Brandon Ratcliff ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Co-Assistant Video Games Editor
The minute Super Mario Odyssey was announced to the world, it was heavily anticipated. A lot of pressure was placed on this game to literally one-up the many fantastic games that Nintendo has put out before. Many fans of the series adored games like Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, and as a result, Odyssey had no room to let us down. Fortunately, Odyssey has more than lived up to any expectations fans may have had. Super Mario Odyssey delivers the best execution of the exploration, story, platforming, and gameplay we’ve seen in 3D Mario games.
Plain and simple, the story is one of the best aspects of this game; Super Mario Odyssey gives you a reason to get the end of the game through its narrative. As always, Mario’s main mission is to save Peach from Bowser, who stole her and plans to seal the deal with marriage. In his pursuit of Bowser, Mario meets his new hat companion Cappy, and together they travel through gorgeous and expansive kingdoms collecting Power Moons. The storyline gives players a sense of purpose in these enormous worlds and allows you to become even more deeply attached to everyone that you encounter. Players can also immerse themselves deeper into the culture of the kingdoms by donning the many wardrobes the can be purchased at a new store called the Crazy Cap, alongside decorations and powerups. The story gives you a set of old and new characters that you can become attached to, from the adorable Bonneters to the return of the infamous Pauline. Each interaction creates a sense of purpose and an eagerness to see what’s next.
Within each world, Super Mario Odyssey rewards players with Power Moons for exploring and finding creative ways to reach places with Cappy. Power Moons can be obtained by performing a difficult platforming trick, completing a challenge room, or just walking around. The Power Moons act as a fuel for the Odyssey to reach new kingdoms, but on top of that, the reason this game is playable after the main story is our need to collect the Power Moons. Exploration is your best friend in Odyssey. Since Odyssey replaced the standard life count system with losing only ten coins per death, players can afford to search various unconventional pathways and die a few times trying. You can count on spending many hours collecting the hundreds of Power Moons the game has to offer and having a great time while doing it.
Just as Power Moons are a new twist to a classic feature, the new Purple Coins give players a reason to search every nook and cranny of each kingdom. The Purple Coins act as a currency specific to each kingdom. Each kingdom’s currency takes a different shape and resembles a feature of the kingdom, everything from scales, hats, and bolts. These coins can be found in plain sight, hidden in secret passages, or within a challenge room, and the payoff for finding them is accessing specific Crazy Cap merchandise. This feature appeals to the collector and completionist players, and there is such a satisfaction from buying Crazy Cap’s entire stock.
Each kingdom also has its own music. The music in Odyssey brings a familiar sound to players. While there are new songs, many of them have the comforting and epic qualities that we have grown accustomed to with many Nintendo games. Nintendo has seemingly created a perfect song for each town, minigame, and event that Mario ventures to. While Odyssey immerses us in many new tunes, Nintendo brings some classics we can all enjoy. Hearing these old songs remastered brings so much nostalgia and hype at the same time. However, no moment in the game was grander than when you finally get to hear the new song Jump Up, Super Star, sung by Pauline (the original damsel in distress from Donkey Kong.) The lyrics are clever, with references to the original title Pauline calls home, and the song is catchy, containing the classic sounds of Mario.
As Mario is traveling through these kingdoms and taking down enemies, he is not alone. Since the first trailer of Super Mario Odyssey, players have marveled at the powers of Mario’s new companion, Cappy. Just like any other Mario game, going through the worlds as Mario requires well-timed jumps, leaps, and backflips. However, Odyssey has brought some elements to platforming that we have never seen before. The first new ability Mario has is range! Without any additional power up, Mario can hit enemies a few feet in front of him and do a spin attack with Cappy. He can also grab coins for Mario in some hard to reach places. This ability not only lets you hold on to your three hit points without as much fear, but also makes boss fights new and unique. The second new ability is Cappy acting as a boost for Mario. Cappy can be held in a position for a few seconds, which allows Mario to jump on him as a platform, which lets Mario access many places that would be impossible in a previous Mario game.
The last and most anticipated ability with Cappy is the shocking new power to take over the bodies of other creatures and objects. Every creature or object you take over handles differently and lets you experience a whole new style of gameplay. It creates an “aha” moment for players once they realize how they are supposed to achieve a certain task with a specific creature. Some creatures help you discover hidden objects, some help Mario traverse parts of the world, and some help you defeat major bosses. Super Mario Odyssey also features a two player mode which allows the second player to control Cappy and expand upon what a single player could do alone.
Much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey is a game that is going to carry the Nintendo Switch for a while. Super Mario Odyssey is exactly the new game that players needed if they were inundated with Zelda. If you are new to the Mario scene, this title would be a great introduction. The game contains many of the mechanics we have seen in Mario for years, but it’s also sure to teach players who are new to Mario and the Switch how to play. If you are looking for a nostalgia inducing game filled with hours of good old fashion fun, then Super Mario Odyssey is definitely a game to drop some cash on.