Spin the wheel and take a chance on a brand new ‘Super Mario’ adventure, as Mario takes his second step into the Nintendo Switch’s growing library, with his first title being “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle”. “Super Mario Odyssey” is the first sandbox “Super Mario” game since 2002’s “Super Mario Sunshine,” and the story isn’t too far off either. ‘Bowser’ brings a whole new theme to capturing ‘Princess Peach,’ as in this game, he is dead set on marrying her and has held a wedding using treasures stolen from fourteen different Kingdoms. Now you must collect Power Moons to enhance your Odyssey and advance toward Bowser’s airship. The story is pretty typical for a Mario game; it isn’t anything to write home about.
However, as with most “Super Mario” games, the story isn’t what we play these games for.
Each “Super Mario” installment attempts at creating new mechanics to further diversify the gameplay and keep the franchise feeling fresh after thirty-plus years of gaming history. “Super Mario Odyssey” does this better than any other ‘Mario’ game to date with a new character, ‘Cappy,’ and is simply a hat-based creature that lives inside ‘Mario’s’ signature cap. With this new mechanic, you can attack enemies, prolong and lengthen jumps, and most interestingly, abduct enemies and certain objects. The most important requirement for introducing a new secondary mechanic is having it feel second nature.
Thankfully, Cappy is implemented beautifully into the control scheme. Using him almost immediately feels just as natural as jumping. Abducting enemies at each level brings a level of variety and satisfaction that mops the floor with every other secondary mechanic introduced in any Mario game to date.
When controlling the classic Italian plumber, you’ll find that his movements have never felt better in any Super Mario game to date. The movement combinations recall “Super Mario 64.” The visuals are impressively beautiful, running at 900p (pixels), and 60fps (frames per second) when the Nintendo Switch system is docked, and 720p in handheld and tabletop mode. One minute you’re exploring the vibrant and colorful environments of the Luncheon Kingdom; talking to spatulas and fighting pan-throwing koopas and the next minute you’re walking through the dark, colorless and lifeless Ruined Kingdom. These different environments give the player a significant sense of scaling as if you’re actually exploring an entire world, and that is what this game is all about. The creators expertly designed the game around their intent on having a world for you to explore, and it works swimmingly.
If there was one accurate way to describe this game, it’s that it has the freedom and exploration of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” and the collectathon gameplay of “Banjo-Kazooie.” As incredibly dense each Kingdom is, it’s a little bit of a shame that you’re given similar to identical tasks between these Kingdoms. There are fourteen kingdoms and you’ll find yourself completing the same tasks fourteen times. Though this is the case, these tasks don’t make themselves mandatory for completing the game, as said tasks are only to be completed if you want to collect more Power Moons than necessary.
This can, in fact, give completionists an easier time to collect every Power Moon because they know which tasks they have to look out for, and trust that there is a lot to do. The fact that there are so many ways to go about jumping the highest cliffs, solving engaging puzzles, or even choosing whether to collect more than enough Power Moons, is a good indication of the game’s vast target demographic. Anyone can pick up the game and play it as they like.
“Super Mario Odyssey” is a beautifully gift-wrapped present to seasoned “Super Mario” fans who’ve been playing the classic platforming series since “Super Mario 64.” The game offers a wide variety of gameplay options, with a few exceptions regarding tasks. The expectations were as high as the tallest buildings you can explore in the Metro Kingdom, and rest assured, these expectations are certainly met. The amount of exploration and post-game material offers more replayability than any game in the franchise to date.
Simply put, this is one of the best Mario games we have seen in a long time, and that is quite a statement considering the franchise’s winning streak of amazing games. When you’ve beaten the game’s story, and the first question that pops into your head is, “what can they possibly do next?” then you know you’ve done your job as a well-respected development team.
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