The Nintendo Switch did not have the most impressive lineup of games at launch. The only games I owned at the beginning months were “The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of The Wild” and “Mario Kart 8”, but more than half a year later it looks like we are starting to receive some exciting titles. This past month I was able to pick up the new Super Mario Odyssey and for what feels like a long time, it truly feels like a brand-new Mario, while still feeling true to others in the series.
You’re brought into the game with a cinematic story of an epic battle between our hero Mario and the menacing Bowser, on Bowser’s flying ship. Mario is again trying to save the princess, Peach, but this time he’s trying to stop Bowser in his attempt to forcing the princess into a marriage. Mario gets his hat knocked off his head, to which Bowser crushes flat and proceeds to hit Mario clear off the ship falling to an unknown location. Mario is then awoken, after having fallen from the ship, to some white floating figure carrying Mario’s battle torn hat. The creature is then startled by Mario’s movements and then runs off with his hat to which the player then attempts to chase after the figure to retrieve the character’s iconic cap. Once confronted the figure reveals itself to be Cappy, who informs Mario that he is now in the Cap Kingdom and that Cappy saw his altercation with Bowser. Bowser kidnapped Cappy’s sister, Tiara, and Cappy thinks Mario and him should team up to put an end to Bowser’s evil reign, save the princess and Tiara, thus starting the adventure.
Our heroes start off by trying to find and collect moons for Cappy’s airship, The Odyssey. Moons were either collected from completing puzzles, searching hard to reach locations, or simply from coming across them in the environment. Some moons throughout the missions felt rewarding after having completed a challenging puzzle or finding them in a secret location but others just felt as if they were practically handed to you.
What makes this game unique from past Mario titles is the addition of Cappy. Once thrown, Cappy brings plenty of new game mechanics to the world of Mario, with the ability to hit enemies and objects, “capture” enemies to take control of them and use them in puzzles or other means with the environment, and provide Mario with an additional bounce once jumped upon. You throw Cappy with a push of a button, however with motion controls you’re able to throw the hat straight up in the air, downwards, shake the controller to activate a homing attack on an enemy, or move it side to side to have the hat circle around you clearing any nearby enemies.
The environments in the game are immersive. Mario titles have always been great at world building, and making the environments exciting to look at and run around in, but with this game each environment has it’s own setting and different set of character models. The levels have character themselves, where you start out in a desert trying to help little skeleton people dressed in sombreros and ponchos from the freezing cold environment Bowser made and another where you’re in “New Donk City” with skyscrapers, taxis, and people who look like real life humans from New York, four feet taller than Mario. One of the most creative aspects of the game is when you come across a wall that looks like one of the older 2D Mario landscapes, if you find one of the nearby pipes, jump in, and then you’re transitioned into that setting of 2D Mario.
Never did I imagine there would be a time where I would be able to customize my own Mario, but with Super Mario Odyssey you’re given many options to change the appearance of our beloved plumber. Once you get started with the game, you’ll come across different forms of currency. There’s the familiar gold coins that are universal throughout the shops that let you acquire items you’ve unlocked the more moons you’ve collected. Then there’s the region locked purple coins that are used to acquire kingdom region specific clothing and collectibles for the Odyssey airship. This feature is what made me want to continue playing even after I was finished with the main story. I kept wanting to find more moons so that I could add more apparel to Mario’s wardrobe.
It’s clear why this game was nominated for family game of the year and game of the year. It’s one of those classic styles of games, where you can grab the controller, jump in, and just get lost in such a creative and immersive experience. Super Mario Odyssey feels like a gift to fans who have been waiting for a new Mario adventure that feels similar to that of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. If you have played either of titles, Super Mario Odyssey is the game for you.
By: Tony Cannizzaro