The Key Art for Forza Motorsport showcasing two speeding racecars neck-and-neck on the track.
Accessibility Spotlight

The Accessibility-Forward Releases of October 2023

Arman Nobari
Arman Nobari

Happy Halloween to all of my gamers and ghouls out there, and welcome to the Good Trouble blog. October has been quite a stacked month for video game releases, and we’ve got a list of a few notable titles you should check out - especially if accessibility options are important to your experience. Open up your candy bag kiddos, because we’re about to dump in a whole bunch of video games.

…We’re the only house on the street that gives out video games every year. I don’t know why that is. Sure we can’t afford to pay our electricity bill but hey it makes our house look spookier.

The Finals Key Art, showcasing a woman wielding a revolver

The Finals

Running now through November 5th, The first fully-open beta for The Finals has hit Steam and home consoles. This destruction-heavy multiplayer arena shooter comes from Embark Studios, a new development team from many former Battlefield developers. Even though this game is pure chaos, accessibility is still a consideration. Before gameplay becomes available, even before the tutorial, the accessibility screen is the first thing a player will encounter upon booting up The Finals, giving options for colorblind modifications, subtitles and more. To have a game present such a robust suite of accessibility features prior to release is truly a blessing, and heck- the game is darn fun too.

The character select screen for Super Mario Bros. Wonder, showcasing playable characters Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Toad (Yellow, Blue), Toadette, Yoshi (Green, Red, Yellow, Light-Blue) and Nabbit

Super Mario Bros. Wonder (But Be Warned!)

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a fantastic platformer and a complete reimagining of what a Mario game can be. And while this game is certainly worth celebrating as one of the finest video games this year, it’s also worth pointing out the interesting forms of accessibility that Super Mario Bros. Wonder adopts.

Starting with the “New” Super Mario Bros. games, the Mario series has slowly gained more and more accessibility options over time, but these additions have mostly been aimed at alleviating skill related challenges for less game-savvy players such as children. Super Mario Bros. Wonder offers a few gameplay-aid accessibility solutions such as playable Yoshi characters that can be mounted by other players in order to take control away from one and give to another. An example of how this could work is if a parent plays as Yoshi, their child can hop on their back and give up control to make it past a difficult obstacle. The issue with this is that this functionality is only limited to the Yoshi character, restricting who can play which character in a game of dozens of iconic avatars. Veteran games journalist Patrick Klepek goes over a variety of these choices in depth on his newsletter Crossplay. Players can also “bubble up” to avoid losing a life when they’re put in danger, however this safety feature only lasts for a few seconds. Compared to other Super Mario Bros. games when the safety bubble wasn’t limited by time, these decisions seem to be taking a few steps forward and a few steps back. Super Mario Bros. Wonder does not feature any further accessibility efforts beyond what is available at system-level on the Nintendo Switch. The same button remapping and the custom-controller opportunities are present here as they are in every Nintendo Switch title, but having a few difficulty-lowering considerations (with heavy limitations) as the only unique accessibility features has us wanting more.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a game that we’d love to recommend as championing accessibility, but these hurdles get in the way of making this game a perfect candidate. The positive leaps Super Mario Bros. Wonder takes over previous Mario games should not go unnoticed, but with the series being bigger than it’s ever been, it’s safe to ask a bit more out of the plumber.

The initial setup screen for Forza Motorsport, showcasing various accessibility settings such as on-screen narration, blind driving assists, subtitles, and more.

Forza Motorsport

The Forza series has a history of inclusive game design, from robust assists and control modification settings to the in-game character creator of the arcadey “Horizon” spin-off series offering prosthetic limbs as an option. Building off the success of its predecessors, the cleanly titled “Forza Motorsport” delivers an incredibly accessible racing experience for players, one that developer Turn 10 Studios is referring to as “The Most Accessible Forza Motorsport Ever”.

The accessibility options found in Forza Motorsport are just about as robust as you can get. Players are presented with an abbreviated accessibility screen shortly after initial boot, with options for screen-reading, low-vision assists, and more. Digging a bit deeper into the settings menu presents a vast array of further accessibility options, ranging from colorblind adjustments to auto-braking and everything in between. The level of granularity in this accessibility is daunting, with options to tune things like the on-screen narrator to call out very specific elements and stay quiet about others. 

The level of vision accessibility settings in this game are so impressive that Xbox and Turn 10 studios have put together an Xbox Wire blog post that covers the blind driving assists available in the game. Huge kudos to Turn 10 on making this game such an impressive feat of accessible play.

October has proven to be an incredible month within an incredible year of video games. There are dozens more titles released this year alone with excellent accessibility development that we can’t wait to tell you about in future blog posts. Until then, consider picking up some of these games and stay spooky, friends.

- Good Trouble