Super Mario Odyssey is what the Switch was built for

A new bromance

by on September 20, 2017
 

There are few constants in video games, but Mario has always been there. He’s the guy we turn to for a lark – for a break from stressful days at work and other hardships we must deal with. For over 30 years, the former plumber and all-round megastar has been a source of entertainment no other franchise can provide. Through all the consoles and handhelds he’s called home over the years, the time has come to see what kind of Mario platformer Nintendo can bring to the Switch.

Is Mario sill relevant 2017? Is he better off settling down with Princess Peach, having a few kids and making the most out of all the gold coins he’s collected since his days on the NES? I recently played an hour and a half of Super Mario Odyssey, and thankfully, it is ticking all the boxes. In fact, Super Mario Odyssey is shaping up very nicely indeed. It’s full of colour, and has some of the smartest concepts I’ve ever seen in a Mario game before. I got to see three different kingdoms, and each one was different to the last. Firstly, there was Cap Kingdom, and this was where you meet Cappy for the first time. The other two kingdoms, Luncheon and Seaside Kingdom were brimming with great ideas and mechanics, featuring the closest thing to an open world we’ve ever witnessed in a Mario game – much more advanced than the kind of worlds we’ve seen in Sunshine and 64.

Cap Kingdom is a dark place, and despite the grey and black environment you find yourself in, you’re soon introduced to Cappy, and things start to get much better. Controlling Cappy is ever so easy, and right from the start it was clear just how many different things Cappy can interact with. For example, I had to reach the top of this tall mountain made up of many platforms. There was no way Mario was getting up there, so I had a nosey around and found a frog sitting there, minding its own business. I flung Cappy in his direction and voila, a frog with a mustache.

Together we bounced so high we got to the top of the mountain fast. Some of the levels on the mountain had doors only Mario could go through, but when I needed Froggy back, it was a case of pressing a button. At the top of the mountain I met one of the three bosses I ended up fighting. The first boss was one of the Broodals – a weird group of fugly rabbits hired by Bowser for his wedding to Peach. After sussing their attack patterns you’ll take them down quickly, but the fights are cool, and they’re fun characters.

As fun an introduction as Cap Kingdom was, it wasn’t the big, open world adventure I was expecting, but it wasn’t supposed to be. It was a tease for what was to come. Luncheon Kingdom was a fantastic area, and there was plenty of things for me to find. There were huge oceans of purple goop, breakable yellow blocks, multi-colored plants and loads of cool ways to use Cappy. It took me a while to find a way across the purple seas because there were no platforms for me to jump across, but there was a yellow spherical fireball jumping out of the sludge.

I threw Cappy at it and became the ball, allowing me to move freely and get across to the land in the distance. Another moment that I loved about Luncheon Kingdom was throwing Cappy at one of the Hammer Bros. that kept trying to hit me. I could take control of him and use the hammers to break through a wall that was blocking a walkway. One of those damn Broodals showed up as well, but I could take him out between those moments when he was shooting liquid at me Splatoon style.

The final Kingdom I got to explore was easily the best, and the biggest. Seaside Kingdom was a bustling utopia filled with sun, sea, sand, and loads of Cheep Cheeps inhabiting the crystal-clear ocean. We were informed about Photo Mode in this Kingdom, and playing about with it sure took up a lot of my time. NES, Game Boy, and SNES filters could all be selected, and it was also easy to use, as well as being a surprising feature I had no idea about going in. I turned into a Cheep Cheep and a squid to take out the final boss of the preview: a huge squid that say high up in the middle of the area. The coolest thing about the boss was how layered it was to take it down, and without giving too much away, it showed Nintendo has taken huge leaps to make the bosses more than just fillers to the next section.

Super Mario Odyssey is going to be a wonderful adventure. From the short time I had with it, it’s very clear Nintendo is going all out to make the best Mario game they possibly can, showing no limitations or cap to ambitions. Cappy is a wonderful addition to the game, and options for you to use him seem endless. A lot of people are going to adore Super Mario Odyssey, along with myself, and it is evident there is no signs of Mario retiring his overalls just yet.

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