Super Mario Odyssey fans find new ways to beat the jump rope challenge
When one of the Power Moons in Super Mario Odyssey proved difficult to get, players found a more creative way to beat the challenge.
The jump rope challenge in Super Mario Odyssey is frustrating – so frustrating, in fact, that players found glitches to work around it. For a cynical purist, these exploits could be considered cheating. But on the contrary, they're part of a beloved franchise tradition. Nintendo players love Mario so much that they squeeze every secret – both intentional and unintentional – out of every game, down to the last pixel.
Super Mario Odyssey has moved over 10m copies since its launch, easily making it the best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch. It’s the first open-world sandbox Mario game, though your goal – to save Princess Peach from Bowser – remains the same.
You accomplish this goal by earning Power Moons, which fuel your flying ship in pursuit of Bowser's airship. The Power Moons are scattered across massive, open-world maps and you earn them by beating challenges. Although you only need 124 of these Moons to catch Bowser, fight him, and save Princess Peach, there are 882 unique Moons throughout the entire game. Over the course of the game, they become their own reward.
The Power Moon challenges vary. Some are lengthy, linear platform levels that take up an entire map and are best played in the comfort of one's home. Others are shorter skill tests and tasks which can be finished in a couple of minutes on the go. The Nintendo Switch markets itself as a home console and a handheld, all wrapped up together in one. Thanks to its diversity of challenges, Odyssey is the rare game that's equally enjoyable in both play modes.
The infamous jump rope challenge belongs to the latter category of challenges. Done properly, you can earn two Power Moons in less than two minutes, though that's easier said than done.
The Moon is located in the Metro Kingdom, a massive, photorealistic world that resembles midtown Manhattan. Near the beginning of the level to your right, you'll see two women swinging a jump rope between them on a grassy area. If Mario runs in and starts jumping in time with the rope, a counter will start tracking the number of successful jumps. Make 30 consecutive jumps, and you'll earn a Power Moon. Make 100 consecutive jumps, and you'll earn a second Power Moon.
Thirty consecutive jumps is easy enough, but 100 consecutive jumps is crazy-making.
There's two reasons for this. First, Mario doesn't jump the same on consecutive jumps. The first is a standard jump, but the second is a double jump; Mario's feet reach a little bit higher. This alternation – standard, double, standard, double, and so on – throws off your timing. When pressing the same button produces two different results, it's difficult to get a rhythm going.
Second, the women do not swing the rope at a steady pace throughout the challenge; after every five successful jumps, they'll swing the rope slightly faster. This continues until the count hits 50. It's difficult enough to deal with one variable. But when you're struggling to find a groove with your one-two jumping, while also wrestling with the increasing tempo of the rope itself, you have a recipe for disaster.
There are a couple of proven strategies to beat this challenge. The first, as you'll see in the clip above, is to listen to the woman's voice. Her vocalisations quicken to match the speed of the rope, and so every time she yells, "HEY!" you tap the jump button. The visuals can actually work against you and psyche you out; it's better to hone in on the voice, keep track of the counter, and not pay too much attention to the actual rope. Some players do well by not looking at the screen at all.
The other reliable strategy to beat this challenge, as the above video demonstates, is to do it while riding a motor scooter. That's because the motor scooter, unlike Mario, doesn't have a jump cycle; every jump is exactly the same. Although this eliminates one variable, there's still no way to make the speed of the rope consistent.
Conquering that is a matter of timing and practice. Either you win the challenge or you don't; there's no incremental reward for hitting 70 jumps or 90 jumps. And eventually, you get restless, because there's a massive world for Mario to explore. Instead, you're stuck here, on a challenge that, on first glance, appeared quite simple. It becomes a sunken cost fallacy; you've wasted too much time and effort on this challenge to simply give up.
Thus, some Odyssey players discovered a way to glitch the challenge and bypass it entirely. The first, most widespread glitch, which circulated over Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter, became colloquially known as the Talkatoo glitch. You first went over to the Talkatoo a few metres from the jump rope challenge, and you threw your hat at it while simultaneously "talking" to it. If you did it properly, you would enter the talk screen at the moment right before the hat appears to hit the talkatoo.
Then, you headed over to the jump rope challenge, leapt mid-air, and looked back at the bird. If you did it properly, the screen locked in place, Mario hovered mid-air, and the counter keeps ticking upward. You can see YouTuber Down perform the glitch below. This completely broke the leaderboards; pretty soon, the top 10 was completely dominated by players who scored 99,999 consecutive jumps in a row.
Eventually, Nintendo patched the talkatoo glitch in February 2018. And in response, the fans found yet another way to glitch the jump rope challenge post-storyline, this time by possessing the nearby letters – the massive ones that spell out M-A-R-I-O – and clipping one of them out of bounds. Below is a video of YouTuber DGR replicating the technique; he credits it to user @kehzou on Twitter. It still works as of June 2018.
These glitches became a part of Mario's lore. Official outlets such as Nintendo Power magazine recognised these glitches as 'tricks' and 'secrets'. The game is better – and retains some mystique – for having done so.
Thanks to its patches, Super Mario Odyssey is a more technically perfect game today than it was on the day of its launch. But glitches are far more fun, because there's an element of vulnerability and charm to them; they're proof of human involvement. Thanks to those errors, we're seeing things or doing something that we're not supposed to. And the jump rope glitches, which provide their own unique challenge to replicate successfully, would be better off as an accepted quirk than a design flaw.
After all, a handcrafted, sculpted pot is filled with tiny imperfections, but it is more highly valued than something that's artificially flawless and uniform from all angles. Flaws give everything character. Mario games are no exception.