Magical, marvelous masterpiece

“Super Mario Odyssey” is the game of the decade

By Christian Hollis and Alexis Tucker

Managing Editor and Arts and Entertainment Editor

Rating 5/5
“Super Mario Odyssey” is the newest main-line 3D Mario game for the Nintendo Switch. The game is long overdue for life-long Mario fans that have been craving a new 3D Mario game for Nintendo’s hybrid console, the Switch. This game review is painted with a broad brush, but some things maybe spoiled.

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Image from Nintendo

“Super Mario Odyssey” starts off like any other Mario game, Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach with the goal of marrying her without interference from anyone, his enemy Mario included. Mario is magically expelled to the Cap Kingdom upon failing to rescue Peach from Bowser. Mario wanders this mysterious kingdom to discover that the citizens are sentient, ghostly looking hats and quickly meets Cappy, who shares his sentiments toward the evil Bowser. In the process of kidnapping Cappy’s sister Tiara, Bowser destroyed the Cap Kingdom and their airship armada.

Cappy and Mario must travel to the Cascade Kingdom to restore the Odyssey, a destroyed airship, with power moons. Power moons are collectible items that take the role of stars from previous Mario games as the main driving force in progression. After the Odyssey is restored, Mario and Cappy’s worldwide adventure truly begins.

It is a simple story that is expected from a main-line Mario game, but what makes it so different from others is its pace. There is never a time in “Super Mario Odyssey” where progression feels slow and dragged-out by minor setbacks. While progressing through the story, players are introduced to completely new kingdoms upon collecting enough moons, each of which feels completely different from the previous one. All kingdoms are inspired by real-life cultures, such as New Donk City which brings an American feel. This keeps the game feeling fresh as the story goes on.

The perfect game-play formula 

Not many games are able to mimic the feeling of a perfect triple jump or a long jump that the 3D Mario games have since 1996’s “Super Mario 64.” “Super Mario Odyssey” accomplishes that and more, with help from moves such as the ability to jump on top of Cappy for an extra step or Cappy’s dive jump. These extra move sets are great for getting around kingdoms, as well as exploiting areas to get around faster.

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Cappy evolves the tradition 3D Mario game-play formula. (Image from The Verge)

“Super Mario Odyssey” has a great control scheme that capitalizes on the Switch’s Joy-Cons by using the HD Rumble feature and small play in motion controls. The HD Rumble is used to locate buried power moons in an area. The closer the player is to a buried moon, the harder the Joy-Cons will rumble to be uncovered by Mario’s classic ground pound. Motion controls can also be used for optional actions, such as the ability for the player to move the Joy-Cons upward to make Mario throw Cappy up in the air. The new capture ability replaces power-ups from previous Mario titles, but players aren’t really missing the power-ups too much. Even still, players are able to buy an extra three lives at the Crazy Cap store.

A true cooperative experience

The games hidden gem is the ability to separate the Joy-Cons and hand one over to a friend for two-player. One player can control Mario with one Joy-Con while the other controls Cappy. This is a brilliant design choice as it creates interdependence between players so that neither feel left out or useless while playing, which is vital to an enjoyable two-player experience.

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Thanks to the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons, “Super Mario Odyssey” adds a couch co-op experience that is new to 3D Mario games. (Image from Polygon.)

Whether people play multiplayer or single-player, the levels flow exceptionally well. There is little confusion on where the player is supposed to go or what they should do, which may seem childish, but takes Nintendo’s main demographic of children into consideration. This isn’t a problem because there are so many things added to the game that a kid wouldn’t be able to figure out, so adults are included in the fun as well.

There are several points in the game where players may have to stop to think about how to get from point A to point B. With Cappy in the game, the platforming has become more interesting. Each world has a special section where 2D Mario returns to his classic appearance. The 2D sections are still two-player accessible, but to a much lesser extent than the rest of the game. Here, Cappy is able to make Mario float temporarily which is both helpful and challenging as having another player control a major aspect of the 2D sections and creates an interesting problem or a fun one, depending on the player.

The ability to float forced Nintendo to get creative with the level design for these 2D sections by adding new mechanics to each dimension, which adds more depth to the game. Even the most familiar parts of the game have a new and fun twist added in.

The marvelous art design

Artistically, “Super Mario Odyssey” is beautiful on the Nintendo Switch. Every square inch is utilized in creating the expansive worlds or kingdoms, each flourishing with intrinsic detail. One such world is that of the desert, where the player is initially only capable of seeing a large swath of open space and a small town. Slowly, as the player progresses, it becomes apparent that there is much to complete and do. The darker orange sand against the brightly colored characters and buildings creates beautiful contrast in this world.

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“Super Mario Odyssey” doesn’t depend on high-resolutions thanks to its vibrant color scheme. (Image from Gameranx.com)

Most levels fit into a similar style, but some really change it up. One is a kingdom where everything is super bright, bubbly and colorful, while another kingdom is more grim feeling with dark, overbearing colors, which reflects the current mood in the story. The kingdoms each have their own themes and every moon has a different color for each kingdom.

Dozens of hours to go

The best part of the game comes after the credits roll. Players still have dozens of hours to dip into. There is a total of 836 collectible power moons in “Super Mario Odyssey” and even more can be bought for 100 coins each by visiting the Crazy Cap shops. To compare, both previous entries in the series “Super Mario 64” and “Super Mario Sunshine” had only 120 stars. There are also rewards for collecting more moons than needed to complete the story, such as three additional levels and many more costumes. This creates an incentive to return to “Super Mario Odyssey” to reach 100 percent completion.

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“Super Mario Odyssey” has so much to show after the credits roll that players can experience for dozens of hours. (Image from metro.co.uk)

Overall, “Super Mario Odyssey” is the best game on the Nintendo Switch to date and arguably the best game this decade. Never before has Mario felt as polished as he does in this Switch exclusive. This game is another example of the potential greatness that can be seen in Nintendo’s hybrid console and has the potential to throw systems off the shelves. Indeed, “Super Mario Odyssey” sold over 2 million copies worldwide in its debut weekend alone, setting the game as the fourth best-selling Switch game a month before the holiday season begins. With hits like this, nothing but a bright future can be seen for Nintendo and its hybrid console.