Super Mario Odyssey was one of the most anticipated games ever since Switch’s announcement. It was also the major Mario game release since Super Mario Galaxy (let’s be honest, Super Mario 3D World had a mild reception) and it’s a return to the free roaming formula of Super Mario 64.
Super Mario Odyssey takes you on a journey trough several Kingdoms to, once again, rescue Princess Peach. Power ups were ditched this time and Mario faces his challenges with the help of his new most loyal companion, Cappy, a not so brave hat that has the power to take control over enemies.
Visually incredible, extremely colorful and with animations that have clearly a lot of love and attention put into them. You can sometimes say that Mario feels a bit out of place in certain Kingdoms that have a more realistic look, but due the constant action on screen this is barely noticeable. Each world design is unique and revolves about a theme, the color palette used on each world derives from that theme. Mario has never looked so good, with a lot of detail on it’s character model.
Sound and Music:
You will be accompanied by cheerful music throughout the entire the game, the sound track is competent but I cannot say it is really catchy, except of course for Metro Kingdom’s Jump Up, Super Star!, which is also the game’s main theme.
Sound effects also do their work, you have the traditional blinks and chimes from old Mario games and yes, Mario still screams every single time he jumps. There are no voiced dialogues but characters still grunt. You can hear Princess’s Peach “Mario!” every now and then when Bowser grabs her away from her favorite plumber.
So, it is a Mario game and plot gets as interesting as it can. But who plays a Mario game for the plot, right? Peach is once again kidnapped by Bowser who wants to marry her, in order to perform the wedding Bowser also needs several other things,a tiara , a cake, a ring, etc. Bowser sets on a travel through different kingdoms in order to collect these objects. For the tiara Bowser ends up taking errr … Tiara. Who is also Cappy’s sister. Mario and Cappy set on a quest following Bowser through 15 different kingdoms to save both the Princess and Tiara.
The real sauce of Super Mario Odyssey is it’s gameplay, and gosh does this game play well. One of the most amazing things about this game is it’s sense of freedom. A bit like Breath of The Wild you can climb high spots on the map and search around for interesting places where to go. You are free to explore the kingdoms as much as you want and sometimes your actions transform the kingdom giving you access to new areas.
To explore these kingdoms Mario can use several abilities, jump, double jump, triple jump, roll, wall jump and most importantly the capture ability. The capture ability is the big start of this game, it allows you to use Cappy to capture enemies and take control of them, this is useful to reach otherwise unreachable parts of the map, it works seamlessly and it’s incredibly fun.
Another very incredible detail of the game is that in some areas of the map you can enter pipes and play 2D sections, this happens in the engine of the game so there is no loading happening when the game does this switch, it was a very nice surprise and adds a whole other level of depth to an already very interesting game.
The objective on the game is to collect Power Moons that allow you to power up your Ship and follow Bowser through the different Kingdoms, Power Moons are hidden on each kingdom and are to be received after beating each kingdom’s boss. When you are done playing the main game you will be able to set out on looking for more Power Moons in post game, you can revisit every kingdom you’ve been before and even unlock two more.
For the first time in a Mario game you will also be able to personalize your character, each kingdom has a shop in which you can buy different clothes and hats to make the plumber more appealing, they don’t change any stats and are only aesthetics but are a fun supplement and an extra reason to collect each kingdom’s specific currency.
The game allows you to interact with almost everything in this world and suggests that you use HD rumble to do so. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of motion controls and played the game with a pro-controller, most of the moves can be replaced with the push of a button, others not. There is a move where you throw your hat and it circles around you attacking enemies, that can only be performed with motion controls. This seems unfair for pro-controller players and there is really not a reason for it since there are enough buttons available to map.
Kingdoms on this game are quite small, they don’t take long to be beaten and the boss fights are not very challenging, add to this the fact that there is no Game Over in the game – this was replaced by a mechanic in which every time you die you only lose 10 coins – and you have a game that is easy and offers little challenge. This was probably done so to encourage players to explore and truth be told the real interesting game happens in the post game when you hunt for Power Moons, nonetheless some gamers may feel that the game is too forgiving.
Super Mario Odyssey runs at 720p in handheld mode and at 900p when docked, in both modes the game holds it’s 60fps without compromise. I didn’t notice any frame drops during the game. When playing in docked mote you notice some sharp corners and a decrease in anti-aliasing. None of this affects the experience and it’s only noticeable if you look for it.
Super Mario Odyssey is a wonder of a game and probably the best 3D Mario that has been released so far. It’s certainly a good reason enough to get a Nintendo Switch.