Super Mario Odyssey review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Medium: Cartridge/Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards

Graduating from college with full honors, marrying your high school sweetheart, playing that first paying gig with your band and witnessing the birth of your firstborn, these would all be considered defining moments an individual?s life. Granted, I can?t say I?ve experience any of the aforementioned events, but I could say Nintendo allowed me to experience something just as comparable. I took control of their iconic plumber and threw his hat at a frog, ?capturing? it and forcing it to do my bidding. Questions begin to race through my mind, How does it work? What happens to the mind of host? Is this ethical way for a hero to act? Why does the possession stop when I walk through a doorway? None of these inquiries really matter because I?m going on yet another grand adventure with Mario once again.

The action starts in the skies of the Mushroom Kingdom, on one of Bowser?s iconic dirigible. What seemed like a routine fight between these eternal rivals, had a tinge of something out of the ordinary. Bowser was clad in a stylish white tuxedo, something we?ve never seen him do in his many numerous appearances in video games, managed to knock Mario off his ship with a hat toss that would make Oddjob proud. Bowser declares victory, stomps on Mario?s hat for good measure before the wind blows it away. To add insult to injury the hat crosses paths with the ship?s propeller shredding it into ribbons. As the ship moves towards the horizon, we see a hat wearing ghostly figure holding the tattered remains of Mario?s cap.

That figure is revealed to be Cappy, a resident of the Cap Kingdom who rescued Mario. He needs Mario?s help to rescue his sister. Bowser has hired a group of rabbit-like creatures called the Broodals to round up items for his non-consensual wedding to the Princess. Once Mario and his new partner secure a ship, which is aptly named The Odyssey, they are off to rescue their loved ones from Bowser and his band of lagomorph wedding planners.

Being a mainline 3D Mario game, this title is broken up into fourteen hub worlds, your object is to collect Power Moons hidden around these worlds. With enough of these moons, you will be able to power the Odyssey to fly to other kingdoms. Missions types are culled from various titles in the 3D Mario line, these include exploration missions, boss fights, platforming challenges with and without the game?s gimmick.

Speaking of gimmick…unlike the controversial F.L.U.D.D. from Super Mario Sunshine, Cappy does not feel tacked onto the title. Cappy?s ability to capture certain creatures and put them under Mario?s control is extremely versatile and ensures that no two worlds play the same. In addition to the capturing ability, Cappy can also be used as an aid in traversal,  collecting items and even cleaning up poison puddles left on the floor by enemies. Cappy feels more like a partner than F.L.U.D.D. as Cappy will provide commentary as well as hints to the player through the title. If the player is feeling adventurous, they can even hand over control of Cappy to a second player, which I?m sure will most likely result in a lot of frustration.

The non-motion controls in Odyssey are intuitive and feel great. In fact the first thing I did when I got control of Mario was to see how many of his 3D moveset was left intact. To my surprise and glee a majority of it was left intact. The motion controls can be flaky at times. The spin throw can be hit or miss, usually resulting in an upward or downward throw. The upward and downward throw are purely motion only moves, which means if your preferred method to play is portable it is unlikely you use them. The spin throw has a non-motion input, but this isn?t listed in the action guide. However not being able to utilize these moves will not hinder your ability to complete the game.

The presentation of the game is fantastic, each world is unique and full of charming citizens. These creatures range from the mundane like the people of New Donk City to the surreal like the fork-like citizens of Luncheon Kingdom. My personal favorite were Steam Gardeners of the Wooded Kingdom. They look like watering cans with a rusted, well worn look. The dialog they output is very mechanical, yet oddly charming. The ability to customize Mario?s wardrobe is purely aesthetic, but the sheer amount of fanservice found in them, makes me want to unlock it all. Amiibo functionality is alright, they help place a maker of an undiscovered power moon. The three ?wedding? adds a set costumes in addition to the standard functionality. The music is pretty memorable, and the sound effects are effective. The clank of a chain chomp?s chain to the sounds of footfalls on the desert sand definitely help breath life into the world.

This latest entry to Mario certainly helps prove that single player experiences still have a place in an industry where games as a service seems to be the norm. I managed complete the game in about 20-30 hours, a robust post-game will keep the me coming back for more. Coupled with Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, it looks like Nintendo will need to clear some shelf space when end of the year awards are named by the gaming press. If you don?t have a Switch, I?d encourage you to get one immediately before the holiday rush begins. This is an experience you should not sit on.

Grade: A