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‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Wants You To Play It With The Switch’s Strangest Control Scheme – Forbes

Credit: Nintendo

Super Mario Odyssey

So, Super Mario Odyssey came out today and, wouldn’t you know it: it’s amazing. I haven’t quite played enough to begin talking about it yet, but suffice to say it’s a joyous, bizarre, surrealist toybox dripping with the same mixture of freeform experimentation and obsessive, Nintendo-style tailoring that made The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild such an amazing experience. It’s a game perhaps defined by the first moment that I became a zipper that cut through the walls of my world and reshaped the area I was in with newly free flaps. To repeat: this is a game where you can be a zipper. Again, more on that later. But for those just starting, you’ll notice something interesting about the game right from the beginning, notably in the way it wants you to control it.

Super Mario Odyssey is very explicit about its preferred control method: it wants you to hold two detached Joy-Cons, one in each hand. Which I had only really seen in Arms before, where the concept made a sort of intuitive sense if you imagined the Joy-Cons as two fists on a boxer. For the most part, I had really only been considering four different control schemes for the Switch: single Joy-Con, double Joy-Cons on a grip, Pro Controller and handheld. Double Joy-Cons feels like the dark horse control setup, but it’s clearly just as viable. In some ways it’s just an adaption of using the two Joy-Cons on a grip, except that it also allows you access to the two shoulder buttons would be stuck into the middle of the grip otherwise. And — this is important for Odyssey — it’s easier to use motion controls that way.

Credit: Nintendo

Super Mario Odyssey wants you to play the game like this.

Motion controls make more than a passing appearance in this game: the game appears to be totally playable without them, but certain, limited moves require a shake of a Joy-Con, and other moves are just much easier to pull off with a simple gesture rather than a series of button pushes. Which is a bit odd, really: motion controls for Nintendo games feel pretty vestigial at this point. The Wii was meant to reshape the way we all played video games, but the revolution never went too far past Wii Sports. And now we’ve got motion controls popping up in somewhat unexpected places: by far my least favorite parts of Breath of the Wild were those terrible ball rolling puzzles that had everyone on the Internet hunting for a way to cheese past them.

Odyssey’s motion controls need more of an examination, and I’ll be playing with them more extensively over the next few days. But I can say this so far: they sure don’t work very well in handheld mode. I spent some time hunting moons on a bike at the gym, and shaking the entire console up and down while doing so isn’t exactly elegant design. It’s not a huge problem, but like those aforementioned ball-rolling puzzles, it just begs a simple question: why? It’s especially vexing because the entire point of the Switch is its ability to seamlessly transition between different modes, making the fact that its marquee game clearly favors one mode a little hard.

More thoughts as the game keeps going, but so far the motion controls don’t hamper a crazy, fun time. I’m off to a bar to drink an old-fashioned and play Mario.

‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Wants You To Play It With The Switch’s Strangest Control Scheme – Forbes

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