A new Mario adventure for a new console is always an exciting prospect, and with the release of Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch, Nintendo proved themselves still capable of turning out masterpieces. In Odyssey, we have proof that Mario is still the king of gaming, with his latest quest a strong contender for the Game of the Decade.
Story-wise, Odyssey doesn’t provide much new. Bowser is back, this time intent on marrying Princess Peach. When she rejects his advances, he kidnaps her, and Mario sets off in pursuit to rescue his damsel in distress. After initial failure, Mario winds up in the neighbouring Cap Kingdom, where we see the first major new addition when Mario encounters Cappy. Cappy takes the form of his hat and grants Mario the power to temporarily capture other creatures, thus being able to use their abilities. It’s a simple mechanic, but it adds a whole new layer of challenge and fun to the game.
The capture mechanic lets you take control of Mario fan favourites, such as a Cheep-Cheep or a Goomba (and, in the finale, the most satisfying capture of them all, which I won’t spoil here). The platforming is challenging without being excessively hard, with most of the challenge being in understanding how to best use the skills you can now acquire via other creatures. To get a Power Moon from the female Goomba, players must possess another and form a huge tower of Goombas, attracting the female so she’ll gift it to you. You can take over a T-Rex, something that is always fun and, when you notice the little Mario moustache, hilarious.
The game is a masterclass in originality and level design
The Power Moon is the main collectable of this game, and they’re hidden to encourage you to explore the various Kingdoms in which the Odyssey lands. With worlds as expansive, as varied and as stunning as you’ll find in Odyssey, you won’t need much encouragement to get lost in this game. You’ve got worlds ranging from deserts to woodlands, from the moon to the much-hyped Metro Kingdom, a New York-inspired world that brought Mario’s former love interest, Pauline, back into the Mario universe. Nintendo works the Switch to the max, using every last bit of its advanced hardware to make Odyssey an absolute treat to look at and play.
The proliferation of Power Moons and collectables means there’s a lot to do during and after the game. It’s a testament to how fun the experience is that you’ll want to seek out the last few moons you need to complete a Kingdom. Some of the Moons are concealed in dastardly clever ways, and they force you to think about how you’re playing. I like games to be tough but fair, not excessively difficult for the hell of it, and Odyssey follows this line perfectly. The game is a masterclass in originality and level design, with innovation shining through in every kingdom.
Mario games have always showcased of Nintendo at its best. With Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo has somehow both played to its strengths whilst re-writing the traditional Mario formula, turning out one of the plumber’s best adventures yet. A list of any decade’s best games should feature at least one Super Mario big hitter, and this one is no different – Mario has always been the king of platforming, and the sheer joy contained in this game is definitely proof of that.