Super Mario Odyssey, and the Joy of Playing

I’ve been playing through Super Mario Odyssey and recording it for the YouTube channel, and while I can’t do a full review yet, I can tell you this: it’s extremely fun.

Odyssey has been getting near universal acclaim since its release, putting Nintendo in an interesting position — it might be competing against itself for Game of the Year. Right now Odyssey and Breath of the Wild are neck and neck on Metacritic along with some other heavy hitters like Horizon: Zero Dawn and Persona 5. It’ll be interesting to see how the various media outlets rank the best titles of 2017, because there are several strong contenders.

But we’re not here to compare and contrast or to rile up certain fanbases. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of what I love about Super Mario Odyssey. It’s been scratching an itch I didn’t know I had: to play a bright, vibrant game that feels relaxing and joyful and allows me the freedom to explore on my own terms.

Odyssey takes several familiar elements from the Mario series and expands on them in innovative ways. It feels like a spiritual successor to Mario 64 in that there are several worlds with collectibles that you can obtain in any order you want. It borrows the second-player mechanic from Galaxy to let someone else control Cappy. It hearkens back to the 8-bit days with classic 2-D platforming sections. It stole Cat Peach from 3D World, which is…a thing, I guess.

There are hundreds of moons scattered across Odyssey’s vast worlds, and each one feels like an achievement, big or small. Some are basic and simple but still feel like an adequate reward for a quick task. Others require creative platforming or puzzle solving. Still others are multi-moons as a reward for beating bosses. Coupled with each level’s purple coins and other collectibles like costumes and souvenirs, you can be as much of a hoarder as you want — or simply get the minimum number of moons to move on.

What little criticism I’ve seen about Odyssey focuses on its difficulty (or lack there of). Certainly, this is not a hard game in the traditional sense. It throws moons at you like Oprah throws giveaways at her studio audience. If you’re just looking to beat the main story, you’ll find more than enough without even trying. But those people are missing the point — I’m not playing a Mario game for a Dark Souls/Contra/Cuphead experience. And there are plenty of moments where you can still find a challenge in Odyssey, like an inventive route or jumping combination to get a moon before you’re supposed to.

Still, there is so much care packed into each world, especially the big ones. There are references across the Mario franchise and there are new creations that feel like they’ve been there all along. And coupled with some new moves like the dive and ground pound jump, Mario can be controlled with more versatility than ever before. The whole thing is just fun, through and through.

If we get the chance, we’ll look to do a full review for either the site or the show once we’ve had a chance to complete the game, but I wholeheartedly recommend Super Mario Odyssey. I’m playing it on Shaun’s Switch, but it honestly has me close to picking up a system myself — it’s that good.

4 thoughts on “Super Mario Odyssey, and the Joy of Playing

  1. I’d agree, so far Odyssey isn’t hard in anyway. I’m someone who loves challenges, but it doesn’t matter in Odyssey, because it’s just so damn fun exploring and discovering what all the worlds have.

  2. It’s really grabbed me as well. Actually writing a post for later today for it. The reviews seem justified in giving this game high marks. The gameplay, pace, color, sound all blend for a strong Mario entry (which is saying something). Excited to get to new kingdoms and see all the new enemies and hidden moons.

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