Gaming with a 3 Year Old: Super Mario Odyssey

Nope.. before you think it I did not give my 3 year old a Switch with Super Mario Odyssey and expect moon collection on mass. Circumstances sometimes present opportunities to try things unexpectedly and this was one of those occasions, as opposed to when I talked about introducing him to LocoRoco.

Setting the scene; an expected hospital trip for my partner in the late evening when child cover was impossible lead to a very ratty boy who desperately needed a distraction sitting at a bed side, I’d just finished my work commute not long before hand and still had my switch with me so to try and make a distraction for a little I opened it up let the little boy make his choice… ‘MARIO!!!’ a bit loud for a hospital but the choice had been made!

Odyssey in particular is perhaps the most diverse Mario game ever, levels range from realistic to make out of food and all in between

While a great many Nintendo games are child friendly enough to garner a 3+ age rating it’s unfair in many cases to actually expect a child of that age to get to grips with the ergonomics of an analog controller. A 2D game is something perhaps that’s possible but that wasn’t the situation as the LB (little boy) started to experiment with what the various buttons and analog sticks to see what happened on screen.

Mario Odyssey’s core game play structure is first and foremost a platforming game though with a lot more diversity and rewarding moments then the average Mario game. Swapping out the sun and star collectibles of the previous 3D Mario games with moons. These are constantly fed to you through the game for minor tasks as much as bigger objectives like previous games as as such there hundreds more to find. It makes the game feel a bit more rewarding and the feedback to the player for that makes it easy to fall into the ‘just one more’ attitude.

As per pretty much Mario game every made the story, Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser. This time with the intention of forcing a wedding (stereotypical boy always rescues girl plot aside, though I’d love to see some progression on this the way that The Legend of Zelda has given Zelda a less passive and damsel in distress roll in the story ) They theme of Weddings is in full force across the games overarching narrative with the main recurring bosses even being wedding planners, everyone being smartly dressed. While every world visited being imaginative, colorful and full of things to do.

Everything possessed gets a Mario mustache.. and it caused all sorts of laughter

I actually in this situation help guide my LB through the initial introduction part of the game so he could play on a more colorful level but his initial playing in 3D was something to behold, the process of trying to work out how the analog sticks worked, as well as combining inputs from both left and right hand to make Mario move and throw his hat. Mario platforming in 3D has become something that actually requires a lot of finesse to get down to a decent level to complete the game. This is most likely why the actually challenge of the 3D Mario games now for some time have had the true challenge for the more advanced gamers happen after the ending of the game, providing a full but manageable experience for the younger players still that’s more easily obtainable.

Ultimately our time with Mario was limited to a few core things; running in circles and possessing animals. The main feature of Mario Odyssey is to posses the bodies of animals, other characters and some inanimate objects and use them to go where regular Mario can’t, and no more enjoyment came from taking other other things and messing around, from frogs to chain chomps and finally a T-Rex (I aided in some progression to allow more time in this area) But the charm of this game in particular is the amount of freedom you can have to experiment and the many things you can uncover just buy playing around and that it’s all be anticipated and accounted for by having those moons and other rewards to fine.

While I don’t expect my little man to get this far.. he does love watching the madness of some levels!

Our time with Mario Oddesey has been shorted then the other games, but its one that will certainly be returned to in time as I want to see how the little ones change how they play it.


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