By: Hannah Calvert
In case you haven’t read any reviews yet, Super Mario Odyssey is good. Very good.
With a score of 97 on Metacritic, Odyssey is currently the best-reviewed game of 2017, tied with another Nintendo title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
It feels like the perfect sequel of all of the 3-D platform Mario games combined.
Super Mario Odyssey starts off with (surprise!) Bowser kidnapping Peach. But this time, he is going to marry her. As Mario is shot off from Bowser’s ship, he finds that his iconic red hat is destroyed. Along comes Cappy, a sentient hat who can help Mario possess (or “capture”) enemies or objects. There are no power ups in this game, you have to use your new ally to fulfill challenges.
I went into Odyssey only with this knowledge and glancing at headlines of perfect reviews. I didn’t keep up with new information leading up to the game’s release. I had a pretty blank slate of what the gameplay was going to be like.
From the get-go, I wasn’t really that impressed. I found the gameplay to be stale. I thought, what’s the big deal? It felt like I was mindlessly going from kingdom to kingdom, not really knowing what I was “supposed” to be doing. It felt different from a regular Mario game, because there weren’t linear ways to progress the story compared to the franchise’s past.
That is, until I went back through the first couple kingdoms and realized how much there was to explore in each world. Each kingdom reveals more objectives after the player finishes their first visit. I got the same feeling of exploration and excitement when I first played Super Mario Galaxy. But unlike Galaxy, you don’t go through a pre-existing route to get to that goal. You have to make your own goals.
Like most Nintendo games, motion controls is the default in Odyssey. I’m proficient with motion controls from playing Splatoon 2, Nintendo’s third-person shooter. But swinging the controller in an awkward, shuffled way is the only way to do certain attacks. Using motion controls in Galaxy consisted of simply shaking the Wii Remote to attack. Not so easy in Odyssey. It wants you to be more precise, since there are different attacks from different movements.
I mostly played with my Pro Controller, but the game displayed an unskippable recommendation to use Joy Cons for 10 seconds at the beginning of every playthrough. I spent $70 on my nice controller with heightened motion sensitivity, why does the game have to punish me for that?
Attacks could have been programmed to a button, since some actions are set to not only one, but two buttons. It feels like an oversight by Nintendo to force their wide range of fans, some not-so-dedicated, to use their motion controls. While this is my biggest complaint about the game, it does not outweigh the joy that Odyssey is.
The amount of searching and collecting within each kingdom will leave you playing long after you beat the final boss. With so much to collect, you will be busy long after the story is over.
Super Mario Odyssey is a breath of fresh air. There is no other Mario game like it.