How Many is too Many? WARNING! Super Mario Odyssey Endgame SPOILERS

Most platformer games usually have one common goal in place: collecting. Whether it be jinjos, jiggies, stars, or moons, these games are usually referred to as “collectathons”. In order to bulk up the experience, or add more to the game, is it safe to simply add more things to collect? How do developers keep the experience fresh? If you missed the spoiler warning for Super Mario Odyssey in the title and don’t want anything to be spoiled, now is the time to stop reading.

There are 999 moons to collect in Super Mario Odyssey (not counting all the additional moons that you can buy, but those don’t count toward the maxed out 999 moons that can power your Odyssey). It’s true that every moon is a little different, but when you boil it down, there are some recurring ways to get most of the moons, with little uniqueness. Some moons are collected by ground-pounding a certain area, dressing up in a specific costume, walking in a perfect circle, stacking Goombas, finding paintings, racing, etc. Despite this repetition, and the vast number of moons spread across the world, I never got sick of the experience. In my 45 hours spent, I collected everything I could, and the experience never felt stale or like I was crawling my way through.

For me, this game ended at the perfect time. Anything more, and the experience likely would have started to decline. Nintendo found the sweet spot, and I think that is largely in part due to the differences in the levels. No two areas were similar in any way, and I appreciate that Nintendo didn’t play it safe with their usual grass, desert, snow/ice, mountain, and lava worlds. Starting out in the Cap Kingdom is so different than anywhere that Mario started his adventure in the past, and the sense of adventure really sparked as soon as I entered the Cascade Kingdom for the first time. The Dia de los Muertos tie-in to the Sand Kingdom was also a nice touch. The Metro Kingdom is something that I was skeptical about, as it gave me vibes of Sonic ’06, but it was done so well. Sometimes I still just go back and run around that giant playground. Even Bowser’s Kingdom looks like it never has, with a Japanese Dojo style theme. Simply wanting to experience every meticulously crafted level is what kept me going to the pursuit of 999 moons. The reason this didn’t feel like a collectathon to me is that I wasn’t motivated by the desire to collect more moons, but rather exploring and being immersed in the environment.

A game shouldn’t be driven by collecting, but exploring.

I realized that these games don’t get their longevity from the number of things to collect, but from the quality of their worlds. In Odyssey, Nintendo found the perfect balance. After I inserted that 999th moon into the Odyssey and saw the cap resting on Peach’s castle, I felt a great sense of accomplishment, and at that time, I was ready to be done. Not done exploring and playing around in the worlds, but done collecting moons. To answer my initial question: is 999 moons too many? In this game, no. In any other game, it probably would be. It all depends on the quality and creativity of the world. Not to mention that throughout my entire 45 hour completion play through, I had a pretty dumb smile on my face (except during a few moons – looking at you, Dark Side).

Nice photobomb, Captain Toad.

I just want to conclude with a more personal note: thank you as always for your time to read these blogs. I know your time is valuable, and when I write these blogs I try to approach with a fresh or new perspective, as there is already so much circulating the internet about games. So thank you, and I wish you safe and happy Holidays. Hopefully it’s not only spent with Mario on his incredible odyssey, but with family.