Super Mario Odyssey Review
I can’t really remember the last Mario platformer game that just fell flat on it’s face. If there is one thing that Nintendo seems to be able to get right over the past few decades, it’s Super Mario Brothers. In fact, we recently did a list of our Top 10 Mario Platformers, which you can check out if you want to see which ones we love.
So when I finally got my hands on Super Mario Odyssey, the newest Mario platformer for the Nintendo Switch, I had super high expectations (pun intended). Gone were the 2D levels of jumping and precision timing (kind of), and instead, we are taking back to the 3D worlds of Super Mario Galaxy and Mario 64. Not only that, but Odyssey has embraced the open world style of game that is all the rage right now.
If you are looking for the quick answer, it’s that Nintendo created something amazing. Much like Breath of the Wild might be the best Zelda game ever, Super Mario Odyssey is easily in the running for the Best Mario Game ever. But that’s a hefty boast to make, so let’s dive into the why.
So Many Secrets
While Odyssey does have a linear story, and one that you can probably beat in a weekend, the game doesn’t end there. There is just SO MUCH TO DO in this game. There are a variety of worlds from snow, to water, to low gravity on the moon, to even a modern day city. And behind each jump, door, or box is a power moon. Finding and collecting these moons (over 800 in total) propels the story forward, and ultimately, will be your end game content. Some are fairly easy and obvious to find, but many will have you figuring out puzzles, finding hidden areas, and really thinking out side the box. Heck, more than once I’ve thought I broke the game by worming my way into some seemingly impossible crevice, only to find a power moon waiting for me there.
And that’s one of the things that Super Mario Odyssey has in common with Breath of the Wild. The desire to get sidetracked and just explore. While the levels, overall, aren’t that massive, they do have tons of nook and crannies, all with secrets waiting to be found. Long after you’ve saved the princess, you’ll be heading back to all these worlds trying too root out every hidden moon…and loving every minute of it. I’ll save the spoilers, but you will have plenty to keep you busy once the credits have finally rolled.
Possession is the Law
At the forefront of Super Mario Odyssey is your new sidekick, Cappy. You hat now has a life of its own and can be used to kill enemies, perform jumps, and even possess certain enemies. When Mario zips into a monster, he acquires that creatures special abilities. You might get the ability to swim through lava from a fireball creature, or fly from a Bullet Bill. Mario can even possess a dinosaur and go on a rampage. Every level will have their own unique enemies that can be used by Mario and Cappy. Nintendo has really created a highly entertaining concept here that I really just can’t get enough of.
For players with the skill, Cappy can also be used for some wild jumps. You can jump, throw your hat, jump on the hat to extend said jump, and then jump even farther. Head over to youtube and you’ll see a variety of amazing jumps using Cappy, many of which short cut the game in ways you probably never thought possible. Speed runners are going to have a field day with this one.
The Old Meets the New
Visually, Super Mario Odyssey just looks amazing. The graphics, while not photorealistic, are the best from any Mario game, and there is even a photo mode. From the serene beach scenes, to the backdrop in New Donk City, I could tel l that the level designers had a lot of fun putting this game together. Even the music in each level feels both inspired and thematic.
But one of the greatest things the developers did was to seamless merge the old school with the new. Entering a pixelated pipe will transform a 3D Mario into a 2D version of himself, throwing back to his old school roots. However this isn’t a full screen shift, but a world within a world. For example, in the ocean world, Mario will enter a pipe, transform to a 2D version of himself, and you’ll have to jump through the areas while the water of the 3D world flows over you, complete with fishes swimming by. This kind of seamless transition is utterly fantastic, and helped to keep the game experience unified.
Not All is Roses
While Super Mario Odyssey is a fantastic game, not everything is perfect. The biggest blemish on the game has to be the motion controls. Sometimes they would work fine, but often I found them clunky and hard to use. For example, a flick of the controller is supposed to throw your hat in a circle around you, destroying any enemies. YetI was rarely able to pull that off (it’s even worse with the pro controller). By the end of the game, I had all but given up on trying to use the motion controls. I really wish Nintendo would just let motion die with the Wii.
Finally, I will also say that some of the jumping puzzles can be extremely frustrating. Jumping in a 3D world always has its challenges. You lack the depth perception that you’d have in real life, so it’s pretty easy to have your jumps miss because your spacing wasn’t precise enough. Over all this wasn’t a huge issue, but sometimes I defiantly noped out of an area after enough frustrating deaths.
Buy It Now
Super Mario Odyssey is another triumph in what’s shaping up to be one of the best console launches ever. While I’m not surprised that Nintendo managed to hit another home run with a Mario platformer, I am shocked as just how good the game is. If Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild didn’t sell you on the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey should. The game is amazing and a must purchase if you own the Switch.