom. The core market should not feel threatened by the fact that other markets can also be catered for. There’s plenty of room for everyone.

If Star Fox Zero offers an alternative mode that has zero negative effect on ‘core’ players but might in some small way draw in a new audience to the series, to Nintendo and to its, frankly, struggling console, then who exactly is the loser?

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