October 29, 2017

Super Mario Odyssey - Review

There are only a few characters across all mediums that are instantly known, Mickey Mouse is a prime example, Mario is another and whenever we get a new 3d Mario title, excitement always reaches quite high, but with Odyssey, the excitement is out of control but is it justified?

Super Mario Odyssey does not change things up too much with the store, Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser and Mario sets out to rescue her, the usual really, however this time, Bowser has an actual plan. It seems he thinks that by marrying the Princess, he can take control of the Mushroom Kingdom. The biggest difference is that the game starts with Mario getting his butt kicked and losing his hat, after being thrown from Browser’s ship, he lands in the Cap Kingdom and meets Cappy. As the pair make their way after Bowser, they discover that he has hired the Broodals, rabbits that the best at planning evil weddings and together, they aim to put on the fanciest of weddings ever. Of course, any wedding requires the essentials, flowers, cake, dress and so on, with each location offering up a key item for the wedding.

The addition of Cappy to the game is what makes it so different, but the core is clearly a Mario game and balance between the two is what will keep existing fans happy and draw in fresh players. The games biggest draw is the new capture mechanic really changes up the series and going forward, I hope it comes back, but with Cappy being a great character as well, he also needs to return. When you throw Cappy out, if you land on an enemy, creature or something else, you can interact with it, usually by capturing it and taking control. The first creature that you can take control over is a frog, a little nod back to the Super Mario Bros 3 frog outfit and once you are in control, you can jump a lot higher than normal, which is how you climb a giant tower. Once you make it to the top, you can release control and continue on your way and it’s a mechanic that you will use a lot over the course of the adventure.

The capture mechanic is just the tip of what is great about the game, but it’s the entire package that is near perfection, thanks to the flow the game offers, with very little in the way of roadblocks. As you start collecting the moons, the games main collectable, you will get a nice little jingle and then you are back on your way, the exception to this is the main story moons. Collecting the moons is important, because they power the Odyssey, the ship you fly around in and with each world needing a set number of moons to travel to it, thankfully they can be found everywhere. The number of moons can’t be understated, and it really helps that the game does all it can to get out of your way, with multiple locations offering up handfuls of power moons, long before you tackle the main objective for that world.

Each world also has more moons than you can shake a stick at and it is the discovery of them that gives the amount of joy that players of Super Mario 64 will remember, something the Mario series lost over the years. In each world, you will see a moon in plain sight, sometimes a wall or block might seem out of place and if you investigate it, you will likely be rewarded with a moon. There are challenge rooms and pipes that lead to harder sections, but the reward is another moon and even then, 8-bit sections usually hide some important secrets. But the exploration does not stop there, in the Food Kingdom, I was making my way up towards the town and as I turned the camera around, I saw that I could back flip onto the walls I just ran past, so I did and low and behold another moon. That is what you need to understand, exploring the world is not just going on the path that is laid before you and not going off the beaten path, its ignoring any path and going everywhere. As you explore, you will find that you want to revisit parts of the worlds again and again, with different captures, just to see what you can find again.

Super Mario Odyssey is also a gorgeous game and while it won’t it beat out Uncharted, the artistic quality is far superior, and it shows, the attention to detail across everything is stunning. Cappy is a great character, which is something as most of the time you only see his eyes, but those eyes are so expressive and when he is in his normal form he is just as impressive. But it’s not just the characters, the worlds are also so incredible, be it the dinosaur inspired world, the ice kingdom or others, they are so full of details and the inhabitants of said worlds, each part is so wonderfully crafted, they just work so well and look so good, exploring the worlds is something you will want to do. The design of the Broodals is a little bit of a miss, previous Mario enemies are all standouts, this time though, the Broodals just seem cheap.

The game also offers up lots of ways for you to interact with it, at any time you can press the down button on the d-pad and you are instantly in a photo editor. Here you can move the camera around the scene, zoom in and out and basically line up your shot and snap your perfect picture, but the game still adds more. Once you are ready to take your shot, you can do so, by applying anyone of several filters, from oil painting, fisheye and even SNES, the amount of visual polish you can add is immense. Once you have beaten the main story line, the game also adds the option for you to listen to any track from any world you have visited, at any time; which means you can run through the opening world, with the last worlds music playing, if you so desire.

For every single part of the presentation that is out of the park, the music matches hit for hit, with a score that is just something that I want to own outside of it. Each of the games worlds has a track that matches, the sand kingdom has a Latin theme and it’s easy enough to just stop and listen; in addition, each world has the 8-bit section, they have an 8-bit version of those tunes, that blend with the larger score, the music is just superb. The sounds of the worlds are also vastly different, but help to sell their own uniqueness, the Cap Kingdom is devoid of a lot of sounds, but with how it begins, the sounds that are there, help to sell it. Whereas New Donk City is bustling with the sounds of taxis and people moving around the place, each world has a real sense of life, thanks to the sounds that the game offers.

Super Mario Odyssey does an incredible job of providing joy for the player, around each corner there is something new to discover and once the credits roll, there is even more to find. While it pays homage to the games that came before it, Mario has finally leaped into the modern day with a fantastic entry, but most importantly a fun game.

Thanks to Nintendo Australia for providing a copy of the game.

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