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A Personal Odyssey through the Lakeside Kingdom



I have a love-hate relationship with water levels in Mario titles. They slow down the pace of the game, take away abilities to defend yourself (unless you have a fire flower), and sometimes add breath gauges that add more annoyance than healthy tension. On the other hand, I’ve always felt an affinity to water, being the surfer, wakeboarder, scuba diver, and ex-competitive swimmer that I am. It’s most likely because of this affinity that I’ve felt water levels as playfully whimsical, in addition to frustrating, which is a strange mix of emotions to feel, for sure.

Enter the Lakeside Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. I already wasn’t the biggest fan of the swimming in the game from the little I’d been exposed to up to that point, so when I landed in Lake Lamode and saw nearly the whole level submerged in water, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh. It certainly didn’t help that the game wasted no time in throwing me into a cramped, underwater tunnel to navigate. At least I could still attack the kelp enemies with Cappy, so there was that.

But then I emerged at the end of the tunnel, and the sight that awaited me left me in awe. The submerged city of Lake Lamode was simply breathtaking. The ways the rays of light flitted throughout the water, the fluttering form of a transparent gown over the Lochlady Dress Exhibit, the Cheep Cheep swimming peacefully about; these elements all lent themselves to this picturesque scene that spread out in front of me.

As if reading my mind, the game let me capture one of those hapless Cheep Cheeps, allowing me to swim about at my leisure without having to worry about any pesky oxygen. It was immensely liberating being able to freely explore this gorgeous underwater kingdom so adeptly. The tranquility I felt was reminiscent of some of the dives I’ve made in real life, an atmosphere I highly relish whenever I can experience.

The Lakeside Kingdom also gave me one of the biggest scares so far in my time playing. One mini-stage I found involved capturing zippers to unzip shapes from walls, causing them to fall out and create bridges on the other side in a very Paper Mario-esque fashion.

After doing some exploring I came upon a wall with an outer zipper and an inner zipper. After unzipping the outer perimeter I proceeded to do the same for the inner lining, only for that small patch to fall out upon completion and drop me into the foggy abyss below!

I panicked and tried to recover but quickly resigned myself to my fate of starting the stage over… except I didn’t. The fog gradually began to clear and there in front of me was a Power Moon! All I could do was let out a self-derisive chuckle at the game making a fool out of me.

What all this means is that Lake Lamode turned out to be a completely unexpected delight. It remained true to my expectations (there was still a lot of water and a lot of swimming) but at the same time built upon those expectations to make something truly memorable. I think that’s emblematic of Super Mario Odyssey as a whole. It continuously builds upon its own concepts and evolves in naturally gratifying ways and that, in my humble opinion, is pretty awesome.

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world.