Super Mario Odyssey

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: 27th October

Price as of Article: $59.88 USD, £41.99 GBP

Story

Super Mario Odyssey has a classic Mario story and this time Bowser has kidnapped Peach to forcibly make her his bride. In true Nintendo quirky style we also have the introduction of Cappy. Cappy is a hat with the special ability to help Mario posses anything from a T-rex to a bolt of electricity to traverse power lines! Well Cappy’s sister has also been kidnapped By Bowser and so you both begin your journey to save the princess by chasing Bowser across a number of worlds in the Odyssey your space ship powered by Power Moons that you collect on your travels. The story is in keeping with previous Mario games and was never going to be the main draw of the game. It’s all very light hearted and fanciful which is perfect for this series.

Audio

With such a sprawling game spanning many different areas Nintendo have pulled no punches when it comes to audio.

Each world has its own score, fully orchestrated and extremely catchy. These tracks capture the essence of the locations perfectly, in icy areas you can hear the crispness on the air or the sheer nature in a jungle location. When you head into 2D areas the game effortlessly switches to classic songs and sounds and tips its hat at those who have been with the series since 1996. Iconic sounds like dipping into a green pipe or Mario’s jump are here amongst many subtle new sounds. The attention to detail is fantastic, switch to a metallic helmet and Cappy will ring out like a piece of metal when you throw him and the New Dunk City rendition of Jump Up, Super Star is something special.

Visuals

The visuals are really beautiful in this Mario game. the worlds created by Nintendo are so imaginative and colourful. Every world looks so different from the last. New Donk city was an absolute highlight for us. The animation for Mario is superb with adorable expressions and his move list is extensive. Playing the game in docked mode for us heightened the experience as the colours popped so much more. I did encounter a very few technical issues but these were few and far between. The main issue was a few dropped frame rates here and there.

The transitions from 3d to 2d 8bit sections was a great touch and really brought back that retro style even if it is only for a minute or 2 at a time in these particular sections. Some of the animals you can posses and things throughout the worlds are impressive. The first time you posses a T-rex really stands out and Nintendo have done a top job here. There are lots of delightful surprises which is a feast for the eyes. I especially enjoyed the New dank City festival but there are lots of other delights from wooded areas  to the underwater swimming zones which looked really immersive. The cut scenes all looked good and set the story up nicely. Cappy is a great companion and the capture system leads to some delightful looking moustached monsters. Each world is not only unique but immersive and the subtle visual tricks and hints pull this all together.

Gameplay

Fun. Thats how I have come to describe the gameplay of Mario Odyssey. When we started playing the game we played it like most reviewers do – you jump in, speed through and pick up as much information about the game as you can in order to form an opinion. The first few worlds we played on a Pro Controller and it felt quite good and we smiled at some clever parts.

As we got a bit deeper though the game reminded us why we love to play games in the first place; first and foremost this game is here to be enjoyed. Yes at its core it’s a sandbox platform game in which you move across a series of areas, progressing towards a climax and ultimately completing the main storyline.

But this doesn’t do the game justice. We switched to a joy con in each hand as the game encourages you to do and, slowly but surely, a smile turned into a child-like grin fixed across our faces as if we were back to being 12 years old in summer with an ice lolly in hand whilst on half term from school.

The controls feel like an extension of your body with exceptionally fine tuned sensitivity that gets it right. Usual platform controls are here with run, jump, roll, spin and ground pound. There are a surprising number of situational moves such as triple jump, long jump, backflip and others which add depth without you needing to use them too often. Cappy is the biggest change and is used as a weapon, tool and as your method of capturing enemies to use in clever ways.

Throwing Cappy at one of the 52 unique capturables has Mario possess them, leading to ingeniously imaginative and fun ways to meet objectives. The first one you come across is a frog letting you jump extremely high which feels great. A lot of the captures are unique to a certain area meaning that you don’t get bored of any one capture. This system leads to some great puzzles and memorable moments.

After the first Kingdom you get the Odyssey which is fuelled by Power Moons, collectibles across each area which are found whilst progressing, some are simply on the way or as a reward for defeating bosses whilst many many more are ingeniously and devilishly hidden or require smart play to obtain whether than be noticing an out of place looking wall or achieving very hard platforming feats.

There are a total of 16 worlds in the game, a couple of which are unlocked only after the main storyline is completed, at first glance some of them appear small whilst others are huge but each can easily hold you for 2-3 hours and there are a mind boggling 800 Power Moons to be found, completing the main story will only require a bit over 100 and will take you about 8 hours to complete excluding additional exploring time which can rack up to over 100 hours.

On the move I found the game to be surprisingly fun and easy to control, yes its better on a TV using motion controls but there is something awesome about sticking headphones in and exploring a Kingdom.

Amiibo support is here and handled with a nice ingame NPC, Mario has a broad range of customisation options with great outfits and a load of collectibles which can kit out the Odyssey.

The difficulty felt quite easy at first, dying leads to you losing a few coins and the autosave in the game is quite forgiving. Bosses don’t feel very hard with a few exceptions and the main storyline does has a few tough spots but mostly it comes down to being creative with a bit of skill thrown in.

Actually though we came to realise this is a masterstroke from Nintendo, Mario is an iconic title that has been cleverly engineered to fit all audiences, younger players can switch to a more forgiving mode and moderate players can just play the game at face value. Those looking for a more comprehensive challenge are rewarded the more they achieve instead of punished as is the case in most games. This was how we incorrectly thought the game was a bit easy – there is achievement to be made but there are deeper achievements and hidden areas all over the place, oftentimes these lead to additional Power Moons or just a bunch of coins to let you know that you have achieved something.

No other game I can think of strikes this balance and subtlety, the game is there to be enjoyed in the way that makes sense to you. That might mean powering through the story to then go back later on and enjoy areas here and there. It may mean taking your time to fully appreciate each kingdom or it could mean just playing the story and moving on though I can’t help but feel that would be a shame, the point is the choice is yours.

 

Value

When it comes to Triple A titles you cannot fault Nintendo for their effort. Each world is completely unique in feel, sound, look and filled with clever ways to explore and many hidden gems, Easter eggs and nods to older titles. The game would have taken such a vast amount of effort to create and you have a world to explore with so many layers that you certainly can justify the full price tag here. If there is one area I felt the game did not do a great job it has to be multiplayer which lets one of you play as Cappy, it just felt added on as an afterthought.

2D sections are awesome and integrate in a clever way with the surrounding 3D world