Super Mario Odyssey – The Stress is Too Much
You’d think the cutesy graphics, playful soundtrack and colourful levels would make for a Mario game full to the brim with charm and fun. Well, you’d be half right. In reality, the design of Mario Odyssey, where about six billion moons are scattered about each level, creates a gameplay experience that is rife with stress. It’s gotten to the point where my enjoyment of exploration is suffering as a result.
It comes down to the fear of missing out, and the cheekiness of the unknown and hidden. Odyssey borrows one thing heavily from Breath of the Wild, namely the Korok Seeds – small, ultimately inconsequential little discoveries that reward you with extra inventory slots. I say inconsequential because your time in BotW is so invested that you’re almost certain to uncover enough of these seeds to unlock enough room for your junk that you don’t really need to go actively searching for them. And if you don’t get them all, well it doesn’t really matter.
The opposite is true of Odyssey’s moons. They matter a lot. They power your journey between worlds and their collection adds to the completion of each kingdom (as well as helping unlock even MORE moons via the game’s inbuilt version of achievements – but this isn’t unlocked until after you take care of pesky Bowser). Amassing moons is all that Odyssey is about, it’s the whole point, it’s all you will do, it’s all you will think about! Have I missed a moon over there? Better go and bum-stomp every square inch of the place. Is there a moon of the edge of things? Better make sure I slowly ease the camera around each and every drop-off just in case. And – oh shit – did I remember to look up?! Argh!! There’s even moons on the moon!!
Each time I fire up the game, I’m worried about missing a moon. I’m stressing over my completion tally and, well, I’m not really having that much fun. Every time the moon victory music fires up, I’m thinking yep good, where’s the next one? No time to enjoy small victories because there are a thousand of the bastards to collect!
And when Toad shows up offering to sell me a moon’s location for fifty bucks, I’m like look, mate, I can do this myself, lay off. I then proceed to stressfully inch through the level for an hour before putting the Switch in sleep mode in an act of gasping relief.
It doesn’t help that my wife is also playing (on a different profile). She keeps finding moons all over the place that I somehow missed! She giggles with glee at my consternation and then has the gall to deny me loading my profile to grab some of those new discoveries before I forget them. It’s torture, is what it is. Mario torture. Nintendo has made a game that makes me scared to take a single step for fear of missing out on a collectable. In the end, this over-rewarding of exploration cheapens the very currency that underlies the experience. I care so much about finding moons that I don’t give a shit when I find one. I can’t see the trees for the forest.
Odyssey shmodessy. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to look in the backyard for some purple coins…