Exactly two years ago today, Nintendo released Super Mario Odyssey, the first next-gen Mario title on the Switch. The release also punctuated what may be any console’s best one-two punch in releasing a brand new Mario game only eight months after a new Zelda title – Breath of the Wild; this is further impressive considering it was within the very first year of the Nintendo Switch(spoiling us all…). I have mentioned numerous times in the past how much I absolutely love Super Mario Odyssey, so it seemed like a perfect
excuse opportunity to talk about some of my favorite memories of the game and what made it so special to me. <Mario voice> Here we go!!
Gameplay – The most important element of any Mario game is how well it plays and Mario Odyssey is quite possibly the smoothest playing, most well-constructed 3D Mario title. The game takes the foundation of prior entries like Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. The controls are nearly flawless, with the camera being a huge improvement over the aforementioned titles. I have also mentioned frequently how a remaster of Mario Sunshine with the improved camera and controls of Odyssey would be a dream come true(please, Nintendo…). The core gameplay mechanic of throwing your wearable sidekick Cappy at items and enemies also works much better than I had anticipated after first seeing the E3 trailer back in 2017. I have since seen others who have dismissed Odyssey in same way that Sunshine was back in 2003 by stating it’s just simply a gimmick and doesn’t provide “an actual game”. Every 3D Mario game since Mario 64 has involved some sort of “gimmick” to facilitate the central gameplay, combat or even attempting to further any in-game narrative outside of Mario rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser.
Another game design of Odyssey that I loved was the fact that it was laid out as a more open-world, sandbox-type game. I love the fact that you aren’t simply sent back to the beginning of a level after collecting a Power Moon, like in previous games like Sunshine or Mario 64 after collecting a star or Shine Sprite. This also makes it easier for someone like me, who has such ADD(as any blog post would indicate…) when playing most games that in the past I would often get quite sidetracked on one objective only to end up completing another in passing before ever getting where I was intending. Playing through Mario Odyssey reminded me in multiple ways of the older N64-era collect-a-thon games like Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie. The overwhelming number of Power Moons(999 to be precise) available to collect in the game didn’t annoy me as much as others; I simply loved playing the game that much I gladly spent 90+ hours doing everything within the game. The fact the game encouraged you to search every nook and cranny of the game and turn every stone was a fun experience that I enjoyed, yet certainly understand it may not be as enjoyable for everyone. The game also provided a number of puzzle stages similar to Mario Sunshine or Galaxy that would really test your patience and platforming skills, especially to collect the additional moons unlocked upon completing the relatively short main storyline.
Worlds – The level design of Mario Odyssey was another memorable part of my hours upon hours of playing; I would rank the playable worlds in Odyssey second only to the Mario Galaxy games. From the foggy Halloween Town look of Cap Kingdom to the arid expanse of Sand Kingdom to finally reaching the low-gravity Moon Kingdom and everything in between provided a different and unique experience. My personal favorite worlds were the Seaside Kingdom – a scenic beachfront level complete with giant soda-water tower offering many Power Moons to be obtained above or under the sea(ha! it’s stuck in YOUR head now too!). My other favorite and probably most memorable location in Mario Odyssey would have to be the Metro Kingdom – the bustling city of New Donk City where Mayor Pauline is in need of assistance to defend the city from Bowser and then preparing for the annual festival, a true highlight of the game in which you will replay the first stage of Mario’s first foray into video games(though he was known at the time as Jumpman).
Nostalgia – I would not be able to write a post about Mario Odyssey without mentioning the numerous nods and references to our favorite plumber’s long and prosperous history. The sheer number of acknowledgements to the many games in which Mario has starred is impressive and could almost be viewed as a Mario History course of sorts. Whether it be little references within the worlds themselves or the crazy amount of old throwback caps and costumes to unlock for Mario throughout the game, the game showcases recent as well as more obscure titles. If the name New Donk City wasn’t conspicuous enough, the fact Nintendo brought back Pauline as the current mayor of the city was a great dash of nostalgia – bringing everything back to the beginning. There’s also unlockable costumes to remind you of previous games such as: Mario’s red white and blue overalls as first seen on NES Open to the medical attire worn in Dr. Mario to other outfits like the construction worker from Mario Maker or the cowboy costume from Mario Part 2. Another nostalgic gameplay element was the ability to travel into the 2D pipes which would then display Mario as a pixelated character as you would make your way through a short 2D platforming section similar to that used in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Possibly the sweetest bit of nostalgia comes from immediately after completing the main story by confronting Bowser in a wedding chapel on the moon(yup…), you are able to travel to the Mushroom Kingdom in a wonderful recreation(kind of…) of the overworld outside of Princess Peach’s castle in Mario 64. You are able to enter the castle, though only to speak with Toad rather than jump through any paintings to enter a level, though there are paintings around the castle depicted the various world you have visited on your odyssey(pun!). Once in the Mushroom Kingdom you even come across Yoshi who is playable in only small section of the world, sadly. Nintendo has since stated they wanted Odyssey to appeal to their longtime Mario fans and casual fans alike; as someone who has spent thirty years of their life playing Mario games, I absolutely loved and thank them for it.
Memories – Mario Odyssey has provided some memorable gaming moments in its time since release; some of my most memorable moments of the game would be: coming across a T-Rex for the first time and throwing Cappy at it and transforming into a giant Mario T-Rex and destroying nearly everything in my path on the Cascade Kingdom or the first time you reach New Donk City in the Metro Kingdom where you must defeat the giant electrical…caterpillar to restore power to the city after which the gloomy storm clouds clear and give way to a nice sunny day. I can still vividly recall(only two years ago…) much of my time as I would sit in the living room playing as I had my computer sitting next to me auto-playing endless YouTube videos; I think I watched just about every Angry Video Game Nerd episode while hunting down all 999 Power Moons. Since first completing Mario Odyssey I have come back to the game many times as what I usually refer to as one of my “comfort food games”; a game that I have already played for endless hours but still find myself sitting down to play during times of stress, sickness, or simply feeling kind of burned out by other games. Mario Odyssey is currently my favorite Nintendo Switch game, and I still absolutely love playing it two years after its release. I’ve included below a little collection of some of my in-game memories 🙂 Thanks for reading!