September 20, 2017

Hands on with Super Mario Odyssey

Going hands on with a game prior to its release is always fun, but also always a letdown, the 10 or 20 minutes you get is not enough, thankfully I was invited to Nintendo Australia to get 90 minutes of hands on time with Super Mario Odyssey.

Before I was handed the controller, it was explained to me, what worlds I would have to explore and a quick refresher on the controls, having played it at E3, I did recall some of them. After that, it was time to land within the Cap Kingdom and begin exploring. The Cap Kingdom is the games tutorial space, it is where you first meat Cappy and he explains what is going on and it is where you can experiment with the capture mechanic. While there is not a lot that you can take over, there is still quite a lot to discover, but what it boils down to, is throw your hat at EVERYTHING.

Once my time within the Cap Kingdom came to a close, complete with a boss fight, I moved onto the tastiest looking kingdom around, the Luncheon Kingdom, here it was a mix of pastel colours, geometric shapes and lots and lots of food. Out of the three kingdoms that I had time in, this was by far the most difficult, purely because a lot of the ground was lava and by lava; I mean a dangerous purple substance, that I can in no way relate to anything food themed. But it also allowed for one of the coolest captures, the lava bomb guy… thing, when you capture him, you can swim in the purple not lava and jump very high. He is also capable of swimming at great speeds, by lowering himself further into the not lava, but when he does, he sounds like he is blowing bubbles, which results in laughter. However, should you step on land, you lose the capture and while there are a few sections of the map that had little islands to reach, they always had another capturable enemy nearby, so you are unlikely to get stuck.

The world was also filled with very angry tomatoes, in fact they are so angry they are red hot with rage and should you knock them back, they will melt into puddles, for a time at least. Once they are in their puddle form, you can use them when in your blob form, to cross the ground, while its not easy, it does allow for some fun exploration. Perhaps the best part though is that while the level was hard, it was full of so many different things to do, but the entire experience changed, once I had purchased the Chef Mario outfit, so Mario was running around dressed in an appropriately themed costume. This did nothing to change up the gameplay, but it fit so well with the world, it was even cooler when I went and picked up a turnip and threw it into a giant pot of stew, the result of which, made me smile.

Of course, that was only the second of the three available kingdoms, so finally it came time for the third, the Seaside Kingdom and this one was perhaps the best of them all. From the outset, this kingdom has two distinct flavours, the beaches and cliffs, with lots of tight platforming to be discovered and the large open sea, where you can explore the vast depths of the ocean. Standing on the shore and looking out, there is a lot happening and the creatures that call this place home are in dire need of help, in removing a pest that was drinking their sparkling water, but as I had discovered from the past two kingdoms and my time at E3, ignoring the big objective and exploring is just way more fun.

The first thing I did was run along the beach, until I found a Goomba, capturing him gave me the option of then jumping onto one of this pals that was nearby and thus I started to build the giant tower of Goombas. Getting a few high I went to wade across the shallow water to acquire more for my collection, only to discover that Goomba’s don’t like water, in face they tend to disappear in clouds of smoke. While I was cackling at my accidental, yet inventive way for removing the enemies, I noticed a large canyon, with mean spikey balls, barrelling down towards the shore and to the side, a sign, warning of the danger for those who want to run up there. So ignoring the sign, I ran up there and what I found was that it led me to a vantage point, which let me see even more of the world.

From up high, I could spot the Crazy Cap shops, which here, instead of being inside a building, were on the backs of sea creatures and once I had enough purple coins, I went shopping, because this was ‘that beach’. The purple coins however did not let me unlock that outfit, instead, I got a tropical shirt, but no hat, and I found a flaw with this Crazy Cap location, no wardrobe to change into things, so after a quick dash back to the Odyssey, I equipped Mario’s sombrero hat and now, I was ready for the beach. I even managed to locate a sun lounge and after a few moments, Mario got tired and decided to lay down, but for some reason, he laid down the wrong way, so I decided to opt for more clothes shopping and went to the regular store and I discovered Mario’s dark and terrible secret. After buying a wicked cool pirate costume, I noticed the outfit that showed off a lot of Mario and it was not called Swimming Mario or such, it was Boxers... when wearing those, Mario is running around in his underwear.

After discovering that secret, I headed back out in my pirate gear and was prompted by the wonderful Nintendo rep to try and find the 8-bit section and I did. What I got was 4 pipes that led me to a puzzle of sorts, with each pipe taking me to a different part of that 8-bit world and after discovering the wrong way to get the Power Moon, I finally collected it and then I went for the big boss of the level, you know the guy ignored from the start to craft towers of Goombas. Taking him down required some tricky moves, combining the capturing of new enemies and good old fashion Mario moves and the result was extremely satisfying.

While Super Mario Odyssey is still a month or so away, with my time in the game building, the hype level is getting up there as well. The kingdoms that I have explored all offer something different and I love it, the capture mechanic is still proving to be a blast and I can’t wait for more.

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