Super Mario Odyssey is a joyous romp through a variety of charming and colorful locations that is impossible to play without wearing a constant smile on your face. However, there are many reviewers that claim the game is too easy for the most part. That having said, Super Mario: Odyssey is not a complete cakewalk throughout. There are several Moons that are about as relaxing to collect as a piece of hay from a massive stack full of needles.
Typically, and true to the form of its predecessors, Odyssey ramps up the challenge post-credits, especially on its final two bonus levels (more on those later), but even before the main quest is over the game is prone to the odd difficulty spike when you least expect it. Here are ten examples that will either have you shaking with PTSD-induced rage or have you shouting “git-a-gud” in a dodgy Italian accent. Either way, they were hard for me so leave it, yeah?
On the Eastern Pillar (Sand Kingdom)
— Alex Aldridge (@LalexBaldridge) November 4, 2017
If you’re going in level order, this is probably the first Moon in the game to truly test your skill to the limit. The level of precise timing and acrobatics I needed to collect this Moon was so high that I’m still not convinced that I did it in the most efficient way possible.
To gain your reward, you’re tasked with destroying a block on top of a pillar in the middle of nowhere. Conventional means won’t break it open, and the only way to succeed is by capturing a Bullet Bill and flying into it. The only problem is that there aren’t any Bullet Bills for miles, and the closest one I found was on the eastern side of the Tostarena Ruins by the Sand Pillar checkpoint.
To get the Bullet Bill over to that far away block, I had to stand near to his spawn point on the edge of a broken bit of wall and lure him over to me. First, and crucially, knocking his hat off as he approached me, I then had to perform a long jump followed by a cap throw/dive combo to a nearby pillar all while spinning the camera round mid-action to make sure I got my jump on target.
Simply throwing my cap on BB while stood on the pillar doesn’t grant enough time to fly all the way over to the block, so I had to perform another long jump off the pillar and quickly perform an inch-perfect 180 in mid-air to land the cap on the pursuing enemy. This then granted me just, and I mean just, enough time to hastily fly over to the block and smash it right before I turned back into a fat plumber and fell to the sand below.
A real bum-clencher of a Moon that seems designed with the smallest of margins for error that, admittedly, does look pretty cool when you pull it off.
Taking Notes: Up and Down (Cloud Kingdom)
— Alex Aldridge (@LalexBaldridge) November 17, 2017
Another Moon that, while not difficult on paper, has its challenge ramped up thanks to that bane of all things you actually want to see: the camera. You’re on a platform that moves up and down tasked with lobbing your cap on four musical note trios, placed at varying heights before a timer runs out. You’ll probably get the top and bottom notes easily enough, but it’s the two sets in the middle that really frustrate.
The camera isn’t the only element out to ruin your day here; the platform will only ascend after Mario ground pounds it – something that I forgot about on countless occasions. Given that your time to collect all the notes is limited anyway, there’s nothing worse than screaming at the TV for the platform to ‘get a ruddy move on’ before you realize that its stationary indifference is entirely your fault.
Once you add these two obstacles together and multiply them by a cap throw that just isn’t long enough without some motion waggling, you’ve got yourself a real stinker of a time. Oh, and how come the musical notes don’t play classic Mario tunes anymore? That would at least make the challenge more palatable than its current guise of ‘Failure in C Major’.
Secret 2D Treasure (Mushroom Kingdom)
— Alex Aldridge (@LalexBaldridge) November 19, 2017
Well done, Odyssey – you made me hate 8bit Mario. To be fair to this Moon, most of the 2D sections in the game are easier than Mayor Pauline in a handbag shop, but this one is just taking the piss.
Throughout Odyssey, I was reluctantly accepting that achieving the game’s seamless transition between 2D and 3D sections wouldn’t be possible if we’re able to use the D-Pad in the former, but that doesn’t mean I ever got used to playing 8bit Mario with an analog stick. It’s just wrong, and the utilization of the analog stick is where this particular Moon goes from confusing to absolute mind fuck.
You’re playing through a homage to SMB’s world 1-1, trying to keep up with a creeping darkness that acts as a time limit of sorts. Get caught in the light and Mario will drop off the 2D surface to a three-dimensional death in an instant. While relatively challenging on its own, it’s a specific segment where you’re running around circular platforms that your brain begins to melt.
Rather than behaving as you’d expect – press left or right to make Mario run around the circle in that direction – Mario’s movement is mirrored from the on-screen circle to the position of the analog stick. If you’re in the top left of the circle and you press right, Mario will not move. To duck while on the right side of the circle, you need to press left, not down. If that seems difficult to get your head around, try figuring it out while trying to simultaneously line up safe areas of the background and avoid rows of Fuzzies. Nightmare.
Iceburn Circuit Class S (Snow Kingdom)
— Alex Aldridge (@LalexBaldridge) November 19, 2017
Look at those cuddly Shiverians bouncing around the racetrack. Don’t they look adorable flailing their arms around, wearing their little hats and having such a lovely time… Oh, that bouncy bastard knocked me into the snow again!
I’ll let you in on a little secret – I don’t enjoy these silly bouncing races. They were dull enough when they were easy, but the final of the four races in the game sees you almost constantly stuck behind – or, worse, in between – two absolute oafs who seemingly roided up between races.
What was once a bland-yet-charming mini-game diversion suddenly becomes an all-out demolition derby of anger and tears. You have to get your bounces spot on to stand any chance of winning this race as the rubber banding becomes so ludicrous you’d think you were playing… well, Mario Kart.
Every time I played this race I found it practically impossible to gain any sort of lead until the very last lap, and that was only provided I was near perfect until then. Naturally, this meant that it was very difficult to tell if I was in an unwinnable race until I’d already poured a decent amount of time into it. A repeated issue with some of these difficult Moons is the time sink they require even in failure. We’ll get to the worst offender for that later…