Nintendo’s Switch is a runaway hit, and it’s set to be even better now that it’s getting its first Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey is coming, and it’s a brilliant convergence of all of Mario’s history while definitively bringing the character and the gameplay into the future.
Odyssey is huge, both in terms of its scope and its significance to gaming, serving as a reminder of everything that keeps Nintendo a leader in the gaming industry and Mario a favorite all over the world. Here’s why.
1. It’s Huge
Have we mentioned that this an enormous Mario game? Odyssey is level after level of open world, each one wildly different in style and theme. Nintendo hits all the right notes by bringing back classic underwater worlds and lava-laden labyrinths, but Odyssey brings much, much more to the table with tons of hidden levels, secret passages and, at least once, a world inside a world.
2. It Bucks Conventions
Odyssey is the rare Mario game where you won’t be chasing around green mushrooms for extra lives, spitting fireballs with flower power or knowing your health by being big or small. The old ways are rarely missed as you jump and smash through all the levels, knocking out checkpoints and collecting moons along the way.
3. It Nails the Nostalgia
As different as it may be from previous Mario games, Odyssey is absolutely still true to its roots. Controls are dead on to the way you may remember them from as far back as Mario 64 and everything, down to the triple jump timing, are as satisfying now as they were then.
You’ll still bounce on enemies to take them out, you’ll still frantically collect coins. There are even moments when you’ll still take on enemies as the 2D Mario who started it all 30 years ago, just keep an eye out for green drainpipes.
4. It’s Got Style
No Mario game has carried through on its thematic worlds as well as we’ve seen in Odyssey. Not only do the levels themselves all conform to the world themes in play here, but Mario himself can get in on the fun with an astounding amount of costumes and wardrobe changes to fit any place or occasion. Some are just for looks, some actually have genuine purpose in the game but all are a huge upgrade from Mario’s old overalls.
5. It Looks Amazing
The Switch is capable of outputting to 1080p, and Odyssey takes advantage of that by really upping the ante in terms of graphics. It’s still the bright and colorful game that’s a hallmark of Mario’s history, but textures are finer and depth really pops in the 3D world of Odyssey. There’s also a phenomenal screen capture element built into the game itself so you can grab stills of all the glorious moments when Mario is looking his best.
6. It’s Portable
OK, credit has to go to the console itself on this one, but there’s truly nothing better than starting a game on your subway ride home and then docking the Switch to continue your game on the big screen. Having a full blown Mario game like Odyssey with you at all times is a dangerous proposition, but when there are between 30 and 50 collectible moons in each world, we expect to be playing for a good long while so why not take on a challenge or two during your post-coffee morning dookie drop. Don’t worry, everyone does it.
7. It’s Two Player
Don’t misunderstand, Luigi is not in this game and no one will be waiting for player one to die so they can take their turn. Odyssey’s two player mode is more like the helper-mode they introduced back in Galaxy, where one player controls Mario and the other can grab items or point out secrets.
It’s taken even further in Odyssey by giving the second player control of Mario’s all-important hat. That means the helper can take out enemies, break item boxes, collect coins and power-ups and, perhaps most useful, give Mario a much needed jump boost to reach out-of-the-way places.
8. It’s Got Replay Value
Our first pass through the game, all the way to the Bowser battle, took a little more than ten hours and 150 moons, but the game has many, many more to find even after the fight was over. As we mentioned, the amount of moons per level changes from world to world, but what remains consistent is that each world is utterly teeming with things to collect and secrets to find, from actual collectible items to throwbacks and Easter eggs to make fans chuckle.
Completionists will, undoubtedly, be dropping hours into Odyssey in their quest to collect everything, and we wouldn’t blame them at all since it all gets better the deeper you dig.
9. It’s Much More Than Mario
The Cappie the Hat dynamic that genuinely sets Odyssey aside from its predecessors is so unique to the Mario world and perfectly suited for this game. Sure, Cappie will take over whatever hat you decide to wear throughout your adventures and act as a projectile to bust through barriers and baddies alike, but it’s also a clever way to take the player out of Mario’s shoes and throw them into any number of made-up characters, all while changing your abilities and attributes in the process. And giving your target a very familiar mustache. Whether that means stomping around as a T-Rex or stacking up like mushrooms, we’ll leave up to you.
10. It’s Got New Enemies
Mario’s new abilities, especially when he’s occupying someone else’s skin, require enemies that take advantage of them, too. Enter in a slew of new boss baddies and plenty of new minions along the way. It makes for new challenges as you learn how the new enemies approach you, the different ways they attack and, most importantly, whether or not you can jump on their heads. After all, what’s a Mario game without some head stomping?
Super Mario Odyssey comes out tomorrow, buy it here.