Just when we thought that collectathon games were a dying breed, Nintendo came back to its 3D Mario roots. Enter Super Mario Odyssey, bringing you a new world filled to the brim with Moons (not Stars) to collect. But is it as amazing as we remember Super Mario 64 being? Let’s find out.
This new Mario adventure on the Nintendo Switch is truly an odyssey, as we get to explore deserts, tropical beaches, frozen iceberg’s, and even a bustling city. Now you might be thinking “oh, most of those sound like a normal Mario game”, however, Odyssey manages to expand these into incredible kingdoms by having new enemies and friendly creatures, never before seen in the Mario universe. While the new creatures make you feel like you are exploring a real world that people live in, the new enemies open up new gameplay possibilities.
Mario moves very similarly to how he does in Super Mario Sunshine, but he moves even more smoothly thanks to his new friend and hat, Cappy. Mario meets Cappy after getting knocked off Bowsers airship by a clever hat-trick Bowser pulled. It turns out that this time Bowser intends to marry Princess Peach, and he kidnapped Cappy’s sister, Tiara, for Peach to wear at the wedding.
Mario and Cappy do not intend to let this slide.
Cappy can be thrown by Mario and be used as a platform to jump off of or as a projectile. If you put Cappy on an enemy’s head, Mario can take full control of that enemy. This can be done with old rivals like the chain chomp (now I get to charge at you!) or new creatures such as a tiny frog, or even a Prehistoric T-rex. These captures add to the gameplay immensely by giving you more movement options and ways to defend yourself. They don’t make you overpowered (exept the T-Rex) but they do make the game play completely differently. This is the equivalent to Powerups, but instead of getting a hammer bro suit, you get to be the hammer bro, and that changes the game completely.
To chase after Bowser, Cappy helps Mario find a ship, the Odyssey, which is fueled by Power Moons. These Moons are the primary collectible of the game, and at the start are very rare, but as you progress Moons become more and more common. Every kingdom has some problems that need fixing and once their issues have been resolved, it makes it possible to find all of the moons available in that kingdom. Fixing these problems often involve defeating Bosses, including Bowsers bunny wedding planners: The Broodles, and many other kingdom specific creatures that threaten the peace of the kingdoms inhabitants. None of these bosses are much of a challenge, but they expand on the mechanics if the kingdoms, as well as having some outlandish bosses that likely no one expected to ever see in a Mario game.
The plot is very simple, as it is still a Mario game, but the wedding aspect gives Bowser a reason that he is kidnapping Peach and makes the end of the game quite possibly the greatest ending in Mario history. The game doesn’t end there though. The game continues to reward you by giving you more and more moons with additional challenges and kingdoms, till you obtain every moon available.
Speaking of Power Moons, there are a lot of them. While smaller kingdoms have closer to 35 moons, the larger kingdoms average around 85 moons per kingdom. Due to this, there is no longer warping back to a hub world every time you find a moon, and many of the moons are much easier than any star in Super Mario 64. This has its pros and cons, as the constant stream of accomplishments can fill you with joy, yet they may also make you feel that the game is easy because the moons often are simply, “break this box! Ground pound here! Talk to this person with the right outfit!” It is something that probably isn’t a problem for everyone, but it may turn away people who like more challenging platformers, as the more substantial moons are rare outside of the post-final boss content.
Purple coins also make an appearance, each kingdom having a unique design, having specific places where each one is hidden, and only being able to be spent at their specific kingdom. What can be bought includes decorations for your ship, as well as some fun costumes. These costumes can be mixed with the hat part and body part, to create interesting and funny combinations. One thing that makes this more fun is the new camera feature, which can be accessed at any time with the up button and allows you to freeze time to move the camera around for the perfect shot, as well as adding filters to make your photo just right.
Nintendo has also been updating the game with new costumes, special moon hint art, and most importantly, a fun new mode to play once you have foiled Bowser’s plans – Luigi’s Balloon World. This mode challenges players to see how fast they can move, both to hide and find other players’ balloons, which are saved online. This adds something fun that can be enjoyed even by players who have found every moon available, which is great, because it’s always good to have a reason to keep playing.
The game looks great with detailed textures as well as a impressive lighting system that really makes the bright colors pop and the darker colors look sharp. Playing in handheld mode does hinder the graphics a bit, but it doesn’t hinder the experience very much. The music is interesting, as it all seems to be brand new, and there are some areas in the game that the music will take a backseat so you can enjoy the scenery, similar to how the music is in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but less common because the kingdoms are not as expansive as in the Zelda game. There are also a few songs that feature lyrics, a first for the Mario series, and they are great fun to listen to and sing along to.
This is a Mario game that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their age. There are many options to make the game easier, with characters that sell hints, an assist mode that makes it harder to die and points you in the right direction, and a co-op mode where another player can fly around as Cappy to help or hinder a player. These features can be used to make the game as hard or as easy as you would like, though a baby probably can’t play it, and a hardcore player might not be satisfied with the max difficulty, it’s still a blast to play in this beautiful new world.