Let me start by saying one of my first gaming experiences ever, was Super Mario Bros on the original Nintendo some 30+ years ago. In 2017 we have the latest in a long line of Mario games with Super Mario Odyssey and exclusively on the Nintendo Switch its a brilliant edition of the franchise and exactly what the console needed.
New in this title, you can now throw Mario’s hat (known as Cappy) as an attack to fend off the enemies. This is complimented by a number of other attacks like ground pounds or the more traditional, jump on their heads. The game has some very new, very refreshing elements to gameplay, like the ability to take over control of enemies. At times, you’ll have to do this to progress in the game.
In the case of Chain Chomps, you can use them like a slingshot and break walls, or to take down other enemies. In the case of Goombas, you can leverage their better footwear so you don’t slide on ice, or jump to the top of a stack of Goombas and reach coins not possible with Mario’s own height. Nintendo took it to the next level by letting you even control a T-Rex. There’s also times where you’ll need to ‘capture’ bullets to reach locations you can’t otherwise access. This is limited by time, so be quick. In the game, there’s actually 52 different objects, items or characters you can ‘capture’ and these are available to tick off like achievements in the lists screen (press + or -, then LB).
In terms of the level design, there’s lots to explore with huge 3D spaces to explore and discover and you’ll be rewarded with bonuses when you do. Because the levels are so vast, you’ll often need some assistance to speed things up, so you’ll take opportunities where you can to cruise in vehicles.
Of course any Super Mario game wouldn’t be complete without good friends like Princess Peach and enemies like Bowser. Speaking of enemies, bosses are a well implemented combination of sequencing and randomness, giving you the chance to learn how they work, then overcome them and achieve that feeling of satisfaction that keeps you coming back. I think Nintendo strikes the right balance in terms of difficulty, with mild frustration at times, but your destiny is ultimately something you still feel in control of (looking at you Cuphead).
At the heart of the experience, you’ll collect Moons to progress to the next level, ultimately used to power up your airship, the Odyssey, and rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. While the premise isn’t new, the vast array of environments and challenges (some 2D) makes this sandbox-style 3D Mario adventure a brilliant update to the Super Mario 64 which came out way back in 1996.
When it comes to negatives, its honestly hard to find many. If I had to list my biggest annoyance, its that actions accelerated using the motion of the joy-con controllers feels a little forced. If someone wants to play through the game with the controllers attached, they should be disadvantaged. It would have been trivial to find a button combination to achieve the same functionality.
The only other complaint is that there’s no online multiplayer, something that would definitely extend its replay-ability long term.
Price and Availability
The game launched on the 27th of October and will cost you A$69.00 from retailers like JB Hi-Fi, or my preferred method, direct from the Nintendo Store on the Switch.
If you don’t have a Nintendo Switch, then you need to know there’s a dedicated version of the Switch for A$539.00 which includes the console and the game.
If you own a Nintendo Switch, buy this game, you won’t be sorry. Take your pick between joy-cons on or handheld, but regardless, the fun little challenges and open-ended nature of exploring massive 3D environments with the colour and depth of character design is just brilliant. Nintendo developers, take a bow, you really have done the franchise proud.
If you’re not yet a Switch owner, then this may indeed be the title that tips it over the edge for you.
- Some actions improved by motion controls