When the first trailer for Super Mario Odyssey came out it underscored the magic all Mario games seem to share. Because my four and five year old, who have no prior sentimental knowledge of Mario, made it vocally very clear this was the game they wanted (well, a T-Rex in the trailer also helps). So we got a Nintendo Switch, specifically for this game. And we’re two weeks in, so lets find out if it was worth it.
Every new Nintendo platform has its own (proper) Mario game. So when they bring out a new console, as is the case with the Switch, you know Nintendo will poor every bit of creative ingenuity into the game because of the legacy of Mario. And they certainly did it again this time.
The gameplay for Odyssey is deceptively simple in its options. There are basically only three things you can do: you can walk, jump or throw your cap. And this last action is where most of the games’ magic is. By throwing your cap you can become other characters or control items. Not to spoil too much, but the creators use this specifically to open up many fun and wonderful experiences. And this is where Mario Odyssey shines. The game is filled with just so many creative little sheer moments of fun and joy. It is all about putting a smile on your face.
We finished the main story in a week (I play the end bosses, the kids everything else). But this is irrelevant. The game makes no pretensions about this. Following the linear game story is just to get this out of the way to start the real fun! So we are long from finished. There is more to explore! When you start out the kingdoms seem pretty straightforward, or even small, but when you go back and really start exploring (finding those moons) you notice there are many more secrets to discover in those carefully crafted kingdoms.
Super Mario Odyssey is incredibly fun because the game keeps coming up with new and creative ways to bring joy and tickle your imagination. You get the sense that, for whoever worked on this game, this was a labor of love and dedication. The game feels finished and complete.
Nintendo also managed to cater to different levels of experience with one game. My kids can enjoy the game while running and jumping around and maybe missing most of what’s possible in a kingdom. But, if you want a challenge there is a richness hidden in those maps that even more skilled gamers will enjoy. This is a rare feat.
My only critical remark is about the two-player option. In effect it just breaks the controller in two, while giving both players less control. So they either should have kept it out or tried for a Lego games approach. We tried it a few times, but now we just use one controller and the pomodoro technique.
Apart from the game itself the Switch platform experience also adds to the joy. The option to switch between play modes is not a gimmick. We switch all the time. Also, we keep the console in standby mode so it boots instantly (no load times) and you can play within seconds. And in the game itself there are no long nagging load screens or repetitive things. Nintendo seems to really understand the not-so-fun parts of gaming and tried its best to eliminate those elements and by doing so demonstrates they are still undefeated when it comes to making fun games. So, yeah, worth it!
Also published on Medium.