Super Mario Odyssey: catchup review

Is this the best Mario game ever? That’s the question some people seem to be asking and we’re here to tell you definitively that our opinion is yes, yes it very much is. There will always be a case for Galaxy or 64 to be given that title, and some of us might even go so far as to say Sunshine (hey, anything’s possible!); but picking holes in this one is a difficult task indeed. Mario Odyssey is such a relaxed but fun game from start to finish – and it even has fun underwater sections, which is something very few games can tout.

The story is the usual riff of ‘Peach has been captured, go save her’. This time however, Bowser is forcing her to marry him using a sentient tiara. Also he’s getting a load of mystical/special items from around the world to host a spectacular wedding party. So even though he leaves you trailing behind in the intro, you have a whole lot of time to catch up with him as you find, pilfer, and win enough Moons (basically Stars) to progress to the next world.

Cappy the sentient hat is your companion this time around; as well as your headgear and weapon of choice. It’s actually very handy (hatty?) that you ran into him, as your scuffle with Bowser left your head completely bereft of your iconic hat (cc Watchdogs). Cappy is also capable of possession, as in allowing Mario to take over both creatures and objects and place them under his thrall.

Slightly dark ramifications aside, this is both really fun and useful. Want to possess a Goomba? Now you can. Want to be that weird onion-like enemy that can rapidly grow its legs? Go nuts. Ever dreamt of being a sentient cactus in a very specific location for a rather trivial puzzle…?

Possession may seem weird but it provides a lot of interesting or downright cool opportunities, especially as you’ll spend most of your time doing puzzles or trying to get to puzzles. Frogs jump really high, Cheep Cheep can swim and breathe underwater, Bullet Bills can fly and/or launch suicide attacks… Actually you will find yourself taking control of enemies in order to lead them to their deaths fairly often. It is quite a dark game isn’t it?

It’s also really fun and colourful though. All is forgiven!

Odyssey has made movement an absolute joy, making running and jumping about as much fun as it can be. It might not include running along walls as in Titanfall 2, but it’s just about as fun. Some of the spectacular acrobatic stunts you can achieve require a great deal of skill, but it’s still fairly easy to look good at it even if you’re only chaining two or three jumps together by bouncing off of Cappy.

Motion controls offer slightly more…control. Actions on the Joy Cons themselves aren’t mapped in the best way possible, since there are two buttons for jump and two for throwing Cappy, which isn’t exactly the best use of button real estate. We’d hesitate to say that motion controls are necessary, as most of the actions you can’t do or are difficult to do without are pretty situational. Though we have to admit that being able to get Cappy to home in on enemies you slightly miss with a mere flick of the wrist does have appeal.

Each world you visit needs more than a fair few Moons to help you progress. They are so abundant that you’ll barely have scratched the surface anywhere you visit. Sometimes, we found ourselves having enough moons to progress before we even did the “boss thing” for that world. There are even Moons within a stone’s throw of you getting into a world.

Now, to be clear, there are more than enough Moons to keep you busy for a not inconsiderable amount of time. That hasn’t stopped ol’ Nintendo from adding almost too many extra Moons to find after you’ve finished the main story. They range from the bizarre to the outright devious. These are the ones you’ll be collecting up long after ‘completion’, as they’re much more challenging than the first lot.

Mario also gets to try his hand at cosplaying. Amiibo can unlock some costumes early, but you’ll eventually be able to get them all anyway. It might not let you don yourself from head to toe in Luigi or Wario’s garbs at first, but there are themed costumes to unlock in each world. You can mix and match too, which is a great way to make Mario look like a sky pirate or Texan businessman.

Mario games often feel slightly magical in one way or another; but this generation’s big feature, photo mode, has made its way into Odyssey and is marvelously magical – as you can see by our photos within this review. Mario in motion is great, but being able to take some rather spectacular photos yourself is surprisingly tantalising and we constantly stopped to take a few snaps and on occasion, videos, using the Switch’s in-built record feature which was recently implemented.

Look, there are loads of great games out this year and Mario is one of them. Is it better than Breath of the Wild, which we gave a 10? Well, Cappy doesn’t break after a few attacks, so we’ll let you decide that. But in all seriousness this was a pure delight to play. Finishing the game only unlocks more, and our response was delight rather than a lethargic sigh. The highest praise we can think of for this is calling it the Witcher 3 of Mario games; a game that’s learnt not only from its predecessors, but also from other games, to be the best of its genre.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I’ve done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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