A Mario game is always guaranteed to at least be worthy of note. It’s also coming at the end of a drought for first party Nintendo games and boy is it appreciated. While Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is hardly the only game that’s been released for the Nintendo Switch, there wasn’t as much support out of the gate as some would’ve hoped. But if you’re looking for a game that’s really going to pull you in: Super Mario Odyssey is definitely the game for you.
Super Mario Odyssey is a celebration of the Mario games that came before. The plot is very much as Mario as it gets: Bowser kidnaps Peach to marry her and has already beaten Mario to a pulp and thrown him out to die. Luckily for Mario, he’s saved by Cappy who acts as his new cap to help him find Bowser which is where the game begins. Its construction is the closest a Mario game has come to the likes of Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine. It builds upon all of that work to build a sprawling world. Different worlds that are accessible to you by air travel, but one that also has so much to see within each individual worlds. There’s a seamless connection: instead of hub worlds, you travel to different areas within each world, and head on adventures from therein.
As with any major Nintendo game: Super Mario Odyssey looks gorgeous. While Nintendo has always gotten dinged for not chasing graphics hard like Sony or Microsoft do, but frankly it doesn’t really need to be. Having played through several worlds already, the game really does put a lot of effort in distinguishing the visual identity of these worlds. That’s on top of the fact there’s a different emphasis for movement and exploration in each world like climbing in one world and a lot of platforming in another. The sound design is no slouch in this regard, it reminds a bit of Super Mario Sunshine’s emphasis on vacation, this soundtrack however reinforces the global and epic feel for this game.
Now the big gimmick of the game is Cappy. While it would at worst be an obstruction to the normal Mario gameplay we’ve come to expect, the Cappy mechanic instead acts as an enhancement. It allows for ranged attacks and item collection that frankly is very useful in such a large world.The enemy control mechanic also proves to be a useful addition to the arsenal you already have as regular old Mario, in addition of course to unlocking new modes of exploration and attack. So as far as one should be concerned, there’s quite a bit to enjoy with this new mechanic.
One of the benefits of the Nintendo Switch is that there’s a variety of control scenarios offered whether you play on a TV or on the go. The game does encourage you to play using the two Joy-Con controllers for motion controls, which to the game designer’s credit, allows for a less cumbersome experience, making it easier to do certain things like spinning the hat or rolling. But if you want, you can opt for a fairly traditional experience by linking your Joy-Cons to the controller deck that comes with the Switch, or by playing portable with the Switch system itself. Overall, I’d say it’s favorable to play with the motion controls since this game was built for it.
As far as anyone should be concerned: Nintendo hit the jackpot here. While there are more games to come for the Switch, Super Mario Odyssey is near the same caliber as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in terms of quality. While the idea it’s shooting for is different, the artistic heights are similar. If you’re looking for a good Mario game, you’ll be satisfied. But if you’re looking for what’s sure to be a timeless game, you’re in for a treat.
5 Caps out of 5