I love Super Mario Odyssey. It’s fun, and pretty, and reminds me of everything I love about 3D Mario games. But there’s just something missing. Over the past two decades I’ve played every single one of the core Mario titles, and playing Odyssey brings up plenty of amazing memories of each one. But with that nostalgia comes the knowledge of how much Nintendo really has changed the series over the years, from the big stuff, to the small scale. While by now I’m used to seeing them reinvent key parts of the Mario experience with each new installment (and some of these features were not included in all the games), here are five things I still miss all the same.
This may be petty (it’s actually incredibly petty), but in terms of space-themed iconography, stars are just way better than moons. There, I said it. Stars are magic and they sparkle. Moons don’t even make sense. Yeah, they might kinda be the opposite of the sun, which is a star, but there are way more stars than moons in the universe, which I think counts for something. I want my stars back.
Sure, it’s nice that the Kingdoms of Super Mario Odyssey are so big, but they also seem a bit lonely. The environmental sprawl of Odyssey is nice for exploration, but I liked the tightly packed-in feeling of the levels of, say, Super Mario Galaxy; it made things seem lively, like beautifully controlled chaos.
Is it just me, or is this game really easy? Actually maybe it’s not easy, so much as it’s designed to be accessible to children, which would make sense. Still, I miss the abject panic that each long jump used to bring. Some of the puzzles bring about the satisfaction I remember from the old days, but at times, when I’m rackin’ up power moons at the rate of about one every five minutes, I feel like it’s being handed to me. I may be getting too old for this.
I miss power-ups so, so, so hard. Sure, the last few generations of Super Mario power-ups have really been pushing it in terms of absurdity (cats, bees, a silver spring?? Really, Nintendo?) but that was always part of the fun. Honestly, what is Mario though without Invincibility stars, or fireballs, or suits? I know, Nintendo has to keep reinventing their series staples in order to keep it from becoming stale, and Cappy was their answer to how to completely upend the power-up system. Still, it’s hard to let some things go.
How in this day and age do you not make Luigi a playable option? Luigi was the ultimate reward for completing Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2. The game itself took a while to complete but it was still pretty satisfying to replay as Mario’s brother, due to his unique jump. Yes, you can buy a Luigi outfit in Super Mario Odyssey, but it’s just not the same. Chances are, Nintendo is holding back Luigi, and maybe even other playable characters, as DLC for the future. And while I can’t entirely fault them for that, for now, I miss my big green boy.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.