The Dark Souls of Super Mario Odyssey

dark souls super mario odyssey
Image courtesy of Reddit

Lessons from Mario Odyssey and Dark Souls

I played a lot of Super Mario Odyssey after its release. I didn’t plan on getting any other games to compete with it until I had done just about everything. I stuck with it for 503 moons.

I had a lot of fun and got a ton of it done, but the darker side of the moon got the best of me. I feel like I beat my head against it every night for nearly a week to no avail. Despite the time I’d put in, I was no match for the last stage of Mario’s Odyssey.

That was months ago now, and other games have come and gone. My wife recently decided to start playing Odyssey and is having a great time getting back into games. She rarely plays them, but Mario Odyssey set its hooks in her. She’s nearly 300 moons in and not letting up. With her playing so much right in front of me, I had to get back into it for another try at the darker side of the moon.

I beat it my third attempt.

I hadn’t even seen the entire level the last time I was playing through. I know I’ve only gotten worse since it’s been months, but the puzzles and elements just made more sense. I remembered trying to do parts in ways that didn’t make sense this time through. After giving up on it months ago, it felt weird to finish the stage with relative ease.

It, like so many other moments in gaming, reminded me of Dark Souls. The first time I beat the original Dark Souls game, I had stayed up until around 4am the night before fighting against the final boss, Gwyn, the Lord of Cinder. I finally relented and headed to bed. I got back to it at around 7:30am and finished him off in a handful more attempts. He is regarded as a rather simple boss over the course of the game, being that he’s basically a burnt out and fading god. I was just too frustrated and tired to read his choreographed attacks and patterns.

I’m not sure what happened with the darker side of the moon, as I was trying it day after day, but I’m sure stubbornness had a role in it. In a segment near the end with those colorful little fuzzball burrbos and pulse beams that shoot out circles of fire, I remember trying to use the pulse beams to clear the burrbos. Going back, it’s really tricky to avoid both, so just taking out the burrbos with my hat made much more sense. I don’t think I even considered that before. Also, I definitely had to look up what those enemies proper names are.

It was interesting to see how much simpler the level looked with a fresh new perspective. There’s a life lesson in here of course, but I think it’s more about playing Dark Souls.

The Pro Controller Got Me Into Splatoon 2

spaltoon 2 nintento switch pro controller 1

I pre-ordered Splatoon 2 given the great things I’d heard about the original game. Like so many, I never had a Wii U and missed out on it. I was into it for a bit. I played through the first few SplatFests and had a great time. It was nice to have a competitive “shooter” experience on my new console. I didn’t stick with it for long though. There was a ton coming out on the Switch and there was something that wasn’t hooking me into Splatoon.

It was the joy-cons.

Continue reading “The Pro Controller Got Me Into Splatoon 2”

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con[cerns]

nintendo-switch-red-blue-joy-con-controller
Image courtesy of Nintendo

Complications with Nintendo Joy-Con

I’m still pretty excited about the Nintendo Switch. I’ve been reading a ton about it, despite there not being too much info to cover. Their presentation may have soured some of the enthusiasm around the launch, but I’m still intrigued and excited about the potential. I haven’t pre-ordered one, although I’ve thought about it. I might have if it wasn’t so damn difficult to do so. I’m just hoping that we won’t have any of the supply chain issues that have plagued the NES classic.

With all of my interest in the system, I do have some concerns. I love Nintendo as a company. I have a lot of nostalgia for them, like so many others, but I never bought a Wii U and when the Wii I have was relevant, I played way more Xbox 360. I still come to Nintendo for some very specific things though. They ignited my passion for gaming, and still produce experiences like few others can. There’s still no other way to scratch that Mario or Legend of Zelda itch without them. I love their games, and I’m fascinated by the potential of the Switch hardware, but I give no shits about HD rumble.

nintendo switch joy-con IR blaster feature
Image courtesy of Nintendo

Lacking Focus

I love the promise of a single console that I can take with me on a trip, or play on my TV at home. The aspect of adaptability is awesome and widely appealing, but one console for everything instead of a home and portable. The Joy-con seem great whether attached to the tablet or the grip, and provide precise and responsive controls for any kind of game. I also appreciate that they have some motion control features so that we can relive the days of Wii sports with friends, in some facet at least. But, the fact that they crammed enough tech into these joy-con that they need to charge $50 for what is essentially half of a traditional controller is concerning.

I want the function and adaptability of being able to slide them onto the tablet, or a grip, so that I can play on  the go or in my living room. At this time, that’s where my interest ends. Not only am I not interested in the features beyond those, I have doubts as to how often they’ll actually provide value to players or developers. HD rumble sounds cool, but how will it actually contribute meaningfully to Mario/Zelda/Nindies? I just really can’t see any function that will interest me for more than a few minutes or make a real impression on gamers or developers. Same goes for the incorporated IR blaster, seems like a fun party trick that will never come up again. I know some Nintendo fans are really into Amiibos, but it seems like they rarely, if ever, use NFC to connect them to enable in-game features and are much more likely put them on display. I’ve never heard of a compelling in-game implementation of an Amiibo. I’m open and interested in their use, I just haven’t ever heard of one. It seems like NFC would be a great accessory attachment, but bundling it makes consumers pay for something that they will likely never use.

Flawless Basics, Flawed Extravagance

I love the look and function of Joy-con as controllers, but the functions beyond that seem kind of shit, and it seems remiss that they’re all bundled into those tiny controllers. Maybe the added functions didn’t add much to the cost of the controllers, we’ll probably never know, but they give me doubts. If they had stuck to the initially appealing gimmick of a hybrid console, and not added so many additional quirky gimmicks, could they have shaved a few bucks off the price and made it a no-brainer? Now that they have those features in place, are they going to put most of their effort into finding mass market appeal with motion control games with gimmicks?

I just wanted a new way to play Nintendo games and some indies, and the hybrid console idea got me excited. Virtual console games would sweeten the pot, and local multiplayer games that could support 2 players by splitting the joy-con seem awesome. Everything beyond that shakes my confidence in their focus. The prices of controllers and accessories make me think they’re just trying to pack too much into what could be a simple and streamlined experience. Maybe they’ll reach new customers with those features, but they could easily alienate just as many.