Opinion: Mario’s Motion-Only Abilities Are Infuriating



Share.

Odyssey is an incredible game, but mandatory motion controls are annoying.

I’ve been playing a ton of Super Mario Odyssey since its launch last week, and much like Ryan’s rave review of the game, I’m seriously loving it. That said, its use of motion controls drive me crazy.

When Nintendo introduced the Wii as an almost exclusively motion controlled system in 2006, it was a new, exciting, and relatively successful idea. But even on a system designed around motion control, it had its problems and eventually settled into being more of a gimmick than the revolutionary new way to play games Nintendo may have hoped it would be.

I’m not one to blindly hate on motion controls – I loved the fine-tuned aiming it brought to Breath of the Wild’s bow, for example – but it becomes a problem when certain abilities or perks are gated exclusively behind them, and gets even worse when you consider how antithetical they are to the Switch console itself.

Nearly every captured character’s abilities can be improved by shaking your controller. Goombas jump higher, Bullet Bills fly faster, and Cheep Cheeps can actually attack. Outside of captures, shaking your controller will make Mario climb poles faster or let Cappy home-in on close targets.

To be clear, you don’t have to use the motion-improved abilities to complete any puzzles. With your jump on the A and B buttons, and your cap throw on X and Y, you can get through the entire game just fine even if your hands are super glued to your coffee table.

But pretty much none of those upgrades and improvements have non-motion control equivalents, and a lot of them feel powerful enough that I want to be using them regularly. Climbing can feel incredibly slow without shaking, and special throws let Mario toss Cappy straight up or rolling along the ground feel too significant to be held hostage this way.

You have to shake the entire console so you can’t even see the screen just to climb a pole faster.

Even when these abilities do have non-motion controlled inputs, Nintendo doesn’t always tell you. The incredibly useful Spin Throw – which sends Cappy in circles around Mario – is taught to you by tilting both controllers quickly to the side, but even the Action Guide fails to mention that the same move can be pulled off by just spinning the left stick around before pressing Y.

These motion controls aren’t a bad use of the tech when playing with the Switch docked, but taking it on the go with the Joy-Con attached to the sides makes them completely disruptive. You have to shake the entire console to the point where you basically can’t see the screen just to climb a pole faster – and watching Mario slowly shimmy up when I know there’s a way I could be going quicker is infuriating.

What makes this problem so ridiculous to me is that half the buttons on the controller basically aren’t being used. I enjoy the homage to classic NES controls with the mirrored mapping of X/Y and A/B, but not if those buttons could be doing something useful.

This frustration doesn’t ruin Odyssey by any means – it’s still an incredible achievement and one of the best Mario games I’ve played in years. But Nintendo made a conscious decision to limit Mario’s moves in this way, and I think it was a bad one.

Fundamentally, I wish Nintendo had given us a clear control choice for every ability in Mario’s toolkit, not just some of them. Instead they decided to force players to use the Switch’s motion controls and undermined other important parts of the system in the process.

Now if you need me, I’ll be bumping elbows with the people next to me on my train to work just to get my Goombas over a ledge.

Tom Marks is an Associate Editor focusing on PC gaming at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.


Loading...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *