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Parent Trap: Helping Newcomers Start Playing Pokémon, Zelda and Metroid

Posted by Andy Robertson

Andy Robertson on bringing new players to the Nintendo banner

One of the difficulties of big video game series for any newcomer (never mind families) is when and how to jump in. Franchises like Skylanders, Zelda and Metroid offer lots of different games on lots of different formats that a family could buy to get started. However, the problem is that until you've tried and got to know these games it’s very hard to know which option to go for.

The bigger the franchise the more difficult the decision is. Purists will insist that you should start at the beginning, following the series through chronologically. Others will have their favourite iteration that they think is the best place to start.

Pokémon is perhaps the biggest of these series and therefore presents the biggest problem. Each game is crammed full of complexity and a different mix of gameplay and Pokémon to collect. Even if you do decide which platform and game to get you then need to decide which of the two versions to pick up, as each main entry is usually split into two titles.

It’s a minefield for the well versed, but for families it can mean they choose to simply avoid the decision all together, opting instead for the simpler family mini-game experiences that will last them all of five minutes.

This is where, I suggest, Pokémon X & Y comes in. Not only is it an iteration of the series on the latest hardware, but it also offers some simplified controls and super accessible multiplayer modes. For newcomers, or those who are returning after a break from the series, it really is a compelling way to get started.

Starting with this latest version also works with Pokémon as the game is not as heavily story-led as some other Nintendo experiences. Whichever game you pick up first the learning curve is about what these Pokémon creatures are, how you use them and why – rather than about what is happening in the narrative.

Working with some of my test families, we made this video around how they got on with the new game. As you can see it’s the multiplayer aspect of Pokémon X & Y that they really hooked onto. Being able to simply exchange and battle Pokémon with both the local wireless and internet WiFi connectivity not only offered a lot of accessible entertainment but also meant they could use voice-chat to stay in touch while they were away.

Pokémon X & Y adds a second knock-out punch in the form of the 2DS. Of course the pairing of a new system with a new game is an arbitrary decision and one that revolves around release timing as much as anything else. However, for families this offers not only an easy way in to play Pokémon on 2DS a reason to jump from DS to “3DS” games — something that parents will also appreciate as they can then catch up with the last two Professor Layton games on 3DS.

So there you have it, Parent Trap’s case for starting Pokémon with X & Y. I’m sure you have other iterations of the series that you’d like to suggest for newcomers — as well suggestions for other big Nintendo games. Which Zelda game on DS should families start with (not forgetting that GBA slot)? Where best is it to start Metroid, not forgetting its overarching story? Or how about the best place to rock up in Phoenix Wright? Let us have your own answers by posting a comment below.

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User Comments (39)

jjmesa16

#1

jjmesa16 said:

I started out playing Pokemon Yellow way back when. Then I owned Gold, Silver, and Crystal and after that I didn't play another Pokemon game until Pokemon White. I believe anyone one who is starting Pokemon should start at the beginning of any generation. No matter where you start in the franchise none of generations are really connected which makes it easy to start anywhere. The best place I think to start would be Gold/Silver because it includes the first two regions of Pokemon so it sort of includes Red/Blue as well. However Pokemon X and Y are a good place to start too as it is a new generation with a new region and new Pokemon.

RupeeClock

#2

RupeeClock said:

As long as it's not Other M people are being introduced to, we don't need newcomers getting the wrong idea about Samus...

Actually I would suggest newcomers to Metroid start with Metroid Zero Mission as it has an easy mode, offers a lot of freedom in exploration whilst providing clear directions on where to go next, and is generally the beginning of Samus' adventures anyway.

BlatantlyHeroic

#3

BlatantlyHeroic said:

I would like to argue that Pokemon X and Y were a little too easy. I would have liked it if the Elite 4 were at least a little stronger, or perhaps having some really strong trainer to battle at the end of Postgame like Red.

LDXD

#4

LDXD said:

I always say start with the originals first but I know they are kinda hard to get into for newbies as for metroid I'd say zero mission as @RupeeClock mentioned, and prime maybe even super being that its arguably the best
As for Pokemon I never played a single game yet I guess I feel like I'm to old for that being 35 and all seems like I'm missing out though

Ungravitify

#5

Ungravitify said:

@LDXD Your never too old to start with pokemon I suggest you give it a try.

I'd say any of the ds pokemon games are best to start with you can still find all of the game and hardware for reasonable prices.

LDXD

#6

LDXD said:

@Ungravitify I was seriously thinking about starting with the x or y I lover RPGs
I guess when I was younger I remember my little brother getting Pokemon cards when he was a kid and it just stuck with me being a kiddie type thing, silly I know I guess I need to get over that lol

Ungravitify

#7

Ungravitify said:

@LDXD Its alright man pokemon's main audience is kids to be honest so it kinda is a kiddie thing but its meant for everyone thats why I like it, I'm 20 btw.

X and Y is a perfect starting to point for the teenagers and older since its easier to understand the rpg elements and etc.

Also that avatar of yours is from dark souls right?

Artwark

#8

Artwark said:

I right now am getting either starfox 64 3d or Animal crossing New Leaf just to learn more brands of Nintendo.

ueI

#9

ueI said:

Yeah, I have this problem a lot. In the case of Pokemon you usually want to go for the latest and greatest game.

Nintenjoe64

#10

Nintenjoe64 said:

I bought my nephew Mario 64 DS a few years ago and it is still his favourite game ever. I played Wind Waker (GC) with my niece and it's now her favourite game. I'm a brilliant uncle.

LDXD

#11

LDXD said:

@Ungravitify yes its from dark souls by far my favorite game last gen Its the main character kneeling by the bonfire
Looks like I'm gonna pick up either x or y but what are the main deferences? Aren't they basically the same game with just different Monsters?
One huge problem but I guess its a good thing I have so many Games on my 3ds I haven't even opened yet and I know they're great games. I hope I have The same problem with the Wii u 2 years from now

Bass_X0

#12

Bass_X0 said:

Shouldn't todays parents have grown up with Nintendo and be familar with long-running series from their own childhood?

Or did the millions of Pokemon Red/Blue fans from 1996 not have children and the clueless parents of today were equally clueless back when they were children themselves?

The clueless parent towards videogames shouldn't be a thing anymore. How many 30 year olds today have not heard of Mario, Zelda and Pokemon even if they are not interested in playing games now?

mookysam

#13

mookysam said:

I would agree with Pokemon X/Y being best for series newcomers, but White/Black is also a great choice, or perhaps even Heart Gold/Soul Silver. It's not just that they're just good starting points, but that gameplay wise they are the best the series has ever been. I would never recommend Red or Blue these days because of how buggy and unbalanced they are.

Ungravitify

#14

Ungravitify said:

@LDXD
The usual pokemon difference is that each game has exclusive pokemon but the number isn't much very small can't remember the exact number for X and Y and they have the same story but with slight differences. I only own Y so I don't know all the story differences but usually when you pick a pokemon game its better to just chose which legendary pokemon you like better either Xerneas or Yvetal.

On a side note I really need to get back into dark souls :/ I died to an early game boss so much that it killed my enjoyment of the game and I ended up selling it but just today I realize that dark souls was the only game I ever gave up on and I want to buy it again and push through.

Fun fact I bought to prepare to die edition of dark souls and boy was that title appropriate.

LDXD

#15

LDXD said:

@Ungravitify lol tell me about it when I first played demon souls I died right on a staircase to a boss it killed me before I even seen it I stopped playing for a long time. I got darksouls beat that took like 3 months or so to do so then I went back to demon souls got back to that boss like it was nothing showed how much better I got at the game I was surprised at how easy it was to get back to him because when I played before it was hell. Its a game I just love to get lost in and hardly any cheap deaths.
I wouldn't mind a spin off something a little more brighter and less punishing but with the same awesome gameplay

XCWarrior

#16

XCWarrior said:

With Nintendo, you can probably argue any game made the in the last few generations are fine for kids. They are overly simple and easy to comprehend. I have a niece who at 4 years old I could get to play 1st party games b/c they are cake to understand.

I wish their games were less hand holdy. There should be an option to turn it off.

bizcuthammer

#17

bizcuthammer said:

For Legend of Zelda and Metroid, its harder for families to really get into those, being epic single player experiences. I'd rarely ever suggest Metroid to a family, as its story is confusing unless you play them in order and its atmosphere and difficulty are a bit intimidating for some kids. Zelda, on the other hand, is less convoluted in its story since mostly every entry is a self-contained narrative within the larger legend. Zelda also usually offers kid friendly environments and graphics. I've found Zelda can be a fun experience for smaller families, helping one another to figure out what to do next in the game. But because its a single player game, in order to enjoy it as a family you probably could only count the console versions, as its very hard to cram everyone around a 3DS screen. I'd suggest starting with either Skyward Sword or Wind Waker HD in this case.

RoboDuck

#18

RoboDuck said:

Play Super Smash Bros. Melee or Brawl. If you find any of the characters interesting, go and do a bit of research. It's how 8/10 people found out about Earthbound.

Warruz

#19

Warruz said:

@Bass_X0 I think we are still a little early for that. I grew up with Pokemon right at that time (i was 6 when it came out). I imagine most of those who played pokemon from that time where 6-10 which would put them in to their mid 20's. Most people dont have kids early these days so if they do have a child its most likely in the toddler range at most.

Another 5 years and we will be there.

LordessMeep

#20

LordessMeep said:

I played my first Pokemon game EVER (Fire Red) only last year. Since then, I've been caught up in White 2 and, more recently, X. Zelda, personally, is one that can be introduced to new comers at any point, considering how each iteration is more or less a standalone story, as @bizcuthammer said. My first was OoT and it still remains a favorite of mine.

Phoenix Wright, on the other hand, NEEDS to be played from the beginning to fully appreciate the story being told. This especially holds since each case within the same game refers to past cases/events/people and everything is pretty much intertwined. It's a shame though since some newcomers could be discouraged from diving in - I was too! But then I played the first case and ended up being hooked. :P

I've never played Metroid properly either so I'll probably take up @RupeeClock's advice sometime. :D

AJWolfTill

#22

AJWolfTill said:

The only Zelda game from the last few generations which isn't a great starting point is Majora's Mask. Wind Waker would be great but I think the story in the second half of the game wouldn't be as interesting if you hadn't played Ocarina first. Skyward Sword, Ocarina3D and Twilight Princess are probs the safest start points.
I would have said Black&White 1 were the best places to start other than the first but I haven't played the new ones.

DarkKirby

#23

DarkKirby said:

Nintendo seems to think the "solution" is the reduce the difficulty of the games by a significant amount, as Pokemon X/Y has been the easiest Pokemon game in the series for a while, when the games were actually getting steadily harder up until B/W2.

GamerGleek47

#24

GamerGleek47 said:

I woud love to know where to start with Zelda. The original is too hard (or I am n00b lol) and I've tried Twilight Princess and the wolf combat was kinda boring so I dropped it. Everyone keeps telling me to play OoT but, (and let every gamer forgives me for this), it looks kinda boring.
A Link Between Worlds looks reaaaally fun and interesting but I may end up dropping it :/ Heeelp!! :(

retro_player_22

#25

retro_player_22 said:

@GamerGleek47

Your assumption that a game is boring before even trying it prevents you from experiencing the main meat of the game. Best that you start playing and not looking, if you want a good start with the Zelda games, start with A Link to the Past, then Link's Awakening, then Wind Waker from there. Each Zelda game offers a different concept and experience so don't expect all to be the same.

May_Nyan

#26

May_Nyan said:

"the game is not as heavily story-led as some other Nintendo experiences"
What Nintendo experiences are "heavily story-led"? =s

kokirii

#27

kokirii said:

How about Metroid? I'd like to get into it but tried playing the original on my 3ds and got lost pretty early on

Darknyht

#29

Darknyht said:

Zelda: A Link to the Past (Old School) or Ocarina of Time (3D) are probably the two best ones to start with. OoT introduces you to the start of the timeline (and it's many splits).

Metroid: Super Metroid (Old School) or Metroid Prime Triology (New Style)

CaviarMeths

#30

CaviarMeths said:

Ocarina of Time is a great starting point, as it served as a template for all 3D Zelda games. From there, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword all offer a very different experience and any one can be played next depending on the kid's taste.

As for 2D Zelda games, A Link to the Past is a classic of course and probably the gold standard. It also helps that A Link Between Worlds is just around the corner. Playing those two back to back would probably be a great experience to any new Zelda player (or any veteran Zelda player, for that matter).

And call me crazy, but I would introduce someone to Metroid with Other M. It has a mix of both 2D and 3D gameplay elements that would serve as a pretty good starting point. From there, the kid can move to classic Metroid games if they like the 2D elements or Prime if they enjoyed the FPS elements.

unrandomsam

#31

unrandomsam said:

I managed to finish Phantasy Star (Drawing my own Maps) and do loads of stuff in Ultima IV but not really realise that much what the overall goal was.

(First RPG's I played - no guides at all).

I just don't understand how newcomers would need anything whatsoever. (At least for anything at the level of Nintendo 1st party SNES games.)

ueI

#32

ueI said:

If you want to get into Zelda, you should keep in mind that the 2D ones play differently from the 3D ones. Ocarina of Time 3D is honestly the best 3D one to start with; it follows the formula the series is loved for but has none of the controversial innovations. I've always been partial to the 2D installments. Link to the Past and the Gameboy Color games are all good starting points here. I would recommend Minish Cap if it were not for its poor availability on modern consoles.

ModernMARVEL

#33

ModernMARVEL said:

@RoboDuck I completely agree with that. With playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl for a few years, I became curious about my most used characters. That's how I found the awesome that is The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem. I also found out about Earthbound, F-Zero, Starfox, and the Game & Watch series. While I have yet to play any of the latter, they get so much praise, it's crazy not to play them.

TradeMark

#34

TradeMark said:

@GamerGleek47 Having played every game in the series, I feel compelled to steer a future Zelda fan in the right direction ;) As others have said, don't base Ocarina of Time purely on looks. Also, I should mention that OoT has a rather slow start, in fact, all of the 3D Zelda games have had that problem. (I never did mind it, personally, but I know there are those out there that do) Since you have played Twilight Princess, I can tell you it isn't as slow a start as that game. (I also recommend giving TP a second try, I did, and I wound up loving it) Just stick with it and you should find out why it is so lauded.

Beyond Ocarina of Time, I recommend The Wind Waker HD and Skyward Sword. Skyward Sword is a bit more straightfoward experience compared to other Zelda titles, so it should be one of the easiest for newcomers to get into. The Wind Waker is fantastic, and one of the more unique games in the series. The HD version on Wii U has made some changes that should make it more newcomer friendly. Look up how to find the item, Swift Sail, if you find the sailing in the game a little too slow.

For the 2D Zeldas, I recommend any of them, except for the first one and Zelda II, unless you really want a challenge (I do recommend you playing them at some point, just not for starting out). A Link to the Past would probably be best, seeing as A Link Between Worlds is coming out. ALttP should help prepare you for ALBW, as it looks like it could be one of the more difficult Zeldas to come out.

Pit-Stain

#35

Pit-Stain said:

I started with Pokémon gold and then I totally became obsessed with Pokémon. Zelda? My first was Twilight Princess on the Wii and it turned out great! Then I started playing the Zelda games on the DS(Phantom hourglass and spirit tracks). When I tried Oot 3D, it turned out that Zelda is now my no.1 franchise! I'm not a big fan of metroid, I just started playing super metroid on the WiiU.

ueI

#37

ueI said:

Smash Bros makes it harder for me to get into a franchise.
"I want to play Radiant Dawn because Ike is in it. Oh wait, that game is out of print."
"Ness and Lucas look interesting. Oh, Lucas's game never came out here; forget it then. Oh, Ness's came out for the SNES, which I don't have; forget that one too."
And remember the point Andy raises; a series newcomer won't know what game to start with, and Smash Bros. doesn't help in this regard. Nobody would recommend Sonic 2006, for instance, yet the game is listed on the trophies of every Sonic character.

GamerGleek47

#38

GamerGleek47 said:

@TradeMark Thank you so much for your help! I decided I'll go with The Wind Waker HD! After comparing some gameplay between this an OoT, I thought Wind Waker was better. But I will still give OoT a try after A Link Between Worlds! Thank youuuuu!

GamerGleek47

#39

GamerGleek47 said:

@retro_player_22 you're right, I shouldn't do that. But I live in a place where games are REALLY expensive (at least under my country's economy eyes) so I had no other choice than judging only by YouTube videos and reviews. I'm not fighting you, I totally understand you and I'm no like this. I bought the original Bayonetta when the sequel was announced and I had no idea what it was. Just because I felt that it was something I was going to like.
Guess I didn't felt that way with Ocarina of Time :/

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