5 Ways Super Mario Odyssey is a Souls-Like

Dark Souls, along with its predecessor, Demons’ Souls, has ascended to the lofty height of being genre defining. From Software has produced excellent sequels to Dark Souls, and with Bloodborne, they retooled their own formula into what is sure to be another lasting franchise. There have been decent attempts at imitation like Lords of the Fallen and The Surge. Nioh draws comparisons. The upcoming Code Vein, from Dark Souls’ own publisher Bandai Namco, is banking on its similarities, marketing them. Souls-like, as a genre term, is now as deeply planted in the gaming zeitgeist as Metroidvania or Roguelike.

One defining quality of the Souls-like is a return to difficulty, often compared to the punishing lessons of NES classics like Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, and the more difficult levels of classic Mario games. So without further ado…

 

5 Ways Super Mario Odyssey is a Souls-Like:

  1. The Fashion- Every enemy in Dark Souls can end you with one or two hits. That’s just the way it is. Therefore, Souls players tend to care less about the statistics, and more about the fashion. Just Google Fashion Souls, you’ll see what I mean. In Mario Odyssey, literally every enemy can kill you in three hits, and the outfits offer no protection at all, so the player is encouraged to fashion their Mario in any style they desire.
  2. The Death Ring- Every time you die in Mario Odyssey, you lose 10 coins. Every time you die in Dark Souls, you lose all of your souls. But in both games, if you manage return to the spot you perished before dying again, you can recover what you had lost. The penalty might not be much in Mario Odyssey, but I often feel compelled to regain those coins anyway. It’s a Dark Souls thing.
  3. The Bowser Banners- After scaling a challenging platforming section in Mario Odyssey, the player is often rewarded with a Bowser Flag, that can be converted to a Mario flag, and then used as a fast travel point. Just like the liberally sprinkled bonfires in Dark Souls 2 and 3.
  4. That Level and That Boss- Here there be spoilers, but in Mario Odyssey, there is both a level and a boss that are directly lifted from Dark Souls. You’ll just have to trust me that you’ll know it when you see it.
  5. Mind Controlling Headwear- One of the more tragic tales in the original Dark Souls is that of Solaire of Astora. He only wanted to be so grossly incandescent as the sun. While he can, in fact, be saved, most players saw him mesmerized by the Sunlight Maggot, a loathsome parasite that fashioned itself into a crown and drove him insane. Sounds like the Sunlight Maggot might be Cappy’s cousin, or, at the very least, be from the Cap Kingdom?

 

Obviously, I’ve been having a bit of fun here. But they are all valid points as well. Either way, let me have it the comments. I look forward to your thoughts.

 

Welcome Home, Mario. We Missed You.

Super Mario Odyssey is only one week old and it already feels timeless. I was 21 years old when the Nintendo 64 launched with Super Mario 64. I spent months poring over every polygon, peering around every corner, plumbing every pipe. And then my gaming life moved on. The thought of Mario 64 never stopped giving me those warm, fuzzy feelings, but I also never thought about it too deeply. I didn’t play the 3DS remake. I never revisited it on an N64. It was a legendary game from my past and that was enough. I didn’t miss it. Or, I didn’t realize I missed it, until last week.

The very moment Odyssey began, a smile crept across my face. Little audio cues, Mario’s ‘voice,’ the ominous drums that accompany Bowser’s Airship, the coins’ iconic ding, they all dialed up the nostalgia. My muscle-memory kicked in as I pushed forward on the stick and saw Mario’s little legs start pumping. I reflexively timed his jumps, Hip, Hup, WA-HOO! Triple Jump: check. My grin grew wider. The first hours with this game were like a time-machine, giving me an admittedly rose-tinted window into a simpler time. It is a perfect follow-up to Mario 64. And, it turns out, I did miss Mario 64. I missed it a lot. Continue reading “Welcome Home, Mario. We Missed You.”

Birthday Pony

Bobby Crewe couldn’t sleep for several reasons. First of all, it was hot. It was late August, and a recent spate of fall-like weather had broken his mother’s dependence on air conditioning, so now, even with the night air returning to the muggy, stagnant qualities of summer in the Midwest, she had merely opened the windows and brought in a fan. “It’s too hot,” he had complained, even before the lights went out, but Mom moved as if she hadn’t heard him. She dimmed the light, hugged him until it was hard for him to breathe, then, as he laid back on his pillows, she pulled all of his blankets up over him. “It’s too hot!” he repeated, kicking the blankets back down. “You know everyone’s had a long day,” she said and brushed his hair across his already sweating brow, then leaned to kiss him on the forehead, whispering “Sweet dreams, little angel. I love you.” Then she got up and tip-toed out, leaving the door open just a crack. He heard her whisper something to his Dad. He couldn’t hear what over the whirr of the fan. But Bobby was sure it was about Jimmy. Continue reading “Birthday Pony”

IRL: Real World Lessons in Weird World Games

I was really committed to bonding with my friend Ren over the weekend. I’d been so focused on building my relationship with my new step-brother Jonas and trying to mend fences with Clarissa, that I felt I was neglecting my best friend. So as we arrived at the bonfire, I thought, I’m going to make this weekend all about Ren. But over the course of the next few hours, he really got on my nerves. Maybe we were growing apart, maybe we were never as close as I had been led to believe. Maybe it was just the sound of his voice. Whatever the reason, in spite of all my best intentions, I started behaving rather cruelly towards him. Again. I couldn’t help it.

Oxenfree, Night School Studio’s stellar 2016 release, continues to surprise me after several playthroughs. It’s a simple, stylish conversation simulator that places you in the role of Alex, a high-school girl coming off a pretty serious rough patch. Throughout the game, you have to navigate a small group of friends and frenemies, helping Alex pick up the pieces of the recent past while also dealing with the dangers of her current situation. Multiple possible outcomes and a brilliant narrative device (that I won’t spoil here) make repeated playthroughs feel like a natural extension of the game. And every time I step into Alex’s shoes, I find I learn a little bit about myself. Continue reading “IRL: Real World Lessons in Weird World Games”

Gaming Glut

What a glorious time to be alive. The electronic game medium has expanded to the point that we don’t have to ask ourselves if we’re in the mood to play a game; we ask ourselves what kind of game we’re in the mood to play. For a gaming chameleon like myself, someone interested in the entire spectrum of gaming styles, this is the most generous of blessings, and the cruelest of curses. I play games because I enjoy them, but I also play games to stay current on what’s new, to check on the progress of a promising developer, to explore blind spots in my back catalogue, to experience a genre I don’t enjoy, per se, but still wish to understand. The list goes on… Rough life, I know. I’m not complaining. I’m just here checking in with you, dropping a brief line to let you know what I’ve been up to since I haven’t been publishing. Continue reading “Gaming Glut”

Color Me Immersed

There’s been a hush in the conversation surrounding Virtual Reality. The Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, took up a lot of space in the collective gaming mind last year. And while the devices are a giant leap forward, still the buzz became a murmur, and the murmur became a whisper. Now we’re all back in a holding pattern, waiting for that ‘killer-app’ software that justifies the hardware. But what was the real root of all the excitement? Sure, we’re always keen on new technology, but the expectations surrounding VR are bigger than an incremental console upgrade. I’m wondering if they should be. When we already have 4K fidelity and 7.1 Dolby Surround in our headphones, why are some of us still chasing the fabled realm of total immersion promised by Virtual Reality? Continue reading “Color Me Immersed”

Destiny 2: Homecoming

Let’s get the unpleasantries out of the way. For me, and if my Twitter feed is any indication, for millions of others, this was the welcome mat that Bungie seemed to lay at the door of their much anticipated sequel:

One Moment Please- Waiting screen
Not the best opening cinematic…

This appeared on my screen only after several failed attempts to even launch the application on my Xbox One. Disappointment is an understatement. Of course, my immediate impulse was to vent to the echo chamber that is Twitter. But as I started to craft my scathing indictment of the team responsible for this travesty, my head cooled almost instantly. This release is, I’m sure, a huge undertaking. I have no idea what’s involved, and at that point, Bungie, Activision, et al, had wasted a mere 282 seconds of my time. I felt childish. I adopted a ‘wait and see’ mentality. Sure, I poked that maybe they should have seen the traffic coming, but really, I know that they did, and this was still the result. So I jotted down some thoughts, and some minutes rolled by. I was bummed out. Continue reading “Destiny 2: Homecoming”