This past Friday morning I awoke at 6:30 am to what I thought was the sound of a door opening in my house. I inspected the entire house in my underwear with the leg of a high chair to fend off any would-be robbers and decided that I must have dreamt it. By this time I was awake though so I checked the internet to see what time Wal-Mart opened, saw that it was very soon, and headed out to pick up Super Mario Odyssey for my Switch.
I wrote an article about this game when it was first released. I was concerned that it was headed the direction of 3D Sonic with “realistic” people intermingled with the cartoony style of the game character. I began the article by saying that it was going to have to grow on me. And grow on me it did. To the point that I was headed to Wal-Mart at 6:30 am which is a time that shouldn’t exist for people who work from home.
Super Mario Odyssey manages to feel completely new, while at the same time feeling like a true successor to Super Mario 64, even more than I feel Super Mario Sunshine was. In Super Mario Sunshine, I hated FLUDD. It felt out of place for Mario to have a backpack on the entire time and cleaning up messes made by other people is something I never really felt I wanted to do in a video game. Something similar was done in Odyssey with Cappy, his sentient, mind stealing, hat. But it doesn’t at all detract from the look of Mario because Cappy just looks like Mario’s hat most of the time (or whatever hat you choose to wear) so it works very well.
What I loved about Super Mario 64, besides the magic of seeing Mario in 3D for the first time, was the amount of exploring you could do. Many of the stars in a given level could be collected at any time which felt more open than the Galaxy games ever felt for me. In this game you not only can find moons all over the place, but you aren’t kicked out of the level when you find one so you can just move on to another one right away. Most of the moons you collect will be found through exploration, rather than the little intro animation that has been in use since Super Mario 64 that gives you an idea of the path to take through the level and the location of the star you are after. These do happen in Super Mario Odyssey, but much more sparingly and are kind of used at checkpoints on your way to the main triple moon in the level. I loved both Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World, but it’s nice to get back to the more open, exploration-heavy level design of older Mario games.
Super Mario Odyssey is the first Mario game in the main series since Super Mario Bros. 2, I believe where Mario doesn’t get new abilities from power-ups. It’s something that I didn’t really notice though because through Cappy you can possess enemies or other elements of the level and gain whatever abilities they had. This makes Super Mario Odyssey the Mario game with the most power-ups by quite a long shot. I won’t spoil them all, but some of my favourites are possessing fireballs to be able to survive travel through lava, possessing some sort of weird squid thing to basically be given the abilities of FLUDD but without the obnoxious backpack, and these strange bird things with long beaks that can poke enemies, including Spinies, to kill them, as well as stab into walls to climb them (provided they aren’t covered in metal.)
Over the course of the year or so since we got our first glimpse of Super Mario Odyssey I became a little bit concerned with how much of the game they showed off. I was worried that I’d have seen most of it before I ever got to play it. While I believe less than half of the kingdoms were actually revealed, I still wish that fewer had been. New Donk City was important to show off because it’s the level with the “1-Up Girl” anthem and then they should have stuck to only one or two other kingdoms to demonstrate that it wasn’t all going to be Mario mixed with realistic people, and even then, only small bits of them. I would have loved for the warp pipes where I enter a wall and play a section with NES style graphics to have been a complete surprise. I doubt that those parts were the deciding factor for anyone who bought the game so it would have been nice for them to be kept secret until we could experience them ourselves. Having said that, there is still a lot left to be pleasantly surprised with assuming you stay away from YouTube playthroughs until you can get your hands on the game yourself.
Super Mario Odyssey has a few ways to play. There are multiple controller configurations, though there is a screen that lasts far too long when you boot the game that suggests you should play with detached joy-cons to unlock moves that you can’t do with other control schemes. I don’t think that’s true though. It’s just more awkward to do it while connected to the controller or screen. But motion controls still work.
Aside from controller configurations there is an assist mode, which is really good if you’re terrible at video games or are very young. In assist mode you don’t die from falling down holes, instead you enter the Mario Bubble and are brought back to safety, losing once piece of your life wheel. You can also refill your life wheel by standing still for a few seconds and blue arrows either on the ground or above your head will point you in the direction of the moon that you are supposed to get at this point in the story.
Finally, there is a multiplayer mode. In this mode one player controls Cappy and the other player controls Mario. The camera only follows Mario through so whoever is playing Cappy will have to keep up or be left behind. If that happens you can warp back to Mario’s head by pressing the Y button. I have only watched my children play this mode and it appeared to be an exercise in frustration for them. If you choose to play this way you really need to want to work together and because the camera follows Mario, an understanding that the Mario player is the leader is necessary to prevent coming to blows. In two player mode when Mario is possessing something, the second player can still control Cappy, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but given how much of the game revolves around possession it would be less of a two-player mode than Mario Galaxy had if it were any other way. (In case you are unfamiliar, in Mario Galaxy the second player could collect star bits by pointing at them with a second Wii Remote and shoot them at enemies to stun them.)
There is amiibo support for Super Mario Odyssey but I’m not a huge amiibo collector so I haven’t played around with it too much. My son has a couple and I was able to get a costume from two of them and send them off to find moon locations by talking to a sentient Roomba who is somehow my uncle. You can also use them at any time by holding right on the “d-pad” and then tapping when the amiibo symbol appears on the screen. Two of the amiibo I tried made Mario invincible for a short period and the other two only gave him a few coins. The invincibility is kind of weird though because instead of killing enemies when you touch them, they will still knock you down, it just won’t hurt when they do. Also, it doesn’t play the usual invincibility music, but rather a remix of World 1-1 music from Super Mario Bros.
The last thing I really want to talk about is the difficulty or lack thereof. I spent 6 hours playing Super Mario Odyssey on Friday and nearly beat the game. I died a few times but game-over isn’t a thing in Super Mario Odyssey. Instead, you lose ten coins each time you die. In Super Mario Odyssey you use coins to buy clothing, stickers, and statues from shops in each of the kingdoms, so you aren’t merely losing points, but there are still a lot of coins to collect so most of the time losing them doesn’t mean much. You can also just tap an amiibo to get them back. But even if game over were a thing, I doubt I would have ever seen it. Only one boss ever caused me to die, and even then, only once. I’m not terrible at Mario games like I am at nearly every other kind of game, but I’m not amazing at them either. I’d say I’m pretty average. I am sort of a weird gamer because I hate boss fights and I always play my games on the easiest setting, so I don’t mind that Super Mario Odyssey was pretty easy, but I know that some people are all about the challenge and those people are probably not going to be too pleased with what they find here. Keep in mind there may be a lot more challenge when trying to 100% the game. I have not done that yet.
My overall opinion of Super Mario Odyssey is that it is the best Mario game since Super Mario 64. And when I say that I mean how good Super Mario 64 was in 1996. I know that it hasn’t aged well, but is was magical when it was first released. I’ve been waiting twenty years for a game that felt like a proper sequel and I can finally say this is it. I can’t really define what quality it is that makes me feel that way other than to say it’s just the feeling I have when playing it. Everything I was concerned about in my previous article was for nothing. This game is amazing and it finally gave me a reason to take Zelda out of my Switch.
Daryle Henry | Dads And Dragons
Oculus ID: theregoes2
- Graphics 85%
- Sound 90%
- Difficulty 50%
- Fun Factor 100%
- Overall 95%