Title: Super Mario Odyssey
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Copy Provided By: Bought it with my own money!
Super Mario Odyssey is a fantastic game, with few problems, and is simply a joy to play.
And frankly, isn’t that the best recommendation a game can have? The latest 3D Mario adventure returns to a more “sandbox” style with open areas to explore, challenges in each hidden away in separate little areas, with other objectives strewn about for good measure. That is also very clearly selling this adventure short.
To say it has returned to the sandbox 3D roots of Mario is true, but it took the idea and ran with it, introducing so many new ideas at every turn that amazingly don’t clash horribly and form a cohesive experience. Every kingdom you visit is its own quirky world, some big and some small, with its own unique denizens and culture, and of course, challenges.
The main objective: Power Moons to power your Hat Ship, The Odyssey, and rescue Princess Peach and new character Tiara, from Bowser, along with your new companion: Cappy. Cappy is a great addition, capturing enemies as a form of power-ups, giving you situational abilities to collect Moons and explore for other secrets, hidden areas and find Regional Purple Currency.
Purple Coins are plentiful, either 50 or 100 to a kingdom and they are…optional. Actually a lot of this game is. Purple Coins can only be spent in their respective kingdom for costumes and souvenirs. Regular coins can be spent anywhere on other costumes, Power Moons (Multiple ones post-game!) and extra hit points.
Power Moons however, are for progression. While a few are locked until you beat the final boss for when you return to the world later (And even then a load more are unlocked at that time too, so that checklist you see isn’t the whole story!), most Moons can be found right away. Go explore. Some areas are locked until you beat the main “Story Quest” for the world, and then things open up. This is great, as it shows you around the kingdom and the environment before fully opening up and letting you run wild, and even then, a lot of Moons are still available right away!
This game is constantly rewarding you, for looking, searching, even collecting coins. From beating just simple objectives there are over 850 Moons to collect, and you only need 500 to unlock every kingdom, less to beat the game. A lot of this game is entirely optional, and for most players even the mission based objectives will be enough. But if it isn’t, you can max out your Moon counter for a final secret reward at 999 Moons, which you need to grind coins to buy multiple of.
Frankly that is tedious and the reward is in no way worth it, unless you are absolutely a completionist. But that’s okay. Say for instance there are some Power Moons that are just too tough for you to get, you can always just buy a Power Moon to cover for it. That’s entirely an option. The game is incredibly accessible and while the sheer volume of Moons may dilute the experience into mindless collecting, and difficulty and obscurity of some collectibles almost necessitate guides, the game still rewards you regardless of what you do, and even through tedium, or difficulty, the game is designed to push you onwards.
Amazingly, the game isn’t too difficult. It has moments, mostly after the final boss and a few select mini games, but the game is comfortable. The only part I admit I didn’t like, was the start, where the Sand Kingdom (Seen below) is very early in-game and does feel overwhelming, too sparse and open for so early in the game. Thankfully, missing Purple Coins can be found by scanning any Bowser amiibo, and every amiibo gives you little rewards. Plus, nothing is locked behind amiibo, so those extra costumes you want can just be picked up at a moments notice once unlocked and ready to buy with coins.
Looping back like a hat throw back to Cappy: What a joy this little guy is. He is such a great addition to the game for both aerial mobility and jumps, combat, exploration, everything, and such a welcome addition. The only downside is some moves via motion controls don’t work quite as well using regular controls or, for instance, in handheld mode, and a few straight up refuse to work using motion controls, but they are never mandatory. Everything can be done with a press of a button should you wish, save for the occasional shaking of a Joy-Con for a captured enemy.
Speaking of “Cap-turing”, this is such a great mechanic for both exploration and combat, with 52 different creatures and even objects to control and utilise in your quest of simply exploring. None of them feel out-of-place in their respective worlds, and each adds something different: Impressive for such a large roster.
And this would be a mistake to not mention Mario himself. What an absolute dream to control with fluid movement, acrobatics, momentum and more. Playing a game in a 3D space has never felt so fun and joyous just from the HD Rumble through the controls from landing from a jump, or the feedback from an attack or getting hit, or riding a motor scooter. The game makes it feel fun to play, either through immersive technology inherent to the console itself, or just the pure feeling of play.
Visually, what a beauty, both docked and undocked! Stunning sprawling vistas, snowstorm flooded caves, dense forgotten jungles, ominous stormy towers, and a whole range of art styles that may seem odd, but mix so well into a fully comprehensive look at Mario’s World, in a way that one kingdom feels out-of-place being just a fly away from Peach’s Castle. So many of these worlds are so far from “Standard Mario” that it defies belief that creativity can run rampant even 30+ years after his introduction.
Audio is also a stunning highlight, with a post game option to play whatever tune you want at any time, being a standout feature. Each world is captured perfectly by audio and the jazzy vocal tunes don’t feel out-of-place. Every kingdom has its own distinct style and while some areas (Particularly a large open desert) generally lack music, the ambient noise is still wonderful.
Even every little attention to detail is wonderfully crafted and a labour of love for what could just be a footnote from a promotional material for a past game, represented musically or visually here. It’s such a wondrous thing how all the other Mario games can seemingly connect so effortlessly together, like something on this scale was always planned, showering years of characters and themes into one big package to sugar coat something almost entirely new.