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Posted on November 2, 2017 3:13 pm Leave your thoughts

Super Mario Odyssey Review

The Cap-Trick

Ever since Karen became the life of the rooftop party a year ago, Nintendo’s first ever glimpse of what would now be known as super Mario odyssey was shown to salivating fans everywhere during a three minute reveal trailer. What wasn’t known at the time, is that in the surprisingly few months following, Nintendo would not only release their new hybrid console, not only have a Zelda game at launch lauded as one of the greatest games of all time, but also right so many other wrongs that sceptics turned their doubts into intrigue, and beyond. 

Backing up a little, it wasn’t always this way for the big N, especially over the last two years in the home console space. Embarrassed by the poor reception of the WII U, the company kept it on life support long enough to make the transition onto new hardware as seamless as possible. Even pulling the same trick they did with Twilight princess releasing on the GameCube/ Wii, the Nintendoure we Switch launched with Breath of the Wild in March of this year. During the summer there was a sequel to their popular online third person squid/ kid paint shooter Splatoon, brand new motion controlled brawler IP ARMS and a deluxe rerelease of the peerless Mario Kart 8. But it was E3 this year. Just this year that Odyssey was fully realised by the public as a potential and legitimate successor to the seminal 3D platformer Super Mario 64 – probably one of two Nintendo games (the other would arrive two years later) that fully demonstrated what consoles and 3D were capable of back in 1996, along with Resident Evil, final fantasy 7, metal gear solid showing where the medium could go in terms of cinematics and narrative. 

The last few years have seen the cycle repeat- with Metal Gear Solid the phantom pain signing off the (Kojima) metal gear franchise, Final Fantasy XV and RE7 being regarded as something of returns to form, as well as (ironically) Naughty Dog taking the cinematic bull by the horns on ‘next gen’ hardware with Uncharted and the Last of Us. Mario, on the other hand, had not seen such a drastic revitalisation. In 2006, Nintendo went back to 2D with ‘New super Mario Brothers’ on the DS, with iterations on the Wii and Wii U, before trying the linear-but-still-technically 3D ‘3D land’ on their similarly proved to be something of a saviour on the similarly slow stating 3DS. More importantly, ‘3D World’ on Wii U proved just how genre defining Galaxy and its sequel were. 

While the galaxy games and 3D land/ world were incredibly fun, there were some who yearned for a return to the full exploratory nature of 64 and it’s GameCube successor, Sunshine. 

After a rapturous reception at E3 2017, not least because of its uncharacteristically close release date, Super Mario Odyssey is now on the Nintendo Switch. 

Winning no prizes for originality, the titular plummer and his kidnap- prone princess lady friend have had their happily ever after sabotaged yet again but the tyrannical King Bowser. This time round, he has plans to marry the princess, with the help of a group of demented lapine wedding planners. 

After repairing the mechanical airship ‘Odyssey’, our hero is off on a globe trotting jaunt across more than a dozen kingdoms to track down and defeat his life long nemesis.  

Here Comes the Cap

The crux of the game comes in the form of sentient headwear called cappy. While Nintendo shyed away from using the term ‘possess’ in favor of the much more wholesome, family friendly ‘capture’, whenever Mario flings his new companion at a viable object (by pressing Y or shaking the joy con), he will then take its form. This is as gloriously bonkers and gleefully varied as it sounds. Some of the best and more random things that you can take over come from Mario being thrust into various real world areas and situations. If you are well seasoned with previous titles, it does at times feel like a predictable evolution of the 3D Mario formula. There’s a number of worlds, containing a certain amount of objectives to achieve in order to collect celestial currency (in this case, power moons) to power your ship and eventually take down your gigantic reptilian Moriarty. 

But from the opening kingdom, it is gloriously apparent how much of an evolution technically super Mario odyssey is. Anyone doubting the power of the Nintendo Switch (upcoming brace of Bethesda shooters Doom and Wolfenstein notwithstanding) should witness this game in motion, especially on a HDTV. there are levels of detail and depth in the lighting, textures, and particle effects the likes of which have never been seen in a Nintendo game before. Mario Kart 8 truly showed Nintendo’s potential, and despite Zelda’s gorgeous yet animated aesthetic, Odyssey is always what a 3D Mario game could look like, and it is beyond beautiful. Sand or snow sticks to clothing, hair sweeps and flows in the wind, etchings on cosmic architecture glisten and reflect. In keeping with the comparison to MK8, the orchestrated score is grand, varied and each theme fits each kingdom perfectly.. Close your eyes while in the aforementioned opening area. Listening to the tiptoeing, delicate xylophone and sweeping violins and you would be forgiven for think in you were listening to an early 90’s Burton and Elfman collaboration. 

While the game does push you in a direction to achieve certain goals to move forward, you are essentially left to your own devices for the vast majority of your adventure. Whichever way you play Odyssey, it is a constant joy to discover little secrets, new objects or characters to capture, stunning scenery to enjoy or just find something to goof about with for longer than you’d like to acknowledge. The photo mode in particular, combined with the wealth of different costumes and camera filters just might consume a few hours trying to recreate that perfect shot from a classic movie… 

Anyway, once the credits roll, there’s a whole other branch to the game that is filled with nostalgic references, more challenging platforming elements and unlock-able new areas. Smashing through the main game with the minimum number of moons will take around 6-8 hours, but that seriously is probably less than 20 percent of the whole game- it’s massive. There are also a metric ton of SPOILER-IFIC secrets if you are an old school Nintendo fan, and the set pieces deserve to be approached with no prior knowledge, as they are some of the most epic and visually impressive moments in Nintendo’s history. 

There’s also a more fleshed out coop multiplayer, with one controlling Mario, the other cappy. It sits between the ‘wand waggle’ of the galaxy games and the fully coop/ competitive chaos of new super Mario brothers or 3D world. 

If only to nitpick, the gluttonous nature of the amount of moons in the game does become a bit repetitive. The first time you perform a certain task (of which there are a few, but without spoiling anything), it’s cute, charming and funny. Doing it in every kingdom seems like overkill. Likewise, as cool and nostalgic as the costumes are to buy and try out, aside from the mandatory moon in each stage requiring the costume to unlock a door, they are collectable yet cosmetic. Lastly, although 99 percent optional, the game constantly ‘encourages you to try out’ motion control. All moves can be performed with button combos, and it’s understandable that Nintendo want to show off what the new joy con controllers can do, but it is a gripe nonetheless. 

Whereas the legend of Zelda, breath of the wild was a return to the more open world set up , allowing the player the freedom to organically unravel their adventure akin to the original, Super Mario Odyssey is a celebration of what has made 2D and 3D Mario games so mesmerising, accomplished and charming over the last few decades. There’s so much to find, so many abilities to try out, fiendish platforming and insane experimentation. There is comedy, nostalgia, wonder and complete joy in every corner of this incredible title. It’s only once a game like super Mario odyssey comes around that you realise how masterful at their craft Nintendo is, and they’ve done it twice this year. If you have the slightest passing interest in getting a Nintendo switch, you won’t find a better example of what the system was designed for. If you have ever enjoyed a Mario title, this is the best one in almost a decade, and overall the most polished and technically impressive game Nintendo has ever made. 


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This post was written by Leftover Brian

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