Appreciating Nintendo puzzle games’ accessibility

There is something about a good puzzle game. They tend to be one of the most welcoming genres, with easy to understand concepts, difficulty that can grow with players and matches that may be brief or even endless. Well-crafted ones are accessible, which is great. When it comes to Nintendo, some of the puzzle games it has created and published go a step further. While not all of their games accommodate people who might be colorblind, quite a few do.

The original Yoshi, from Game Freak, is one such game. While it is not the most challenging puzzler, it is very clear. Players are attempting to hatch Yoshi eggs, all while matching iconic Super Mario monsters. Since you are dealing with characters, rather than colored blocks, it is easier to make matches even if you have issues with your vision.

This sentiment extends to Yoshi’s Cookie, which was developed by Bullet-Proof Software. Here, we have a field filled with various cookies. Color isn’t as important as the patterns on each of them. Each cookie is a different shape and has its own unique design. Fitting, since it needed to work on both the NES and SNES, as well as the monochromatic game boy.

In fact, the Game Boy forced Nintendo and the developers it was working with to get creative. After all, the limited color palette meant you needed to do more to distinguish icons in puzzle games. Intelligent Systems’ Panel de Pon, known outside Japan as Puzzle League or Tetris Attack, is another game that made sure its blocks were easy to see. Each block is not only a different color, but has a unique symbol on it. Seeing all those circles, diamonds, hearts, stars and triangles is a big help. Every Puzzle League game has had such icons, though the Pokemon installments had different icons inspired by the series, like fireballs, leaves and water droplets.

Like Panel de Pon, Kirby’s Star Stacker was originally a Game Boy and Super Famicom game that offered more unique tiles. Players are attempting to clear tiles on the field. There could be solid blocks, star blocks and bomb blocks, though the ones with Coo the owl, Kine the fish, and Rick the hamster are the ones you need to eliminate the other junk by putting them at opposite ends of these other sorts of blocks. All of them are distinct, which is great for people who might have vision problems.

The Pokemon Trozei and Pokemon Shuffle lines also rely on blocks with animal shapes. Though, in this case, you’re working with the floating heads of various Pokemon. Lining up these familiar faces is the way to win and eliminate them from the field, earning points and helping to propel you through the game. These are immediately recognizable characters, regardless of whether or not you can accurately ascertain their color schemes.

Not every puzzle game Nintendo released is accessible to everyone. Games like Dr. Mario have been beyond people who may be colorblind so far. But while some aren’t so accommodating, there are quite a few that are. It is nice to know there are some enjoyable games that can reach those who might have a condition that keeps them from seeing things the way everyone else does.

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