I'm currently having a blast with the one and only Super Mario 64 via Wii Virtual Console and having even more of a blast because my three-and-a-half year old son and I are running around Bomb-omb Battlefield together collecting all manner of stars. The excitement on his face when he sees a star is second to none, and I always pass the pad over to him to actually collect or jump for the star. Gleeful celebration ensues. But it's also brought home two things: 1) the classic controller analogue sticks just don't have the same feel as the N64 controller and 2) somebody needs to allow parental PIN controls for not just locking off adult content/age rated games, but crucial protection of saved games, too.
Let me explain.
My son likes poking around all kinds of menus when using programs. It first started aged around two-and-a-half when using the Cbeebies application on my phone when we used to play simple touch games together for short burst gaming sessions. The Mr. Tumble Paint Pop game, to be precise. Each time you click "Settings", the actor, Justin Fletcher, calls out "Settings!" in an enthusiastic fashion.
This means that he now likes clicking on wi-fi hotspot menus, messing around with the smart energy meter controller we've just had installed, opening up the save/open menu in Word, anything and everything. It also means that one fateful day he discovered the Wii settings/save panel at precisely the same time I was three metres away making a cup of tea. I re-entered the room to find Super Mario Sunshine being deleted. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes? Already gone. Red Steel? Deleting...please wait. My cry was akin to Darth Vader in Episode III with all of its comic horror.
Me: (attempting to mask terror in voice) "What are you doing?"
Him: "Just looking at settings, daddy!"
Me: (realising years of past progress are fast washing down a digital drain) "Let daddy see a minute, I need to check that."
Him: "No, that's fine daddy. I'm finished settings now."
Me: "No, [NAME] I NEED to check what you've done!"
Him: "Oh! OK then daddy. " (then, in a stern voice) "But don't move those ones round!"
Me: "I..." (deflated) "...won't! Daddy just has to get out of settings and pack away these memory cards."
I thought I was invincible with all this nonsense. I'd read all the news stories about never leaving a child unattended with a tablet that has credit card details saved. But money ain't gonna get back what I've just lost. Damn.