Unlike many, my history with the little Italian plumber is limited. I played Super Mario Brothers on the Gameboy when I was younger, but I never ventured into the realms of Mario 64, or the Mario RPG game. No, I was a sheltered child, and I never felt the need to turn back the years to play the classics that get talked about even to this day. That’s not to say that when I saw the trailer for Mario Odyssey I didn’t get excited though. Having skipped a few generations of the game, this bright vibrant world was being unveiled right before me and I felt like I never missed a beat.
Odyssey has a much more fleshed out story than other Mario games. Not only does it instil plenty of emotion into the story, but also has a good selection of characters from the Mario universe in, with Bowser and Peach playing starring roles along with the lovable plumber. Of course, the main plot starts with Prince Peach being captured by Bowser, and him taking the princess away to marry her. Mario must stop her! However as Bowser escapes on his floating pirate ship, Mario’s only mode of transport appears to be a broken down Odyssey ship. The story is basically an elaborate game of cat and mouse. Nothing too in depth that will have the younger audience scratching their head, but also a story that the older among us will enjoy too.
Having not played a Mario game for a while, Odyssey doesn’t hold any information ransom against those who haven’t played a Mario game at all. The story is self contained, and enjoyable without any prior knowledge of the series. This would be a perfect opportunity for a child to be introduced to the Mario series and may spark interest in playing the older games too.
Odyssey wonderful. There are no qualms about it. Whether you play it in handheld mode, or docked on a TV, the graphics, and art style ooze character. There is a resemblance between Odyssey and Zelda in terms of graphical style, but that’s not surprising given they are both Nintendo releases. Initially I thought maybe the two titles were using the same engine, however they are not.
Mario, along with all other characters in Odyssey looks fantastic too. High resolution textured, and plenty of detail. The animation also ticks all the right boxes too. The way in which Mario scales the environment feels fluid and realistic. The physics engine being used is second to Zelda in terms of realism, this can be seen when you are skating and gliding around on the Ice levels.
Playing docked and handheld I am almost 100% sure I was playing at 60FPS. There were times that this did drop to around 30 when there was plenty of NPCs or graphical effects on screen, but I was pleasantly surprised I was at the silky smoothness of 60FPS the majority of the time.
You’ve all probably heard it by now, but Odyssey has one of the better soundtracks to come out of a AAA game in recent year, but that’s not all Mario has to rave about in the sound department. No no. The one thing that I was really impressed with, was how everything you jump on in the world has it’s own unique noise. Literally everything sounds different. There is hundreds of objects that Mario will find himself jumping on and each one sounds different to the next. Nintendo could quite easily have just gone with a handful of generic noises and thrown them in but they went the extra mile to make Odyssey sound brilliant on all levels.
Mario’s voice acting is done the same as Breath of the Wild, with a generic grunting sound from characters, and this is one of the few games that I feel the lack of voice acting doesn’t hurt it sufficiently. The characters are still able to portray their emotions across with how well the models are animated, so the lack of voice acting isn’t really noticed as much.
I’ve owned the Nintendo Switch since around June time, having flirted with Zelda for most of the time, Mario was a breathe of fresh air that opened up a playful side that I had not experienced in many years. Everything you do in Mario is just so much fun. Nothing feels like filler content, or pointless. Everything garners reward in someway, and everything is easily accessible for any level of gamer.
Playing from a third person view in a 3D world is something we don’t often see from a Mario game, but I really see this as being the future gameplay type we see from the franchise from now on. The series has had success in this genre before on the N64, but none to the level of Odyssey.
Odyssey is split across fourteen levels. Some are shorter than others, but this amount of levels and the content found inside them is unprecedented. One of the ways in which Odyssey slows down the progression between each world, is by requiring the player to find Power Moons in order to repair and power up your ship each time. The game has over 550 Power Moons to find, meaning you will never not have something to do here. Each Power Moon can be collected either by doing some form of platforming, a mini game, or helping out other NPCs. If an area looks remotely special, there is probably a Power Moon there for you to find. Even after completing the game, I still have the motivation to go back in and find the rest of these moons. The gameplay is that loving, challenging, and fun that nothing feels like a chore.
The power moon hunt is the perfect experience for those who want to pick up and play the game for a few minutes when on the bus, or waiting in line at the bank, but still just as much depth for those who are sitting in their arm chair at home. It really is one of my favorite gameplay features in a game ever.
One of the other main features from Odyssey is how Mario now has a special hat which can mind control almost anything it touches. As Mario throws his hat at any unsuspecting victim, you are transformed into controlling the minion. Each enemy you capture will have it’s own unique set of movement type and abilities which will more than likely allow you to progress in the level, or give you access to more power moons in the area!
Even though the game does prompt for use of the joy cons quite a bit, I was able to play the game entirely by using the Pro Controller just fine. Playing in handheld mode also proved no more difficult than normal either. Whilst I did prefer playing in docked mode, the power moon hunt will certainly be something I do on the move.
A full playthrough of Odyssey will take around 12-15 hours, but those wanting to go back to find all the moons and see everything this game has to offer, and believe me, you will; you’ll probably end up around the forty hour mark. It may not be as long and content heavy as say Breathe of the Wild, but these are two different types of games, and Mario for me is the better of the two anyway.
- Stunning graphics
- Hours and hours worth of content
- Some of the most fun gameplay I've ever played in years
- Frame rate drops in busy scenes