Super Mario Odyssey is a love letter to the past. Growing up I didn’t care for the 2D Mario games too much. Sure I played Super Mario Colour on the Gameboy, but I didn’t get invested. It wasn’t until I played Super Mario Sunshine and became addicted to the freedom of movement available. After beating that I had to go back and play Mario 64. A game which is regarded as the king of the 3D Mario games. In fact the king of all 3D platformers. For a long time I haven’t been able to enjoy a 3D platformer the same way I did these games. Now in 2017, 15 years after the release of Sunshine, the Switch has delivered the game I’ve been waiting for.
Not only does Odyssey bring the classic formula into the modern world, but it brings in all these extra little things that make a delicious pie. Narratively speaking the game stays pretty traditional with Bowser kidnapping Peach, but there’s a little bit of self awareness going on. Every so often there’s a moment where you get a flashback to playing Sunshine, Mario Bros, Mario 64 or even Mario Kart for the first time. Without giving anything away, the end of the story had a moment which felt really exciting, and there’s a festival earlier on that mad me feel like a kid again. There’s never a moment where you’re forgetting the past of Mario without realising what a great future it all set up.
Alright, enough of wishing we were all kids again, lets talk about the new goodies. If you’ve seen any marketing at all, or even the front cover of this article, you know Mario has a new best friend. Cappy is a ghost like entity that possesses Mario’s hat. He opens up a whole new world when it comes to movement. Mario is able to throw Cappy and bounce off him in a combination of different ways. At the end of the game I was still working out interesting paths I could take using the little cap.
However Cappy also allows you to control a multitude of classic and new Mario creatures. You can now hop around as goombas and little frogs. Taking control of one of these creatures opens up new ways to take on a world, some are more movement based like bullet bills. But some can be used to tear through walls or wipe out everything in your path. It’s also really cute to see a little frog with Mario’s moustache!
Cappy works remarkably well that it’s so hard to imagine a 3D Mario game without him on your head. When I first saw the trailer for Odyssey I thought he was just going to be a neat mechanic or a forced gimmick. I could not be more happy to be wrong after spending so much time by his side. While also being a gameplay and movement tool he serves as a little guide on the side which is good for new players or young players. It’s Mario so you still have to appreciate that children want to play it, but he’s not too intrusive for veterans of the 3D Mario world.
Outside of the movement based actions you’ll be doing a lot you’ll be collecting power moons most of the time. These are similar to the classic suns you might remember back from 64 and Sunshine. Odyssey has over 800 to collect in the worlds with the ability to unlock a secret game ending when you collect 999 (there are ways to earn more than the collectable 800). After a week of playing I’ve completed the whole story and a few extras and I’m still only on 434 moons in total. The moons are the reasons you’re constantly opening up the game, you want to collect them all and see what they have to offer.
However this is where one of my minor issues with the game arises. There’s a lot of moons that are practically given to you for no effort what so ever, the kinds like “just talk to an NPC.” While I understand these kind of moons are probably needed when there’s over 800 of them, I still felt that reducing the overall number of them more more skill based opportunities would be worth it more in the long run. Like I said it’s only a minor thing across the whole game but I wish there were more moons I remembered specifically for being an interesting challenge.
The game isn’t afraid to give you a challenge if you’re looking for it either. Part of the end game content includes taking on some previous bosses in a very difficult environment. As well as that you’re taking them all on back to back with no extra goodies to keep you alive if you slip up on the way. The end game also opens up more moons to find in all the previous worlds, meaning that once you’ve left somewhere you’re never going to see it again and get some exploration out of it. I feel that half of my overall playtime has been spent on the end game content, making this a Mario game you can get a lot of time out of.
Odyssey also opens up a lot of fun content outside of the usual Mario formula. For example you are able to customise Mario’s look by his hat and his outfit. By collecting more moons, you open up more costumes to buy in the shop, giving yet an extra incentive to keep collecting those moons. The costumes earned at higher star amounts are always the really exciting ones as well, there’s some good fashioned call backs and even some familiar designs from the series. There are also some region specific costumes which can be bought with special currency only found in that world, these normally allow you to unlock a moon that requires a specific look.
As well as looking right for the job, the game also includes a respected camera mode. This camera is a lot more streamlined and interesting than the camera available in Breath of the Wild, and really suits the whole adventure mood the game sets. While they don’t offer anything gameplay wise, it’s a lot of fun to mess around with the filters and environments you find yourself in. I specifically enjoyed taking pictures of Mario with his nips out relaxing in the sun. Mainly because that’s one of the best things you can see in your life time.
So at the end of the day, Odyssey was a game I got very hyped for very quickly. I’d taken a back seat during all the trailers and advertisements, then it got to release week and I felt like a kid again. After first finishing I was still trying to decide how I felt about everything. You see I felt that the end portion of the game seemed to go by really quick and almost felt a bit rushed for my liking. I’m not sure if that’s just me playing nothing but this for a few days but for a minute I forgot that post game content exists. The second I continued from my completed adventure I found myself having more fun than ever messing with Cappy and hunting moons.
As well as the opportunity to discover more, the game starts off your post game adventure with a perfect love letter in the form of a familiar kingdom. Here you can get a juicy amount of Easter eggs and a very beloved costume that takes me right back to the N64 days. I’ll sure as hell that I’m not done with this game yet, I’m only half way to secret ending and I’m dedicated to get there no matter how many long jumps it takes.
Not only do I recommend Odyssey as a game, but I strongly advise anyone craving those Sunshine adventures from the GameCube pick this up immediately. With games like Breath of the Wild, Stardew Valley and Mario Kart also out on the Switch there’s a lot of good reasons to pick up this still relatively new console. If you already own a Switch and you’re not sure about this game then I implore you give it a go. There’s something for everyone weather you’ve never played a Mario game before or you’re a master N64 speed runner. However if you have ever played a Mario game then you will appreciate this present that Nintendo has spent painful hours crafting for your enjoyment.
That’s why after careful consideration: