Bowser has once again kidnapped Princess Peach. Despite the best efforts of Anita Sarkeesian, the video game trope of damsels in distress is very much alive and well. King Koopa plans to force the monarch into an unwilling marriage, which I don’t understand. Given the choice, I would rather be wed to the sexier Rosalina. Anyways, when royalty needs rescuing who do you call? If you answered Special Forces you would be mistaken. Time to hire a plumber me thinks. Mario sets off on a globe trotting adventure to save Peach and joining him for the ride is a sentient piece of headgear named Cappy.
Gone are the days when Mario would dress like a racoon and devour mushrooms to acquire special powers. Mario Odyssey sees Nintendo’s mascot steal Kirby’s talent of mimicking enemies, which he accomplishes by placing his hat on their noggin. There are tons of foes that Mario can possess with this new mechanic. Some examples that stood out during my play through include giant dinosaurs, yellow taxicabs, amphibians that ribbit and turtles armed with frying pans. Cappy can also be tossed to grab out of reach coins or to destroy objects from a distance. Wreck stuff by hurling a hat? Bond villain Oddjob would approve.
In terms of gameplay Odyssey reminds me most of Sunshine and Mario 64. Thankfully the abovementioned Cappy is a better companion than that detestable FLUDD. Levels are open world affairs where you hunt down Moons, which are the power source of the craft that transports you across kingdoms. As expected from a Mario title the platforming is solid thanks to the responsive controls. I was however a tad miffed that certain moves cannot be activated in handheld mode. Said advanced abilities require that you shake the Joycons. A decade since the Wii’s launch and Nintendo are still pressuring players to strain their wrists with unwanted motion interfaces.
My rating for Super Mario Odyssey is a five out of five. In a weird way the game reminds me of Bloodborne. Both titles are games that I had little interest in playing, only tried because they came bundled with the console and ended up loving anyway. That’s a surprise because I am no Nintendo fan boy. My dad bought me a Megadrive, during the height of the 16-bit wars, so I was conditioned at an early age to revile Mario. Not even adolescent brainwashing can make me dislike a game with such creative stages though. Adding to the charm are the colourful graphics, which prove that the Switch doesn’t have to be a technological powerhouse to rival its competitors in the visual department.
The soundtrack is top notch too, with my favourite tune being Jump Up Superstar sung by Kate Davis. I estimate that it took me around twelve hours to complete the main story. That may not sound like much content, but fear not because there are plenty of collectibles to discover in the post game. If exploration isn’t your thing don’t worry because Toad is willing to point you in the right direction in exchange for some gold. Super Mario Odyssey is a title that every Switch owner should add to his or her library. Good job Nintendo. I tip my hat (or should that be Cappy) to you.