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Super Mario Odyssey: Integration and Choice

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    Super Mario Odyssey

    Rating: 5.0 – Flawless

    Super Mario Odyssey: Integration and Choice

    The Super Mario Bros. franchise is notorious for their eye catching graphics and their endless creativity within the world of game design. With the introduction of the switch in 2017, Nintendo has been able to yet again press to the edges of the box and into new territory with Super Mario Odyssey, a game which features Mario venturing to save Peach yet again. Alas, even with the same story line as countless games before it, Super Mario Odyssey creates worlds that exceed every expectation and surprise at every turn. As a 3-D Platformer game, Odyssey offers players puzzles in order to find out more information about the world, the mechanics, and individual story lines, unique to the game.

    Like many of the games before it, Odyssey revolves around the saving of Princess Peach. However, this is not the continuation of any other storyline made before, this game introduces new characters that will be loved for ages to come, such as Cappy, Mario’s companion who disguises himself as different types of hats. Much of the game design is centered around making new worlds for Mario to explore and for the players to figure out, not just the old typical ones that many people look for when playing the game (Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser’s fire world, Haunted Mansions and landscapes, etc.): In fact, the player doesn’t even get introduced to the Mushroom Kingdom until the very end of the game. This creates a new and interesting take on the original story line because instead of starting out at the beginning of the story, the player is thrown into the middle of a fight between Mario and Bowser, where Mario is then defeated and needing to find a way to rescue Peach. This is where the player meets, allies, and begins their journey with Cappy.

    Mechanically, Odyssey utilizes the same controls as the classic Super Mario 64, the same camera movements, and many of the same boss fight patterns. In order to advance in the game, the player uses Mario and his skills to explore the different worlds in order to find the power moons scattered around the universe, and in order to find many of these power moons, the player learns how to use Cappy as a tool to possess different enemies and objects in the game that help in the exploration of each unique world. Players are able to possess things from frogs to t-rexes, and even get to experience being a bullet bill. Far evolved from the original Donkey Kong, this game utilizes the 8-bit graphics as times, leaving players old and new to play and appreciate the game.

    As an entry game for the new Nintendo Switch, which made it’s debut in March of 2017, Super Mario Odyssey kept the old while bringing int the new. With all new worlds to explore, it doesn’t seem like Odyssey kept much of the old. However, while playing the game, the player has to play through parts of 8-bit, 2-D parts with a fun twist¡ªmaneuvering around corners, up buildings, and across lava. The old also comes in the form of old enemies: bullet bills, goombas, cheep-cheeps, and much more. The way that players have to maneuver around these enemies is through the platform system that Nintendo made Mario so famous: jumping from place to place, moving higher and higher in order to find the boss battle at the end of the level. This offers old players a sense of comfort in the game, and new players to get to know the franchise without having to go back and play a couple of games to get the feel. However, this does have its downfalls. This game, while innovative and new, is not original. The storyline is the same as many games before it, with little variation: Princess Peach has been taken, yet again, by Bowser, and it is Mario’s job to save her from a marriage to Bowser. Yet, this time old narrative allows for the player to explore new worlds in new ways every game, and Odyssey is no different. This allows the player to ignore the time old tale of the kidnapped princess and find their own ludonarrative within the game.

    The way that the player is allowed to explore these new worlds and narratives is through Mario’s companion, Cappy. Cappy allows the player to possess and use not only the world around them, but the enemies and the other characters in the game as well. This move is the newest and the most effective way to explore not only the virtual world, but the mechanics of the Nintendo Switch as well. The use of the Joy-Con controllers is a way to fully experience the magic of the console, all the while keeping the legacy of the ever successful Wii console alive. Odyssey allows for the player to explore the magic of the motion controls and the designs of the worlds themselves. The motion controls and the exploration really gets shown off while the player is using Cappy to possess another being or item in the game. While the player is possessing another item, such as a bullet bill, they are able to solve different puzzles in order to get to the power moons that they need to power up their craft that will ultimately get them to Peach.

    One of the most interesting and fun levels in the game is New Donk City, a level in which ¡°meta¡± is the name of the game. Actively acknowledging it’s origins¡ªDonkey Kong¡ªthis level offers the newest and the most innovative mechanics, design, and narrative of the entire game. The player is allowed to use Cappy to explore new heights by scaling buildings by possessing bouncy sticks, as well as using the motion controls to drive motorcycles all around town. This level contains many mini-games, reminiscent of Super Mario 64 DS, and one of them is even the arcade version of Donkey Kong, 2-D, 8-bit style. This offers the narrative of finding power moons to rescue Peach a fun nod and anecdote to the original game that made this game possible. This level has been heralded time and time again my companies such as Forbes, IGN, and The Verge.

    Dave Their, in his article for Forbes, writes that the only aspect of Odyssey that is bad is, ¡°It’s motion controls: something I tend to see as a vestigial hangover from the days of the Wii.¡± With this in mind, I think that the Nintendo Switch console is the solution to this problem. Because the player can play three ways, motion controls do not have to be an issue. The player can play on the TV with the Joy-Con controllers ,connected or unconnected from each other, or on the Switch console itself. The multi-modality of the Switch helps the player customize the game according to their own needs, fixing any of the problems that might come up: even the one that Forbes mentioned above.

    The idea of Super Mario Odyssey is to tie together the franchise with the new console, and it succeeded with flying colors. The mechanics that are used to explore the world tie in the spirit of the franchise, while offering new and exciting ideas that have innovated the franchise for the foreseeable future. With new, quirky, and beautiful worlds with carnivorous birds, Japanese palaces, and enchanting water worlds, Super Mario Odyssey offers its players everything the Switch console has to offer and more because of the choice that the player has in what mode they play in, allowing the player to evolve and adapt to the game in their own individual ways.

    Rating:   5.0 – Flawless

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

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