Super Mario Odyssey @ Nintendo Switch


Emoji summary: 🤪🎩🌝

when i bought a nintendo switch earlier this year and decided to stretch this lil job title of art critic to an everything-critic, u lot DEMANDED I play 1. Zelda: Breathe of the Wild and 2. Super Mario Odyssey. it’s been a useful exercise thinking about games because it has put into perspective how full-bodied they are in a way the world of visual arts never reeeally manages to get me off. and so I fell in long love with BOTW, the way everyone does, and after 120 hours in Hyrule, i was ready to move onto my old pal mario, ready for something rounder, more carefree; to have in my hands something I thought would be familiar warm sweet jelly dessert time. Like, Mario titles have been the pop music of gaming for me: repetitive, accessible, high-saturated bestsellers I know all the words to. I’m not a super-runner and i’ll fall off the edge a few times but i can hit the notes, i know where I’m going, and i know what to expect. Now here we are, 70 hours later a new Odyssey, vaguely ready to tell you why this game was a dream to me until it wasn’t anymore.

The game’s premise is… what it is: Bowser has kidnapped Peach and is gonna marry her, stealing all the things he needs for their wedding from different worlds along the way. U try to foil his plans, pursuing the wedding party across kingdoms and hunting as many Power Moons as u need to keep your ship fuelled up for the chase. Some Power Moons are in plain sight, others underground, round the corner, at the end of trippy levels or only activated if you do ABCDXYZ in the right order. It’s a whole 3D space you’re running around but there are also moments where you can slip into a wall and become 2D and 8-bit as the game switches to a side-to-side platformer which is a properly fun addition - like playing one game and then finding a tiny arcade inside of it; a little treasure nostalgic magic, and also like the perfect thing to happen in a game for this console, it’s Nintendo Switch come true.

To aid in the whole quest of Odyssey, Mario has a new party trick -> the ability to become other things and do what they do. At the beginning he loses his iconic hat in a kerfuffle so a small ghost called Cappy offers to sit on top of his head. Cappy can be thrown at other creatures and random things to possess them. on a small scale this means you can become Goombas and walk on ice more easily; mad scale is u can become a literal zip and unzip a section of the wall in order to walk through it. The mario narrative has never been interesting to me tbh, purely an instrumental background from which to do better things but at the end of the game once u knock Bowser out, the whole world starts to fall down around you and u have to throw Cappy and become Bowser in order to safely escape. It’s suuuuper gratifying after all these years of playing mario games becoming Bowser and my favourite moment in the story yet. Also i have to give thanks for the genuinely difficult levels - thinking of a few of the geometric-looking ones, where my brain and hands had a workout doing that combo jump where u leap, throw Cappy, bound towards him and then bounce off of him in mid-air to get to hard to reach places. Press B, X, tap LZ and hold Y. so disgusting. I loved it.

But, right, I got everything I wanted and more. I got the good time vibes, the New Donk City musical number and the chance 2 fly through the air as Bullet Bill. it felt like a more mature Super Mario Galaxy in parts, walking on a dusty silver moon in silence. N it felt calm to follow a path of flowers materialising out of thin air or swim around as a lava bubble. I discovered what I thought was a decent amount of Power Moons, bla bla bla, and if I’d have written this review before completing the game it might have been a different story. but after I’d ran off into the sunset (and the credits), Nintendo decided to tell me they’d hidden more moons over all the worlds aaand can i go back to the start and get the rest pls. No, im sorry, what? I felt a tiny bit of oooo and ahhhh that there was more gameplay but then… I just felt over it. I think i play Mario because when i start I can see the end. but this was like being on a direct train home that then runs out of petrol, kicks everyone off somewhere random, and u have to get another train that takes twice as long and stops twenty times instead. It was like watching the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy and then peter jackson asking you to sit down and immediately start watching the Extended versions of all three films for fun. Not that you HAVE to chain yourself to Super Mario Odyssey until you finish the long ass second leg but i play games very much in serial monogamy and q frankly this threw a spanner in the works because I am too much of a teacher's pet for you to move the goalposts like that. and THUS it went from a game to a task, and i know itsa Me problem and itsa not-a Mario one, but that’s where I’m at, feeling like i got homework when all i wanted to do was play out. Maybe one day i will have the energy to come back around but it could honestly take a few years. i’ll let u know if I recover.

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Mario is stood wearing a fun holiday outfit with shorts and a sunhat and a pink shirt looking up at a blue crescent moon floating in space
Cappy has been thrown onto a lava bubble which now has mario’s hat and moustache, swimming through pink liquid
Mario is stood on a flowery hill looking at the dog from Nintendogs which is wearing a little brown hat lol
Peach is wearing a wedding dress on the moon, eyes closed, arms out to her side, and behind her Mario is in a white suit with a top hat, and over her other shoulder, Bowser is lying on his front crashed out on the floor