- Sep 4, 2018
So after tearing through the 3D All Stars collection and falling in love all over again with 3D Mario, I have started a new game on Super Mario Odyssey. I played this game obsessively when it came out, 100%ing it, and loved it to death, but I haven't played in a few years. Now, having the full experience of the 64/Sunshine/Galaxy trilogy in mind, I wanted more than ever to revisit this game, this time considering all the stuff that came before. My God, this game is an absolute treasure, and has a well deserved spot next to those masterpieces.
Right now I'm only halfway through the frozen desert, but it is just such a joy to play. The graphics and sound and music and gameplay are all top notch. It really feels like the ultimate realization of all the prior concepts. It is just a nonstop barrage of concepts and ideas from 2D and 3D Mario games lovingly put together with the best graphics and QOL fixes you could hope for. Just the fact that I don't have to exit a level after getting a moon is a joy!
I have heard many complaints about too many moons, but imo Sunshine is when they really went into Collectibles Creep territory, with all the bonus shines seemingly all over the place at random locations. Spraying a shine on the ground to make one appear? Ok. This game pays homage to that, but without having to exit a level. I see a glowy spot in the sand, I ground pound, instant moon, badah-bing badah-boom. Plus, it makes it so much easier to speed run levels when you know where moons are! You can just run and grab them quickly and be done with it. That leaves time for all the additional stuff.
The game is much easier than the earlier games but that is fine! To be honest, the difficulty in the past was often due to needing to extend game time. This was also the reason for the re-use of levels. That's fine! I certainly don't miss traversing half a level, dying a handful of times in a FLUDD-less warp pipe, then getting a game over screen and having to go through it all again. The QOL changes are just immense throughout, making the game, yeah, much easier, but much more approachable, much more of a seamless experience. If you want to retry a challenge over and over, don't worry about lives.
This is important because the game is not about challenges, it is about EXPLORATION. It is about experimenting with power ups, with new ways of playing. This is the root of the whole Cappy concept: you have power ups embedded into the level design, in enemies, in objects, ready for activation. 64 had cap powerups that effected your movement as well: metal would let you walk under water, wing would let you fly. Galaxy had transformative power ups, such as making you into a hovering bee, or an ice wizard who can skate across water and transform fountains into platforms by merely jumping. Odyssey takes that concept, of power ups that transform HOW you play, and plays it to the fullest level. And what's best, they are all seamlessly integrated into the level design! No reason to put sunglasses in a ! block when you can simply program Easter Island head statues with them to walk around in the area where you need to use it? Brilliant in it's simplicity.
Then there are the 2D segments. OMG these are the best of the 2D-3D hybrid areas Nintendo has ever done! And they have quite a bit of experience with trying this idea out. Galaxy was really the big demonstration of this idea, of seamlessly blending from 3D platforming into 2D platforming. That game also experiments with gravity and rotating play zones with a 2D control scheme. Odyssey takes that idea and fully incorporates it into the seamless HD world. I love the way it is a pixelized, faithful reproduction of the original Super Mario Bros., yet the container is a crumbly HD rock wall, complete with 3D textures and hidden caves, the 2D level design bending around the 3D geometry. When you see an enemy like a Bullet Bill exit 2D space and instantly become a 3D representation on the same continued trajectory, it is truly a wonder to behold!
I'm having a total blast. I kinda want to speed run this game today then spend the weekend playing around sinking my teeth into that bonus endgame content.
Anyways, to those of who you have revisited the older 3D titles, have you gone back to this? What did you think?