When fans got a sneak peek at Super Mario Odyssey in the Nintendo Switch Announcement trailer, it undoubtedly piqued some interest. However, there wasn’t much to theorize or think about as it was limited to only a few seconds. Then came the recent E3 trailer, which showed off Mario’s hat-transforming mechanic and the vast open worlds. By the end, it looked like Nintendo finally gave fans the Super Mario 64 they’ve always wanted. Now that I’ve got my hands on it, it’s safe to say that Super Mario Odyssey will be Nintendo’s best Mario game in years.
For the demo, players were given the choice to either explore the New Donk City map or the Sand Kingdom map. Since the person in front of me played through the city map quite extensively, I chose Sand Kingdom.
As soon as I took control of Mario, I was reminded of the satisfyingly sharp controls from previous 3D Marios. Much like 64 and Sunshine, Mario moves with impressive precision and fluid animation. The next immediate standout was the impressive utilization of the color in the environment. The contrast between light and dark colors allows the visuals to really pop. Overall, the game is simply stunning to look at.
Another key component that immediately reminded me of SM64 was the open-ended nature of exploration. The primary collectibles in Odyssey are the Power Moons (which function like stars in SM64) and they’re spread across each of the kingdoms. In order to get them, players must have the necessary platforming, brainstorming, and jumping skills so that they can collect them all. They serve as quality motivators to explore every inch of the gorgeous map, especially when the challenges available are varied and entertaining.
However, although everything previously mentioned was certainly great, it’s Mario’s hat transference ability that stole the demo for me. The way that just about every given enemy, item, and more could be taken over and utilized raised my experience to even greater heights. Taking control of enemies allows you to have fun with their respective abilities without reducing the flow of gameplay or compromising on Mario’s sharp control-ability. Whether you’re taking control of a stone man with some stylish shades or taking advantage of the Koopa’s improved maneuverability, it’s all enjoyable. Put simply, hopping from body to body is a blast and adds so much to every component of Odyssey.
Put simply, the tremendous sense of exploration, freedom, and personality instilled across the Sand Kingdom was thoroughly pleasing. If each explorable kingdom follows suit, then this will certainly be a title on-par with Mario’s best adventures.
There weren’t really any issues that came up while playing, but I did come away with questions. The story seems relatively straightforward, but the prominence of it is unknown. Considering that Breath of the Wild got away with an exploration-focus in favor of a prominent story, Nintendo will likely do the same here. Besides, with the story involving a white-tuxedo-wearing Bowser marrying Peach, you can expect plenty of cheesy, quality moments throughout. However, unlike BoTW, I’d probably recommend avoiding much (if any) voice acting. Mario games don’t have the best reputation when it comes to voice acted cutscenes.
Need an example? Here’s one from Super Mario Sunshine:
The game’s difficulty is another point of intrigue. Boss battles and late-game challenges will likely bring about the game’s tougher moments, so hopefully they’re worthwhile components. Boss encounters in the Mario series aren’t always worthwhile, so hopefully these don’t come across as uninspired or dull.
Overall, SMO is extremely promising. Many have taken issue with the lack of innovation in recent Mario titles, but Super Mario Odyssey promises significant change. I had limited time with the game, but every aspect felt undeniably finely-tuned and precise. The worlds are imaginative, the gameplay is an absolute blast, and I cannot wait to play some more this October.
Super Mario Odyssey releases October 27th exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
What do you think about Super Mario Odyssey? Do you think Odyssey will meet expectations? Do you prefer the 2D or 3D Mario games? Let us know in the comments below!