Super Mario is one of those franchises where innovation is key to continue to make it fun and interesting. If you look at the first game to the latest game, you can see where changes have been made to make each one stand out from the next. Of course, this doesn’t include sequels, but concepts like Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Sunshine have been well received and for good reason.
With Mario Odyssey, I’ve never had so much fun playing a Mario game before. As cool as Mario Galaxy and Mario 3D World were, Odyssey blows them both out of the water. It may not be overall as good as Galaxy was, but it’s experience is so much more memorable than Galaxy was. Don’t take that as a hit on Galaxy because just like Odyssey, it’s a fantastic game, but Odyssey has changed evolved in certain places that make it such a rich and gratifying experience for Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch.
The first thing that immediately stands out in the game is Cappy. A new mechanic that utilises Mario’s iconic hat as a centrepiece for the game’s core gameplay. You can throw him in different directions to hit checkpoints or enemies, or use him to cleverly jump onto ledges that you wouldn’t be able to before. You can even use Cappy to become a goomba or other different animals and objects throughout the game.
This is the most innovative that Nintendo have been with the Mario franchise since the Galaxy series and it shows – the cool things can you can utilise Cappy for make it such a great addition to the ever-evolving 3D Mario games.
Unlike previous Super Mario games I’ve mentioned previously (Sunshine, Mario Maker, Galaxy, etc), Odyssey was my first game on a new console system whereas the others all came later after I’d had experience with their respective consoles. So right off the bat, there was a learning curve to overcome with the Nintendo Switch, as I used its joycons to play the game. It’s tricky to get the hang of first, but it becomes almost second-nature by the time you get to the end of the game. The controls feel intuitive and fun to play. When I found out that it wasn’t a launch title for the Switch, I was confused – this feels like a game you’d release to coincide with the console to generate buzz because it just feels right to play.
Odyssey does take some ideas and concepts from previous games that have proven to work, of course; Super Mario Galaxy’s “galaxies” have been re-worked into various “kingdoms” that you visit in order to gain moons to power up the Odyssey. This Odyssey is a ship that lets you fly to different Kingdoms to hunt down Bowser and his nefarious gang to rescue Princess Peach. As with most 3D Mario games, it’s a collect-a-thon and as such those mechanics have returned from previous entries and they work as well as they have before.
One of the downsides to Super Mario Odyssey over Galaxy is that the kingdoms aren’t as great as the galaxies were. That’s not to say that the kingdoms are bad – they’re just as fun – but the variety isn’t as big as you’d hope regarding world design, enemy types, puzzles and things that you can do – Odyssey’s kingdoms aren’t as inventive as you’d expect, but the key difference is that Odyssey offers a more open-world experience as opposed to Galaxy’s more linear style of gameplay. The open-world part of the game may be appealing to others that maybe held off on Galaxy or wanted to play it in their own way.
As with most games, you get a lot of coins. They can be used in the shop in different kingdoms to buy costumes. However, each kingdom also has purple coins which are region specific and can only be used to buy items in that kingdom. It’s a small little thing, but I think it’s lovely.
Super Mario Odyssey is another fantastic entry into a line of already amazing 3D Super Mario games. It has great level design, a beautiful soundtrack and fun mechanics. If there’s one game you should buy for the Nintendo Switch first, it’s this one.