UNITED STATES—Gone are the days of jumping on flowers and mushrooms for power-ups to defeat enemies; now, you must become the enemies to win. Mario is back and, this time, he’s going to need a new friend.
“Super Mario Odyssey” is the latest addition to the Mario series, and is a departure from previous games in many ways. The story is relatively the same; Mario must chase down and rescue Princess Peach, who has been kidnapped by his arch-nemesis, Bowser. Bowser is planning a massive, glorious wedding for himself and Peach, and is ransacking kingdom after kingdom to get all the food and decorations ready.
Mario is always one step behind, arriving at the kingdoms just in time to watch his enemy get away. Keeping to his plumber ways, Mario must clean up all the problems that Bowser and his wedding planners, the “Broodals,” have created along the way. He must also search for “power moons,” which are hidden throughout the maps and are used to power his ship, the Odyssey.
The game is similar to “Super Mario Galaxy,” which is also a three-dimensional Mario game featuring many worlds to maneuver through. It has a leg-up on the older game in many ways, though, beginning first with the graphics and settings. As is customary of a massive, new game, the graphics are superb. The textures, in particular, are always very interesting and neatly done, giving the game a nice aesthetic. Each world is unique, and Mario ends up going everywhere, from a nice, warm, bubbly beach to a dark forest where the sound of a monster’s pounding footsteps constantly reminds you that there is danger around every corner. There are many puzzles to solve and obstacles to overcome. And, of course, each world is filled with monsters.
The player can now actually customize what they wear and will occasionally find that, to reach a power moon, they must change their style. This is another departure from the older games in the series. The real game changer, though, is the way Mario goes about defeating the enemies and solving puzzles. In “Super Mario Odyssey,” he is not alone in his quest to defeat Bowser.
He meets a small ghost-hat, named Cappy, who is also looking to rescue his sister from the enemy. The hat replaces his regular red cap, and can be thrown around to knock enemies out of the way. He is not only a weapon, though; Cappy can jump onto other enemies and characters, transferring Mario into them and giving the player control over them. Each controllable enemy has unique abilities suited to the environment they are found in. When controlled, they all wear Mario’s red cap and sport Mario’s iconic mustache.
The gameplay is seamless and relatively simple, making it a great game for children as well as adults to play. The two-player gameplay, which was very lackluster in “Super Mario Galaxy,” has stepped up considerably in “Super Mario Odyssey” and is now genuinely enjoyable. The second player controls Cappy and is in charge of attacking and taking control of enemies as well as picking up many collectibles for Mario. The second player is allowed total freedom to move, although cannot stray too far away from Mario. This new style allows both partners to contribute to the game equally.
“Super Mario Odyssey” is genuinely a fantastic game. The worlds will occasionally seem small, but are so packed with challenges and hidden power moons that each will take plenty of time to complete. Each will feature at least one boss fight, which provide a nice change of pace. The game will be either a joy to or a nightmare for completionists; there are many collectibles and they can sometimes be very difficult to find. Two-player is actually recommended for finding all of these and can make the game even more enjoyable.
“Super Mario Odyssey” is a cute, colorful, packed game for all ages. It is a terrific addition to the Mario series and may be one of, if not the, best so far. It is rated E and available on the Nintendo Switch.