Mario’s globetrotter adventure shows Nintendo hasn’t lost its magic

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“We have worked to fill Super Mario Odyssey with as many surprises as possible, so people can play and experience a Mario game that they have never seen before, ”explained Super Mario Odyssey producer Yoshiaki Koizumi and his director Kenta Motokura, in a letter attached to our review code. In the first moments of Super Mario Odyssey, it is clear that they have succeeded. Even after the credits roll, there are still plenty of secrets to uncover – and you’ll desperately want to delve into every aspect of Mario’s new adventure.

My insatiable desire to find all the secrets hidden in Super Mario Odyssey maybe because it’s been seven years since Nintendo gave us a delicious 3D Mario game with the excellent Super mario galaxy 2. Sure, World of Super Mario 3D landed in between, but it was an entirely different beast, riffing on the classic Super mario world titles instead of relying on the brilliance of 3D platform systems Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sun.

Fortunately, Super Mario Odyssey was worth this wait of nearly ten years. In fact, what Nintendo created is easily beyond anything that came before in the Super Mario series of games. Not only is this the best 3D release Mario has ever made – yes, even more than Super Mario 64 – it is one of the most fantastic platform games ever made.

Super Mario Odyssey review: your princess isn’t even in a castle

Back to the traditional Super Mario history, Bowser is at the center of Super Mario Odysseythe plot of. As always, the King of the Koopas has kidnapped Princess Peach from the Mushroom Kingdom and plans to marry her. To carry out his plan and have the most fantastic wedding ceremony of any land, Bowser travels the world to collect rare artifacts from every realm – which just happen to be the perfect fit for a wedding of the ages. Alright, look: nobody picks up a Mario game while waiting Citizen Kane.

Either way, being the chivalrous type that he is, Mario kicks in to save Peach from Bowser’s clutches. However, this isn’t a straightforward adventure, so Mario teams up with a sentient hat creature Cappy to boost his abilities to bring the princess back. Together, the two travel the world to repair the damage caused by Bowser while simultaneously meeting people around the world, which gives us a glimpse of lands outside of the Mushroom Kingdom and Isle Delfino.

The duo leap from kingdom to kingdom using the eponymous airship Odyssey, gathering mysterious Power Moons to power the ship on its journey. These moons are scattered over every earth and, like the stars of Super Mario 64, require a little effort to search. The number in each realm varies wildly, some have around 20, others reach well over 60, some only have two to discover.

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Finding all those power moons, which number well over 500 in number, may seem like a chore, but that’s anything but. Unlike the previous one Super Mario titles, you’re not sent back to some sort of central world when you’ve chosen a star – whether it’s story-driven or just hidden away – instead, it all goes on.

Super Mario Odyssey review: Doff your Cappy

This is due to the fact Super Mario Odyssey is not a set of closed levels. It’s not quite the “open world” that it was mistaken for when it was first unveiled, but each level functions as a free-form sandbox, an exploration playground. These spaces are not as large as any environment in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or to come Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but they are larger than the spaces seen in the previous one Super Mario securities. Despite this, they are still so tight and expertly designed to encourage play.

Anyone worried that Cappy’s inclusion is a repeat of Super Mario SunFLUDD, which divides, does not have to worry. I’ve always been firmly on the pro-FLUDD side, but Cappy is a whole different beast – he perfectly accompanies Mario’s abilities. His attacks accentuate Mario’s hard butt head butt and slam; its ability to function as a platform in the air or a beacon to dive towards improving Mario’s crossing abilities. Rather, it feels like an extension of Mario, rather than a tool waiting to be used.

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Combine Cappy’s abilities with excellent level design and Super Mario Odyssey is unequivocally the best entry in the series to date. It really helps that it’s overflowing with content – even after the credits roll there is a lot more to do – but OdysseyThe triumphs of go beyond just content, it’s a triumph of design.

Visually, it’s stunning, and not just for a Switch title. I expected nothing less than the best from Nintendo, but every world is imbued with so much life. The effervescent waters of Seaside Kingdom’s Bubblaine sparkle and burst, while the sticky caramel and hot candy lava of Luncheon Kingdom’s Mount Volbono oozes and bubbles as if you can almost feel the heat radiating from it.

Super Mario Odyssey review: Verdict

It would obviously be more controversial – and certainly more media – to list certain aspects of Super Mario Odyssey. It’s by no means perfect, but what game is it actually? Its final content is extensive, but undoubtedly a bit repetitive and if you’ve never been a fan of Super Mario games, it will not be the game to influence you. However, if you are, Super Mario Odyssey is a real tour de force.

Nintendo Switch owners have been spoiled, and the console hasn’t even been released for a year. Not content to run alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – the best open world game since The Witcher III – nine months later, we have another strong contender for the 2017 Game of the Year.

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Not only is it the best entry into the Super Mario series yet, but it’s packed with thoughtful game design that encourages you to explore and play. It’s a universe of endless possibilities and moments where you feel like you’ve managed to pull one over the creators by creating a cheeky shortcut – regardless of how it was almost certainly designed to be that way. It’s a title that distills everything that makes Nintendo wonderful. Just as Lego rekindles a passion for creativity regardless of your age, Super Mario Odyssey reminds you why you fell in love with games in the first place.


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