January 30, 2020 at 5:55 AM #1199
Super Mario Odyssey
Rating: 3.0 – Fair
Super Mario Odyssey is a bit Generic and Clumsy
One of the most important aspects of a good platformer is the controls. They should be nice and tight and work well. Sadly, Super Mario Odyssey’s controls are not as tight as past entries in the series. They are noticeably more finicky. Add to that how Mario’s now convoluted move set makes it all too easy to trigger actions you didn’t want, and it’s not a good mix. The motion control-based aiming when you capture a tank is atrocious. Then there’s the Pokey’s, the worst mechanic in Mario history. It very easily messes up from very slight mistakes. This mechanic is also over-used in its kingdom. In trickier sections, another layer makes things still a bit worse. The camera in Super Mario Odyssey is simply terrible at times.
Some power moons are just out in the open and too easy to get, as if the developers just lazily placed it in a random spot. Many times it feels like you find power moons too often, which makes them feel less rewarding when you get them. Still others are just exceedingly annoying to get.
Some of the mini games aren’t that great either. The jump rope and volleyball ones are just annoying and the second score goal for each mini game is over the top. The koopa races are nice, but in a few cases are more frustrating than fun. There’s also the pretty dumb walking mini game where a dotted line appears on the ground. You have to walk around the shape it makes as closely as possible, but the line soon disappears. It’s a finicky, annoying mini game. The picture match mini games are pretty dumb, too. Some of the non-koopah races in the snow kingdom were also more annoying than fun.
The graphics are very nice, but there is one major flaw in this department. The game lacks a cohesive art style. The Luncheon and Ruined kingdoms seem out of place here. One other problem regarding the kingdoms is that the Cloud and Ruined kingdoms are very small and empty.
The sound and music is all good for the most part. However, most of it is not as memorable as many tunes from past games. There is another flaw here too. In a certain escape sequence, the music suddenly switches to a new out of place track that has lyrics. It feels like you’re suddenly playing a sonic game (something I haven’t done in many years). Sure, the song at the New Donk City Festival has lyrics too, but that song doesn’t feel so out of place. It doesn’t spring up on you out of nowhere for no reason like the one in the escape sequence does. That track in the escape sequence also has a style that does not feel like Mario music.
In addition to the issues with the controls and feel of the gameplay, you also find that some of the challenges are poorly designed. For example, in the boss rush the designer relies entirely on lazy artificial difficulty to do his work for him in making it hard. A second example is that a number of the challenge levels in Dark Side are just lazy copy and paste jobs with artificial difficulty added in for most of them (in order to make it harder than the original stage was in the laziest way possible). You can, however, turn on Assist Mode to help with things like the boss rush, which isn’t worth doing without it. Fortunately, unlike some past games, beating it using Assist Mode actually counts it as beaten (which is the correct way to design it). Not all players want to bang their head on a proverbial brick wall and waste dumb amounts of time on it, which is generally a sign of bad design anyway (because it often ends up more tedious and frustrating than fun). One thing that should be changed, however, is how you lose 10 coins on death. That’s just stupid on the hardest levels. The harder levels should all have more than 10 coins in them. That way you’d actually gain something for your trouble while you keep banging your head on a poorly designed level. Assist Mode does not always help with that either.
Overall, Super Mario Odyssey suffers from one of the same major issues that Zelda: Breath of the Wild has. It’s the most generic feeling game in its franchise. The issues with the controls/camera and crappy "challenges" make it more annoying than past entries in the 3D era. The last Mario game that I found too annoying overall was Super Mario Sunshine, which had some pretty bad sub levels. For the games since then, they weren’t usually too annoying (except in a few later levels and the final challenge level). However, the final challenge level in past 3D Mario games was at least fairly well designed, aside from being blatantly over the top. As you kept making more attempts, you could see yourself getting better. This makes you want to keep trying, because it improves player morale. Some of the challenges later in Super Mario Odyssey fail here, since they do not do that. Instead, they end up feeling cheap, and lazily designed.
I’m giving this game a 6 overall since I think it’s rather overrated, just like Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo’s current generation of games is just much more flawed than previous generations.
Rating: 3.0 – Fair
Product Release: Super Mario Odyssey (US, 10/27/17)
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