Just what makes Super Mario Odyssey so delightful to play? Today on Kotaku Splitscreen, let’s discuss.
Also on this week’s show: news (39:37) on Sony’s week full of PS4 announcements, the full story behind Visceral Games shutting down, and a slick new GameStop program in the US that might piss off some publishers. Finally, we talk Destiny 2 PC (1:00:05) and Wolfenstein 2.
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A brief excerpt:
Jason: I think there are 900-something total moons. Some of them you can find casually, randomly hidden in fields or you’ll just stumble upon them accidentally. Some of them are hidden behind elaborate secrets. And discovering them all is such a joy—it’s so delightful to be wandering and exploring and taking your time and systematically going through. I find it enjoyable in a way that collecting Korok Seeds in Zelda is not. Mainly because collecting Korok Seeds in Zelda, after the first few dozen or hundred, felt like doing the same thing over and over again. There are only so many times you can find a ball and put it inside of a well, or find a strange looking rock and hey there’s a Korok Seed under it. The moons in Odyssey just never stop feeling fun to collect and rewarding. Basically, I never 100% games but I’m strongly considering trying to 100% Mario, because it’s that much fun to play.
Kirk: I think you’re hitting on something I think is really interesting and true about how fun the game is just to play. I think it’s a delightful and really great feeling game to play, and I think it presents a really interesting counterpart and complement to Breath of the Wild. These are obviously the two big Switch games—the two big Nintendo marquee games that are similar enough to compare. But they’re so different in a couple of fundamental ways. For starters, I actually don’t think of Breath of the Wild as a game that feels great to play. I was going back and playing it, and of course I love that game — it’s more my kind of game than Odyssey is — but there are weird things about it. The run button is in a weird place, it runs at 30 frames per second and has some performance issues. There are times when you’re getting in a fight with someone and I just don’t feel like I have control over the combat the way I do in a game with great combat, like Nioh. Where in Mario, it feels amazing to play.
There’s also this progression thing. I saw someone else point this out, but I’m forgetting who it was — basically, in Zelda, you start as a total scrub and you gradually get better stuff, and get better at the game, and get more powerful, and by the end of the game you can fight more powerful enemies. In Mario, you start with your full move set. Basically you can do everything Mario can do from the very beginning, and it’s just about learning how to master that, and the game world itself is what changes and evolves and forces you to try new things.
I don’t think one is better than the other. Zelda’s more my kind of game, but Mario is so fun to play. The move, the double jump hat jump move, where you jump up, throw your hat, do a lunge forward, land on the hat, do a double jump, and you can then do another lunge—you can get really far. That move feels so good to do once you get it under your fingers. I’m just doing it constantly, just because it feels so good. The sound effects mixed with the way the game looks—it just feels great, and I love playing it. The physical act of playing this game feels very good.
Jason: It’s polished and smooth in a way that Zelda isn’t—that no game is, except for Mario games. I mean, we’re talking about the most iconic franchise in video game history. We’re talking about the game that single-handedly saved the video game industry in the 1980s after the game crash. We’re talking about a legend. So of course the next Mario game is going to be incredible.
Kirk: I don’t know about of course. I think it’s remarkable that this series that is so storied and has been around for so long is so great. That’s not always the case.
Jason: That’s true.
Kirk: Something that’s remarkable about Nintendo is their consistency. It really is remarkable — there have been so many third-person platformers, so many games inspired by Mario over the years. Anytime I play one of their games, and I’ve noticed this a lot in playing a lot of Nintendo games this year, I play these games and I just think ‘My god, these guys are operating on a different level than anybody else.’ It’s just incredible. The amount of delight packed into a given 30-minute chunk of Mario Odyssey is just ridiculous.