Not long after picking up the controller and starting to play Super Mario Odyssey, does one realize how insanely fun it is. It’s abundantly clear that Nintendo has crafted another masterful example of the platforming genre of games, which Mario himself helped create back in the 1980s.
Even after playing for 10 hours, there’s no end to the collecting of Power Moons in sight.
Odyssey represents a continuation of the more openended 3D Mario games such as 64 and Sunshine, and there are many more layers on top of its design. The game culminates over 30 years of the franchise’s history by taking inspiration from the Mario games of the past, and constantly arousing nostalgia by referencing the mechanics, music, and characters that fans of the franchise have grown to love.
In addition, the game has new things to offer as well, such as Mario’s new capture mechanic, and blending of classic 8-bit style levels with 3D worlds. Mario’s options and abilities have never been so diverse.
The big new mechanic for this game is the aforementioned capture, enabled by Mario’s new ally: Cappy, a hat with a spirit who, in order to save his sister, a tiara, accompanies Mario on his adventure. Mario can use Cappy as a projectile weapon, a platform, and most interesting of all, a means to take control of enemies. By throwing his hat at the variety of creatures which populate the game’s different worlds, Mario can essentially become them, which opens up a plethora of gameplay opportunities.
You can become a common Goomba, roam wild as a ferocious T-Rex, and pretty much anything in-between. Humorously, anything you possess in this way becomes adorned with Mario’s signature hat and mustache. As you venture across many worlds, taking control of enemies and objects will help with progression and secret-finding.
The game runs at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second in both docked and handheld mode, however, playing on the TV may still be better, as the rich detail of the environments can be better appreciated on a larger screen.
Playing Odyssey isn’t difficult. The penalty for dying is only 10 coins, and checkpoints are abundant enough so that progress is rarely if ever, lost. Moreover, the boss fights, while functioning as gorgeous set pieces, sometimes seem to end too quickly.
Rather, the true challenge is exploring the worlds and collecting the hundreds of Power Moons and Purple Coins. Each world only requires a fraction of its total Power Moons to be collected in order to advance and they can be collected in any order. The Purple Coins function as the currency unique to each world, and by collecting enough, Mario can purchase new outfits and souvenirs for the Odyssey, the ship which takes him to the different game worlds. Many of the game’s Moons require simple puzzle solving or skillful platforming in order to be obtained. And after plodding prudently through each of the worlds, you’ll almost certainly find that you’ve only collected a percentage of all the elusive collectibles available.
Mario’s been around for generations, and Odyssey constitutes the next step in that ongoing evolution. It’s a distillation of the franchise’s delightful nature and a game that every Switch owner should pick up.
Written By: BeNjamyn Upshaw-Ruffner