March 6, 2019 at 7:45 PM #1203
Super Mario Odyssey
Rating: 5.0 – Flawless
One of the greatest Nintendo games ever made
It’s no secret that in the past few days, Super Mario Odyssey has made a huge impact in the gaming realm. Announced formally this year at the Nintendo Switch Presentation in January, it showed much promise and innovation for the red plumber’s 3D adventures. The marketing campaign for Odyssey was very effective leading to the release, Nintendo had to be banking on it for a reason. A return to the sandbox style of Super Mario 64 was a bit risky, but it had to pay off somehow.
And with it out for awhile now, the question remains if it succeeded, and after a good 50 hours with it, I have come to a conclusion on this game. But let’s start how the game does…
With the story, it is still pretty simple as usual, but has some major changes. Bowser didn’t just kidnap Princess Peach, now he’s planning a huge royal wedding, with the wedding planners known as the Broodals helping make that a reality by tormenting the planet’s kingdoms and taking whatever items Bowser will need for the big day from them.
And that’s the gist of it. There are a few twists near the end that made raised the stakes wonderfully, but don’t expect top-quality writing here. It just moreso fits the game than anything else.
Now, the writing itself… I think with the main characters, they aren’t very interesting, the Broodals especially feeling like cardboard, and aside from a few moments, the stars of the show never shine too much. But the side characters more than make up for it with little quips and snips throughout that usually got a chuckle from me, or helped the atmosphere in a dire moment. Super Mario Odyssey doesn’t focus on making a grand and epic feel, but rather bursts with charm, the characters being some of the best in the series with great designs throughout, especially with the game’s quirky trend to put hats of some kind on everything.
But no character stands out as much as Cappy, the hat companion with many hat tricks. He’s such a nice addition to Mario’s journey, brightening the mood always, and felt like a real partner for Mario, their bonds especially being a highlight. I hope he returns in future games, I really grew to love the little guy.
But talking isn’t the only thing Cappy does, he’s what makes Odyssey’s gameplay as great as it is. Mario can throw Cappy in many ways; in front, up, and down, and all around with a great spin attack, which makes fighting enemies feel more satisfying than ever as well. When Cappy is airborne, Mario can also jump off him for some amazing distance, and it makes traversing a ton of fun, seeing the hat tricks you can do.
Accompanying the wide arsenal of Cappy, Mario has many of the moves you probably have come to expect. He can jump, Triple Jump for major distance, Ground Pound, and what I consider the most useful, the dive.
By Ground Pounding in the air immediately followed by pressing Y, you can dive in the direction Mario is facing. Combined with the hat throw and bounce, this has to be the most acrobatic Mario has ever been, and speedrunning the game especially is VERY enjoyable because of it.
It is a lot to learn, but don’t worry, it is not all you’ll be doing either. If an enemy is hatless, you can throw Cappy on them, and take control of their body. This mechanic is genius, and became second nature to me, always quick to perform thankfully. Barely any enemies aren’t fun to control, if just for the fun fact of controlling these once mindless foes, just becoming them and trying their movesets.. It’s almost a liberating sort of feeling after so much jumping around as Mario. It spices up the gameplay so much, and to such a high standard. Well done, Nintendo, well done.
But the main use of these captures is for Power Moons, the main collectible. These are the bread and butter of Odyssey, and with a good 880(999 if you wanna go the extra mile) of them to find, it seems like they could break this game, not unlike the Korok Seeds of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
But many, many of them have a unique feel and approach. You can get most in any order, pardon the usual Multi Moon or story mission, and you are not forced to get all of them. Which ones you get is entirely up to you, for the first time in 20 years. And since you are not booted out of a level upon getting one, this works wonder.
These crescent collectibles do have overarching mission variations throughout the entire game across the 12 main kingdoms, such as note collecting, races, or solving the riddle of a Sphynx, but even these consistent themes usually have a new twist to make them different in each kingdom, whereas the rest face you with new tasks that challenge both your mind and skill.
Not all missions are fun, however. Sometimes you’ll encounter these golden seeds you must return to a pot so it can grow into a flower containing a Power Moon. These drag on for way too long and always feel like a chore with all the walking and waiting involved.
Hint Art Moons aren’t much better either. They give you a picture detailing something in another kingdom where a Power Moon may lie, and while fine at first, they get a bit too obtuse for my liking. I don’t like the constant backtracking either, it feels tedious and bogs down the pace. Most Moons aren’t these thankfully, but a good percent are.
These Power Moons are found in a variety of locations, from the interesting theme mashup of Steam Gardens, the hustle and bustle of New Donk City, or the relaxing paradise of Bubblaine. These areas feel quite lively and well designed, fitting the huge amount of Power Moons well with the environment itself. I do think sometimes it gets a bit "huh?" trying to get around, as I feel some places can mesh in my mind sometimes, but this was a very minor notice and never really bogged down my experience too much.
What did however were the Purple Coins. Mostly, these are easy to find, and give you good stuff for doing so, but during my cleanup for 100% completion, finding some of them could be a pain, not nearly as bad as certain Blue Coins from a certain other 3D Mario game, but they alluded me for hours sometimes.
But as I did say, finding Purple Coins is worth it. Well, aside from the stickers and souvenirs anyway. The Purple Coins are what will be giving you access to most of the costumes, another critical part of the game. These change up Mario’s appearance in charming new ways, from a Poncho and Sombrero to just his boxers. Sometimes you need these costumes to get Power Moons, for the most part they are just there for fun. Which is their best quality.
I could go to New Donk City in the classic overalls, but how about a suit and fedora instead to really get in the modern city look? Or look like a caveman in Fossil Falls to feel like you’re really in prehistoric times.
The costumes open up a new can of fun especially from the new Snapshot Mode. You can pause the game anytime with Down on the Direction Pad to take a photo of Mario in your best moments, or for most people, most ridiculous. This mode created a lot of fun memories for me, and became one of the hugest things among me and my friends as we played, seeing what dumb scenarios we can use this for.
If you want a more direct way of being with others in Super Mario Odyssey, there is Local Co-Op but it is mostly just that the second player controls Cappy by himself, so don’t expect a lot going in. I’d recommend it for a friend or nephew who is not very good at platformers but wants to see the game first-hand for what it is anyway. They could end up helping you greatly as well(or make that speedrunning scene even more crazy…).
There is an Assist Mode as well for those that still want the full experience and aren’t good at the type of game Odyssey is. I didn’t use it, but it is a helpful and non-intrusive addition I think should stay for newcomers to the series.
This game does have quite the presentation after all. Environments and kingdoms always pop, looking absolutely stunning at points, with a Mario soundtrack that, while not my favorite, has a lot of memorable tunes that really helps the game stand. In my two runs of Odyssey, I did encounter a single glitch as well. Nintendo made sure to polish this game as much as they could, and it makes this already fantastic game even more inspiring.
But yes, if my praises for the wonderful presentation, the mixed up story, the charming characters, the great gameplay, and the wonderful innovation of Super Mario Odyssey weren’t enough to tide you over, I’m not sure what else I could say. This game made me very happy the whole time, and gave me everything I wanted playing, it has to be, to me, the closest the game has ever felt to a masterpiece.
This is a system seller, this is a must-have, I recommend it at full retail price because I don’t think there’s both no other game like it, and it just feels like no Mario game even compares anymore. You will get way more than you’d ever expect here in such a massive and seemingly never-ending journey that will have a few snags here and there, but for the most part will keep you smiling, and for that…
Mario Odyssey gets the legendary 10/10.
Rating: 5.0 – Flawless
Product Release: Super Mario Odyssey (US, 10/27/17)
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