One of the things that irritates me the most when it comes to video games is some people’s casual dismissal of a game for no other reason than the fact that it looks “kiddie.” This usually applies to games with bright colors, mascots, anthropomorphic animals, you name it. Examples are the Kirby series, the later Mario games, even Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and the Harvest Moon series. I’ve been in many a gaming store where I’ve heard those damn kids bantering about said games (then they end up buying some pile of rubbish like Grand Theft Auto III):
“Wow! Super Mario Sunshine!“
“Oh come on. That game’s for little kids.”
“But I thought Mario was cool?”
“Only if you’re a little kid.”
“But it still looks–“
No, YOU shut the f*ck up. Listen, try to dig a little deeper than what’s on the surface, and you may very well find that some of the best games out there are lumped into the “kiddie” category for no legitimate reason.
We’ll start with the Kirby games. The little pink puffball first appeared on the Game Boy in Kirby’s Dreamland (actually, he was white then…his pink color didn’t show up until Kirby’s Adventure on the NES). Ever wonder why Kirby looks the way he does? When Hal Labs was designing the game, they hadn’t created the main character yet, so they just threw in a circle with a face on it to take up space while creating the levels. The programmers loved it so much, they added some simple “arms” and feet, and lo and behold, Kirby was born! He wasn’t meant to be “kiddie,” he was literally created that way by accident. His games aren’t horribly difficult, but the secondary objectives (for example, collecting all of the treasures in Kirby Superstar) definitely take time, patience, and skill…something kids don’t possess.
Call him “kiddie” all you want; Kirby is hardcore. He literally eats his foes alive! That, and he’s held his own against Nintendo heavyweights in the Super Smash Bros. games. Watching Kirby beat the shit out of Mario and Link is sheer bliss.
Speaking of Mario…when the hell did that suddenly become a kiddie game?! Mario’s a goddamn video game icon, fer crissake! Who DIDN’T live off of Mario games growing up? I didn’t even have any video game systems, yet I played Mario games as much as possible over other people’s houses. Mario’s a legend, not fluff for little kids. The stigma mainly applies to his newer games (like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine), but honestly, where’s the real difference? There were plenty of bright colors and whimsical characters in the older games, too.
Then there’s the shitstorm that flared up when the first shots of Wind Waker were released. Even I had my doubts as to how “Cel-da” would turn out. But, as anyone who’s played it knows, it’s far from a kiddie game. The art style used was dead-on, with the way the story was told. A “realistic” art style simply wouldn’t have worked.
Finally, my biggest point of contention: Harvest Moon. How the f*ck is a FARMING game considered “kiddie”?! Especially considering just how complicated those games really are. A kid would get lost very quickly, indeed. Plus…I never knew that many kids who got super-excited about a farming simulation. That kind of excitement is generally reserved for older supergeeks like myself, and the other freaks here at 411.
People need to get it through their heads: a game is only “kiddie” if it’s specifically designed, marketed, and labeled as such. You know, stuff based on popular kids’ licenses, like Spongebob Squarepants and all that other Nickelodeon trash. I don’t see how stuff like Mario is “kiddie,” considering the character was created in the 1970s. If anything, Mario’s aimed at us old folks who have been around since then! The quality of a game should never be downplayed based on whether it’s got bright colors, talking animals, or any of that nonsense. Need I remind you that 99% of “mature” games suck big dick?