Controller-Passing Co-Op Is the Ultimate Way to Play 'Mario Odyssey'

You only need one controller, and a willing partner.
All images courtesy Nintendo

I'm having the time of my life playing Super Mario Odyssey with my girlfriend. We're not playing together in the sense that we're using the actual two-player mode in the game (though, I hear that's fun too). Nah. We're playing it the way I got through most main series Mario games, before I could drive: we're passing the controller back and forth.

If you've been playing single-player games as a multiplayer experience for a long time, you know the rules: every time you die, you pass off the joypad to your partner. We're also putting a loose timer on things: if she's been playing for awhile, she'll decide "hey, I'm going to explore this rock, then it's your turn." And sometimes, we'll decide one of us is just better for a section. I was getting annoyed with Jaxi driving (they are, um, living jaguar statues in the Sand Kingdom), and my gf is notorious for, shall we say less-than-careful driving in games, so it worked out beautifully.

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Miraculously, sharing like this has gotten easier with adulthood and, you know, having a healthy relationship with a partner. Playing games like this as a kid typically resulted in at least one little kid fight per session, thanks to, say, unfair deaths or massive skill gaps between players.

The game is perfect for this style of play, given just how much there is to do, and the sheer density of its worlds. It feels, thus far, to be the perfect encapsulation of the "garden in a box" philosophy that Super Mario 64 was designed with, but with 12x the density, with dozens upon dozens of moons (basically, objectives) in each kingdom. Kingdoms change as you traverse them, or come back to them later, leading to even more tasks. We're having a fantastic time clearing out worlds (to a point, we're not fully 100%-ing anything, rather, exhausting the majority of options), and trying everything to see if there's a little secret hidden in a nook somewhere.

"What if we move the camera just so?" We do, and there is totally a secret moon hanging out there. "What if we try to get the T-Rex to jump into the waterfall at just the right angle?" I'm not going to tell you what happens with that one, but it's pretty funny. "Oh, honey, this is one of those Sunshine-style obstacle courses, you do this part." I do, and it is fantastic.

This is actually, really, what domestic bliss looks like. I guess it's a little weird that a game about the world's weirdest marriage brought this on, but, hey. With any luck, we'll be sailing the good ship Odyssey for a long time together.