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Posted on Nov 2nd 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Mario, Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo, Platformer, Bros, Switch

The Switch has been out for roughly 8 months as of this article. It's been selling at or above expectations each month. Software attach rates are incredibly high. In general, people seem quite enthusiastic about the system. I picked one up at launch hoping Zelda would tide me over while I waited patiently for much of the future software that has been promised. Zelda didn't strike me like I'd hoped it would. Arms and Splatoon 2 are for a different audience than myself, and while I had a bit of fun playing both with my son, they are not games I've returned to or have ever been interested in playing by myself. As a day one Wii U owner, I've played a significant amount of Mario Kart 8 already, so the deluxe version isn't quite what I want to justify owning the system.

With games like Fire Emblem, Shin Megami Tensei V, Kirby, Dragon Quest and others looming in the distance, I've never been worried that I'll regret my purchase in the long run. But after 8 months, I really do long for something to play that gets me excited to own a Switch. With that in mind, I have very high hopes for Super Mario Odyssey and how it will make me feel to be a Switch owner.

I didn't quite realize how excited I was for Mario Odyssey until the release day grew closer. Sure, it looked quite good the whole time, but as October 27th drew nearer, the anticipation was definitely building. I think that's because I've been starving for a Mario experience that spoke to me like it used to. There have been no lack of Mario games over the last several years, but 3D World, New Super Mario Bros, and Mario Run haven't been what I wanted from a Mario game. Mario Maker scratched that itch enough to tide me over, but beyond just the solid gameplay of that title, I wanted a fully realized Mario World to explore and get lost in once more. The last game that did that for me was Super Mario Galaxy and that was 10 years ago!

With the lack of Mario love in my life as of late and the feeling that I should have waited to purchase my Switch until there was more software to suit my tastes, Mario Odyssey had some pretty lofty expectations to meet.

Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead | Nearly the Entirety of the game has been played in Two Player Mode with my son. I've mainly been playing Mario with the Pro Controller while he has controlled Cappy with the Joy-Cons docked in the Grip, we do switch off occasionally when he thinks an area would be more fun to play with as Mario or to try a new transformation. We have dabbled a bit with other control methods, but found this to be the most comfortable for us.

The whole story behind Mario Odyssey is ridiculous right from the start. Bowser has once again kidnapped Peach, but this time he has a not-so-elaborate plan of forcing her to marry him. This consists of traveling to different Kingdoms in the world and stealing items for their wedding such as a wedding band, the perfect cake, a special bouquet, and other wedding related items. The tiara he stole for his "fiance" just happens to be a sentient hat-type being and so you team up with it's brother, charmingly named Cappy, to get both your ladies back from old reliable Bowser. In addition to all that silliness, Bowser has employed a fanatical anthropomorphic-rabbit-wedding planner family that act as bosses throughout the game. That is the story of Mario Odyssey in a nutshell. It's goofy, it's charming, it's dumb, and it's fun all at the same time.

The story took us about 11-12 hours to complete. In that time, we traveled to 14 different Kingdoms, and collected approximately 175 Moons (like Stars in the previous Mario titles). Some of the kingdoms are what you'd expect. An ice themed kingdom, a water themed kingdom, a desert, and other such staples. There were several much more interesting themes though, such as the Lost Kingdom, Luncheon Kingdom, a pre-historic themed kingdom, and the Wooded Kingdom.  The latter may not sound too unique, but was a fantastic post-apocalyptic setting full of lush forestry, as well as vast sprawling machinery and robotic lifeforms with a somehow fitting 60's psychedelic rock musical theme. The expected Bowser's Castle stage was easily among my favorites. Instead of the typical grey stone walled, lava-pit and fire-ball-centric design we are used to at this point, Bowser has this absolutely stunning Japanese-styled fortress that is built in the sky across multiple floating islands. I got a very welcome dose of Jade Empire nostalgia while laying siege on this beautiful, epic castle that will no doubt find itself among my all time favorite Mario stages. All in all, the amount of diversity in the styles of levels was superb. And I didn't even mention the so silly it's delightful, New Donk City.

As with pretty well any Mario game, the controls and physics are spot on. It feels comfortable for someone who has played a lot of Mario over the last 3 decades of my life and the moves we've grown up on from Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy feel better than ever. The new abilities you have with Cappy fit in very comfortably. The movement style abilities such as jumping on the cap for an extra bounce or being able to toss Cappy at enemies or objects is intuitive and easy. Mario's arsenal of moves is at an all time high, but not to the point that it is overwhelming like can be the case in other games such as the Batman Arkham games might feel at times.

Cappy's most exciting ability is definitely his power to take control of different enemies throughout the game. From Dinosaurs to Goombas, from Frogs to Army Tanks, it is never unsatisfying to take control of the various characters. And the first order of business with each new possession is to turn the camera around to take a look at how awesome a Lakitu, Blooper or a Hammer Bro looks when sporting a Mario Hat and Mustache. I consistently find myself grinning as I inhabit characters, even after the dozenth time it happens. It's a really incredible mechanic and always feels good. And once again SPOILERS................The end of the story has you possessing Bowser and using him to smash his way out of the center of the moon to escape with Peach after your battle with him leaves the area destroyed and crumbing. What an amazing sequence to play! The controls and the music and the odd combination of elation and tension is just unparalleled.

Everything up to this point has been really great, but my favorite part about Mario is exploring these wonderfully designed levels, solving puzzles, and overcoming challenges in order to gain more rewards. In my opinion, this is where Super Mario Odyssey breaks the mold and puts itself above and beyond arguably any other Mario game, or possibly 3D platformer, up to this point. It definitely takes cues from modern design trends of open world style games in that each Kingdom is packed to the brim with content. What I like a lot better about this approach is that each Kingdom is far smaller than your typical open world style game so that every single inch of it is carefully thought out, a pleasure to explore, unique, and most importantly it's got fun stuff to do! There is no dead weight in any of these kingdoms. And the shear amount of different kinds of puzzles is unprecedented. It's got a great mixture of classic ideas such as platforming challenges, fetch quests, collectathons, races, and boss fights with a huge dose of new challenges like hidden art riddles, Moon challenges, secret areas hidden within secret areas, music challenges, retro 8-bit themed areas, and consistently creative uses of the environment or mechanics.

Mario Odyssey is such a massive game that it feels like after finishing the main story line, the "real" game begins. New Kingdoms become available, the amount of objectives to complete more than doubles, the types of objectives increases greatly, remixed objectives open up, and very importantly to me, they offer up an insane dose of fan-service. Running around the Mushroom Kingdom from Mario 64 while decked out in a 64-bit Mario Costume was among the greatest joys I've had playing a game in recent memory. Having 8-bit remixed versions of songs from the new soundtrack is incredible. Being able to dress up as Mario from Donkey Kong, Dr. Mario, Mario Maker, NES Open Tournament Golf, Luigi, WaLuigi, and dozens of other nostalgic and new costumes is something that normally doesn't appeal to me, but Mario can pull it off like no other. And the fact that all of that content is included with my initial purchase just feels good. I don't need to purchase a season pass or hop onto the e-shop to purchase costumes. Just like when I was a kid, I can earn everything I want in game, the way it should be. Some of costumes are so silly I feel compelled to wear them too. My son and I unlocked the ability to travel to the Dark Side of the Moon which gave us the challenge of defeating the Wedding Planner Rabbits again in a boss rush style battle consecutively with no healing between 4 of the 5 battles. When we finally accomplished that goal, we were awarded with the usual moons, as well as a ridiculous looking king outfit. Something out of a high school stage production. It was such a joy to bound around in moon gravity stating that we were the  "King of the Moon!!"

As of this writing, we are about 300 Moons (about 20 hours) into the game and still feel like we've barely scratched the surface. It still feels like there are more Kingdoms to unlock, different types of challenges we've yet to encounter, new enemies to take control of, more fan-service hidden away, and so much more to do. Not once has Super Mario Odyssey felt like a chore. It's been pure bliss from the start to whatever point in the game we've gotten to this far. I can't remember the last game of any genre that has had me this eager to explore a world. I often get sucked into stories, characters, or gameplay mechanics, but it's extremely rare that I want to spend more time investigating an environment. There have been countless times when we have been heading towards a specific objective and one of us spots something interesting that warrants further investigation that just opens up this huge new quest or area that we didn't know existed up to that point. Every time it happens, we both squeal with joy about the discovery. I can't wait to see what other surprises Mario has for us in the coming weeks. Because unlike every other Switch offering to this point, I am confident I'll be returning back to Mario Odyssey for many weeks to come.

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Thanks for the article! It's exactly what I expected it to be a worthy successor to Mario 64 and Galaxy.

P.S. - Thanks for saving my Christmas!
@Addicted: Not just a worthy successor. It's a milestone for the series.

PS - If Santa is nice this year you're gonna have the best Christmas you've had since you were 12!
Thanks for the review and your impressions about SM Odyssey! This game seems to do what Breath of the Wild did with the Zelda franchise: Going into new directions with new gameplay but staying true to the spirit and core gameplay of the franchise. Additionally, your review made very clear how childlike bonkers and lighthearted this game is, something which is rare in current games which take themselves way too seriously. We need more playfulness in our games, something a Mario game delivers.
It was kind of difficult to go over this one and avoid the spoilers, but I have to agree that from what I've played (the ten minute demo at Target), it is certainly the Mario game that I've wanted.  I never got much into Galaxy (hate the controls), but Odyssey makes me think of a mix of Mario 64 and the really good parts of Sunshine (the FLUD-less stages, for example).

Unfortunately, I have to wait until Christmas to play this one.  Does it have multiple slot for saving?
@lendelin: I feel like Odyssey stayed true to what makes Mario enjoyable, while still experimenting and trying new ideas. Zelda scrapped a ton of what I like about Zelda which ended up being something that was no longer for me, which hurts a lot after enjoying the series for decades now. Mario hit the sweet spot. Zelda took too many liberties for my tastes.

@bombatomba: Not sure about multiple saves on one profile, but I know you can just start a new file on a separate profile if you want to do multiple playthroughs.
I look forward to reading the rest of your thoughts about Super Mario Odssey. I have not finished the game yet so I will hold off on reading the rest until then. I am having a blast with the game. I am taking my time and finding every moon I can before I move to the next area. I love this game! Like Breath of the wild I like just exploring the kingdoms and looking at all the wonderful detail Nintendo put into them. When I first started the game I got that Nintendo type of excitement I used to get when I played Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario 64 for the first time. I love the opening scenes. I was tearing up. When you first land on the Cascade kingdom the music begins plays and you can freely run around It was joyus! All I think about at work is playing this game.

It is funny Zelda Breath of the Wild is one of the best gaming experiences I have had ever, but it is not my favorite Zelda game. I missed the dungeons and the classic zelda item hook of finding an item and using it on the boss and in the dungeon. What I adored about it is the sense of wonder and exploration. I would waste hours just exploring. I am still playing it and finding korok seed in areas I have never been. It is the perfect chill out game for me. I have 760 koroks now and really enjoy just exploring for the little guys and seeing the world of Hyrule.

bombatomba It does have multiple save slots 5 of them. When you select new game it stars a new file from one of those. The save files are also accessed under data management in the options menu. You can start a new game on a save file from there.
It was the best Mario game I've ever played.  I don't even like Mario games in general.  Last one I remember beating was Super Mario World on the SNES.

If you want more switch games, get Disgaea 5.  It's great for strategy.  Or massive grinding.  Sine Mora EX is a solid shootemup.  Blaster Master was a great game as well.
@Mr Irrelavent: I kinda lost interest in the Disgaea Series. I beat and very much enjoyed 1. Beat 2 and liked it. Played a significant amount of 3, but lost interest. Tried 4 and didn't get very far at all. They seemed to have become too complicated for me. I still enjoy the characters and story, but the gameplay has become too much of an investment for my liking.

I actually picked up Sine Mora EX on a recent trip. Just havn't opened it up yet because my son was hogging the Switch for Splatoon 2 and now Mario Odyssey has taken over. Definitely looking forward to trying it out though.

Blaster Master has no physical release so it's not gonna find itself on my wishlist unless that changes.
2017 was one of the best years for first party Nintendo games! I'm very much looking forward to what is coming in 2018(Metroid Prime 4 aside Smiley ).
@Crabmaster2000:I feel the same way about 3 and 4 as well.  Never beat them even though I've got them for both the PS3 and Vita.  5 surprised me as I loved some of the newer concepts they added.  Things like modifying your exp, skill, money, mana, and such made leveling many things far more easy.  Just a shame I didn't catch on till I was in for a good 80+ hours.

As to Blaster Master, it was just $10.  Yeah, I hate that there's no physical release.  Still, it's one of the few d/l only games I think was worth every penny.  Maybe it's because I sucked or get lost easy, I still managed to get a solid 10 hours out of it.
@Mr Irrelavent: I've actually heard quite a few people recommend Disgaea 5 for me. It does sound like there have been some improvements and maybe I'll check it out down the road. Guess I just feel burned out from the series after not enjoying 3 and 4.

Blaster Master most likely is very up my alley. I just really have no interest in digital only. Even when great games are available for free that's just not for me.
@Crabmaster2000:I can definitely understand not wanting digital only.  When the switch first came out, I needed more games and the limited number on release....but yes, I can understand that one.

I'd love to say getting all the dlc from the PS4 release was a good reason but honestly, I just loved abusing the system with all the new tools.  Also I thought the characters were far more funny then many from 3 and 4.  It at times reminded me of some of the humor from the first.

I know the 2 games I'm waiting for were released on other systems but currently, waiting on Super beat Xonic and Axiom Verge.  The switch has quickly turned into my go to system this year.
I finally got to jump into SMO with my girlfriend. It was worth the wait! I agree with everything that Crabby wrote about the game. Spent a good 4-5 hours today, really enjoying the co-op. I let her start the game as Mario, with me controlling Cappy, and switched back and forth a couple times. Sooo fun!

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