I Loved 'Mario Odyssey,' But This Thoughtful Takedown Gave Me Pause


#1

Open Thread is where Waypoint staff talk about games and other things we find interesting. This is where you'll see us chat about games, music, movies, TV, and even sports, and welcome you to participate in the discussion.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/mbpdb8/super-mario-odyssey-filler

#2

I agree pretty much 100% agree with the video. The 3D Mario games have always struggled with meaningful content (i.e. not feeling like busy work), and while the movement in Odyssey is a step in the right direction for the series the level/moon design does not hold up its end of the bargain.


#3

I tried my hardest to watch that video all the way through, but I just can’t. It could have easily been less than an hour and made its points more effectively. I feel that way about most of Joseph Anderson’s videos though, so this one isn’t unique in that way.

As for his criticism itself, it seems to boil down to “I was bored” over and over, and “The moons are less momentous than stars in 64 or Galaxy.” And yeah, I agree. There are too many moons of little consequence. Again though, did the video have to be 2 hours to communicate that? I don’t think so at all.


#4

I think Joseph Anderson is a tremendously talented man whose work and perspective I just… cannot for the life of me relate to. I feel like he so often gets completely bogged down in minutiae and technicalities in a way that utterly obfuscates the bigger picture of a lot of the games he covers and I just I can’t wrap my head around it.


#5

Ive been wondering about other people who dislike odyssey seeing as i seem to be one of a very few, but I really don’t care what anderson says when hes constantly referring back to dark souls for no reason (he does it immediately in this essay). Its like listening to a broken record.


#6

The length in this case was because he wanted to go over every single moon, to not miss any, maybe also to hit home the message of it being all repeated filler content by the video itself being so repetitive talking about similar moons.


#7

On the one hand, I totally understand his frustration with how repetitive the Moons can be when you are collecting all of them and just the overall lack of difficulty (or just completely absent) of the platforming compared to his clearly high skill level at 3d platformers. But as someone who did not grow up on platformers, I don’t think I would have finished the main story portion of the game if they required the skill level and complexity that he clearly wants.

Also, as an aside, I found it a bit patronizing when he said that this was a kids game and that reviewers who gave it a 10/10 should have included that it is a great game ‘for a kids game.’ It just rubbed me the wrong way and feels adjacent to the git gud mentality of some Soulsborne fans.


#8

Makes sense, since his whole schtick is being a soulsborne fan that does the whole Comfortable For Gamers Youtube Analyst schtick to a T.

Seeing this as the only “considered” contrary response to Odyssey doesn’t fill me with much hope. Waffling about technicalities in game design, “boring/fun factor”, Souls elitism… Nintendo games seem to attract Woke critique that amounts to the worst part of The Magic Circle where you watch a boredom meter fluctuate after making a Unity asset game while a competent voice actor moans in your ear for a while.

Meanwhile, I’ve yet to see anything akin to Cuphead’s best criticisms, scrutinizing aesthetic glorification and implications of this game that both others hispanic culture & glorifies the aesthetics of early-mid-20th-century America (something even more uncomfortable coming from 2017). What’s here is all-too-familiar blusterously vapid filler-crit. It’s not “creative”, it’s not “engaging”, “varied”, whatever hot early 00’s compartmentalization that’s as cliche as “synergy” is in a pitch meeting.

Also this dude’s Inside review starts with “I don’t get it” followed by a joke about Taylor Swift being a “perfect 10”.

Mm. Mm mm. Nuh uh. No no.


#9

I thought I liked Joseph Anderson until he made that Cuphead “parody” video in which he said that video game reviewers need to be good at playing games in order to be a good game reviewer.


#10

I’m 100% with @Ali on this one that this (and the guy’s other video essays) come off as “first to the punch” lazy video filler content with way too much extrapolation which ends up insulating the video from meaningful discussion because fuck me it’s 2 hours long and you could have made your point in 10 minutes.

If you’re going to take on a Big Game like this or Zelda BOTW from the perspective of a long-form video essay (rather than a conventional written review which are meant to be succinct), do something hemming closer to Noah Gervais’ or Matthewmatosis essays which go beat-by-beat in discussing their thoughts on the experience from start to finish.

As a point of contrast, Matthew did a 25-minute essay about what he feels is a slow homogenization of the Souls series as they become more reliant on design convention than taking bold risks. I find it not only a supremely refreshing contrast to the nonstop gushing of video essayists about the series, but he’s conveying a much more complicated idea than “odyssey has too many filler moons” in less than a quarter of the time.

Just because you can make a several hour long hot take video about a game that just came out, doesn’t mean that you should.


#11

Even as someone who thinks the Souls games rep as the best examples of tight design is largely earned (Out of the five Souls games there’s only two I would say are not all time greats though none I would say are actually flawless [But nothing is]) that’s a rather odd comparison to make. It’s not quite comparing Dark Souls To Peggle but I’m not sure what meaningful critique there is to be found in constant Dark Souls call backs when this games issues stem more from Ubisoft style open checklists and loot games. Like the whole time I played this game I felt like I was playing a Diablo 2 mod that stop the game every time I got a normal ass sword to yell at me about how great it is I got a useless sword “HEY! HEY YOU GOT VENDOR TRASH!!! STOP AND LOOK AT THE VENDOR TRASH!!! HERE’S A TIME STAMP SO YOU CAN REMEMBER THE EXACT MOMENT YOU GOT YET ANOTHER WORTHLESS THING YOU WILL NEVER THINK ABOUT AGAIN!!!”

i’M LESS SURPRISED BY THE~ahem~I’m less surprised by the lack of any thought put into the use of Hispanic culture in the game. Anything out of Japan gets such an instant pass on that sort of gross and blatant appropriation that most people don’t even stop to think about it and go straight into talking about how great it is that Japan knows hows how to make something colorful and then something about white bearded dudes


#12

The literal Western culture of appropriation of Eastern culture is focused around seeking affirmation for gross shit by having another distant, othered culture (without brown skin, of course) glorify their own worst habits, and erasing any demystifying critique that might come from within the East. The implications of “Oh, Japan” are more crushingly real than ever.

…And you know, there’s the whole “most all the complexes of the west developed around the east and japan specifically are from the vast shadow cast by the end of world war 2 and the confused mix of infinitely evolving guilt & pride the west still feels for it and their subsequent aggressive assimilation” but I think I’ve already gotten a bit far afield of how Joseph Anderson is a milquetoast-ass critic!


#13

Joseph Anderson is a critic who gets recommended to me on a weekly basis by friends and people online but every time I watch one of his videos he just seems to me like someone with 2-minute opinions stretched into 2-hour videos which he somehow gets away with by sounding very pleasant as he does it. It’s a problem I often have with those long-form video essays but his are very extreme in that regard.

Even if I’d agree with his opinion (which I don’t in this case), after two hours it’s difficult to even remember what it is.


#14

The literal Western culture of appropriation of Eastern culture is focused around seeking affirmation for gross shit by having another distant, othered culture (without brown skin, of course) glorify their own worst habits, and erasing any demystifying critique that might come from within the East. The implications of “Oh, Japan” are more crushingly real than ever.

I’ve been hesitant to put it into words but it has struck me as weird to see some games getting attacked for problematic content but then BoTW, Odyssey, Xenoblade, and Persona (just to name some recent biggies) get shrugged off. Like it’s more excusable because they’re big games from Japan or something.

Anyway, I thought Odyssey was a joy to play and I have no compulsion to 100% it so it’ll stay that way for me.


#15

I am an hour into this video (I don’t think I’ll get much further) and I think he’s missed a big part of Odyssey that really engaged me when I played it. He categorized each individual moon among certain groups, like the moons for kicking rocks, or the moons for finding Captain Toad, and decried the game’s repetitiveness because of it. I took these in a different way. Odyssey is crafting a visual language, an understanding between player and game that can repeat across each of its worlds. You see a seed on the ground? Gotta find a pot! As I’m walking around New Donk, I’ve got my eyes peeled for a fella with eyes on his hat. When I see an unlit torch, I am compelled to light it for a moon.

The way I light that torch will be different each time, as will the location of Captain Toad. Sometimes I’ll have thoroughly explored a level and then realize I’ve missed the Captain, so I’ll re-search every inch before I find his hiding spot, like in The Lake Kingdom. Sometimes I’ll see Toad first, then have to make my way to him, either via captures or platforming. That’s what makes the exploration feel fun and rewarding, especially in the later game, as I get to read Odyssey like a book now that I’ve learned its language.


#16

Also it’s similar to Breath of the Wild in that the game deliberately offers the equivalent of a Marvel No-Prize for choosing to go after all of the korok seeds or power moons.

Both of these games do not want you to go out of your way to collect these things for the sake of collecting them, they want you to get at least a sizeable slice of them that encompasses a little of each variety, and they put in so many for the express purpose of creating a semi-unique path for each player.

That both of these collectibles drive so many complaints is indicative of a bad habit among gamers to over-consume pieces of media to the point that they’re no longer enjoyable.

(and yes tostarena is an example of the Bad type of cultural appropriation and it’s a legitimate criticism of the game)


#17

It’s understandable being hesitant about expressing it, it’s a sensitive topic of cultural divide and a lot of people that use the perceptions of selective “cultural differences” (see: what fetishized Orientalism has determined to be convenient) to deflect a lot of crit, and it feels like that’s seeped into progressive spaces, too.

I mean we’re in a world where Senran Kagura is a long-running Nintendo platform series–SK’s sexualized girls are almost entirely underage, simply aged up in localization (TN: THIS DON’T FIX JACK-SHIT)–and Sonic Team still sexualizes a 12 year old character. Even the most prying criticisms of BotW have yet to bring up the creepy evocation of the “actually this child is 100 years old” trope or how Zelda & Link–regularly fawned over by the fandom (up to & including porn) and arguably sexualized by their designs–are effectively 17. Persona 5 has a 16 year old in a catsuit.

This shit’s terrible and nobody knows how to even begin responding to it, so a wide & shrugging acceptance has creeped in and it is damn depressing, and this is just recent stuff relegated to the gaming sphere alone. There’s barely even a start to discussion about this anywhere decent.

If this is too off-topic I’ll totally back off, this isn’t the best venue for airing this stuff I know. But uh, there’s also not much more to actually say about White Dude Youtube Critic Like The Dark Soul Whee.


#18

This is probably the largest bone of contention I have with Andersons critique. It assumes that the game was made with the expectation that everyone should play all of it, when the mantra behind the game seems to closer to “anyone should be able to play some it” You’re not supposed to grind for moons or korok seeds for that matter, you’re supposed to find as many as you find enjoyable. When you don’t get enjoyment out of the game, you can put it down and be done with it, and if you do decide to go back you at least know that there will be stuff that you have missed.

The notion that Nintendo expects its players to find all 800+ moons before they are done with the game just seems weirdly rigid and stubborn to me.


#19

Totally. I get why he did it that way, but that’s just not a style that I’m into. Thorough analysis is, obviously, really important for criticism. But I also think part of what makes great criticism great is brevity.


#20

I think part of his problem is that he’s comparing it to other Mario games where it’s designed so that less capable players should be able to finish the game, but then for the people who want more challenge there’s extra levels, collectibles etc.

But Mario Odyssey made the choice to go in the other direction. The baseline game is relatively easy to beat, and so are most of the optional challenges. I think it’s good that for once they focused the optional energy on something for more players. Rather than yet again making a game that’s beatable for most players, but gives a special reward to a certain subset.