Here we go, off the rails
Don’t you know it’s time to raise our sails?
It’s freedom like you never knew
Pauline’s right, you know. Super Mario Odyssey really is freedom like you never knew… at least when it comes down to Mario games. Super Mario Odyssey is nearly here, Mario’s very first full blown adventure for the Nintendo Switch.
Soar from kingdom to kingdom in the Odyssey, collect hidden Power Moons, and stop Bowser’s maleficent weeding all while enjoying some rather snazzy and jazzy holiday destinations. I mean, who wouldn’t want to lay on the carbonated shore of Bubblaine?
Will Super Mario Odyssey be your 1-Up girl (or guy), or do Power Moons just not top Shine Sprites? Jump up in the air and find out in our review after the break! (I do wonder how many of you did actually jump up in the air)
Super Mario Odyssey
Developed by Nintendo EPD
Published by Nintendo
Released: 27th October 2017
Review copy provided by Nintendo
As with the majority of Mario games, you don’t come for the story, more for that sweet, sweet gameplay. The story is simple enough, Bowser is trying to marry Peach, fortunately, as always, Mario jumps in to try and stop the soirée. Unfortunately Bowser, with his kitted out tuxedo, overpowers Mario and sends him flying to the unknown. I really need to ask him for his tailor. Luckily mushrooms are for Mario what spinach is for Popeye, so falling several thousand feet to Mario is a cakewalk.
Mario lands in the mysterious town of Bonneton in the Cap Kingdom, there he meets the even more mysterious Cappy… he’s a fricking talking hat ghost, you can’t get any cuter than that! You find out that Bowser kidnaped Cappy’s sister, Tiara, who funnily enough is a tiara. You decide to team up, and doing so leads Cappy to lend you his special powers of CAPturing. Not only that, but he also guides you to the Cascade Kingdom, where you will find, and power up, the titular Odyssey. This CAPtivating ship will be your main transport from kingdom to kingdom, and how else will you power it than collecting those shiny Power Moons, which replace the Shine Sprites and Power Stars. The more you collect, the farther the Odyssey can travel.
The main ability you’ll be using throughout your adventure is Cappy’s capturing ability. To put it simply, it’s a hell of a lot of fun! This ability essentially lets you capture a range of creatures and objects, I would say possess, but as we know according to Nintendo it’s actually capturing. Nintendo have truly captured so many opportunities with the one ability. Throw your cap on a Goomba, and you get to play as Mario’s very first enemy, stack up on even more Goombas to get to hard to reach places, you may even find a little Goomba affection for a Power Moon. Ever wish you could swim through hot, hot lava? Capture a cute little lava bubble and that deadly sea of scorching lava becomes a tepid ocean. Want to star in the Mushroom Kingdom’s Jurassic Park? Well sneak up on a T-Rex, and try capturing him. Sure, you may not be able to hold your coins with your stubby arms, but at least you get to charge through those who oppose you. The capturing doesn’t stop there, there are more than 50 capturable objects, try throwing you cap at stationary object to, you may be in for a surprise! Oh, and wait until you get to the end of the story… that was a lot of fun.
Controlling Mario is pretty cool too. You have the general controls for movement, but if you are donning a pair of JoyCons, you can give one a flick forwards to sling Cappy forwards. Fling both up to sling him up, or fling both to the side to send Cappy spinning. You can, of course, do all of this with traditional controls, but ti just feels so fun and intuitive to use a bit of motion. You can, of course, opt out of motion controls through the setting menu. While I’m on the subject of controls, the camera controls in Odyssey are the best compared to all other Mario games, they are fluid and not very restrictive.
Fans of the older 3D Mario games, such as Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy, will almost definitely enjoy the return to fully explorable worlds, now known as kingdoms (there are more than ten by the way). Just about every kingdom is beautifully designed, even the smaller ones. There is a lot of variety too, such as the Jurassic waterfalls of the Cascade Kingdom, the delectable polygons of the Luncheon Kingdom, and the carbonated shores of Bubblaine in the Seaside Kingdom, every kingdom you visit will feel different from the last. I’m just a bit disappointed that there is no Haunted Kingdom… Sirena Hotel still remains my favourite haunted destination in a Mario game.
Though there is some linearity involved with unlocking new kingdoms to explore, where you will have to collect a certain amount of Power Moons in a specific kingdom to power up the Odyssey, once you’ve unlocked a kingdom, the world is pretty much your oyster. There are usually a couple of story objectives for each kingdom, which will start when you enter a kingdom rather than selecting a mission like in Mario 64, but you can deviate as much as you want. Each kingdom has an impressive amount of Power Moons. One kingdom has about 70 to collect, and that’s before you complete the story. Some of them are just laying about in well hidden places, whereas others rely on your platforming, puzzling, or competitive skill.
I am pretty amazed with how many moons Nintendo have been able to put into the game. Let’s put it this way, I already have about 600 Power Moons, yet it still looks like there are still a load more to obtain. The game really takes every opportunity the kingdoms provide, even the smaller kingdoms have a decent spread of moons. The story may take about ten to fifteen hours to complete, though for the completionists, expect to spend quite a bit more time to find every single moon.
Some of the Moons are pretty easy to collect, whereas the ones towards the end will really push you. One challenge has you finding Power Moon shards in a sea infested with nasty eels, another one poses you a task of navigating a platforming maze of clouds and enemies, there’s also a challenge where you’ll have to use a Jaxi (basically a Sphinx Taxi which goes really fast) along poisoned paths… that one gave me quite a bit of trouble, though not in a tedious way. Even though there are some really difficult challenges, I never felt like they were tedious… other than trying to score over 100 in jump rope. I don’t understand how one person got over 3000! There was one pretty amusing challenge where you need to put the facial features of a Goomba back on, but as soon as you put a piece down, it disappears. I had some pretty amusing results.
Some of the challenges you’ll encounter, such as Koopa Racing or Jump Rope, actually have a leaderboard attached to them. This means you can compete with the scores of other people around the world. This actually works really well for replayability for these challenges, nothing feels better than appearing in the top five or ten… I expect to be quickly bumped off as soon as the game goes on sale.
Each kingdom not only has a hoard of coins to collect, but they also have their own currency (which is purple for easy comparison). For example, in the Luncheon Kingdom, you’ll be collecting purple tomatoes, and in the Cap Kingdom, appropriately you’ll be collecting purple caps. You can use both coins and the kingdom currency in the Crazy Cap stores, however the kingdom currency can only be used in stores at the kingdom related to the currency. The main items you’ll be able to purchase are a range of different costumes. These are really snazzy and help to envelop yourself into the appropriate kingdoms. Though some costumes will allow you access to more Power Moons, these are mostly for cosmetic purposes. Additionally, when you capture a creature, Mario’s regular cap will appear, on the creature rather than the actual cap you are wearing. This is literally my only complaint about the entire game, and a very picky one at that!
Though there is little dialogue, there is still a lot of charm with all the characters, a Nintendo staple. For example, I spent a good ten minutes annoying a Sphinx by answering his questions correctly… he eventually gave me a Power Moon to try and get rid of me however. The world of Mario has never looked better either. Each kingdom is so detailed and vibrant, and you can pretty much make out a lot of textures. Even the detail of the water and how it attaches to Mario is worth admiring. Oh, and if you really want to appreciate the worlds, or even do a bit of showing off, press down on the D-Pad at almost any time to activate Snapshot Mode to get happy snappy.
If you find the game a bit difficult, you have the option to activate Assist Mode at any point. Doing so with display arrows in the general path of your main object, give you more health, and will quickly save you from a fall into the abyss. It’s a nice little addition for the more inexperienced players. There is also co-op too. One player controls Mario and the other Cappy, and you just communicate to each other for who should do what, which could potentially help you out. I haven’t had the chance to try co-op mode, but it does look like it could possibly make the game play slightly differently. You can either split the JoyCon, use two pairs of JoyCon, or even use the Pro Controller.
It is really difficult to convey the full essence of the game without ruining too many surprises. When I read the letter from the director of Super Mario Odyssey, he stated how the main theme they had in mind for Odyssey was the element of surprise. All else I can really do to do Odyssey justice is to just say to try it yourself, it is an incredible delight for any Mario fan or gamer, and is a joy to play. I do have a couple very small ideas for improvement, but once again I’m just being picky.
If you loved the Mario games like 64 and Sunshine, a general Mario fan, or even just looking for a decent 3D platformer, look no further as I fully recommend Super Mario Odyssey.
Super Mario Odyssey releases exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on the 27th October 2017 globally.
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