OLL: ‘Super Mario Odyssey’ is one-yard away from great accessibility

super mario odyssey

When it comes to being a Nintendo Switch owner, I have been one for (looks at store receipt) close to two weeks. In that time I have spent a lot of it playing Super Mario Odyssey both with the console docked and in portable mode, and to me, it does a good job in being accessible. In a lot of other games, each button and joystick does something totally different, which sometimes leads me to have to change the layout of the controls. If there is no layout that fits my need as a gamer with one arm, then I have to resort to playing the game in an uncomfortable position.

While Super Mario Odyssey does use different buttons for different moves, I did not have to change the layout of the commands and controls. Mostly because the game does not allow you to do so, but there is a reason and it is quite understanding, as the controls are universal, pairing off the A, B, X, and Y buttons. In order to jump, you have to press either the A or B buttons (You can also press and hold Y to throw your cap and use it like a trampoline). But what makes them universal is no matter what button you press, the jumps are the same both in distance and in style.

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So if you are someone who has one arm, or has to use your feet to control the character you are playing, you do not have to worry about mashing buttons or pressing the wrong jump button sending you to off the stage and into death’s embrace. Pressing the X or Y buttons both command Mario to throw his famed red hat to defeat or capture (possess) enemies. Playing as Goomba’s or Skeleton Koopa’s and some other enemies cause all four buttons to perform the same move.

But, if you are someone who does play via your feet, the game’s accessibility can be tough in certain areas. While most of the game is centered around running and jumping, a task like collecting moons sometimes requires pressing the triggers to either roll or ground pound to collect them. For those who have not played it, collecting moons is how you advance from world to world and ultimately beat and complete the game.

I made an attempt to play with my feet and perform these basic controls, and it was very, very difficult. While trying to ground pound (which requires you to jump midair and hit the left trigger), my right foot kept moving the right stick which moves the camera. Not only did I have to keep on re-adjusting the camera, its movement caused me to not be able to see where I was landing. Rolling was impossible to perform because of the camera and having to press the Y or X button to roll.

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Bottom line, the shape of the Joy-Con is not one entirely geared towards those who use their feet to play games. You might have better odds executing them with the Pro Controller, but it is almost $70, so make sure you can get a full refund before buying it and breaking the packaging. A lot of the basic actions require using the triggers, but the truth is outside of ground pound and rolling, I never used other ones that required trigger usage.

Movements like diving and long jumping are nice, but I was able to beat the game without having to rely on them. Super Mario Odyssey is on the one-yard line when it comes to full accessibility controls. It is great the buttons are universal, I just wish there was a way to move all the commands to one side of the controller to make it easier for people who are either missing both arms or have cerebral palsy.

Super Mario Odyssey is one-yard away from being fully accessible, and those with disabilities can and should play it. Again if you are someone more accustomed to playing a different way than I am, you might find certain commands easier to perform. If you find the Joy Con is too difficult to use, then try out a Pro Controller because it is shaped more like a traditional controller.

Nick Battaglia
As a gamer with one arm, Nick strives to inform and showcase what it is like to play games from his point-of-view.  While his love for RPG's, fighters, and everything Nintendo is strong, the only thing stronger is his want to become the live-action version of Mega Man. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @MercWithOneArm.