Super Mario Odyssey – Review
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 10/27/2017
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Mario, the little jumping Italian plumber who stole our hearts and cleaned out our wallets for the past 30 years is back with another adventure. The Super Mario formula has evolved, but has kept the best parts of itself. With a series as long as Mario’s, there are two things that need to stay consistent: originality and deviation. Displaying masterful platforming action and new, interesting mechanics, Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a game you’re going to want to put down. Its seamless and spontaneous gameplay and interesting level designs will draw you in like never before.
From the very beginning of Super Mario Odyssey you’ll be introduced to the main objective of the game: stop Bowser. As Mario attempts to to thwart the nefarious Bowser’s plan to marry Princess Peach, he is bested and falls down to a mysterious land that has an unhealthy fascination with hats. You’ll soon realize that the town’s citizens actually are hats. One hat in particular piques Mario’s interest. This is Cappy, the Super Mario series’s newest innovative character. At first Cappy is cautious of Mario, running away at first sight. As you chase him, it becomes clear why Cappy is afraid of outsiders. You’ll notice his town has been ransacked, their airships destroyed by Bowser and his forces.
As you speak with Cappy he will tell you of his personal dilemma. Bowser has kidnapped his sister Tiara, a literal tiara gifted to Princess Peach. Before the two of you set out on your journey, Mario notices something: his hat is gone. As we saw previously, when Mario fell from Bowser’s ship, his hat was ripped apart by the turbines. Cappy then transforms into the classic Mario hat—with some added eyes so he can see, of course. Together, Mario and Cappy visit new and exotic kingdoms. With each kingdom, there will be a certain amount of Power Moons you can collect. If you’re familiar with the previous Mario games, Power Moons are the equivalent of Stars. Using these Power Moons, you can fuel your hat-shaped ship known as the Odyssey. Using the Odyssey, Mario and Cappy can travel to new worlds to collect more moons and explore new areas. Bowser has also recruited some new henchman to aid him in his plans: his wedding planners—evil bunnies bent on stopping you from reaching the bride and groom.
Mario’s new companion Cappy has a very extraordinary ability that sets this game apart from the previous titles in a very big way. It was also the most advertised feature in the build-up to Super Mario Odyssey’s release: possession. Cappy can be thrown at a number of characters in order to place Mario in their body and take control. When Mario takes control of a character he can use their respective abilities to aid him. For example, when Mario takes over a frog he is able to make use of the frog’s jumping ability. Possessing a Bullet Bill allows Mario to fly over large gaps and hover, as well as destroy blocks to reveal items. Mario can even take control of a T-Rex to plow through enemies and destroy objects to reveal hidden items.
Mario’s possession ability also works on some inanimate objects. Throw Cappy at a power line to transform into a ball of lighting and travel along the power lines to reach new areas. This feature is displayed very well in the New Donk City portion of the game as you use this ability to scale buildings. Mario can also take over a pair of binoculars to get a wide view of kingdoms and spot far away areas. These are useful for those who want to explore the full landscape of each kingdom—and for those who get lost once in a while.
This journey will take you far and beyond; the unpredictable is what keeps Super Mario Odyssey moving forward. Moments of capricious fun are abundant and are what makes Super Mario Odyssey so fun. Not knowing what will come next and the desire to see more of every kingdom are driving forces for the player. The silly situations and objectives make the game joyful for a wide demographic. Super Mario has always appealed to all audiences, and with this goal in mind, the game strives to keep the attention of the player.
At one point, Mario and Cappy will visit the Metro Kingdom—a kingdom populated by realistic looking humans (well, semi-realistic anyway). Giving those who tried out the 2006 flop title Sonic the Hedgehog flashbacks, they’re more akin to Sims than anything else. In New Donk City, Mario can climb skyscrapers to solve puzzles along his journey. Some areas can be a little disorienting, Jumping between steel girders that are dozens of stories above the city’s concrete intersections.
Super Mario Odyssey also incorporates classic Mario segments into the environment. Players must complete these segments in order to reach certain areas of the map. Super Mario sticks with fans because the series has never forgotten where it came from. 30+ years later and the series still honors its roots. It’s a thing of nostalgic beauty, really.
Speaking of nostalgia, for those who are familiar with the classic, Super Mario 64, your’re in luck. Super Mario Odyssey plays more similarly to the classic title than you might think, especially post-game. It features a lot of the same mechanics and controls. Classic moves like wall-jump, long-jump and ground-pound are all available for players to gain the upper-hand on their opponents. There are those who feel as though this is the true successor to Super Mario 64, and it’s not hard to see why that sentiment is gaining popularity.
Finding the Moons
Now, finding Power Moons in Super Mario Odyssey can be a challenge. Players must search high and low to find these cleverly hidden moons. Some may be trapped in objects, others may be hidden in plain sight. Challenges must also be completed to retrieve certain moons. Some are simply stumbled upon by accident. Each kingdom has a large quantity with the whole game totaling 836 moons across all kingdoms. However, there is an odd feature: some moons can actually be bought with coins. It goes against the search and discover theme of the game, almost as if we were cheating, but what the hell, we’ve gotta save Princess Toadstoo—Peach.
Coins & Lives
Nintendo has made an interesting decisions regarding lives, that is, you have none. Super Mario Odyssey uses coins you’ve collected as your life meter in a way. Each time you die you actually lose ten coins. But even when players have no coins, there is no game over screen. To put it simply, you can’t lose. There is a penalty for death, though. When you die, you lose coins that could be spent in the local shops around the kingdom for new outfits and such. This takes away some of the challenge, as the fear of a game over no longer exists.
The post game material for Super Mario Odyssey will make you swear you’ve been sent back in time to play Super Mario 64. It’s almost as if it’s a direct sequel to the classic title. The content plays amazingly, but the difficulty has spiked dramatically. It gives you a reason to keep on playing, and it does it in spectacular fashion. There are more kingdoms to unlock, although they are designed for the hardcore Mario fans out there. A seemingly rare quality in games now, there’s still so much to do after the main campaign. Some titles have players repeat radiant quests once the main story is over. Super Mario Odyssey keeps the game going with more content: new costumes, new lands to explore and of course there are a lot more moons to discover post-game. you can also travel back to previous kingdoms to complete your moon collection.
Super Mario Odyssey is one hell of a game. The best Mario games are the ones that bring something new to the table and stay true to the foundation of the series. With the new abilities Mario possesses, gameplay is much more exciting and intuitive than ever before. The story remains true to the classic Mario vs. Bowser tale, and familiar characters return for an all new adventure. The Mario series has always been about the fun and joy of an adventure. Hopping around as that little Italian plumber, chasing damsels in distress with friends, and helping out some folks along the way never gets old. Super Mario Odyssey is the Switch’s flagship Mario game. After playing the newest installment in the series, the next title has a lot to live up to.