With all this talk about how Super Mario Odyssey’s mechanics are great, but its world designs are cliché, I’ve gotta wonder: what’s left? Like, how do you design themed platformer worlds without falling into cliché if you’re not allowed to have:
- a world set in a forest, in a desert, at the beach, amid the clouds or on the Moon;
- a world themed after fire, ice, water, castles, food, flowers or ghosts;
- a world characterised by ancient ruins, modern cities, or giant machines
… and so forth? The game goes so far as to have you fight a damn Dark Souls boss at one point, and even that’s been described as predictable tonal break.
I think we’re reaching a point where we’re going to have to stop expecting novelty for novelty’s sake in open-world platformer design, simply because nearly every reasonable world theme has already been done by someone, somewhere.