Trying to find a first-party Nintendo game that offers multiple accessibility options – or any for that matter – isn’t easy. One would think the company that created the NES Hands-Free Controller in the 80s would ensure as many people can play their games as possible., but these days Nintendo’s first-party games don’t offer people with disabilities many options to fully enjoy them. But in this desert of accessibility options, controls, and controllers in first-party Switch games and for the console itself, there is one game that’s an oasis of accessibility: Super Mario Odyssey.
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Super Mario Odyssey, like most new Mario games, is a 3D platformer The game’s signature feature allows you to control almost anything in each world with the toss of Mario’s hat named Cappy. Activating the hat is simple: press the X or Y button, and Mario will throw Cappy at whomever or whatever you want to control, from goombas to a giant T-Rex who rocks Mario’s iconic mustache like no other. All you need to do after is just move the stick and press a button to perform character-specific actions. The simplicity of the combat gives this game an accessibility edge over original first-party titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, where you’re always throwing bombs, or having to battle a boss with a third sword because your other two broke after 10 swings.
T here are no powerups in Odyssey – you’re just jumping around or becoming an enemy via Cappy. You can roll by pressing the ZL and Y buttons together, ground-pound by tapping ZL while mid-air and do side-somersaults by tilting the left stick in the opposite direction you’re running then pressing the B button. The best thing is the game does not require you to perform all of the moves listed in the options menu – you can get by with some simple one-button presses, and nothing more.
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Then there’s the co-op mode, with one person playing as Mario and the other as Cappy. The only difference is that Mario’s moves are restricted, leaving it to Cappy to ground-pound by pressing the SL button, jump out, return to enemies, and jump. You can also use any combination of controllers with both modes, including the Switch Pro Controller. The game contains motion controls, but you can turn them off, as well as adjust the motion and camera’s sensitivity. Being a sandbox-style game also means worlds are a good size so you’ll never feel stuck in a tight area, or anywhere for that matter.
Boss battles, meanwhile, only require jumping on the given boss’s head, and are very simple. Never does any task or enemy feel overpowering or gives you that painful Soulsborne feeling of agonizing defeat. You might lose, but you’ll always go back into a battle knowing that with just a bit of tweaking, you have a good chance to beat them. Hope is never lost in Super Mario Odyssey, it’s as omnipresent as the bright colours adorning every stage.
The game has an easily activated Assist Mode, which you can switch on at any time by pausing the game then switching the mode from Regular Mode to Assist Mode (this mode can also be chosen when starting a new game). When activated, Mario will be given extra hearts, and if he’s standing still he will regain the health he’s lost. Another one of the mode’s features is arrows show up from the ground as an on-screen waypoint to show you where you need to go as you travel through the many worlds.
When you look at other first-party Nintendo Switch games, Metroid Dread has a high level of difficulty, Luigi’s Mansion 3 requires you to use different buttons at the same times and contains heavy stick use when capturing ghosts (and you have to switch between different characters like Gooigi and E-Gad’s various devices). Super Mario Odyssey raises the bar when it comes to accessibility in first-party Switch games, shows the way forward for the games of the future.
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