Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
You don’t need to take a trip to my long abandoned Instagram account (both of them) to learn that I pretty much dress like a scarecrow, as in yes, I keep the birds away. I’m very much a function over form man, I just see clothes as social necessities. So long as it keeps the wind from tickling my ghoulies and I don’t embroil myself in any tricky-to-explain court cases, I’ll wear it. I think one of the main reasons why I’m such a fashion disaster is that my wardrobe is essentially a basket beside my bed with clothes folded on top of it, two abreast, both dangerously teetering like a block of ghastly flats ready to collapse.
Each morning, I grab some articles of clothing from the top of this pile, and whichever has the least obvious creases wins. That’s my ensemble for the day. See, that’s the teeny-tiny drawback you get with your modern day IT jobs – since you’re no longer required to dress like a filing cabinet, just another shirt and slacks merchant, you’ve now got to put some thought into what you wear.
Don’t worry, I’m acutely aware that women probably have even more of this mental palaver to contend with every day. Not just the clothes choice, but they’ve got to get their make-up spot on, and no matter what there’ll be some bow-wow talking behind her back or making backhanded compliments to her face, sparking off a political fracas far more feisty than anything you’ve ever seen in The Thick Of It.
Of course I can always go buy some more clothes to throw on the pile, rather than getting my usual six days out of boxer shorts (frontwards, backwards, upside-down and then the same again but inside-out), but isn’t clothes shopping such a pain? Well, it is if you’re me. I usually just buy it as I see it rather than go and try it on. After all, any filth could have gotten their grime all over that nice shirt, and in these virus-conscious times one can never be too careful.
I also dislike using the changing rooms because the mirrors in there, I don’t get along with them, or see eye-to-eye with them should I say. Perhaps my belly is to blame (perish the thought) but are they the most unflattering mirrors you’ve ever looked in or what? And the lighting, God. It all means that buying jeans can be a right old gamble for me, especially when the cartel of apparel stores still don’t seem to agree on what size “Medium” actually is.
And you can be quiet with your derisive snort there, because despite my oft-bloated Derby Kelly, I’m still a medium somehow. But when I find those special shirts, jeans and sheuxs (no, don’t worry, I ain’t as bad as that) that fit so well and successfully take on that difficult task of hiding my lovehandles, then I tend to stick with them for as long as I can. Or failing that, I just run with the classic plain-white-tee-under-lumberjack-shirt combo. My friends (fellow fashionistas, naturally) have even taken to calling them ‘Burkey shirts’. People sometimes say my fashion sense is ten years behind, mate, I’m five years ahead.
You take my favourite pair of black jeans as another example. The legs are actually too long, they’re like bloody flares, so they keep catching under my shoes and getting scuffed and cut up. I can put up with this annoyance of course, because they look the biz on me. People tell me there are places I can bring my jeans to so that I can have them “taken up”. I thought taking up was what you did with hobbies? Like taking up smoking on a night out to talk to women, or taking up Formula One. I hardly want people to know I’ve taken up trousers, do I? They’ll think me some sort of wetty.
I’ll tell you this, I wish I could change my clobber as often as the portly plumber does in Super Mario Odyssey, and still look as good as he does. I want to say first of all that I’d been dying for a Mario Galaxy 3 for a frightening 10 years, or 7 years prior to Odyssey coming out. Maybe they’ll revisit the Galaxy strand of the series another day. But I was gumming, or stoked as our American Eagle-wearing friends would say, for a new 3D Mario game. Especially since Mario 3D Land and World just didn’t really do it for me.
I think a surprisingly big factor in the hype for me was the vocal song ‘Jump Up Super Star’, sung by series old-timer Pauline of all people. Well, I’m sure there was a real-life singer doing it, but next you’ll tell me the Gorillaz aren’t real. In the run-up to the game’s release, to creep my girlfriend out but really just for my own giggles, I drove through my village, lovely summer’s day, windows down, blaring the song as loudly as my cassette-tape auxiliary adaptor could carry it. Why, you ask? Why not? I previously made an Instagram post about Mario Odyssey saying that if this game doesn’t make you smile, then balls to you. You ain’t worth knowing.
I’ll admit that, apart from getting roped in by enchantress turned songstress (turned mayoress?) Pauline, the other thing majorly drawing me into the game was the new capture gimmick. Simply toss Mario’s cap onto a T-Rex, and now you’re the T-Rex. Or you’re the Cheep Cheep or the Goomba or the RC Car or my favourite, the Wiggler-type bug that stretches across chasms like an accordion. You’ll run into all kinds of capturable, if I can throw my cap on such a word, enemies and objects across 17 levels. Some of them are a bit boring and functional, but most of them are a real thrill to discover. Who hasn’t wanted to be a Hammer Bro?
The goal is to rescue Peach, of course, this time being coerced by Bowser into marrying him. That’s actually a bit close to the bone, but it’s best not to think about it. To get around the world in your large, hat-shaped ship that reminds me just a little bit too much of something you might see in Mario’s Time Machine, you’ve got to collect Power Moons. No, not Stars, you gotta get that right. Stars are last year’s buzz. I can tell you that there’s over 900 Moons to grab, which definitely gets the mouth watering. Sure beats 120 Power Stars, or even Galaxy 2’s total of 242 out of the water.
But keep in mind, a lot of these lunar buggers are just found right out in the open, or available to purchase in shops strangely. On top of that there’s hundreds of special Purple Coins to gather, a lot less like the torturous ones in Galaxy 1 and more like the pleasant Musical Notes in Banjo Kazooie. Add bundles of bosses, great music, heaps of ingenuity and non-linearity and you’ve got another 3D Mario classic that’ll stand the test of time.
But now, in a way I hate to say this, but the controls just aren’t quite as good as what you’ve got in the Galaxy games. It could even just be my own TV or Joycons or my own spitefulness, but there really seems to be an absolutely minute delay in you pressing jump and the moment Mario gets his belly airborne. You’ll only start to notice it when collecting the very toughest Moons, so I guess this is a bit like putting a car up a severely steep hill against snot, force ten gales and a tricky surface, and then complaining that the car is taking too long to heat up.
But I needed to mention it, that you’ll definitely stretch the controls as you close in on 100%. Also, the game does give you mild ‘Nam flashbacks as it tries to gently push you towards motion controls on more than one occasion. I don’t believe there’s anything that your dainty little accelerometerised Joycan can do that absolutely cannot be done on a manly, straight-laced controller, but you might find some moves harder to pull off.
None of it stopped me from 100%ing Odyssey, spending over 50 hours to do so and having tons of fun doing it, until finally the time came to hang the game up. There it is now, on the shelf, pristine, almost winking at me. It knows I can have the utmost confidence and faith in it, that anytime I choose to wear Super Mario Odyssey, we’ll make a sensational pairing. Why can’t everything else on my shelf be as appealing as this?
12 May 2020