I just finished playing Mario Odyssey. Here’s what I thought of it, my opinions about the game and the feelings it left me with.
It’s-a Still Me, Mario!
Mario Odyssey is definitely a Mario game through and through. His jump still feels responsive as hell. The very act of just moving Mario around in the game world is fun. Nintendo has known since the N64 that locking down that most basic of “feel” is the most important thing they can do.
As well as just having fun moving Mario around, Odyssey gives you a huge range of things that you can do. Almost any enemy can (and usually needs to be) possessed. Usually that’s one specific enemy per world (caterpillars in the woods, Banzai Bill in the desert, etc) but in the open world sections you can often choose how you want to get around. It’s cute, and although it means each enemy needs a clumsy text line at the bottom of the screen, it does keep things fresh. Especially in the last couple of levels where you need to quickly jump between them.
There’s a ton of collectibles for people with a hint of OCD about them. Hundreds of moons, thousands of purple coins, more outfits for Mario than you’ll ever need. It’s crazy. Maybe a little too much, in my opinion, but thankfully none of them are necessary. You can get extra stuff with some of them, but you can definitely finish the game without them.
I feel like there are a few issues with Mario Odyssey that I haven’t seen anyone else mention before. Most of them are pretty minor, but I want to go into those details here. It’s a lot of stuff, but that’s just because we all know the good stuff about Nintendo platformers by now!
First of all, some of the camera angles can be a bit sketchy. On multiple occasions, the default camera position landed at an angle where I couldn’t see Mario or an obstacle/enemy/platform I needed to. It rarely caused me to die, but I took damage from this a few times. I feel like it was because the game wanted me to look toward a particular feature, but I wasn’t going that way. This is always going to be a risk with platform games in 3D, but it’s rare for Nintendo to make that mistake.
One minor niggle is some unnecessary mechanics and cut scenes. Do I need to sit through a converation between Mario and the hat every time I go to a new world (even ones I’ve been to before)? No. Can I skip them? No. I know it’s masking load times, but I’d rather watch the universe fly by than manually skip multiple lines of dialogue every time. I’ll watch all your cut scenes, no problem, but this seems unnecessary. I wonder if it’s also to help players remember the huge number of mechanics Nintendo included in the game.
The World in my Hands
Mario Odyssey feels best when played on a TV with the joycons detached. Everything works well (as long as you can maintain line of sight with your console) and you can perform the full range of Mario’s abilities without issue. But in handheld mode (the way I play most often) it felt like I was being hobbled. I felt like the controls were working against me in handheld mode, which was a bit frustrating at times.
Let’s Talk About Lava
I noticed a big problem with lava in Odyssey, as well as anything that fulfils the same role – slime, etc. It’s not a one-shot kill, but so many of the levels are so large and open that you have no chance of finding solid ground again before the invincibility runs out. So you need to sit through several seconds of Mario screaming and running around, out of control, before you can get back to the last checkpoint. This got worse in the later levels and it was very obvious to me. I’d rather have the world treated as an instant kill than have to sit through this all the time.
The same goes for enemies telegraphing attacks. Possible late-game boss spoilers ahead. Skip the next couple of paragraphs if you’re worried about spoiling a 3 year old game.
There’s a boss fight that uses a chain bow-wow, where the time you get to react is pretty much nothing. I know you don’t want to make your bosses too easy, but at least give enough time to recognise it and actually move out of the way. I had to just stay totally out of the way of the boss until that section cleared, which meant a long run back over to attack. A little annoying.
Speaking of unavoidable damage. The second last Bowser fight has him breathing fire at you and despite eventually winning the fight I have no idea how to avoid taking damage from it. I couldn’t find any safe spot in the whole arena and the fire is too high to jump over. But the time between taking a hit and the fire coming back was exactly the same duration as Mario’s invincibility, so it was like a chain reaction. You can see it coming but can you avoid it? If anyone can tell me how to do it I’d appreciate it.
Mario Odyssey is another great Mario game from Nintendo that probably suffers from trying to do too much. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Mario Galaxy back in the day, but the Switch is a different console and I’m a good few years older now than I was back then. It’s hard to tell if these are my personal failings or the game being too complicated. I DO NOT THINK THE GAME IS BAD, IT’S STILL GREAT. I’d definitely appreciate anyone who wants to share similar issues, or tell me I’m wrong!