It is certainly not a coincidence if every new adventure of grandpa Mario (he is getting pretty old now) is eagerly awaited. The series has always maintained a level of excellence while proposing new concepts. And yet, each time, one can not help wondering if the new formula will actually work. No suspense, Super Mario Odyssey is indeed the bomb that we dreamed of.
SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Super Mario Odyssey is a game where the main interest revolves around discovery. It would be stupid to spoil it by explaining all the content. So, be aware that this article deliberately remains very evasive on the many surprising gameplay elements of the adventure, instead lingering on the feel of the adventure. You are warned.
The Princess is in another castle
Guess who was kidnapped again! As always, the eternal victim (except perhaps in the Smash Bros. series) falls into the hands of Bowser, who this time leaves no veil on his intentions: to marry the princess. Although Mario is not going anywhere in the intro, he will soon set off on the spiked turtle’s footsteps with a most amazing companion: Cappy, a shapeshifting hat that can be used as a weapon, a platform or even a capture tool!
As you probably know, assuming you weren’t living in a cave in recent months, one of the main functions of Super Mario Odyssey is the possibility for the player to turn into his enemies, an element on which we will return later. The most important thing before this is to understand the overall structure of the game. On board the Odyssey ship, you travel from country to country thanks to the power of the Moons, used as fuel. The more you have, the more new areas can discover. Thankfully, once you discover an area, you can revisit it as often as you’d like, without reusing moons of course.
Thus, all your progress depends on this long collection. Unlike most Mario 3D (and 2D), Super Mario Odyssey offers a non-linear structure within each level. To tell the truth, we must see each of them as a kind of fair, armored with dozens and dozens of activities of a wide variety and eclecticism rarely seen before. Every wall, every nook, every walkway can reveal one or more secrets that you will only discover by fully understanding all of the game mechanics and abilities, be they Cappy’s or Mario’s. Because even if his hat allows him new possibilities especially with the transformations, the plumber is as agile as ever.
Super Mario Odyssey – A world of possibilities
Given the abundance of possibilities offered by the game, it is almost impossible to put it in a predefined box. The search for Moons could be described as a mix between the Kokiris and the sanctuaries of Breath of the Wild. Sometimes, you will find one from a simple shiny point on the ground, but often you have to enter a warp pipe or a door sending you to a more or less difficult level, requiring you to use a specific gameplay element effectively. Increasingly complex and ingenious stages of platforms, crazy races, shooting sequences, reflection game … the cases are so varied that it would be much too long to try to describe them all. But in the end, Super Mario Odyssey varies the concepts so much that one remains constantly surprised. Where some games have based all their gameplay on a single idea, drained until drought, Odyssey offers us something original every ten minutes.
Super Mario Odyssey has an asymmetrical “co-op” mode, leaving one player to control Cappy independently of Mario (without going too far, however). If the player controlling Cappy has a supporting role, the system remains interesting when one wants to play with a person that is less initiated to the video games (young children for example), the player who controls Mario always having the possibility to control Cappy if he wishes it.
Super Mario Odyssey is an ode to rewarded exploration. Although it is possible for you to follow similar roads, allowing you to find enough Moons to finish the game without too much strolling, it is by digging left to right that we discover the depth of Nintendo’s game. Moreover, Odyssey urges us to thrive to the end by proposing a rather frantic pace to tell us that there is still much to do, and believe me, this is not a lie. To give you an idea, to beat the last boss, you only need a third of Moons you can find. And when after ten hours of playing, you understand that you have to find twice the number of Moons you have in your possession currently, knowing that it only gets harder, you understand that you are in for a long time. Note that, without telling you more, you unlock a lot of content after you finish the game. Not only do most countries open up new areas, but there are also new Moons distributed over the maps, and even new countries to visit.
Finally, let’s talk about transformations, one of the main features of the adventure. Enemies that are not wearing any headgear can be captured so that Mario can use their abilities. Swim in the form of fish, dive into lava as a fireball, fish as a Lakitu … more than 50 transformations await you for so many ways to play, most of them being required, or at least recommended, to progress through the adventure.
And since this is Nintendo we are talking about, Super Mario Odyssey was tailored for the fans of the franchise, and very beautiful way. References to previous episodes are numerous and perfectly well brought. And no, we’re not just talking about simple easter eggs, but whole sequences and even an entire country based on areas from older games. Without drowning in an avalanche of nostalgia, the game manages to revive our memories without affecting the new gameplay. The most obvious phases are the 2D passages, totally integrated into the 3D world, to the point of sometimes having real interactions between the two. Another prodigy, the soundtrack of Super Mario Odyssey is probably one of the best, if not the best in the series. Not only are the new themes very catchy, varying in influences despite the predominance of jazz, but the few tunes 8-bit return with a whole new flavor!