Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Ever since Mario graced our screens with his presence in Super Mario Bros., Nintendo has had a surefire hit character that would sell their systems and capture our attention. Mario is usually involved with someone’s first experience with a video game and an excellent choice regardless of the entry played for the first time. No matter what age you are, you can at some level play a Super Mario game. This entry is no exception.
Violence: Mario stomps on foes to kill them like in all the other games in his franchise. This time, however, he has a new trick up his sleeve: he can become his enemies. Mario can throw his friend Cappy at certain enemies and have complete control over them. This process is shown a couple times and is not graphic or disturbing by any means. Of course, these enemies are not defenseless as most enemies attack on sight. The method of their attack varies depending on the enemy: explosion, collision, and poking to name a few. Each of these methods can be used against them as well. These abilities can sometimes even be used to traverse the environment and find solutions to puzzles that you normally be able to solve without them.
Sexual Content: Mario can be shirtless and run around in his boxers or wear Peach’s wedding dress. This is played for laughs as Bowser responds to you differently depending on your outfit. This is all optional as you need to spend coins to unlock these outfits.
Given how much there is to cover in, I will start with the gameplay. Super Mario Odyssey is a joy to control. Everything that was once difficult to do in previous titles is much easier to do now. Wall jumping, diving, ground pound jumping, and so many more movement options allow you to move around the environment smoothly and seamlessly. This is not to say pulling off movement combos will be easy. You will need to experiment if you want to collect every Power Moon and Purple Coin hidden throughout the game. I have not felt such a rush moving so smoothly in a 3D environment since 2014’s Sunset Overdrive. All of this is just from controlling Mario himself. Mario has a new ability now that lets him capture nearly every enemy and use their abilities to solve puzzles and move around the environment. Every kingdom has at least one enemy that will be used for most puzzles in that specific kingdom. One of my favorites is the Pokio enemy that lets you stick to wall and flick yourself upward to climb trees and buildings.
With this being a Super Mario title we have to deal with Bowser, the dastardly King of Koopas who has kidnapped our beloved Princess Peach…again. This time, however, he has come with the intent of marriage. He has also brought with him not just his regular army, but also the dastardly wedding planners, the Broodals. These enemies have the appearance of a rabbit and will do whatever they can to prevent you from getting to wedding and ensuring Bowser’s single status. This is where the talk of bosses comes up. You fight each of the Broodals at least twice; these fights are mainly pushovers and not very inventive—many of the bosses in Super Mario Odyssey are, in fact. All bosses are fought in three phases and injured as many times by jumping on their heads. On occasion though, there are some bosses that require you to use Cappy to capture a nearby enemy to beat the boss. These are the best bosses, but considering there are three or so of these out of around twenty boss battles in the game, it is a little disappointing.
The seventeen kingdoms in the game are all varied and very beautiful to look at. Every kingdom has tons of nooks and crannies that hide the aforementioned moons and coins. From the Cap Kingdom to the extremely difficult Darker Side Kingdom, I have not seen this much variety in a game’s world in a while. Everything comes to life with new enemies, bosses, and platforming challenges. When you explore, you are rewarded for experimenting with what you are given. There are some sections of the game where when you enter a pipe, you are taken to 8-bit styled levels. These are all really neat call backs to the NES era of Mario. A nice touch is that the outfit Mario is wearing at the time will also change to the 8-bit style.
Gone away are lives and game over screens. You now just need coins to continue playing. Anytime you bite the dust, you lose 10 coins and are sent back to a checkpoint. Even if you have no coins in your possession, the game will let you continue playing anyway. This mildly makes all the deaths you will have on your journey feel cheap and dare I say meaningless. It removes all the dread, excitement, anxiety, and pride you once had for having a single life left and losing it only to win the fight the next life. This is not to say that these issues can not be overlooked considering how much fun you will have leading up to any encounter that kicks you to the ground.
Overall, Super Mario Odyssey is an amazing game. The controls and platforming feel better than ever. Nintendo has knocked it out of the park with the Switch’s launch year with regards to this first party title. If you were wondering about what you should choose for your first Switch game, you can do no wrong with Super Mario Odyssey.
The Bottom Line
Even if the motion controls are annoying and the bosses and story are uninspired, the gameplay and environments make you forget any complaints you would have. You will have a great time exploring the Mushroom Kingdom like you did in previous Mario titles.