It’s been a long time since I stepped into the world of Mario. Simply put, Nintendo lost me with the Wii and Wii U. Other then a 3DS the last Nintendo console I owned was a GameCube making Super Mario Sunshine the last big Mario release I played.
Mario has been a huge part of my gaming life. Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best 16-bit era games ever made and Super Mario 64 is one of my personal favourite games ever. The latter is important as Super Mario Odyssey has direct correlations to that game, which is no bad thing.
By time the credits roll in Odyssey, it’s impossible to not have the biggest smile on your face. The final battle being the cherry of the sweetest, most satisfying cake ever.
I didn’t know what to think of the whole ‘possession’ gameplay mechanic that was introduced here but once you get to grips with it, Nintendo have once again revolutionised the Mario series gameplay.
Keeping with tradition, Bowser has kidnapped Peach with a plan to marry her but to keep her compliant he has also kidnapped Tiara, a living hat. It’s up to Mario and Tirara’s brother, Cappy to stop the wedding and rescue them both. Simple, straight-forward and while it lacks originality, it is charming.
Cappy can be thrown off Mario’s head to pick up items, smash things and most importantly possess enemies. Once the cap is attached to an enemy, Mario becomes them along with all their powers. It allows access to areas that Mario just can’t get too and adds some real variety to gameplay. There are so many fun things to possess including one at the end that is pure joy but won’t be spoiled here.
A brand-new mechanic in a game that is designed to evoke memories of earlier releases using inspiration from them. From the controls, the 3D sandbox environments, the hundreds of power-moons to collect, the music and much of the gameplay. It’s a wonderful successor to all that has come before.
Happily, the possession element isn’t the only new idea in Super Mario Odyssey. One that really catches the eye and imagination is the fusing of retro 2D gameplay fused within the 3D world. These segments are short and not over-used making them feel fresh each time they come up.
There are 16+ worlds to explore, each one with their own theme and charm. From deep jungles, to deserts, to the moon and most surprisingly, an urban city with more ‘human’ looking characters. Each one has so much to do and so many different areas to explore.
As you progress you will need to power up the ship (The Odyssey) to reach the next world. This is done by collecting power moons and each world has quite a few. Some are very easy to find, others are hidden and others can be gained by defeating that world’s boss.
Finding every single power moon is going to take a long time and happily, once the end credits roll you are still able to continue playing with some added bonuses and newly unlocked areas and worlds. There is no putting Super Mario Odyssey down.
It’s an absolute treat to play. It looks so good, worth playing on a TV just to see all the detail. Its music will invoke memories while still feeling modern and in time with what you’re playing (except that song, you know which one).
It’s a near perfect Mario game and its flaws are minor complaints.
It’s is not a difficult game. Boss battles are short and very easy to overcome once you work out the patterns. Death costs you 10 coins, which are picked up in such abundance it’s not even a blip on your radar. Each world has plenty of checkpoints and your progress up that point isn’t lost. Basically, death is meaningless here.
The camera has the odd tendency to not be as free-flowing as you would hope especially when doing things at speed. A few times it cost me in a race or during a boss battle.
Then there are the Joy-Con controllers. Nintendo are quite insistent that you play Super Mario Odyssey with them detached but it really doesn’t matter expect that certain Cappy moves involve having to shake them. A bit of a problem when playing with them attached to the screen in handheld form. Thankfully these moves aren’t often necessary and rarely pose a problem if you’re not using them. It would be nice if Nintendo weren’t so insistent on us playing the game ‘their way’.
Still, they’ve done it again. Another amazing Mario game, probably the best since Super Mario 64. It’s got enough new ideas to make it feel fresh while delivering plenty of nostalgia value too. If you’re thinking about getting a Switch, this is the game you get with it.
Super Mario Odyssey