Well, Mario is back with his fully fledged Switch appearance. Hot on the heels of battling Rabbids and power sliding Mario Karts the fan favourite returns once again to save Peach from the clutches of Bowser. It’s a good time to be a Switch owner, because this game deserves the plaudits and superlatives that it is leaving in its wake.
Nintendo have nailed it, pure, sweet and simple – this is the title that every Switch owner will play.
With the word Odyssey in the title there is nothing misleading, its a big adventure, a globetrotting series of worlds for you to leap through fully utilising any familiar Mario-isms and learning a few new tricks along the way. Homer may have re-thought his classical tale if it was stacked next to this game given the depth of the travels of its protagonist and his aptly named Airship.
Starting off on the receiving end of a scuffle with Bowser (over – you guessed it, Princess Peach!) Mario finds himself dusting off in front of new friend Cappy, an apparition of sorts who for the most part takes on the appearance of Mario’s classic cap, but can morph into any headgear you pick up and more notably give you control over a wide range of enemies.
This is a great mechanic and is often the answer to most obvious puzzles or secrets. Been in the early stages taking control of a Chain Chomp is easy and using it to ensure you progress is pretty straightforward, in fact taking over bad guys is generally handy and mostly that straightforward, controls are always simple and in context. I finally get to be Bullet Bill in a 3D environment, so thats awesome.
There is such a wide range of environments on offer, the most surprising was the contemporary city way back from reveal, that of course was surpassed recently by the beach themed world complete with Mario nipples. It really doesn’t matter, they are all fun to play and all pay homage to classical Mario, including the wacky characters that inhabit the game, each with a theme and costume options that stop you thinking of Mario as a Plumber and more of whatever is required on the day.
Each world has a currency of its own for collecting and a plentiful supply of more traditional gold coins to collect for spending in the shops on outfits. The main objective in each area is to collecting enough moons to power your airship to next level, this isn’t that hard given that they are in healthy supply and the end level Boss generally has a multi version attached to them.
Family Friendly and imaginative it most certainly is. From the outset it could appear to be a mish-mash tidal wave of ideas, but it works on every level – each area having just enough length and challenges to keep you coming back for more and being encouraging enough to get you through without hitting a wall, having access to levels and being able to go back to them at will also adds to the replay value.
Some of the more favourite areas for me are the inclusion of 2D classic style Mario levels, often laid up against a piece of environment and wrapping around the 3D world. They are wonderfully implemented and deliver happy spots of nostalgia all the time driving you forward.
The Switch itself does a terrific job of delivering the game, the graphics are crisp and quick, the environments are well sized and Mario carries some nice detail. As for controls, again the Switch offers a multitude of options either attached to the portable unit, detached Joy-Cons or by traditional controller. Each have their own quirks to suit different players, but the rumble and motion of the Joy-Con is taken to great effect, it won’t be long before you’re working up an RSI injury flicking Cappy at enemies or shaking your Joy-Con to use an enemy power. Worth noting here too that Cappy can be controlled by a second player and this is an ideal way to get a younger couch co-op gamer in on the action.
In closing Mario Odyssey is leading the charge to towards the end of the Switch’s first calendar year, already with a catalogue of classics and new I.P.s Nintendo have come out swinging and absolutely delivered at every turn. While the harder, faster consoles are arguing over power the Switch has proven again that its all about the playability.
What better way to prove that than deliver the Mario game that the fans wanted in a way that can capture a whole new generation at the same time.