Super Mario Odyssey Shoots For The Moon And Nails It
It’s pretty common knowledge that Mario has led players on some of the most charming and inventive adventures in video game history. From 2D side-scrollers to 3D platformers, the princess-saving plumber’s flagship series has never disappointed. In fact, these games always rank among the top titles of any Nintendo console’s cycle, either preceded or followed by The Legend of Zelda.
While Mario’s more recent escapades may not boast as much graphical oomph as the PlayStation or Xbobatman v superman1x competition, they’re miles ahead in terms of colourful art direction, polished gameplay, as well as having the distinct ability to leave gamers grinning like children from the moment they press start till long after Bowser’s plans have been foiled.
From its hugely diverse worlds, to its array of characters new and old, to Mario’s hilarious customizable outfits, Super Mario Odyssey is a true blue marvel, and just as groundbreaking as any of its open-world ancestors, which we haven’t enjoyed since 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2. Each game is just so damn wonderful that they’re hard to rank, but Odyssey might actually be the best of the bunch. The reason I can’t fully commit to definitively answering this question is because although I’ve been playing it for countless of hours, there’s still so much to see and do. If you thought Super Mario 3D World had a lot of post-game content, it pales in comparison to this.
Like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and both Galaxy games, Super Mario Odyssey is a sandbox adventure that will have you searching the farthest reaches of the map in search of special items—in this case, Power Moons—that will allow you to fuel your giant hat ship and float on to the next kingdom. Unlike previous games, there are 999 Power Moons. While you only need 124 to beat the main story, for anyone accustomed to finding all 120 Stars, Shine Sprites, or Power Stars, this is quite the challenge.
There are many ways to acquire Power Moons: you can survive a series of death-defying jumps, answer trivia questions, bounce down a snowy slalom, toss your hat at something that looks looks a tad out of place, or simply survey your surroundings a little more carefully. Power Moons can be deceptively easy or difficult to come across. And if you’re trying to rack up a bunch at once (known as a Multi Moon), it’s worth noting that taking out a boss will net you three.
Another welcome addition that sets Super Mario Odyssey apart from past 3D Mario games is his newest companion, Cappy. Actually, Cappy is more than just a sidekick; he grants Mario the ability to possess (or ‘capture,’ as the game puts it) dozens of creatures and objects to take advantage of their unique abilities. Whereas Mario Sunshine introduced gamers to FLUDD, a device that allowed Mario to spray water at toxic slime, Cappy is a far more dynamic addition, pushing the gameplay and design to a whole new level, like how Mario 64 set the bar for 3D platforming and the Galaxy games literally flipped the plumber on his head in outer space.
Plot-wise, there are many beats that are nevertheless delightful. Bowser has yet again kidnapped Peach, this time with the intent on marrying her with the help of his rabbit wedding planners. It’s not long before Mario runs into Cappy and the two embark on a globe-trotting mission to stop the nuptial.
As for Mario’s other abilities, he’s got all the moves you know and love from the past, plus some new ones that make good use of the Switch’s motion controls. Also, throwing Cappy gives way to some very interesting new gameplay mechanics that you’ll need to master as you make your way through over a dozen kingdoms, each holding dozens of Power Moons. On the subject of kingdoms, these are some of the most imaginative environments Mario has ever had the pleasure of conquering. And yes. New Donk City is as magnificently weird as it’s been hyped up to be.
While there are many ways to play, I recommend using the Pro Controller and keeping the game docked in order to take full advantage of the spectacular visuals. While both docked and handheld modes run at a smooth 60 frames per second, tiny details in each dazzlingly huge world could get downplayed on a smaller screen.
There are so many things to love about Super Mario Odyssey, but this review has to conclude at some point. A few more tips of the hat go to the game’s top-notch music (which for the first time includes a vocal track), those handy tourist maps that accompany each kingdom, a trio of adorable amiibo that can help locate Power Moons and also fill out Mario’s wardrobe, the superbly designed 2D portions, a solid co-op experience in which one person controls Mario and the other Cappy, and, as I mentioned before, more than enough incentive to keep coming back after the credits have rolled. As you’ve probably gleaned from this review, Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece no Switch owner should be without.
Super Mario Odyssey is available now exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. Check out the “CAPtivating Adventure” clip below.