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A Trip Around the Worlds!

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    Super Mario Odyssey

    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    A Trip Around the Worlds!

    A Trip Around the Worlds!

    Super Mario Odyssey is the answer to many’s pleas for a new Mario game. Specifically, one that fits the type that made Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine famous. An open-ended Mario title with large worlds and collectibles. Odyssey harkens back to those days in a big, big way.

    In an era where open-world games are becoming more embraced by Japanese developers �especially with a recent example being The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild �Super Mario Odyssey seeks to capitalize on that genre.

    What separates Odyssey from Galaxy? Wider, open-ended worlds. Rather than being set on a linear path, you’re collecting Moons all over. You don’t exit and repeat the world. The missions are set all around you. You’ll leave the world when you collect enough Moons using your new ship, the Odyssey. Instead of going to new worlds, you travel around one, large world. The world you inhabit is divided into Kingdoms. These range from a desert, a lake, and a poison swamp to a giant city, a Japanese-themed castle, and even a world based on large, delicious foods!

    Compared to 3D World, which was recently Mario’s latest outing, it feels like a completely different genre altogether. Super Mario 3D World took the best parts of the 2D Mario titles, and turned them into 3D. The sequel to 3D Land on the 3DS, it added co-op multiplayer and multiple characters to play as, along with adding tons of secrets and powerups. In Odyssey, it’s all single-player. And instead of collecting powerups on the spur of the level, you now possess enemies, animals, and even inanimate objects.

    Your new friend, Cappy, accompanies you throughout the game. He’s a hat who you can throw at enemies. Some of these can be possessed, or capture, which allows you to assume their abilities. Frogs can jump incredibly high, Bullet Bills can rocket through blocks and through the sky, Paragoombas can fly high in the sky, and Wigglers stretch and allow you to cling to platforms. Inanimate objects, such as electric currents, transport you to faraway areas. Capturing a tank lets you fire cannonballs to blow up walls and enemies. There are dozens of options, all of which are connected to your ability to progress through the level. It’s the first time a Mario game has decided to do away with powerups, opting to let you take the power of another creature to use it to your advantage.

    The level designs start off linear, progressing you in a particular direction to your goal. Along the way, you can collect Moons from other parts of the stage. Once you finish the boss and return to the area, more missions will be open to you. Certain parts of the stage will open, allowing you to tackle more challenges and collect more Moons. Some of these include racing against Koopas, going through platform-based obstacle challenges, and fetching items or even clearing sidequests for an NPC. Also, new to level design includes special pipes.

    Once you clear the worlds and go face to face with Bowser, you’ll be presented with some new challenges. One includes special blocks becoming accessible. Opening these opens up even more Moons to collect in each world. Another is a boss gauntlet, which appears in another side of the last area of the game. Clearing this challenge unlocks you a new suit, so wear it with pride!

    The game itself is a vibrant, beautiful masterpiece. It’s Mario on the latest hardware, giving some crazy visual effects and animations. When you possess an enemy, Mario stretches out before entering its head.

    In this particular game, you’ll be visiting many towns. You’ll help NPCs by solving their troubles. Each world breathes its own life and has its own backstory. When you pull out the map, you’ll get to see the story of each world. The sights, the locals, the currency, and some interesting tidbits add a level of lore never seen before in a Mario title. It’s reminiscent of Breath of the Wild, but also Majora’s Mask. Truth is, Yoshiaki Koizumi, producer of Odyssey, worked on the N64 Zelda titles as well. His touch of presentation remains in his games to this day!

    The game is a polished title visually, as well as in story, gameplay, and controls. It also has an excel point in its music. Each stage has its own feel. I’m particular to the fancy feel of New Donk City, as well as when you first enter it. The rainy, dreary landscape gives way to an ominous feel, as you’re up against danger in a city without power. Some stages have some rock music playing, and you may be surprised at some of those riffs. Plus, as always, you’ll be greeted to new arrangements to classic Mario themes, such as the overworld, underworld theme, and plenty of throwbacks to past Mario games.

    However, keep in mind the game’s storyline is surprisingly not very long. You have around 14 worlds to go through, two of which are shortened to boss stages. You don’t need to run around to clear Moons after you beat each stage’s boss, but you merely have the option to. This means you can probably get to Bowser in less than 20 hours, easy. The real meat of the game is postgame content. This is when the majority of the Moons in the game open up. New areas are unlocked to keep you occupied. Between the Moons you collect through quests and the ones you can buy, you can get up to 1,000 moons.

    But are the rewards really worth it?

    This is great service if you’re a fan of collect-a-thons. At its core, that is what Odyssey is. You’ll spend your postgame collecting moons and fulfilling missions. This means a ton of obstacle course stages. However, this also means you’ll be going after some of the same quests, such as the aforementioned racing of the Koopas, planting seeds, or simply flying out to some undisclosed location to capture a Moon. It becomes more of a time-filler, allowing you to explore the world, rather than honestly challenge yourself.

    Your final reward is honestly related to a boss battle. I won’t spoil any details regarding that, but if you’re expecting a world of amazement for clearing the game 100%, you might be better off not holding your breath.

    The bothering part about this is that 3D World managed to do it right. The meat of the game was the first 9 worlds of the game. You got all the clever stage designs, powerups, and boss battles through the game. Along the way, you had the option to collect the Green Stars, Stamps, and Gold Flagpoles. Once you beat Bowser, the new World Star opened up. This sent you into a new world of challenging stages. This was followed by World Mushroom and World Flower, which were remixes of past-stages, some of which tested the best of Mario players. Once you finished those and collected the aforementioned items, you opened up three final stages: a gauntlet, a Captain Toad stage, and Champion’s Road, which is perhaps the hardest Mario stage in existence. The challenge felt rewarding, and the extra content did not upstage the core story of the game.

    Odyssey’s approach is more in regards to the depths of the level you can explore. If you love playing around with Mario and Cappy, then there is no problem here. You’re free to explore to your heart’s content and try all the mysteries you have yet to check out. However, if you prefer an end-goal, then you’re more than likely a bigger fan of the Galaxy titles and 3D World than you are of 64 and Sunshine. Regardless, this has some of the best level designs and concepts you’ll ever see in a Mario game.I’m also extremely partial to this game, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    There’s a lot to do. The map and brochure will show you where all your Moons are. Plus, the biggest part of Odyssey are the surprises you’ll find. Some of them are nostalgia encounters, most of which I cannot talk about in this review without ruining the surprise!

    In the end, I recommend this to any and all Switch owners. It’s probably the most challenging 3D game, largely thanks to some of its boss battles and stages!

    Anyway, pros and cons!

    Pros include strong level design, tons of exploration encouraged, great music, animations, and a wide variety of powerups. Cons include a possible lack of incentive to finish postgame content (grabbing Moons) if collecting isn’t your thing.

    Overall, a recommended adventure for anyone.

    Jump Up, Super Star!

    Rating:   4.5 – Outstanding

    Product Release: Super Mario Odyssey (US, 10/27/17)

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