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Yahtzee reviews Super Mario Odyssey.

Transcript Edit

Mario having always rampantly and eagerly put his face on things like a very affectionate and itchy cat, I think it's fair to say that the phrase "Mario game" has lost whatever meaning it ever had, even before that whole Rabbids business. One can now officially expect from a "Mario game" anything from turn-based combat to sport simulators to typing tutor to Nintendo-branded mustache-shaving kit, and I feel like we're going to have to come up with a new name for what I hesitantly call "proper Mario games", as in a platformer in which we chase a princess-stealing lizard through a highly-circuitous path of themed worlds, wrestle with the finer points of the triple-jump, and devastate the landscape with the unyielding force of our mighty Italian buttocks; let's call it a "Mario gammon-soiree". Super Mario Odyssey is a new "Mario gammon-soiree", and I guess we know what that means: Nintendo are turning a profit this year! Yes! I know some Japanese salary men who will be drinking irresponsibly tonight: all of them, as usual, but that's besides the point.

Mario Odyssey knows why we're all here and wastes no fucking time, with the game literally starting mid-princess-kidnap. You see, the plot is driven by Bowser traveling the world, gathering the essentials for his fairy-tale wedding ceremony, which is very adorable. Bowser's a properly-raised fire-breathing lizard tyrant; he's not going to father a bastard rape-baby. How would he explain that to his parents? Shortly, Mario is left in the dirt and meets the inevitable magical spirit character that basically acts as glorified mouse-pointer: the star child in Mario Galaxy, the butterfly thing in Super Paper Mario, the Roomba from the Rabbids thing. This time, it's a magic hat, and as has been well-documented of, Mario throws the magic hat at a living thing that isn't already wearing a hat, then Mario parasitizes their body and overwrites their free will like a Cordyceps fungus with a slightly-racist accent.

The levels are more on the Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine side of things than the Mario Galaxy approach: large hub levels rather than a sequence of contained challenges that you must shake down for magic stars by probing their every secret crevice. Oh wait, it's not stars we're collecting for once; it's moons! Who says Nintendo never innovate? Well, the level themes, for starters. You guessed it; it's the classic ditty: "Grasslands, Desert, Ocean, Jungle, Ice World, Fire World, Boss." It's even got all the usual wildcards thrown in as well: City World, Spooky World, and Food World, although "Food World" manifests as a Vegetable-and-Healthy-Snack World rather than the usual Candy World; maybe Nintendo were feeling the pressure from child obesity groups.

Incidentally, the mayor of City World is Pauline, who may be the same one from Donkey Kong, but I'm not sure they ever directly admit that; probably a hard thing to bring up in casual conversation. "Hey, sorry if this sounds weird, but didn't I rescue you from a monkey?" This is the same City World that's populated with realistically-proportioned humans, by the way, which, for me, raises the question of what the fuck Mario is, if not a human like these lads. Some frighteningly malformed species of hairy pygmy?

It's one of the things that underlie how Mario is now essentially just a brand with no consistent tone that can be put alongside literally anything without a blink. See also the realistic dinosaur we possess in the first world for all of two minutes - I suspect just so they could put it in the fucking trailer - and a strange interlude late in the game wherein Bowser shows up riding a fucking Dark Souls boss! I guess it's not really a complaint; it's just not fair on other games that worked jolly hard to keep a consistent visual tone. You wouldn't see Dark Souls introduce cartoon mushroom people out of nowhere-- Ahem. Moving on...

Not much to complain about, gameplay-wise; you've got your jump, your slightly-higher jump, your other slightly-higher jump, your third slightly-higher jump that you do from a crouch, the fourth slightly-higher jump you do right after a butt-stomp, the fifth slightly-higher jump you save for family occasions and bar mitzvahs. So if you've played Mario Galaxy, you should settle back in quick, and you'll be relieved to know that you no longer have to shake a Wiimote to attack like you're trying to give yourself tendinitis.

Not that Nintendo have entirely un-dug their heels from the motion-controls filth. "Hey, don't forget! You can shake the controller to climb poles a bit faster and throw your hat a bit differently and various other nonessential things!" I hadn't forgotten; thanks, Nintendo. "You're going to do it, then?" Hadn't planned it, Nintendo. "Okay! I'll just remind you again next time you fucking blink!" In fairness, I suppose shaking the controller to climb faster makes some sense, since this is the sort of thing you might do if you're frustrated and in a hurry. Maybe next, Nintendo could make a controller that can detect when you're swearing at it, or when you're two minutes late for your appointment at the STI clinic.

All in all, the game is as fun, playable, and full of variety as one should expect from a Mario gammon-soiree, but the question for me is, have we surpassed Mario Galaxy, the erstwhile peak of gammon-soiree, as going to space often is? Jason Voorhees can attest. And as often follows a high, everything since then has been a sort of haze of comedowns and self-indulgence for old Stachey-Bollocks. True, Galaxy was a lot more linear and suffered from that tendinitis business, but if you want to see self-indulgence, then Mario Odyssey spurts it out in long, ropy strands with both fists. It being a modern Nintendo game, and therefore, enamored with a nostalgia for itself, there's a self-congratulatory air to the whole thing that ofttimes, is good, and makes things come alive, like the big musical number in the city level - another thing conspicuously present in the trailer - and at other times, tries my patience a bit, like when it goes back to a 2D 8-bit Mario and it all feels kind of regressive; deliberately so, I'm aware, but still cheap.

Ah, you don't want to listen to a 30-year-old man pontificating on where this cartoon game for kiddy-winks belongs in the history of modern culture because he lacks the qualifications for any serious field of criticism, do you, madam? You want to know if Mario Odyssey will keep little Jimmy and little Susie off your back for five minutes. And that brings me to the two-player mode, for as well as being serial masturbators, Nintendo are also big on the "family fun time" angle, so you'll notice an option for two players in the pause menu. But don't fall for it; this is a highway to acrimonious divorce. See, one player controls Mario and the other controls the magic hat, and all you have to do is make use of the miracle of Switch hardware: just snap the controller in half, and hey, presto! The game's fucking unplayable!

Firstly, the Joy-Cons are so fucking tiny, it's like trying to fluff an elderly hamster, and secondly, there's only one stick, so you can't move your character and the camera at the same time, which, it turns out, is pretty bloody important when you're trying to accurately land on things in 3D. There are even challenges like the races that will flat-out turn you away at the fucking door if you're not playing solo. So Mario Galaxy's on top there, at least, because as humiliating as it was for the second player, who was basically doing nothing but pick up the main player's litter and flicked bogeys, they were still only being a help. Force little Jimmy to interrupt his moon-collecting to let little Susie join in, madam, and ain't no one gonna be collecting shit, except things they discuss with their future prison therapist.

Addenda Edit

  • Wedding crasher: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • So I'm guessing Pauline swept into power on a wave of anti-giant monkey sentiment
  • What's with all the hat-themed games lately

Screenshots Edit

ZP - Super Mario Odyssey screenshot 1

Mario parasitizes their body and overwrites their free will like a Cordyceps fungus with a slightly-racist accent.

ZP - Super Mario Odyssey screenshot 2

You wouldn't see Dark Souls introduce cartoon mushroom people out of nowhere-- Ahem. Moving on...

ZP - Super Mario Odyssey screenshot 3

But if you want to see self-indulgence, then Mario Odyssey spurts it out in long, ropy strands with both fists!

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2018
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II · Hand of Fate 2 · South Park: The Fractured but Whole
2018
Q1 Top 5 of 2017 · Okami HD · PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds · Fortnite and Dusk · Doki Doki Literature Club! · The Inpatient and Doom VFR · Monster Hunter World · Subnautica · Kingdom Come: Deliverance · Metal Gear Survive · Hot Coffee · Hunt Down The Freeman · Ghost of a Tale
Q2 A Way Out · Far Cry 5 · Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom · Extinction and Attack on Titan 2 · God of War 4 · Yakuza 6: The Song of Life · Silent Hill 4: The Room · Conan Exiles · House Flipper and FAR: Lone Sails · Detroit Become Human · Agony · E3 2018 · Vampyr
Q3 Jurassic World Evolution · Resident Evil 4 · Totally Accurate Battlegrounds and Moonlighter · The Crew 2 · Octopath Traveler · Observer · Chasm and This Is the Police 2 · We Happy Few · Unavowed · Guacamelee! 2 and Not Tonight · Shenmue · Marvel's Spider-Man · Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Q4 Dragon Quest XI · Star Control: Origins · Star Control: Origins · Assassin's Creed Odyssey · Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 · Return of the Obra Dinn · The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories · Red Dead Redemption 2 · Call of Cthulhu · Fallout 76 · Hitman 2 and Killer7 · Darksiders III · Just Cause 4
2019
Q1 Top 5 of 2018 · Super Smash Bros. Ultimate · Gris and Ashen · Katamari Damacy Reroll · Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes · Resident Evil 2 · Kingdom Hearts III · Metro Exodus · Far Cry New Dawn · Anthem · Crackdown 3 · Left Alive · Devil May Cry 5
Q2 The Division 2 · Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice · Unheard and Outward · Yoshi's Crafted World · Mortal Kombat 11 · Katana Zero · Days Gone · Close to the Sun · Rage 2 · Observation · A Plague Tale: Innocence · E3 2019 · Blood: Fresh Supply
Q3 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night · Judgment · The Sinking City · My Friend Pedro and Sea of Solitude · Acclaim Entertainment Hall of Shame · Wolfenstein: Youngblood · Horace · Rebel Galaxy Outlaw
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