Best Mario Game in a Decade
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2017 is proving to be a great year for gaming, both for consoles and games, and it just got a lot better. Nintendo’s main man is back in a new flagship game for the Switch and here’s our full Super Mario Odyssey review.
Super Mario Odyssey is out now, after releasing on 27 October, the same day as Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and Wolfenstein II. Before we dive in, there are many out there wondering ‘will Super Mario Odyssey be on Wii U?’ and the answer is no, it’s exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.
If you want to pick up a copy for yourself, head to Amazon for the best price at the time of writing, or check out our round-up to find out the best Mario Odyssey deals.
Super Mario Odyssey story
Although there have been a number of new Mario games in recent years, Odyssey is the first sandbox-style for quite some time.
You need to go and rescue, you’ve guessed it, Princess Peach from Bowser who this time is trying to marry the damsel in distress.
Instead of getting help from Luigi or Yoshi, Mario happens to bump into a white top hat called Cappy. Luckily for Mario, Cappy managed to save a scrap of Mario’s iconic red hat following a scuffle with Bowser, in which it gets shredded in the propeller of his ship.
Cappy has magic powers, of course, and uses the scrap to make Mario a new hat where Cappy lives. It’s not just a coincidence that the pair team up as Cappy’s sister Tiara has been kidnapped so Peach can wear her at the wedding.
Luckily, there’s more to Cappy inhabiting Mario’s hat than giving it cute eyes. Cappy can do all kinds of things in the game and this is what Odyssey revolves around.
In this open-world game, you’ll control Mario (of course) as he travels around different kingdoms searching for moons (not stars) so you can power up your hat shaped airship called The Odyssey.
Super Mario Odyssey gameplay and features
It’s not exactly hard to get stuck into a new Mario game like Odyssey, whether or not been playing them for decades or this is your, or perhaps your child’s, first one. It plays as you would expect a Mario game to.
As mentioned, Super Mario Odyssey is an open-world sandbox game which means you can roam around freely rather than following a set linear path. It can get a bit confusing as a game like Super Mario 3D World is 3D but not open-world.
Odyssey is much more like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine with individual levels that you’re free to explore however you like – there’s even a map should you need it.
Some levels are bigger than others and you will explore in different ways. In each one you’ll need to collect enough moons to give the Odyssey the power to fly to the next – sometimes you’ll get a choice of where to fly, a bit like in Lylat Wars.
You’ll be chasing Bowser and his crew as you go, as many of the kingdoms have items he needs for the wedding including the dress and cake.
Open-world gaming isn’t for everyone but it certainly feels good to us to have another Mario game like this. Nintendo has gone to great lengths designing the levels so you can quite easily play through without getting confused or annoyed with what to do, while adding plenty of hidden secrets for those who like to visit every corner and collect every coin.
In true Nintendo fashion, there’s a nice balance of the familiar and the new in Odyssey. And we like the charm in minor details like Goombas wearing different outfits to match the kingdom they are in.
You’ll also find Pauline from Donky Kong, taking the role of mayor of New Donk City.
As mentioned earlier, Cappy is much more than a hat with eyes – we’re talking essential skills, rather than a fun add-on. Although Cappy is integral to the game, Mario retains familiar moves such as Ground Pound, Spin Jump, the Triple Jump. Dive is also back for the first time since Mario Sunshine.
Back to Cappy, and Mario can throw his associate out in front of him to hit enemies, or even jump on as a sort of spring board.
You can even throw Cappy in a circle around Mario which is great if you find yourself surrounded. Mario can still jump on enemies in the usual fashion but Cappy will help new and younger players as you don’t need to get close.
Nintendo has made good use of the motion sensors in the Joy-Con controllers for this kind of move and you can also make Cappy move to the sides or even above Mario with gestures. This does mean playing on the Switch with Joy-Cons attached makes for slightly more limited play, though.
Cappy can also interact with items so you can hit question mark boxes, break items and more.
However, by far the most important feature is that Cappy can take control of things or other characters by ‘capturing’ them. In each level you’ll not only have a barrel of laughs by putting a moustache on various characters and objects but you’ll need to do so in order to reach places and collect moons.
The amount of things you can control with Cappy seems almost endless, allowing you to become familiar with things like stacks of Goombas, Chain Chomps or Cheep Cheeps as well as things exclusive to Odyssey like power lines and Glydon – a flying lizard.
It’s ridiculously fun and feels like a step from the previous formula of Mario wearing a suit to give him different skills. If you’re not sure what to try and take over with Cappy, a small white arrow will give you a hint.
Although Super Mario Odyssey is really a single player game, a second player can take control of Cappy to add a sort-of co-op element. It’s much more enjoyable than the slightly lame task of collecting star pieces like in Mario Galaxy, but it isn’t perfect. Sometimes it’s super helpful – clearing away poisonous sludge, for example – and other times it just makes things a lot more difficult.
You’re probably used to collecting stars in Super Mario games but it’s all about moons in Odyssey and there are couple of things to note.
There’s more than just one moon to collect in each level so you’ll find them dotted around and you’ll get them in a variety of different ways. Some are extremely easy and simply need locating while others require a bit more brain power and skill.
The other thing is that you won’t get kicked out once you grab the ‘main’ moon (multi-moon) after defeating a boss, for example. Instead, you’ll be teleported back to the start with the option to power up the Odyssey and fly somewhere else (if you’ve collected enough moons) or carry on exploring the level.
A Mario game wouldn’t be complete without boss fights and as usual, Bowser has a crew of thugs to help him thwart Mario’s attempts.
In Odyssey, they are a group of smartly dressed rabbits called the Broodals with one seemingly ready to go to St.Patrick’s day. Bowser hired them as wedding planners, as you do. As you play through the game you’ll meet them multiple times for boss fights.
In true Nintendo style they follow the quintessential formula of three hits to win and while they start out pretty easy, it gets harder and more complex as you go on.
You won’t just fight the Broodals as there are other bosses unique to certain kingdoms and you will also meet Bowser for a sort of half-way battle in the middle of the game.
Another staple of the Mario universe that’s been tweaked is coins. No longer are you aiming to collect 100 to get another life for Mario or even a star (or moon in this case). In fact, there aren’t even lives in Odyssey so if you die you just get some gold coins taken away from your stash. There isn’t even the classic ‘Game Over’ screen.
In this game there are both gold and purple coins, the latter is used as actual currency and the ones you collect will only be usable in each kingdom. You’ll need the purple coins to buy things like moons or outfits which we’ll look at next.
With purple coins there are a limited number to collect in each kingdom and once you’ve collected one going back to it’s location will show a outline as they can only be collected once.
As ever Nintendo is all about the details and it’s neat that the purple coins are different shape to match each kingdom.
Hats and Outfits
In many games, being able to buy different outfits for your character is a purely aesthetic element – a bit of fun or even a way to make you buy in-game currency. In Super Mario Odyssey it’s not only fun but can be essential.
Not only does it give Mario enough different looks to rival London Fashion Week – we particularly like the suit that makes him look like a New York gangster – but you’ll need to have the right outfit to access secret and hidden parts of levels. For example, you’ll need to dress as a workman in New Donk City.
You can wear any hat or outfit at any time and mix and match if you want. It’s also a nice touch that many of the costumes reference older games from Nintendo’s history.
There’s a part of Odyssey which has seemingly been lifted from Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and that’s no bad thing. It also harks back to Paper Mario titles.
In the game Mario can turn into a 2D version of himself that looks like it’s painted onto a wall, so a small section of level plays like an old-school platformer.
It’s just another element that makes it fun and Mario even retains whatever costume he’s wearing. The music also changes to 8-bit which just adds to the charm of this feature and some enemies will even transition between the 2D and 3D worlds.
Last but not least is amiibo which can be used with Odyssey. Three new amiibo for Super Mario Odyssey – Mario, Peach and Bowser – will all be available in white wedding outfits.
Nintendo has also said ‘some’ previously release amiibo will work with the game. Tapping one will give you gameplay assistance and some will unlock outfits for Mario to wear.
You might be interested in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Nintendo might be working on an N64 Classic Mini.
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