It’sa me, Mario! Yes, he’s back and ready to stomp shells and punch blocks. It would be easy enough to roll eyes and say “oh, another Mario game”, but let’s be honest; the main Mario games never really disappoint and they aren’t released that often either. And Nintendo timed this one perfectly by releasing it the same year as their new console, the Switch.
Oh, hell yeah, dude! Rarely do I play any game that gives me the “feels”–but Super Mario Odyssey is the video game industry’s most recent goosebumper. After solving some power issues in New Donk City (a.k.a. the level that gave early previews of the title the nick “Grand Theft Mario”), I had assembled a 5-piece band to tune up that triumphantly snazzy theme song from the commercial, all while near losing my shit as Mario goes barrel-hopping in a sweet callback to the original Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. It’s moments like these in Mario Odyssey, a title highly formulated from the last Mario “proper” I played, Super Mario 64, that make this one the perfect fusion of modern 3D platforming hijinks and retro 8-bit pipedream.
PATRICK: Mario, himself, has come a long way, with each game doing something a little bit different than the one before it. Mario 2 added the ability to play as one of four characters, while Mario 3 gave us a map to move along. Further along, the Mario you just mentioned (64) gave us our first look at the series in three dimensions, and Mario Sunshine has us chasing a new villain while giving us a new device to change up our tasks, mode of transportation and more. Fast forward to today and our favorite plumber has a new trick up his sleeve with Cappy.
MOODY: Mario evolved! While Mr. Mustache looks pretty dapper for a former plumber in his (presumed now) 40s — unless you count the TV Mario in “Capt.” Lou Albano, and Mario is just.. ancient — Cappy is clearly the star of the show. Patrick, I almost forget that I could still stomp Goombas and other mindless halflings for the hell of it, despite our O.G. protagonist packing a plentiful array of boomerang-ing caps and hats.
PATRICK: I love that Cappy is not just a gimmicky idea to sell the game. Not only does this new hat-friend provide new moves and abilities, but he’s a character himself, providing banter and help to Mario on his new adventure. There are times where it seems that some hat-triggered parts of the world are thrown in just to give a use for the hat, but it’s not often and doesn’t detract from the game or Cappy either. There’s nothing cooler than finding new ways to utilize the hat and come up with different ways to complete tasks.
MOODY: Yup! The best part of all this new moonlighting is that Mario & Cappy (instead of Luigi; poor guy’s left out again) can seize and possess just about everything in sight–including a mighty T-Rex. Jurassic Mario? Throw dem fists up. And it’s not all just cosmetic grandeur, as you mentioned; nerds’ll need to play the role of accordian neck-bending caterpillars, skyscraping electric powerlines and a grid-blasting world of tanks in order to traverse throughout all the creative platforming environments (I mean, dude, there’s a “Luncheon Kingdom”).
PATRICK: Yum. Aother new first for the series is the addition of outfits. Slow down–these aren’t microtransaction-based or require anything other than collecting stars and items in the world, just like you normally do in a Mario game. Some of the outfits even help complete tasks in the world they are found.
MOODY: Nice! Mah man lookin’ snazzy. My only petty issues with the game don’t affect its overall score, but here goes: 1.) Some motion controls aren’t exactly fitting with the Pro Pad/Joy Cons attached, 2.) Some of the levels host a few strange single and/or blind cam angles that affect combat and/or collecting. No sweat. While Cuphead was a straight-up throwback to original platformers that persistently porked you in the butt if you weren’t quick enough, this Super Mario is more the strategic, thinking wo/man’s challenge. No need to be Fast Finger Freddy; frustration isn’t really a thing here, this side of a chuckle to yourself following a quick YouTube search for utter obliviousness (“I only had to press that?”).
PATRICK: What separates Super Mario Odyssey from the other platforming pack, Trav, is that familiar feeling like the 3D Marios that came before it. The combination of Mario 64‘s gameplay and mechanics with Mario Sunshine‘s additional device helping to change things up without feeling like a gimmick, even with all the old school platform action. If any of this review’s readers don’t have a Switch, then they need to pick one up along with this game and the recent Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Totally worth every penny. 4.75/5 Coins.
MOODY: With all the zillion options for consoles this Fall, only one stands among tall; the one who’s been the most dear to our hearts for the longest time; the one who defies the odds of stumbling into a creative slump and, indeed, delivers one of two titles worthy of a $299 Nintendo Switch alone. Fully agreed. And it’s gonna be a thrill to see which classic NES one “throws [their] arms up in the air” come award season. I know who’s got my vote.