As one of the most anticipated games of the year, Mario jumped on the shelves and into the home of Switch owners this past month. Nintendo pulled all the stops for Super Mario Odyssey. They flooded media outlets with ads and commercials. If you haven’t seen Mario gracing your screens, you are out of touch. We were given a taste of Super Mario Odyssey last year, and many people fell in love with it immediately. Mario can do no wrong in the eyes of many Nintendo fans. Super Mario Odyssey has the polish that Nintendo applies to most of their first party games, but is it enough?
The premise is a tale as old as time; Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser for a sham wedding. Mario attempts to save her, but he fails and loses his hat. He falls into the Cap Kingdom, and meets Cappy, a spirit hat-like creature whose sister, Tiara, has been kidnapped by Bowser. Cappy takes on the form of Mario’s hat allowing you to possess different creatures and objects. The objective is to gather as many moon stones as possible to power the Odyssey, a hat shaped airship. You use the Odyssey to visit other worlds to chase Bowser, and beat up his minions.
Going into this game, I was prepared to feel immediately fatigued by the power moons. There are over 800 moons in Super Mario Odyssey. I sighed very deeply when I heard this number. I was expecting to spend hours running around each kingdom to find these moons. I was proven wrong. Power moons are not in short supply; I was able to get more than enough for each kingdom without having to spend time wandering around aimlessly.
This aspect is something I really enjoy: you can play this game casually. You only have to have 120 moons to beat the game. By the 5th kingdom, I almost reached 100 moons. The game doesn’t punish you for not searching for every moon in each kingdom. If you are looking to just collect the 120 moons, and be done with the game, it will take you roughly 8-hours. That’s the beauty of Mario though; there is always more to do after you beat the game.
Super Mario Odyssey is no stranger to extra content. When you beat the game, each kingdom gets new moons for you to discover. Finding power moons isn’t just looking for a secret door, but interacting with the characters, and exploring the side missions. For example, when I went to the Sand kingdom, there was ice everywhere. Beating Hariet, one of the Broodals that make up Bowser’s minions, doesn’t reverse this effect. You have to go to another area in the kingdom and fight a giant statue head with floating hands.
You will be whisked away from one beautiful kingdom to another. Each one has its own unique theme, and it, surprisingly, goes well in a Mario game. Each kingdom has its own enemies that you can possess, different abilities you can use with said enemies, and has its own soundtrack. The music isn’t traditional, they have put twists on a few Mario classics, but a lot of the music is original compositions. Music isn’t playing all the time either; sometimes there is just background noise such as the wind rustling the trees. When it comes to the different environments, the Metro kingdom was my biggest worry because of the strange realistic humans that look nothing like Mario. However, it’s one of the best kingdoms in the game, and that is what’s so great about Nintendo: they like applying old and new mechanics.
The possessing ability introduced is a great twist on gameplay. You use different enemies for different results. For example, you can possess a winged lizard, and glide over the kingdom to reach areas impossible for Mario alone. With that being said, the gameplay is a solid platformer, and using the possessing ability is a great function implemented perfectly.
The cap throw itself is a great asset to jumping. You can hold down the Y button in order to jump on Cappy, giving you a higher boost into the air. This gives you more than one way of reaching an area. For example, in the Lost Kingdom, there were enemies that would explode if they touched you. You had to use these enemies to blow up the walls in order to pass through. The only way to get them to blow up in the right direction is to throw Cappy, they grab on, then you have to jump out of the way. Or you can use the cap throw at the right angle to get past it. It was a satisfying feeling being able to figure out a different way to get past an obstacle than the game intended.
It’s hard to say anything bad about this game. I’m more of a Zelda fan, and personally, it doesn’t hold a candle to Breath Of The Wild. Mario is a genre of its own, and after 30+ years, it’s run of the mill. No matter what you bring to the table, it’s still a Mario game. You will get fatigued from collecting Power Moons, because there really isn’t any other objective. You can collect regular coins for items and you can collect unique, purple coins for each kingdom for costumes, stickers, and souvenirs. You don’t have any other focus. To its core, it’s still a standard Mario game.
Is it worth it?
Super Mario Odyssey is a must for a Switch collection. Even if you are a casual gamer, this is an easy game to pick up and take off. You don’t need a lot of skill to play it. The possessing feature is a refreshing take on the franchise. Just be prepared to collect power moons. Lots and lots of power moons. Despite the minor flaws, Super Mario Odyssey was a joy to play and reminded me why I love platformers in the first place.