Nintendo continues to shirk accessibility

'Metroid: Samus Returns'

Courtesy of Nintendo
Nintendo has been behind the curb when it comes to accessibility options. Common fixes applied to games to make them approachable for disabled gamers include customizable controls, colorblind options and modded controls.

By Grant Stoner | Staff Writer


Nintendo, I think it’s time that you and I had a little chat. I’ve been a devoted fan throughout my entire gaming life. I’ve purchased every system (including the egregiously inaccessible Wii) knowing that your vast array of titles will keep me entertained. However, your recent inabilities to accommodate disabled players has left me sick to my stomach.

Now, I will admit, you are trying. Your efforts to apply fully customizable controls to ARMS is admirable. However, one accessible game within your library is certainly not enough. Greater efforts need to be taken to ensure that your games are accessible, as well as enjoyable.

You already know how I feel about the Switch. Spending $350 for a rectangular paperweight was not an experience that I would like to repeat. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild marks the second game in the franchise that I have been unable to play. Yet my struggles did not come from an inability to utilize motion controls, but rather an inability to configure the buttons.

Could I forgive you for this lack of inclusion? Possibly. But your most recent game proves that you have yet to learn your lesson.

I am, of course, referring to the launch of Metroid: Samus Returns.

For over a decade, fans of the series, myself included, have been left wanting a proper Metroid game. With this remake of the classic Game Boy title, developer Mercury Steam has certainly delivered. Boasting an impressive 88 percent on Metacritic, Metroid: Samus Returns brings Samus Aran back to her roots by allowing gamers to traverse the ever-expanding caverns of SR388, while collecting an extensive list of power-ups and upgrades.

With this much praise, you may be asking yourself, “Grant, when can we expect a review?”

Unfortunately, never.

Once again, Nintendo, you have demonstrated that you are unwilling to accommodate disabled gamers. Metroid: Samus Returns makes it abundantly clear that both shoulder buttons must be used on the Nintendo 3DS. The “R” bumper is relegated to activating missiles, a feature that cannot be ignored for any Metroid title, while the “L” bumper activates a new form, allowing Samus to freely engage any enemy. Traditionally played on a 2D plane, Metroid: Samus Returns enables the fearless bounty hunter to enter “Free Aim” mode, allowing her to fire in a 360 degree zone. While holding down the “L” button, Samus can destroy environments, defeat roaming monsters and even scan her surroundings to search for hidden upgrades.

My twisted and mangled hands prevent me from ever reaching these two immensely important buttons. But what truly angers me about this situation is why on this inaccessible green Earth didn’t Mercury Steam, or Nintendo, for that matter, provide gamers with an option to toggle these features On the 3DS’ touch screen? Nintendo has regularly implemented actions on every device that comes with a touch screen. Aside from motion controls, touch screens are their gimmick. Yet, with Metroid: Samus Returns, the 3DS’ second screen has been reduced to not much more than a map. What could have been a valuable tool for me, and other people like me, is stripped of much of its potential.

I am well aware that implementing accessible options takes time. In fact, some developers may fear that adding these accommodations could possibly delay the launch of their game. However, knowing that Sony and Microsoft, arguably your two biggest competitors, have already applied accessible features, it baffles me as to why you continue to ignore a significant population of the gaming community. If this behavior keeps up, I think it would be best if we took a break.

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