Holy crap, dude. HOLY CRAP, DUDE. Super Mario Odyssey is the full realization of Nintendo's ambitions with Super Mario 64. Super Mario 64 was an amazing game, but Super Mario Odyssey is in a whole different league. No one should be surprised when Nintendo knocks it out of the park with first party games, especially a flagship 3D Mario title, but even by Nintendo standards, this game is absolutely incredible. I wasn't sure how I felt about the living hat, and I wasn't sure if I'd like the realistic aesthetic of New Donk City, but JESUS CHRIST this game is amazing.
Nintendo has had at least one 3D Mario title every generation since the Nintendo 64 - two on the Wii - but they haven't gone for a real world-based open exploration game since Super Mario 64, at least not with this level of world diversity. Just like the 3DS was the realization of the Virtual Boy's promise of 3D gaming, Super Mario Odyssey is the full realization of Super Mario 64's promise of secret hunting and exploration in over a dozen extremely varied worlds. Even more exciting for me than the different worlds to explore, however, was the plethora of different power ups available. The power ups don't work like your standard Mario power ups; you don't find them in question boxes and touch them to gain the ability. Instead, you throw your living hat companion, Cappy, at any enemy to possess it and gain its abilities in a manner not unlike Kirby's enemy absorption.
The game's story is as unnecessary as usual for a Mario game, but it is fairly interesting for a Mario plot. Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach again, but this time he plans to force her into a marriage, I assume to use the non-existent court systems to force her to stay with him. Or something. He's a giant turtle; I don't really expect much in the way of critical thinking from him. Anyway, he scorches Mario's hat in a fight and sends Mario flying off an airship to what would be certain death for anyone other than Mario. Fortunately for Mario, he lands in the Cap Kingdom, a land populated by talking hats. What luck; now he has a new hat. From there, Mario and Cappy go from world to world chasing Bowser and trying to collect enough Power Moons to upgrade their airship enough to get to the next world, eventually confronting Bowser in a fiery castle battle like always.
Other than the absolutely fabulous controls, the real star of the show here is the worlds. There are a total of fifteen worlds in the game, each one unique and distinct. My favorite world was most definitely New Donk City - surprising given that it was the world I expected to like the least - but the Cascade Kingdom has my absolute all-time favorite Mario power up; YOU GET TO BE A FREAKING T-REX. SERIOUSLY. It made me supremely happy. There really aren't any bad worlds although it is worth noting that a couple of the worlds are just boss battles. There are a TON of secrets to find in these worlds for those who like collectathons and having a lot of optional objectives to complete.
TYRANNOSAURUS FREAKING REX. WITH A MOUSTACHE AND A HAT. My life is officially complete.
One of the most striking traits about the game is its visuals. The Switch isn't exactly a graphical powerhouse compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but that didn't stop Nintendo from producing a remarkable looking game. It's no Uncharted 4, but it looks BEAUTIFUL. Either we've all spent eight months severely underestimating the Switch's capabilities, or as they did with the Wii and Wii U, Nintendo has some kind of voodoo witchcraft that allows it to draw more power from its console than it should be able to produce. Either way, this is a breathtaking game. Had I seen screenshots of the game without Mario or any logos and been told that it was a PlayStation 4 platformer, I'd have believed it. It looks remarkable, but after what Nintendo managed with Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid Prime 3 on the Wii, no one should really be surprised that they have a knack for drawing out every scrap of power from their systems.
The overall visual presentation is almost matched by the game's sound design. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic and every bit worthy of the series' legacy. Between the mysterious music of the Moon Kingdom, the tense tunes of Bowser's Kingdom, or the jovial jingles of the Seaside Kingdom, the game's music is really something. Equally praiseworthy is the attention to detail with the little things. There are a lot of minor things that one might not notice at first but that really help to immerse the player in the experience. When Mario runs by a person or sign, his head and eyes will automatically turn to look at it. When Mario gets out of the water, his clothes drip for a few seconds; when Mario gets burnt, his clothes are charred for a few seconds. With the 2D segments, the 8-bit-esque visuals and mechanics of the original Super Mario Bros are kept almost perfectly intact. It's that kind of attention to detail that set a good game apart from a great game in a lot of cases, and this is no exception.
Super Mario Odyssey is an absolute masterpiece of 3D platforming. The tight controls, the rich diversity in the worlds, the plethora of hidden collectibles, the outstanding soundtrack, and the stunning visuals all put this game in a tier far above any 3D platformer we've seen until now. There are a TON of costumes to unlock both through amiibo scans as well as in-game currency that give a level of visual customization very uncommon for the Mario series. If you own a Switch, this is an ABSOLUTE must-own. If you don't own a Switch, this game alone makes the system an ABSOLUTE must-own.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.