After my 18-hour time spent with Super Mario Odyssey, all I could do was revel in the joy. Grinning with delight, from ear to ear as the curtain call queued the credits. In truth, our favorite plumber’s most recent outing encapsulates all we hold dear, in Mario. And of the platforming genre, he actively promotes.
Sure, there have been a few Pitts in the road since our loveable rogue’s inception in the industry three decades ago. Regardless, the latest entry solidifies his status, as a trailblazer of the genre then, and a trendsetter in the present day.
Mario’s latest offering recaptures the magic of days gone by, in many ways, it feels more like the spiritual successor to Sunshine or Super Mario 64. Such are the levels of soulfulness and personality. What’s more, it warms the heart to such a smoldering degree that it feels like an enchanting throwback. Way back when, to the peak of Nintendo’s powers.
Not only does Super Mario Odyssey inject meaning and life back into familiar characters. But it exhibits the very core fundamentals of what makes a classic Mario title genuinely sparkle. Both beautiful sound design and a vibrant cocktail of slick systems merge. Hence, creating an experience that’s easy to love, and impossible to ignore.
Mainly, Super Mario Odyssey dazzles with its pristinely polished visuals, reinvents with its innovative mechanics and enchants with a pitch-perfect and fun-loving OST. All of which set the scene and lovingly re-enact the Mario mythos. Thus, conjuring intoxicating moments of pure bliss and rapture along the way. Sure, a lot of this is old ground.
But there is also plenty of fresh features thrown into the mix which add layers and dimensions to the Mario fold. Like artfully mixing 3D worlds with a 2D side-scrolling playstyle. Alternatively, blending pixelated sprites, with modern day graphics. These transitional phases dilute the play in a fun way and add a nice slice of variety.
Additionally, Mario’s new possession power never loses its likable value. In short, it’s a wonderfully creative tool used in a myriad of ways. In a literal sense, Mario can mind-hack creatures and assume control of them. Pretty cool hey? Whether that’s a T-rex or a caterpillar, embodying another soul while tracking down exotic items is rewarding fun in and of itself.
Going beyond even that of Mario Maker, in terms of art design, “Odyssey” infuses both side-scrolling elements with jaggedly warm and fuzzy 8-bit art, in a way that’s both boldly ambitious and wildly creative. Weirdly, it’s this synergy of bizarre sequences that bring the game to life. Albeit, brief moments of magic. A vibrant, pixel-rich mix of the old and the new. The way Mario was born to be. Retro gaming at its finest, with a few colorful jinks and twists added. In a bid to capture the hearts of a modern-day audience.
Although many levels stand out in Super Mario Odyssey, perhaps the most detailed and visually impressive of which is the Metro Kingdom. A fully-realized concrete jungle crammed full of endless possibilities and brimming with potential. A bold leap from the linear constructs of prior games.
Within this bustling metropolis, is a gamut of whacky mini-games and high-rise platforming sections which glisten with zany creativity and a zestfulness of life. In truth, there’s just so much fun at a frenetic pace, that this concrete-based sandbox provides hour upon hour of goofy entertainment. Better still, it caps off the action with a top-floor party in honor of our beloved guest. Those urban dwellers know how to throw a party alright.
A minor downside to the game is the difficulty level or lack thereof. With that in mind, those that seek a challenge will most likely stroll through the story. For instance, bosses for all their visual splendor, are easy to beat. All the while, checkpoints act as highly obtainable goalposts.
What’s more, death subtracts little, bar from a few measly coins. That said, the shift in focus, to sandbox free-roam elements places greater enthesis on world exploration. Virtually all the challenge lies here. Besides, collecting the various moon powers will open portals to new worlds — a great incentive to uncover every nook, cranny and hidden item.
Super Mario is a household name in the industry and has been for what seems like an eternity. Although many iterations have come and gone over the years, one thing remains constant — Mario’s ability to evolve with the times. Perhaps more apparent here, than at any other time.
In actuality, this latest entry both pays tribute to the past and broadens boundaries going forward, in the franchise. The result of which is the best Mario game we’ve played in years. And one that sets the bar high for the series. As of now, Mario enforces the trend once more, much as it did, many moons ago.
That concludes the review of Super Mario Odyssey. What do you think of our plucky plumbers latest outing? Is Mario back where he belongs? Which is your best Mario game off all time? That is, if it’s at all possible to pick. Please post your views in the comments. Your opinions are always valued.