Boss Rush Banter: What Makes an Excellent Tutorial Level in a Game?

You fire up your platform of choice to play the brand new game that just released. After all the installations, updates, and bonus items you might receive, you are hyped to start the quest you’re about to take on. After a cool intro, you come to the main menu, and just after you press start, you say to yourself “I wonder how this game plays?” Unbeknownst to you, all you have gone by with were CGI trailers and potential game play clips. You are left with a dilemma, but not to fret, you assume there’s a tutorial in the game to teach you. 

Advance Wars

Instruction booklets have gone away, and learning the controls and game play have moved into the actual game in the modern age. There’s various ways how tutorials have been presented. For most people, they think they know how to play a certain type of game because of their familiarity with the genre or that developer’s work. For them, tutorials seem meaningless when they are playing. That’s not always the case.

What makes an excellent tutorial level in a game is when the gamer locks down the basics in its own mode. When you have a chance to learn simple mechanics and try to perfect the game play, you feel that you have a grasp of what is asked of you to survive the multitude of challenges. 

The Game Journalist Who Was Bad at Cuphead Has Given it Another Shot -  GameRevolution

Take Cuphead for example. In Cuphead, you learn the button layout and what tools you must use to get through the levels. When you get to the first flying section in the game, you learn that section of game play. Once you have it memorized, it is up to you to execute what you learn. Your survival and fun relies upon it. 

Nintendo takes a different approach which I love. Once you press start and begin a file, they teach you mechanics and new game play ideas throughout the journey. You’re always learning something new and when you think you have it mastered, they’ll throw a wrench into the game play and make you think outside on how to use that mechanic and when to execute it. Nintendo also reminds the player of past mechanics, skills, and even hints on what the player could do to make the experience easier.

Killer Instinct Sabrewulf Tutorial Part 1: Wulf 101! - YouTube

Fighting games, on the other hand, have a different level in tutoring the player. Since they have a deeper learning curve, you get to choose another fighter who will stand there and take a beating as you learn that particular character you have chosen to play. To understand what it takes to master a fighter isn’t found in the single player campaign, but against other opponents. You can learn the game by being taught by other humans. You might recognize the basics but they can actually help develop your skill and bring clarity what techniques are use for and when to do it.

Since so many genres of games present different tutorials, I still think Nintendo delivers that perfect balance of learning and experimenting with it. Providing reminders when necessary, showing you clips if you need a visual look, and never making you feel like a failure when you haven’t conquered it yet. That, in my opinion, makes an excellent use for a tutorial when playing a level in a game.

Do you play the tutorial mode in games when it is offered? How important are tutorials to you? Let us know in the comments or on our Discord.

Source: StudioMDHR, Microsoft, Destructoid

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