I read an excellent piece on Half-Life 2 the other day over at Action Button that compared its learning curve to Super Mario Bros. The idea was that all the gameplay mechanics are presented and demonstrated naturally to the player, in a way that is both informative and fun. The game is the tutorial, and not in a “hey press A to fire lasers!” way. It looks like Nintendo is taking the opposite approach with Super Mario Galaxy 2, and are including a tutorial DVD that explains the rudiments of 3D Mario-based gameplay.
I guess I have a problem with this, though I can’t really blame Nintendo for wanting to ease new players into this weird new universe. But from the beginning, Nintendo’s games have always been about elegance of design toward the beginning, where you learn what to do as you go on. When you include a DVD that explains everything, it sort of cheapens the experience, don’t you think? It’s like reading the instructions before playing a game of Monopoly. It reminds you that there are rules and restrictions, things you can do and things you can’t — which were all there anyway, whether they told you or not, but at least before this you found them out organically.