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It’s been about a month since I finished my 100% run of Super Mario Odyssey. Now that the hype has settled, I feel I can look back on the game and offer a fair assessment of what works and what doesn’t, and do so without my judgement being clouded by that new game feel.
Let’s focus on the most obvious change in direction Odyssey took: it’s much more of a collectathon than past 3D Mario titles. Rather than jumping into a painting and being given a mission to complete, we’re thrown into a level and given free reign to run about the place and start collecting Power Moons and purple coins. Is it worth keeping this structure for the game? I think the answer is both yes and no.
I say no in that the Power Moons should go: it was an interesting concept to have all the main collectibles strewn about the worlds, but I don’t think it works. For every Power Moon that’s actually fun to collect, there are a handful of them that are just lying out in the open, or are found through the same rehashed “puzzle” such as ground-pounding a glowing spot. Having a ton of Moons to collect SOUNDS like a good idea, except it seems there were too many Moons for the developers to know what to do with. Just think of the situation with Toadette! She was giving out a plethora of moons just for meeting some frivolous criteria that typically amounted to collecting a number of other Moons! What’s that? You got all the sheep-herding Moons? Have a Moon! While I wouldn’t say the Moons feel as pointless as, say, Korok Seeds, I don’t think they’re nearly rewarding enough to collect. After you’ve collected the small amount needed in each world to progress through the story, there’s just not much point, aside from unlocking the Dark and Darker Side(ha!).
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I’ve heard people try to peddle some nonsense like “Power Moons are just as satisfying to collect as Power Stars and Shine Sprites!” but that’s a load of crock, and I can explain why. It’s simple economics: the more of a particular currency that you have, the less valuable the currency is. Jumping from 120 MacGuffins to 800+ MacGuffins is a staggering amount of inflation, and a staggering amount of inflation is disastrous for an economy. Another way to look at it is this: anybody would pick up a crisp five dollar bill they found on the ground, but would you feel so inclined to pick up twenty quarters scattered about the place? I think not.
Back in my day a piece of candy cost me one Macguffin. Now it costs nine!The purple coins, on the other hand, were fantastically implemented. I found them MUCH more satisfying to collect than the Moons, and they’re a mere optional collectable. Why? Simple! You could actually USE THEM. You better believe that many a player were tracking down the little buggers so they could get some new outfits or deck out the Odyssey. The optional collectable feeling more purposeful than the main collectable is just… not an ideal state of affairs.
I say combine the best of both worlds. Go back to the mission-based structure of 64/Sunshine/Galaxy wherein you actually have to earn the main collectables; there doesn’t necessarily need to be 120, but they shouldn’t bloat the number like they did with Odyssey. But in addition to this, implement a set of purple coins for each world like Odyssey did in order to keep a certain collectathon element in the game for those that enjoy the style as well as to allow for a focus on exploration that the games prior to Odyssey were lacking.
Although seeing as how the next 3D Mario game will probably be Odyssey 2, I’m not expecting them to change much.