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I Don’t Know How To Play Video Games, But Here’s What I Thought Of ‘Super Mario Odyssey’

Tuesday 7th November 2017 by Mikaela Maxwell

Geekscape has been a part of my life for about three years now (as has my Fiancé Derek). Turns out that Derek comes with Geekscape, and Geekscape comes with Derek, and the two are pretty much inseparable.

It’s been pretty neat watching Derek be a part of this community that shares so many interests – interests in topics that were for the most part so (sooooo) foreign to me. Through Derek I have learned a lot (and then learned again and again and again when I forget and ask for the millionth time) about a lot of these things.

Derek and this site have opened a door to a whole range of ideas that are so intricate and involved; I really do feel like I am learning about a whole new culture when trying to understand the ins and outs of this ‘Geek culture’. I still feel like I am just scratching the surface of understanding things like role playing games, graphic novels, comic books, superheroes, anime, and of course video games (just to name a few). That being said, I’ve also discovered that I quite enjoy most of this stuff!

And so here we are – I’m writing, and you’re reading, about my experience playing a video game. Who would have ever thought this would be a thing!?

In my head, it seems like everybody’s first video game memory should be of something Mario related… in truth mine is not. Now I could be totally mixing things up, but if Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis is a thing that existed, it’s definitely my first video game memory. I definitely remember sitting in my Dad’s living room button mashing the shit outta the controller and, according to these rose coloured memories, annihilating the competition using one of those wicked lady fighters as my weapon of choice. I also favoured Duck Hunt in my youth… and continue to long for its return all these years later (but unfortunately don’t have a TV that it would work on). Later in my teen years, my Mom’s house became equipped with a new-to-us N64 and a few games, including Diddy Kong racing, which quickly became a family favourite. That pretty much sums up my video game experience during the Pre-Derek Era.

The other day I started playing Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch, and I was pretty much instantly hooked! As a person who didn’t really embrace video games until much later in life it can sometimes be super difficult and overwhelming to get into a new game. This has not been the case with Super Mario Odyssey… except that it was literally difficult because I couldn’t exactly remember how to go about getting into a game on the Switch, or how to get into the game under my own profile (Derek, unwittingly, narrowly escaped me ruining his gamer cred by assuming his Mario identity). Luckily for him, through patience, perseverance, and a fair bit of swearing, I finally entered into the realm of Super Mario Odyssey.

One of the things that I really liked about this game is it doesn’t overwhelm you with controls. You start in a place (a level I guess… maybe a world!?) that does a good job of holding your hand through learning approximately five basic controls. Some of it is intuitive, and mostly it becomes intuitive pretty quickly, but at no point is it overwhelming to remember how to function on a basic level. It seems also that as you move through the game, and through the levels or worlds, you are kind of taught what you need to know as you need to know it. This was re-emphasized to me when I got to a more challenging area of the game and died like 10 times before deciding I should just move on to a different area, where I then learned the skills and acquire the equipment I needed to be able to complete the previously murderous task without difficulty.

That being said, I have become very grateful for the ‘Action Guide’ menu option (when I remember it’s there). As much as I appreciate the simplicity of the basic movements and my ability to function with that as my baseline, I still have a lot of difficulty remembering what the more advanced functions are. I’m sure that if I were to play multiple hours a day, many days in a row, it would be a lot easier to remember how to, for example, roll, which would make getting around so much faster.

In any case, that is not my life story, and as with most games, when I go back to playing I rely heavily on this type of menu to remind me of all the other magical things I am capable of in this world! I’m hoping that as I play this game more I will actually be able to remember some of these moves, and until then I will definitely remember how to get to that Action Guide (which is actually really straight forward, yay!).

I’m not sure what the proper term is, but I tend to struggle with games where I have to use two separate sticks to look and to move at the same time. In other games this has led to a lot of getting stuck in corners and shooting the ground while enemies kill me quickly. This is another point in the win column for this game –not only is the pace totally dictated by me, but when I’m trying to figure out how to move straight enough to get from point A to point B Mario spreads his arms out and looks like a dizzy little kid trying to fly and it’s basically the cutest. It’s also super helpful that randomly swinging the Joy Cons around makes you throw your hat, because when I am being attacked by anything swatting my hands while trying to run away is a pretty automatic (and somewhat effective) reaction!

As a not-quite-gamer I appreciate the non-pressure of knowing that I can set the pace without any negative repercussions in this game. That being said, as a not-quite-gamer when I am struggling to remember/figure out how to function/not die, everything takes For. Fucking. Ever. I cannot wait util the day where I can easily and quickly get through at least the simple tasks of this/any video game without my character failing 40 times first! (except for Stardew Valley, I got that on lock already)!

I often will also struggle with nausea due to motion sickness in games where I am having to use both sticks to move and look, mostly because my character is wandering around like a drunken sailor and so I end up feeling like one. As I have put more hours into this game I am starting to notice the sea sickness, but this is another area where I am hoping practice will make perfect and hopefully I will be able to rectify the nausea while also becoming more efficient at not falling of ledges or running into things.

Moving around as Mario is one thing, but you also get to throw your hat onto different characters or objects and become them for a period of time. This is a great mechanic, which I am really enjoying when I remember to clue into using it. So far, my favourite was stomping around as a big ol’ T-Rex, though that flying Bullet Bill guy was pretty fun too. I can’t wait to figure out how to become the bird that flies just out of reach in the desert world; it’s loud, and sparkly, and seems to go anywhere, basically it seems like the ultimate do everything character to takeover (I’m casually going to pretend I didn’t spend a solid 5 minutes bouncing hopelessly on a flower waiting for, then failing to catch the bird, and not even realizing until way later that the flower throws you way higher if you actually open it before bouncing…)

I also became a cactus at one point, but could not for the life of me figure out what I was supposed to do while cactusing.

One thing I have come to love about video games is the incredible variation of beautiful art in so many different art styles, and Super Mario Odyssey did not disappoint in this category! The worlds that you are immersed in are breathtaking, and all of them are different, with different types of creatures and layouts to explore. The place where I am right now is a desert that’s been frozen, so there are all these neat Frozen crystals throughout the landscape (super pretty). Inversely, the previous world was full of lush grass and a giant water fall with dinosaurs and vicious ball-and-chains (of the not spousal variety). I am super looking forward to seeing what the next worlds have in store!

It’s always interesting for me to play a game, and then to watch Derek play the same game. It’s crazy how we can be playing the same title but end up playing totally different games. On a basic level, he has way more experience using the various video game moving around mechanics, and so that part he just doesn’t have to think about. So, in a place where it takes me a full minute to creep around an edge and collect coins without falling off, he has scooped those coins in all of 10 seconds! But also, once he got through the first real open playing area and had reached the goal (collecting enough moons to power a ship) that allowed you to move on, where I had launched on to the next world, he took the opportunity to go back and keep exploring. This is when we discovered Super Mario Odyssey has soooo many hidden treasures to be found and goals to be accomplished! After completing the main task of that world/level we discovered new paths and entrances to secret tunnels, as well as new characters to interact with, and just so many more things to do. In a world where I was stoked to have collected 5 moons when only 4 were required, Derek discovered there was actually potential for 25 moons to be obtained! What this tells me is that Nintendo was really thinking ahead, and delivering a quality product to all of its customers; not only is this game totally accessible to young or new gamers, but it is also super rewarding for people who like more of a challenge to their games!

To sum it all up, I am totally digging this game. Like so many other interests, I feel like I have just scratched the surface of it, and I am super looking forward to digging deeper. I want all of the moons. All of them. I am also super looking forward to dying less.

A helpful tip for anyone getting into this great game: Purple water is not water. Do not try to swim in it. You will die. Every time. Immediately.

Keep an eye out for more from me, If I ever manage to stop playing this game, maybe I’ll write a bit about my next new (or new to me) game experience!

  • Jake Skelcher

    Hey Mikaela,

    That was a great first article! It’s so amazing to hear all about your progression and thoughts as a newer gamer. Please keep it up, and I can’t wait to see what you post next.