Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero.

This is turning out to be quite a year for me and Nintendo’s flagship mascot – I’ve finished more Mario titles in the last few months than I did in the previous four decades of gaming.

Granted, that’s still only three.  Maybe I’ll get crazy and track down the WiiU game, since it’s one of the few games Nintendo actually dropped the price on.  Maybe I shouldn’t tempt burnout, though.

Anyway, to get back to the point, I finished Super Mario Odyssey tonight, and it was a lot of fun.  I am, as I’ve pointed out several times in the past, absolutely awful at platforming games, but Odyssey doesn’t actually have a ton of platforming in it – at least not during the main part of the game, where you go from opening cinematic to saving Peach and then the end credits roll.  I understand that there is a postgame section with tons of really difficult fiddly jumping bits, and I will leave that for the diehards.

Without a lot of challenge, Odyssey falls firmly into Caillois‘ “vertigo” category of play.  It’s split up into a little over a dozen separate “kingdoms”, each with a distinct and frequently surreal visual style, and the possession mechanic means that your tools to achieve any given goal can be absolutely nuts, in the best possible way.  One boss fight has you possessing a fireball so you can fight a monstrous bird, with your arena being a massive pot of stew boiling away on the top of an erupting volcano, another is… well, I absolutely will not spoil it, but it screams “We heard you liked Dark Souls, so we thought we’d put a Souls boss in a Mario game”.

It’s about as far from “run to the right, and jump on turtles” as you can get, and I have to say that it’s nice seeing Nintendo go wild.  It even has an ending that rivals Portal 2’s “Shoot the Moon” in sheer unexpectedness.

Also, someone on the design team may have been a big Halo fan. I may be stretching to make that connection, but if it’s not a deliberate homage it sure brought back good memories.

For bonus points, it managed to hit my nostalgia button HARD in its “New Donk City” world, because I dropped a ton of quarters into Donkey Kong in my misspent youth and there’s a sequence there that is straight-up designed to pander to us old guys.

As far as downsides… well, I switched from portable mode to docked TV play after a few hours, because I was getting quite the sore neck from hunching over, and seeing the game on a TV set really pointed out the lack of anti-aliasing.  To be fair, I didn’t notice the jaggies while the game was in motion – they only really pop out on static screens and during the “you found another moon” celebration sequence.

That’s literally the only thing I can complain about, though.  I needed to have SOMETHING to complain about.

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1 Response to Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero.

  1. Pete Davison says:

    You should definitely grab Super Mario 3D World on Wii U if you get the chance, it’s a wonderful game. New Super Mario Bros Wii U less so, though it’s still a solid 2D Mario, just not as interesting or fun as 3D World is.


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