Welcome to our Community Review segment, where we invite members from the Progress Bar community to write-up their thoughts about a recently released game.
Our community reviewer is Ruairi O’Brien, who has reviewed Super Mario Odyssey. Take it away, Ruairi!
Super Mario Odyssey has a lot going for it, it’s the first sandbox 3D Mario game since Super Mario Sunshine and was by far one of the most anticipated titles of this year in gaming. It was extremely important that Nintendo nailed this addition to the series, especially when the past Mario games were beloved by many. Creating that balance of forming a new gimmick while not getting rid of any of that past ‘Mario Charm’ was a huge task for Nintendo, and honestly, Nintendo has nailed it.
Super Mario Odyssey is such an expansive and completely fresh addition to the Mario series. Many of the core mechanics from previous Mario titles remain untouched, such as Super Mario Galaxy‘s fluid movement and Super Mario 64/Sunshine‘s non-linear level design. The premise behind Mario’s new adventure is very similar to almost every other game that Nintendo has put out – the Princess has been captured and it is up to the protagonist to save her from the clutches of Evil. Even though this concept has been way too overplayed, Odyssey at least tries to mix it up a little, with Bowser having a wedding with Peach, and Mario crashing it.
The story line is relatively mediocre, in fact, the story is one of the game’s weakest points. The start of the game completely ignores all context and instantly shows Mario getting absolutely demolished by Bowser and flung off his ship. Mario’s hat helplessly floats towards the ship’s propellers and get shredded into pieces. Along with this, a strange ghost-like cap with eyes appears, grabs a piece of Mario’s hat and flies down to his landing spot, which is the entrance of the Cap Kingdom world. Here, players find out that the ghost-like creature is actually a sentient hat named Cappy, and his sister, Tiara (who is also a ghost-like hat) was stolen by Bowser for his and Princess Peach’s wedding. At this point, players are given free rein to do whatever they want in this strange-looking, dark world full of sentient top-hats.
This is where Super Mario Odyssey excels, the sense of scale when the player is just plonked into this medium sized open world is absurdly incredible. It makes you forget about the mediocre story as you instantly become attached to the smoothest movement controls you have ever felt. Mario is a treat to control. This doesn’t just help the player jump and move around in the large world this game throws at you, but it makes the game feel fresh and interesting as you explore every nook and cranny. The rest of Super Mario Odyssey’s main story is fairly sized, but it just doesn’t feel long. The post-game, however, is a definite trade-off for that.
After going through the Cap Kingdom, players are sent to the Cascade Kingdom, which features one of the most beautiful visuals in the game and one of the best tunes in the soundtrack. Here you find the Odyssey, an old ship that once fuelled with Power Moons, can be flown to other Kingdoms. This game is similar to Sunshine and 64, where in order to progress to the next part in the story you will need a set amount of Power Moons from each world to fuel the Odyssey. In the game, there are 14 main story Kingdoms and 3 post-game Kingdoms, which all added together hold 813 separate Moons to collect. Yes, you read that correctly, Eight-Hundred and Thirteen. The amount of content in this game is insane. Along with that, each world holds brand new enemies which players can ‘capture’, possessing them and gaining their powers. There are 52 different enemies that the player can capture, creating a wide variety of game play elements in each Kingdom.
At the end of each Kingdom, the player fights a new boss, which, if you’ve found enough Power Moons before then, you can completely skip and just fly to the next Kingdom. In Super Mario Odyssey‘s case, it would be better than just fighting the bosses themselves. The Boss Fights are some of the most lack-lustre in the series, reusing them more than twice and being way too easy for the casual gamer. It may be understandable due to the game being marketed to children, but having boss-fights where players gain an extra health bar before, and then finishing the fight with full health plus excess hearts in the arena is honestly atrocious. This is where the game needs some improvements, possibly a hard-mode. The only times I died in this game was when I fell of an edge or purposely jumping off cliffs hoping to find new hidden Power Moons.
Even though Cappy, the newest addition to the Mario cast is a pretty neat gimmick, controlling him is a nightmare. I played the first two worlds and instantly realised how precise you had to be with the motion controls. If you want to do any interesting moves with Cappy, you have to play the game in Split Joycon mode and use motion controls. They work, but they feel clunky and overall make the incredible movement of Mario feel weak. A couple of examples are when you’re sitting there flicking your wrist at the screen or throwing the Joycons around trying to get the Cap-Spin to activate. The way I countered this was by playing the game in Co-op Mode, and boy, was it incredible.
The Two-Player Mode in Super Mario Odyssey is phenomenal. You can either play with one Joycon each or a full controller each and it feels incredible. Player One controls Mario, his movement and his jumps, while Player Two controls Cappy. This may seem like a terrible and boring idea, but when you play as Cappy, you can fly anywhere without coming back to Mario, and this causes for some incredible and sometimes funny moments. Cappy can make Mario jump higher, can collect coins (both yellow and purple kinds) and can capture enemies that are quite far away. This allows Mario to play a lot more recklessly and perform some awesome runs through parts of levels.
Super Mario Odyssey is a fantastic addition to the Switch library, and is definitely a must-have if you own the system. The gameplay, visuals and audio in this game are phenomenal, with the only huge downsides being the lacklustre story and boss fights. Super Mario Odyssey is an almost perfect game, it masters most things, but fails to fully perfect others. The good things about this game, however, overcompensate for the not-so-good things, definitely making this game a contender for Game of the Year.
Super Mario Odyssey is a cap-throwing, Kingdom-exploring, Nostalgia-inducing adventure that deserves every minute of your time, until you start feeling frustrated that you can’t make that jump for that one last Power Moon. It could easily be higher if the story was a lot more interesting and engaging, as well as the addition of a hard-mode. Despite these negatives, Mario’s new journey fuses old with new, making a memorable and joyous experience.
Thanks Ruairi! If you would like to be part of our Community Review segment, get in contact with us!