Super Mario Odyssey is the best reason to go out and buy a Nintendo Switch right now. It is, hands down, one of the best Mario games ever made, and one of the best 3-D Platformers I have ever played. Even after you “beat” the game, there is so much more to do. The game manages to recapture the old, sandbox style 3-D Platformer that we saw in Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and games like Banjo Kazooie. Odyssey manages to update and modernize the concept, and tweak it to near perfection. No doubt about it, Odyssey is a must own. With that to say, I hope you enjoy my review for this incredible game!
Story: Story has never been a Mario game’s strong suit. Odyssey isn’t too different. The game opens-up with Mario fighting Bowser, a fight which Mario loses. Bowser then kidnaps princess Peach yet again, only this time, he also captures Peach’s sentient hat, known as “Tiara,” and plans a wedding for him and Peach. Mario meets a sentient hat names Cappy. Cappy is able to take control of, and poses different creatures and objects (Mario meets the exorcist.) Mario and Cappy use an air-ship called the “Odyssey,” in order to trot the globe in a quest to sabotage Bowser and Peach’s sinister wedding. The story is very bare-bones, but it gets the ball rolling; once the ball rolls, it doesn’t stop.
Super Mario Odyssey is truly a feast for the eyes. Every kingdom you go to is a wonder to look at, from the cascade kingdom with its prehistoric look, to the Hispanic styles sand kingdom with its “Day of the Dead,” themed aesthetic, to the snow kingdom, the wooded kingdom and it’s sentient gardening tools, the luncheon kingdom (yumm,) and especially the New York inspired Metro Kingdom. Each kingdom that Mario visits looks incredible, and has its unique visual style. The texture and lighting design are also extremely impressive, the frame-rate is very solid.
The music is outstanding. There is great variety in musical styles, and the game features many instrumental themes. You’ll hear very ambient sound effects in one stage, songs befitting of a beach in other stages, and even a folk-style song in the wooded kingdom. One kingdom has a Japanese palace inspired musical score; the music can get quite epic towards the last few kingdoms in the game, similar to the Super Mario Galaxy games. The game even features songs with actual singing, such as the surprisingly catchy “Jump Up Super star,” which you hear during a celebration in “New Donk City.” The sound effects also perfectly blended with the controls, and the gameplay. The menu is also very slick, and the Switch functionality allows you to pause the game and jump right back into it at any time. Presentation wise, this game is a winner through and through.
Gameplay: Controls for Super Mario Odyssey are fantastic, and very intuitive. The controls for Mario are similar too how they have been in previous 3-D Mario adventures. Simply running around as Mario, and jumping is so much fun. My favorite new mechanic is the ability for Mario to roll like a ball, which is especially fun in the sandy and hilly areas. While some have had issues with them, I have found the joy-con motion controls to be precise and very fun. The camera in this game is much better than in previous titles, but it still has its occasional issues in certain areas. These issues are few and far between, however. The controls are all in all very responsive and as fun as ever.
Compared to recent Mario games, Odyssey has a much more open-ended, sand-box design to it. As was mentioned earlier, you travel to different kingdoms such as the Cascade, Sand, Forest, Snow, Metro, Beach, Forest, and other kingdoms in order to chase down Bowser and his new lackeys, the “Broodal Bruddas, (bunny like creatures.”) Each kingdom has its own residents, and even interesting world-building aspects that flesh them out. For example, the luncheon kingdom has living utensils, while the snow kingdom has polar bears. The sea-side kingdom has snails, while the Metro Kingdom has actual people. These unique aspects make every kingdom exciting and interesting in its own way. The main gameplay itself consists of exploring these kingdoms, and searching for Power Moons (think the starts in Mario 64, or the jiggies in Banjo Kazooie,) in order to power up the Odyssey ship and travel to the next kingdom. You get acquire said moons by exploring every nook and cranny in the kingdom, solving little puzzles, fighting bosses, doing menial tasks, participating in minigames, and more. Some of the power moons are scripted, particularly early on, but most of them are not. For a game with such an open-ended nature, there is tons of variety to the gameplay. You might be controlling a T-Rex one moment, riding a golden lion another moment, balancing on a giant corn-cob, or even riding a motorcycle through the streets of New Donk City. The variety is stunning, and keeps the gameplay from getting boring.
The real gameplay hook for Odyssey is hook in this Mario adventure is the ability to use Mario’s hat to control, and possess different objects, creatures, and even some people. It may seem a little weird and creepy at first, but the execution is ingenious, in a way only Nintendo can pull off. You can literally take control of several Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Hammer Bros, Fire Balls, Tanks, Frogs, and even a T-rex. You can even take control of certain inanimate objects, and even some of the humans in New Donk City. This switches up the Gameplay almost infinitely, but in a way that always feels very organic, introducing so many unique and clever moments that never cease to be fun. Just goofing off and experimenting with this mechanic is half the fun in and of itself.
The boss fights, many of which incorporate the possession mechanic, are all very fun and well designed. The end-game fight in particular is a high point among the impressive array of boss fights that the game has to offer. One of the most surprising boss fights you will encounter is a dragon that looks like it’s straight out of Game of Thrones. While a few of the bosses are challenging, many of the fights feel rather easy, and are a breeze to defeat. Some of this is due to the fact that there is no longer a “game over,” as you simply loose coins when you die. The boss fights are still tons of fun all around. Speaking of coins, you can use them to purchase different outfits, power stars, and other goodies. Some of these outfits have some actual gameplay use, but many of them feel like window dressing, though it helps spruce up your ship none-the-less.
What is so incredible about this game is that after the credits you, you feel like you have only just begun. The replay value for this Mario game is absurdly high, and the possibilities open-up a ton after you finish the story, which should take you around fifteen hours in and of itself. The gameplay is also perfectly suited for being able to play in small doses if you have a job and a busy schedule (as I do,) but you can also play to your hearts content when you wish to on the weekends. The Gameplay really is about as close to perfect as you could hope for a 3-D Platformer to be!
Verdict: Super Mario Odyssey is a celebration of more than thirty years of Super Mario. The game encapsulates what Mario has always been about: Pure fun. More than that, though, the game innovates and surprises long after you “beat” it. I certainly see myself playing this game for several more weeks to come. This game is the number one reason to purchase a Nintendo Switch if you have not done so already (They’re still hard to find.) This game truly is the best 3-D Platformer I have played in years, even giving Galaxy 2 a run for its money, and it is one of the very best games that our favorite Italian plumber has ever been in. So, go out, buy this game, and participate in an incredible, one-of-a-kind, globe-trotting “Odyssey.”
Easy initial difficulty
Occasional camera issues
Beautiful visuals and design
Great sound effects
Tight and responsive controls
Wonderful Sand-Box style Mario Gameplay
Incredible and ingenious level design and scenarios
Quirky and fun characters
Tons of variety
Unbelievably high replay-value
One of the best Mario games ever made