That subtitle isn’t part of the game by the way, that’s just my opinion that this is the greatest Mario game ever created. Better than the previous holder Super Mario World, better than Mario 64, certainly better than Super Mario Sunshine. It’s a masterpiece in design and boy do I love it.
With other Mario games there’s usually one level or moment that doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience, but is an area of the game where you quickly want to do the minimum requirement, get out and explore someplace else. Usually the water-based worlds such as these have always been my kryptonite when it comes to platform games. There’s no such part of Mario Odyssey.
Every world is perfectly crafted. See a little ledge that seemingly goes nowhere? Have a look because everything in this game has a purpose whether it be hidden coins or a Moon. Moons are this games Stars or Shines, and in this game, there’s over 900 of them. Not all are available from the beginning; once the credits roll it almost feels like another game opens up with even more Moons becoming available. It is the largest Mario game to date from what I can tell and not one part of it feels padded or uninspired, it’s a marvellous achievement.
After the credits have rolled following one of the best final sequences in Mario history, you’re thrown back into the game and you still won’t stop playing, wanting to find everything you can. It’s a massive game in the style of a Mario 64 or Mario Sunshine. While Mario 3D World and the New Mario Bros series are fine, they felt limited in their exploration. Odyssey is the complete opposite, with exploration being the key.
Every world you visit has a unique feel to it, normally falling into your usual world stereotypes (a lava world, beach, ice, forest etc.) Some of them though have twists on the formula, so the lava world for example is set inside a world full of food, with a volcano cooking a giant pot of stew. There’s a great variety and all come with creatures you can possess with the power of Cappy.
Like a weird David Lynch-ian nightmare, Mario can throw his cap at certain enemies and possess them like some sort of monster. These then come with their own set of abilities, such as the frogs that can jumps super high, a bullet bill that acts just as they would in a regular Mario game and even a T Rex. It’s the strangest Mario game yet, but also from a gameplay perspective, the most rewarding. Oh, and then there’s New Donk City.
From the initial game reveal all anyone was talking about was New Donk City. Like a level from Sonic Adventure, the trailer showed Mario hanging around with regular humans. It was a bizarre sight coupled with the fact that Pauline had returned (as the Mayor), a character not seen since she was kidnapped by the original Donkey Kong. And that one little addition encompasses the affection for the history of the Mario franchise.
Everything in the game feels like a celebration. All the returning enemies, the music, the 2D sections and without spoiling it, the special post game area you find yourself in. It’s a love letter from Nintendo to the fans. And that’s what makes it so special. The only criticism I can come up with is there should be more of it. Others may bemoan the use of motion controls, which is a little harsh, especially as they are nowhere near as excruciatingly awful as Breath of the Wild, a game which has become immune to criticism (more on that in my next article)!
If you were on the fence about purchasing a Switch, then the time is now. It’s worth it.