“There’s nothing quite like the sensation of getting a multi moon”
– Gary Whitta
– spoilers –
Super Mario: Odyssey is a fantastic game. Here’s a list of disjointed notes I made on my phone about it whilst playing.
- Mario has scrubbed up nicely. Water effects and frame rate are improved and look beautiful. The fluidity of animation is extremely noticeable, and this isn’t a superfluous matter either, as with a platformer it genuinely increases the quality of the experience by getting us even closer to pin point accuracy.
- The music, as always, is great, and it fits the aesthetic style of each kingdom, all of which are varied and starkly contrastive in terms of look and feel. Whereas previous 3D Mario games felt like levels within a singular world, this feels like an abundance of completely different worlds entirely. Truly an odyssey.
- The fade-in, dotted technique is a great camera feature that annihilates dodgy angles. A similar technique is in Breath of the Wild. It’s a simple outline that appears when Mario is not in foreground. We’ve seen this before in Mario, but it really helps when this depth of field is in play.
- Much like the game shares certain similarities with Breath of the Wild (from an exploratory perspective), it also takes a leaf out of A Link Between Worlds with the 2D platforming aspects. The perfect Mario game makes a note of encapsulating 2D platforming within itself so as to not leave any stone unturned or any thirst for Mario’s heritage un-quenched. The 8-Bit musical transition here is seamless and addicting.
- As usual with the main line Mario series, Odyssey doesn’t insult your intelligence, teaching new players in a subtle way within the environment and gradually increasing difficulty (plus the ability to seek out challenge within hidden objectives in the kingdoms). The post-game rejuvenates every single place you’ve just visited, this time with a vengeance.
- You have Mario’s entire move-set from the get go and so in theory you can achieve anything from the start. Rather the characters you control with Cappy are your abilities. It’s fun seeing known characters, and how you can exploit their unique traits within the environment to solve puzzles. Going into the game I thought that the Cap mechanic would feel a bit gimmicky, but with the hat dive jumping and alike it gives you an extra dimension of freedom in movement. To be honest I can’t imagine not having the hat throwing jump in future games.
- The game gives you abilities like F.L.U.D.D. but doesn’t restrict the gameplay to them; you can change ability and characteristics when you feel like it rather than having a constant weight on your shoulders (in a literal sense with F.L.U.D.D.). That wasn’t a bad thing, Sunshine is one of my favourite games, but it encourages you to interact with multiple different gameplay styles in a given scenario rather than rehashing one. It’s the evolution of those gimmicks.
- The game works within the confines of its genre to achieve whatever the hell it wants. It brings into play any gameplay style you could think of from environmental puzzles to rhythm mini-games and beyond.
- It takes everything you loved from Mario and makes it better – the homages to classic Mario with pixelated 64 and 64 sound bytes were so cool. It does what Galaxy 2 did with Bob-omb battlefield.
- The way the different characters alter the gameplay is amazing. I was particularly stunned by the Abzu style water gameplay evoked within the Lamode Kingdom.
- The boss battles are awesome and cinematic, although they are piss easy (apart from when you get to that gauntlet bit post-game, which was surprisingly a lot more finicky than it had any right being).
- The Crazy Cap empire has monopolised every poor Kingdom in the entire galaxy. Not even jovial creatures in a whimsical game can escape the harsh realities of commercialism. I’m saving your fucking planet, the least you can do is give me the souvenirs free of charge. Then again, it seems like Mario is single-handedly feeding these Kingdom’s economies on the side. A true hero.
To conclude, here’s ostensibly the same point I made earlier but elaborated upon.
Not only does the game have a variety of themes but the worlds themselves somehow achieve perfectly the feeling of separation and segregation from each other; they truly feel like encapsulated games within themselves. Perhaps it’s the inhabitants or the secondary currency. Or maybe it’s the graphical contrasts and aesthetic choices. Or maybe it’s the varying sound design and musical scores. Or maybe it’s an amalgamation of the bunch that achieves such diversive immersion. It’s not something I’ve felt In a Mario game before. Even with Super Mario Galaxy or 64 jumping into different levels it felt part of one cohesive experience, where as with this it’s tangential yet separated and widely, colourfully different constantly. Each experience stark and yet all of them making you better and honing your platforming craft in a neatly wrapped package. Perfection.