"When you first open Mario Odyssey, you’ll be hard-pressed not to smile within seconds. Mario is back, and he’s better than ever."
By: Jake Martin
Played On: Nintendo Switch
It must be a daunting task to continually improve on the world’s most beloved franchise, but the talented developers at Nintendo found a new way to make Mario feel fresh again.
I’ve put a little over 70 hours into Mario Odyssey, chasing down power moons and purple coins to 100% completion. I loved almost every minute of it.
Control and Gameplay
I’ve heard other people say that Mario has never felt better to control and while I agree with that statement, there’s a glaring problem with the setup you’re almost forced to use.
Using the Pro controller was my preferred method of play, but unfortunately in Mario Odyssey, to be the most effective at platforming and capturing, you benefit more by using a split Joy-Con setup. You use one to control Mario as you flick the other to throw Cappy.
This control scheme works perfectly fine, but you are lying if you think that holding two Joy Cons for extended gameplay is comfortable.
Controller gripes aside, the new capture mechanic of Mario Odyssey is fabulous. As a kid, did you ever wish that you could play as a tree in a Mario game? Well, guess what, now you can! All you gotta do is throw your trusty sidekick, Cappy, in the direction of the object that you wish to control, and BOOM, you are now a tree!
Different puzzles and areas can only be completed or accessed once you have taken control of the proper object within the level. This provides the player with an incentive to explore each Kingdom and creates some clever puzzles down the road.
When Mario Galaxy was released on the Wii, it was the first time we had seen HD Mario on the TV screen. With Mario Odyssey, whether you’re playing in docked mode or TV mode, this game is gorgeous.
In classic Nintendo fashion, this game directly benefits from impressive art direction. There are a few odd areas that look nothing like the rest of the game; Metro Kingdom or Ruined Kingdom come to mind, however, Mario never really feels out of place.
Each level in Mario Odyssey has a fantastically realized soundtrack that matches the theme of each area you’re exploring.
For example: when you enter Cap Kingdom, you’re greeted with an eerie score that’s reminiscent of the Luigi’s Mansion soundtrack. When you enter Seaside Kingdom, you hear a soothing melody that you’d likely hear playing the lobby of a nice resort. It's lovely.
Not only does this game feature a fully orchestrated soundtrack, the sound designers of Mario Odyssey went one step further to make certain sound effects in the game match with the score as you’re playing organically!
If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.
For someone who is just looking to experience the main story of Mario Odyssey, this game is plenty fine. It should take about 15 hours to complete the game without much trouble. However, if you’re a completionist, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
Each kingdom has its own set of purple coins you can collect, as well as a second set of power moons once you’ve completed the main campaign. Some levels can have as little as nine power moons and others can have well over one hundred. The total power moon count in the game is 999! Take into consideration that you only need 120 to beat the main story!
The only downside of all these collectibles is that it feels somewhat like a collect-a-thon. Certain power moons are just handed to you, others are easily obtained by just walking to a location where they are placed. 136 of the power moons are obtained simply by purchasing them from the Crazy Cap Store in any kingdom, so there’s that... If you miss a set of purple coins during your play-through of a kingdom, it can be rather annoying to re-trace your steps for the last 3 coins you need.
It should be mentioned that a free DLC update, Luigi's Balloon World, was released February 22, 2018. Players can either hide balloons across any kingdom, or locate the balloons that other players have hidden. You'll earn coins in either mode, but if you're really grinding for late-game coins you're better off sticking with the 'finding' mode. I amassed 9,999 coins in a matter of about 30 minutes.
Mario Odyssey is what I consider an essential game in your Switch library. A lot of care went into designing this game from art direction, to sound, and gameplay.
The end-game content can be a bit of a slog, but I had a blast scouring each new kingdom for secrets and hidden easter eggs.
Whether you’re experiencing Mario for the first time, or returning as a fan, Super Mario Odyssey reinvents the platforming plumber to keep things fresh, but doesn’t forget it’s roots.