This review is late, very late in fact but there’s a very good reason why this review of Super Mario Odyssey is late. Probably the last one to hit the interwebs and the reason is…I just couldn’t tear myself away from it. It’s so perfectly crafted from the bite sized levels to the exquisite music playing throughout the levels.
The story is predictable to say the least however this is part of the charm of any Mario game. Yet again, Princess Peach finds herself in peril when forever bad guy Bowser kidnaps her with the intention of marrying her. I don’t even know how that would work? Anyways, Mario sets off on a rescue mission around various lands that are all diverse, satisfying and amazingly visualised. Let’s start at the beginning. All levels while new, pay homage is some way or another to past levels in Mario games. From a modernised water level, lava level, sky level and more, it’s so hard not to feel nostalgic when you find yourself comparing what you’re playing with past Mario titles.
I mean just take a look at these pics in this review (thanks Nintendo) but seriously…how beautiful does this game look? And playing it in handheld mode is a wonder for the eyes even if it a drainer on the Switch battery. I know I mentioned this before, but these levels have been crafted at perfect playing times for public transport. If you’re just playing straight through without wanting to get 100%, these levels will test you up until the obligatory boss battle. The boss battles themselves have foes that are varied and fun to beat with different techniques required to master if you want to get the better of them.
The game really showcases the free roaming, open world design very well with literally everything that can be climbed, bounced on, ridden on or interacted with in one form or another. And they’re a real feast for the eyes as well varying from cartoony levels right through to levels with the photo realism ramped right up, every level is a joy to play. You have a certain amount of Power Moons to find in each level, with a different minimum amount needed to power up your ship, The Odyssey, allowing you to travel between worlds.
The gameplay is usual fare, bouncing on enemies to dispose of them or throwing your cap, possessed by a spirit called Cappy, at them. Most enemies can be controlled in this manner giving you new abilities from flying, smashing through obstacles, not slipping on ice and heaps more. In a cute touch, when you possess an enemy in this manner, they get the familiar Mario moustache on their face. Ever seen a Goomba with a Mario moustache? Cute or even better, a T-Rex? Where else can you see this? There are various checkpoints littered throughout the levels which allow you to warp from one to another to get to the other side of the level really quickly without risking being wiped out by an enemy.
In an absolute stroke of genius, scattered in various location across the level are stages where you get absorbed into the background and it becomes an 8-bit version of the game and changes from 3D to old school side scrolling platform game complete with retro sounds and music.
The levels also have stores in which you can spend your hard earned coins on various outfits from shorts to a dapper suit, samurai suit and so many more. You can also buy stickers for the Odyssey and knick knacks for the inside of your ship. The outfits themselves aren’t just for aesthetic reasons, there are sections in the levels that can only be accessed if you’re dressed appropriately so if you want to complete everything then these are a must and will have you doing even more exploring to find all the coins.
The game features a two player mode where another player controls Cappy but this requires the utmost coordination and communication as often Mario will be running one way while your friend is throwing Cappy in the opposite direction. Expect many arguments playing this way like any good co-op game.
There’s a neat feature where you can go into picture mode and even apply Instagram like filters which are fun to play with. This mode is highly customisable and lends itself to some stunning pictures. This feature rounds out an already tightly packed game filled to brim with amazing gameplay, lush visuals, stupid over the top fun, music that you’ll find yourself humming when you least expect it and a throwback to other awesomely fun Mario games such as Super Mario Galaxy. Super Mario Odyssey is magical, charming, full of that “one more go” feeling and an absolute must buy, system seller for the Switch. Nintendo have crafted yet another highly memorable Super Mario title and one that will keep you playing for ages if you want to find all the Power Moons and coins. Super Mario Odyssey will be at the front of your gaming shelf not pushed to the back with lesser played games. Welcome back, Mario…we’ve missed you.
Final score: 10/10