I’ve been into video games since I was a little boy with my Commodore 64. But it was the Super Mario series that made me a life long gamer. The announcement of a new Mario title for any console is a big deal for me and this was no different with the announcement of Super Mario Odyssey. Released back in October 2017, I held off buying the game immediately and decided to let Santa bring me a copy for Christmas. There’s nothing better than a new Super Mario game at Christmas right? Now, after 65 hours or so of gameplay, I have now completed Super Mario Odyssey. So how does it compare to all the other titles and do I agree with the huge acclaim the game has received?
Super Mario Odyssey is a really fun game but it’s also a very different Mario game from what we are used to. The setup is familiar with Princess Peach being kidnapped by Bowser. It wouldn’t be a Super Mario title without it would it?! Mario begins his journey in the Cap Kingdom, a wonderful grayscale world with hat topped buildings surrounded by fog. It’s here that you meet Cappy whose sister has also been kidnapped by Bowser. The duo team up with Cappy becoming Mario’s hat and giving him the power of capture. And it’s this power that sets Odyssey apart from the rest of the games in the series.
By throwing your cappy hat, you have the ability to capture enemies and objects. Goombas, Bullet Bills, Taxi’s – almost nothing is off limits. As much as I love the power ups of old (Bee Suit ftw), this is a really nifty power that really opens up the franchise in a way that I never could have imagined. I really enjoyed working out what I could and couldn’t capture as well as how best to use it to complete challenges.
No Super Mario game is complete without an eclectic range of worlds and on this front, Odyssey does not disappoint. There are seventeen kingdoms in total, each varying in size. Each kingdom has it’s own unique style as well as characters to interact with. Even the purple coin currency is different in each kingdom. Of all the kingdoms, I definitely preferred the smaller kingdoms compared to the larger ones. The smaller kingdoms make for better exploration and used their environments a lot better than the larger ones. My favourite kingdom was the Lost Kingdom, an island jungle world surrounded by poison lakes. I just loved the vibe of this kingdom – the colours, the characters and the music. I need the music from this world as my ringtone!
Visually, each world is stunning. It amazes me that Nintendo are still able to come up with such unique and interesting worlds with each game. Draw distance is noticeable in the larger worlds with features only coming into focus as you get closer. But this is a minor niggle. There are a couple of noticeable frame rate issues but nothing that hampers your overall experience.
In Odyssey, the aim is to collect power moons in order to power up the Odyssey ship. These moons are split into two categories – multi moons and power moons. The multi moons are earned when completing challenges in the main story. These were the most fun for me and showcases Super Mario at it’s very best. The remaining power moons that are scattered throughout the world are a mixed bag for me, mainly because there are so many. This is where my main issue with Odyssey lies.
In order to find all the moons, you need to explore each world with a fine toothed comb. This is great in smaller kingdoms such as the Lake Kingdom but I often felt frustrated in the larger kingdoms. These worlds are so big that it’s not easy keeping tabs on where you’ve already explored. For example, the Metro Kingdom has a lot of skyscrapers and roofs that you can explore but it was easy to lose track of which ones you’d already been on.
Some of the power moons throughout this game were so annoyingly difficult to find that I had to turn to a guide to help me. I’ve never had to use a guide in a Mario game before and I hope I won’t have to again. A lot of the power moons are just hidden without you needing to actually complete a challenge to obtain them. It could just be that you need to ground stomp on a random piece of sand in the Sand Kingdom. Or spin your hat on a random fence post in Bowser Kingdom. I think there needed to be a better balance between moons you achieve by completing challenges and moons that are just randomly hidden throughout each world. I just wasn’t a fan of roaming a world for hours doing random things in the hope of finding the last moons I needed for 100% completion.
Super Mario Odyssey is a fantastic game. It’s incredibly unique with vibrant worlds, an awesome new power and it’s a lot of fun. But it’s not perfect. To be honest, I’m surprised that so many people have embraced this new free exploration Mario. I’m also not sure about the replayability of Odyssey. I’ll definitely go back and replay the main story of this but I can’t see myself finding all the moons again. For me, this stops Super Mario Odyssey from being on par with the best of the Super Mario series.