Super Mario Odyssey

SHORT REVIEW: NINTENDO SWITCH

I can confirm Calypso doesn’t seduce a mustachioed plumber for an unreasonable number of years.

Mario’s been around for over 30 years, which means there’s 30 years of terrible introductions to each game. Here’s another.

Odyssey is a continuation of the fantastic Super Mario 3D World on the horrifically dead Wii U. It was one of my favourite Mario adventures to date and such excitement can only lead to disappointment. Let’s hope not, ‘ey.

Let’s check out the platforming action in a three dimensional environment.

Half an hour into the game you cannot help but rotate your chair to an imaginary audience, loudly proclaiming…

“Oh yes… this is a strong start… a strong start indeed”.

Odyssey is immediately captivating. As you would expect coherent thought’s completely absent from the outset. How delightful it is to take control of a tiny Italian gentleman with a sentient hat. Go on… guess the hat’s name… it’s “Cappy”… I know, right? Cappy can be thrown as a murderous weapon, has beautiful come-to-bed eyes and can harness the dark power of Cthulhu to invade the mind of his enemies. Chuck the monstrous hat onto select enemies… or friends… or maybe even the President, and you take control of the creature’s spinal-cord neurons and higher brain functions. Look, don’t worry about it, he’s definitely a good guy. It’s fine. Don’t even think about it.

Everything is fine.

Mario Odyssey

“Bitch. You better have my money”

Mario Odyssey

Highway to the danger zone

At this point I’ll be shocked if the set-up to a main Mario game will ever change. Bowser does what Bowser does, and Mario sets out across various lands to rescue a poor defenceless lady.

Spits “Damn your Wonder Woman films and female empowerment. Damn them all to hell!” – Direct Quote from Nintendo© 2017.

The individual kingdoms are more expansive than the tight platforming levels of the 2D past and this openness ensures the main adventure remains light and fluffy. To combat this apparent lack of challenge you’ll have to dig a little deeper, you see the kingdoms have little regard for fiscal responsibility as they leave coins all over the place. A good 100 of them are unique to each kingdom and acquiring them all is a bit of a challenge. To compliment this you’ll also have to fuel your hat-shaped ship named the “Odyssey”… hey, that’s the name of the game! Clever. Obviously our ship only takes power moons™ rather than unleaded. You’ll naturally obtain these throughout the campaign, but you’ll soon get in the habit of keeping your eyes peeled as exploration nearly always yields a reward beyond merely collecting a thing.  You’ll often find a joyful surprise, or even a stiff challenge, or an unexpected Easter Egg… or maybe all three! The worlds’ feel wildly different from one another and you’ll find yourself marvelling at the next unexpected turn.

Mario Odyssey

You have to wonder what Mario’s mum looks like. A massive stereotype, I’d bet.

Mario Odyssey

I don’t mean to brag…

Odyssey drops the traditional lives system in favour of hearts, which are easily replenished. Frustration rarely sets in, as death results in losing a handful of coins and that rarely stings. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as replaying sections often leads to great profit as you’ll pick up far more coins then you’ll lose. Because of this, you’ll find yourself attempting maverick manoeuvres as the worse that could happen is losing some pocket change. This could be a bother as you might be saving up for a sexy new outfit. Each world has a use for both types of coin as shops supply skimpy bathing outfits and inappropriate hats. Cappy fuckin’ loves it. The dirt-bag. We turn to the camera once again.

“Overcoming the challenges you set yourself are always more fun.”

Mario has the perfect weight to his movements and has more tricks than ever. When you do succumb to a lemming-like plummet, you’ll quite rightly blame yourself. He’ll flip around, stomp like a sulky teenager and dive around on command. You’ll discover high-end hat-based techniques and the game spits out tips at regular intervals. Throwing Mario around is an amusement by itself. Now we shall use a term that could lead to some worry. Motion controls. Totally optional, of course, but I’m going to suggest you try them. Shaking your right fist in the style of a discouraging father throws Cappy, and a further fist shake will not only tell off those pesky kids on skateboards, but redirect Cappy to the nearest enemy or hotspot. A homing hat, if you will. Gyro controls are used for looking around an’ that and at worse, it’s all quite inoffensive. I fluctuated between using them when required. Yes, sometimes the motion controls helped. Shocking.

Mario Odyssey

I grew up on the crime side, the New Donk Times side, stayin’ alive was no jive.

Mario Odyssey

“wheredidhego?”

I didn’t quite realise just how many pictures I’d taken until I browsed through my gallery. The outlandish art direction has provided one of the most memorable looking computer games of our time. The kingdoms burst brimming full of character. Jumping over a Goomba to see his nonsense face fall into confusion at Mario’s disappearance is just one of the many little moments that make up the game. The full weight of Mario’s history’s used to great effect with audio and visual cues siphoned from past adventures. It’s never garish nor overdone and they are often tied into grand ideas or clever tiny moments. The framerate’s as smooth as can be, and the picture quality is peak adorable. Pausing the game to take it on the road really sells the idea of the Switch. I got through the entire game without encountering a single bug. Mario Odyssey feels like a labour of love sprinkled with a dose of technical achievement. As we’re stuck on the subject of hardware; Amiibo can be used to do things and stuff. Things like finding Power Moons or outfits ‘an that. It’s non-essential and can be safely ignored.

Quick thought – Who’s really in charge? Cappy or Mario? The nefarious Cappy spends the game devouring brains and winking… but… all the while he spends the majority of the game sitting on…

Something you can’t ignore are the ol’ classic end of world bosses. In a surprising turn they’re mostly excellent, involving powers and techniques learnt through the Kingdom, but there are some real duds. Namely the Broodals, which are generic wabbits. Thankfully their battles are swiftly dealt with, but I can’t imagine they’ll be getting their own fan-fiction anytime soon*. Oh well… whilst we’re having a little moan. There’s a 2 player mode on offer, but it’s a complete waste of time. One player takes control of Cappy and flies around in an impotent rage. Redundant. But hey, someone might glean some form of pleasure from it. You can’t be miserable at additional features. These are very minor grumbles.

*I realise this is a giant lie.

Mario Odyssey

“Please Cappy… just let me rest… please”.

Mario Odyssey is a game that gives back as much as you put in. Whatever you do, try not to let anyone spoil the surprises for you. You can burn through the main story in no time, but that won’t stop you returning as there’s plenty of game stuffed in here. Mario Odyssey is one unknown delight after another. Now we lean forward and hold both hands together in a moderately creepy fashion.

“Is this a 10 guys? I mean, it is just a jumpy, jumpy platform game, after all?”

10Mario Odyssey is distilled computer game magic.

Delightful throughout. Capable of inspiring mild kleptomania and a desire to procure small outfits.

An essential Switch purchase. Unless you really, really hate platform games and moustaches.