Video Game Level Reviews – “Cascade Kingdom” From Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is a great experience but the Cap Kingdom was a mediocre opening to the game. It was short, bland and there was very little in the form of platforming or exploration.

Cascade Kingdom feels more in line with an introductory level to a Mario game. Granted it may be just because the level is green but regardless, it worked it’s magic on me better than Cap Kingdom.

Please note this review is for the kingdom pre-end game. I know a ton of content shows up later and I will update my review later.

Story Progression Gameplay – 13/20

  • The level progression when following the story is simple but serves as a solid tutorial, which I think Cap Kingdom did a poor job of. You have chain chomp challenges, some Burrbo spawn points, a great 2D section, and enjoyable sights during the traversal up the cliff.
  • Despite my praise above, the lack of platforming is frustrating. Other than the 2D section, the Cascade Kingdom boils down to avoiding some enemies and moving forward. It’s that simple. Most of the Chain-Chomps can just be ignored and nothing really takes any skill. It’s a bit dissapointing that a climb up a dinosaur mountain couldn’t incorporate more challenges.
  • The first 2D section is a sublime intro to the mechanic in this game, particularly with the “downgrade” to NES music. Hope the end-game material has more of this.
  • Powerups are a mixed bag. The TRex got much publicity before the game was released but I found myself underwhelmed here. Super clunky movement and a turning radius which embarasses all other turning radii. Coupling finnicky movement with the fact that you can’t keep the T-Rex captured indefinitely means more frustration than fun. Dr. Ian Malcolm would have a bone to pick with Nintendo for throwing the T-Rex into this game.

“That is one big pile of shit.”
  • The Chain-Chomps are solid, though their fun factor is only really experienced in some of the challenge rooms when used for puzzles. In the main kingdom, as obstacles to overcome, their challenge is nerfed due to the ease of capturing them.
  • Boss fights in this game are as forgettable as this particular bullet point.

Challenge Rooms/Moon Hunting 41/50

  • Cascade Kingdom nails the introduction to moon hunting. There are some moons you have to find by breaking walls with Chain-Chomps or the T-Rex. There are some hidden away under water or that you have to leap across clouds to. And there is a devilishly hidden one where you have to “scroll” around the side of the 2D level to find one behind the waterfall.
  • This level is very breezy to explore which makes the moon hunting more fun. A bit cramped but very easy to run around and see the sights.
  • The first challenge room I found in this level was an underwhelming arena where you use the T-Rex to get two moons. Thematically, I was happy it felt like part of the Cascade Kingdom (something the Cap Kingdom challenge rooms did a poor job of) but seriously, all you do here is run amuck with a T-Rex. Blah.
  • The next two challenge rooms were great and also felt like a natural part of the kingdom. One is an extended section that flows seamlessly in and out between 2-D and 3-D. It just works very well and has me grinning like a fiend (anything with 2-D works for me in this game). The second one is the Chain-Chomp catapult challenge. Not super creative but it’s tricky to execute and I enjoyed it.
  • The one thing I didn’t like about the Chain-Chomp room is the hidden moon isn’t incorporated into the challenge. There is a secret room that you only find by hugging the screen at the end of the area. I would have preferred having to use the Chain-Chomps creatively to find the secret moon.

World Design/Atmosphere – 21/30

  • This level shows off with its initial “wow” factor. When I first arrived and looked around, I thought the kingdom was huge. I was let down a bit that you only traverse the one island and the surrounding islands in the distance are just eye candy. Too small for my liking.

This place looks expansive but the entire playground is basically seen here.
  • Music-wise it’s a major step up from the Cap Kingdom. It’s loud, adventurous, and triumphant. Sure it’s a bit generic but it’s bombastic enough to charm me and really get into Mario’s adventure.
  • The Kingdom’s atmosphere is strong with the T-Rex and the fossilized remains. Almost feels like Isla Sorna. Just think that they could have done a bit more with the dinosaur theme. The triceratops skeleton looks cool but as far as I can tell, nothing comes of it (unless it’s used in the end-game version of the kingdom).
  • The Cave-Man outfit is rough though. I can’t bear to see Mario debase himself in such a getup.

Overall – 75/100 (good solid fun)

Cascade Kingdom is the real introduction to Super Mario Odyssey and does a much better job than Cap Kingdom. Sure it’s too small, the T-Rex is more like the shitty Spinasaurus from Jurassic Park III (ie a bad idea) and the world is overly easy. Still it manages to capture the essence of Mario, includes some really fun challenge rooms and competently sets up the remainder of the adventure.

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