It’s not so often a game can drift you away from the illusion of time. Breath of the Wild was certainly the last game that had the conjury to make me forget about the real world and let me live in another. With its captivating storyline and beautiful animation, it still remains difficult to leave Hyrule – until recently. Super Mario Odyssey has left the clock without a cuckoo, meaning my minutes have morphed into hours without any realization of where they’ve disappeared.
For once, it isn’t the storyline that’s kept me gripped; it wouldn’t be a Super Mario game if the storyline was a masterpiece. There’s nothing special about Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach, and honestly, I’ve never been enthusiastic about weddings, and Peach’s voice being slightly irritating in Odyssey doesn’t really make me too urgent in her rescue. However, push one small nuisance aside, the gameplay has been some of the most enjoyable and inclusive yet for Nintendo.
Odyssey does everything you expect Nintendo to do in regards to difficulty, a slow ascent in the challenge as you goomba stomp your way through. Having been trapped in the difficulty of Wulverblade for a few weeks, Odyssey has felt like a gentle paddle in a pool full of cheep cheep. This relaxing feel to the game has allowed me to take the time to actively explore the worlds and find those power moons, and some certainly have some unique challenges.
I mentioned it before when I played the demo at Gamescom, but it’s definitely worth mentioning again and probably again after that; Odyssey effortlessly adapts from 2-D to 3-D with such grace it’s become one of my favorite aspects of the game. I knew I loved the additional 2-D gameplay when I played the demo, but after completing the Mayor’s quest in New Donk City, it’s managed to bring a cap full of nostalgia with it. With the Switch, Nintendo has managed to create games that are as vast and complex as all the big games, but yet remaining firmly rooted where the seed was first planted. Breath of the Wild was so inspired by its predecessors, it’s kept fans pondering about its placement in the timeline (definitely downfall). Super Mario Odyssey does the same, it feels so fresh and new, and yet it leaves snippets of previous Super Mario games everywhere.
I see Super Mario 64 everywhere in Odyssey, from jumping through pictures to get to another world, to Koopa Troopa challenging me to some form of race. Some of the characters are pretty engaging, especially the ones you can possess with Cappy. The T-rex was definitely amusing, and fishing as Lakitu was a peaceful few minutes, but gliding around as Glydon has become a bit of a cheap move to find me those power moons! Any doubts about Cappy have certainly been goomba stomped, and not for the first time. It really opens up the map to new possibilities, getting you into places you’d have never dreamed of before in a Super Mario game. The quirky decisions you make with that cap will probably get you a power moon, at least in my experience. There are so many power moons to find that thinking outside the question block really does reward you.
Visually, this is the most gorgeous Mario game yet. Each world I have so far visited has been full of personality, a palette of vibrant colors that really set them apart. Every world has its own collectibles to purchase, one of those being a unique outfit that will often be required to obtain certain power moons. Dressing, or undressing if you prefer, Mario is quite the odd experience, but one I’ve weirdly enjoyed. I even traveled back to the Cap World just to purchase a top hat; I’m as easily amused as the goombas that stack themselves.
I still have a few worlds to explore, but I’m already convinced they will be as delightful as the last ones. Already safe to say this has been a wonderful vacation, complete with unique souvenirs from around the Mario globe. It’s just a shame that eventually I will have to call an end to this marvelous adventure and prevent a wedding. Not that I want to encounter the Broodals again, they’re quite unnerving!