Super Mario 64 was the first 3D platformer to blow the genre out of the water in an immense way, leading to many others following this formula and the continuation of the series. It wasn’t until the first Switch reveal trailer that players finally got the first look into the latest true 3D entry since the sequel to Galaxy that would become Super Mario Odyssey. Although it was just a short clip initially that fans wouldn’t learn more about until the beginning of this year, they were immediately excited for more we would get to see. With quite the legacy of beloved titles to uphold, Odyssey sets off with Mario once again in one of his grandest adventures yet.
Odyssey begins without missing a beat, with Mario and Bowser locked in a battle over Princess Peach. The battle leans towards Bowser’s favor as he manages to best Mario and send him tumbling off the side of his airship, crushing his iconic hat in the process. Fortunately for Mario, a nearby creature by the name of Cappy had witnessed the fight and comes to his aid. Cappy explains to Mario that his sister Tiara has also been captured by Bowser and the two decide to team up in order to get their companions back. After managing to secure a flying ship called the Odyssey from a nearby kingdom, the two are free to begin exploring the world while trying to stop Bowser and his new crew of baddies from setting up a wedding.
The world of Odyssey is quite large, with a good variety of kingdoms to be explored at ones own pace. Progression to kingdoms is fairly linear, with a split path occasionally becoming available. After landing, Mario must collect a set number of moons in order to move on to the next. This task won’t usually take long, as moons are available around nearly every corner waiting to be discovered. Some of these are simply out in the open while others may require puzzles or boss fights to obtain. Unlike previous 3D titles, Mario isn’t warped out of a kingdom every time he manages to collect one of these moons. Instead he keeps progressing through the level normally, which not only speeds things along but makes gameplay flow much more naturally. There are a few times where Mario will be moved back to the ship after collecting a moon, but these are almost always story-related stopping points.
Aside from over 500 moons that can be collected, Mario will also collect his usual gold coins and some all new purple coins. Gold coins allow Mario to purchase similar items in each kingdom which gradually get unlocked as he collects more moons. Purple coins are unique to each kingdom and allow the purchase of outfits and items unique to that area. While the costumes are mostly cosmetic they add a great amount of variety in what the popular plumber can wear on his adventure and occasionally come into play for collecting moons.
As with 3D titles before it, Odyssey comes with a slew of moves for Mario to pull off both old and new. The biggest new addition is Cappy himself, who acts as Mario’s invaluable hat. Using Cappy allows Mario to attack enemies, bounce to high places or even possess a variety of enemies, animals and people. The possession takes on a big role, allowing them to break objects they wouldn’t otherwise be able to and solve puzzles with the help of whatever creature he manages to take control of. Some enemies and bosses can’t be defeated without the help of possessing another creature so Mario must take full advantage when he can in order to get through anything, or anyone, blocking his path.
The fluidity in Odyssey is the best presented in any 3D Mario title by far. Every move he can pull off feels extremely satisfying, with Cappy adding a brand new way to get around quickly. Throwing holding the button keeps Cappy in place temporarily and creates a hat trampoline to vault from. For newcomers to 3D Mario, there are plenty of signs that appear throughout each kingdom that will teach players about each of the moves that can be pulled off and a handy action guide that lists them all whenever needed. For an even bigger change up, a second player can hop in and play as Cappy to assist Mario. They can freely roam as Cappy to attack enemies, collect coins and even take control of other creatures for Mario in an enjoyable cooperative scenario.
When it comes to visuals, Mario titles always do a great job taking advantage of the system they’re on and Odyssey is no exception. Some things might be easy to miss at first, but the wonderfully-colorful world in Odyssey is filled to the brim with details on every surface and landscape. Each kingdom comes fully equipped with a delightful soundtrack to fit every scenario. Classic remixed tunes will pop in during trial areas, while new songs mix genres for a wonderful variety to listen to while traversing the world. Later down the road a music player is unlocked which allows any song to be played regardless of the current location to really set the mood.
Mario has over thirty years of history behind him and yet Odyssey manages to mix those feelings of old titles with new ideas for a fresh take on a genre everyone is familiar with. Whether in it for a simple fun time or looking to play Odyssey to completion, there’s tons to be enjoyed by every player that will keep pulling them back for more. Mario’s trip across the world is one of pure, simple joy that simply shouldn’t be missed. Super Mario Odyssey is nothing short of a love letter to the series as a whole and a title no Switch owner should be without.