Platform Played On: Switch
Genre: 3D Platformer
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Wannabe Writer’s Note: This is the re-posting of the Super Mario Odyssey Review I wrote on my old website. This article was originally posted on April 11, 2018. Enjoy past me’s unedited ramblings!
I really hate to admit this, but I’ve finally accepted it’s true; the Mario series has lost the special spark of magic I once felt for it. Back when I was little, I was head over heels in love with Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, and Super Mario 64. Later in life, I also had a blast with Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. So like almost every other Nintendo fan lucky enough to own a Switch, I preordered my copy of this game and played it on launch day. Instead of being swept away into a magical gaming land (like everyone else on the internet), I found myself eye-rolling at everything… worse than a cranky pink haired Final Fantasy protagonist.
Don’t get me wrong! I didn’t hate the game on launch day. It was kinda fun at the time, but it completely failed to live up to the hype I had for it. Plus I was in a bad mood… it was too cheery… and helpless princesses… blah blah blah. Excuses! I’m ashamed to call myself a Nintendo fan. Sigh.
How Far I Got
At my really slow pace, I did a once over of all the Kingdoms while following the story path (I use the word “story” loosely); grabbing anything I could see, leaving behind anything I wasn’t skilled enough to get easily. I downed Mr. Bowser and played a tiny bit of the massive end game content. As the game grew on me, I sort of wanted to get everything, but there’s just too much stuff and I’m ready to move on now.
In a shocking narrative twist for the Mario series, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach and it’s up to Mario to rescue her. OMG, who saw that coming?! Just… wow. What a radical new story direction!!! Okay. I’ll stop being sarcastic now. Yep. Same old Mario plot. This time, however, the King Koopa is super serious about hitching himself to Peach! All decked out in his sweet tux, Bowser blasts his way through various themed Kingdoms stealing wacky wedding party items on the way to the chapel. With the help of his new hat buddy Cappy, and a balloon-powered hat-shaped-ship called the Odyssey (hence the name of the game), Mario is in hot pursuit of the hapless bride-to-be, but he always falls short until the final showdown. Also, Peach’s kidnapped tiara is Cappy’s sister, so double the damsel in distress drama! Woo… yeah.
Nope! Not a fan of the story. But who the hell plays Mario games for their gripping narratives? Where this game shines is what Mario does best – hella whimsical environments and super fun jumping related gameplay. Each stunning Kingdom has its own self-contained weird theme, including upbeat music and silly NPC noises (triggering minor Banjo-Kazooie nostalgia feelz). The worlds aren’t huge, but you can unlock fast travel points within each Kingdom to speed the things along while backtracking. In addition to the awesome standard of 3D platforming Mario is known for, there are certain areas in the worlds where Mario seamlessly transitions into the old school 2D dimension. I was not expecting these sections and freaking loved them when they came up. There’s a really memorable one in the Metro Kingdom, too. That’s all I shall say about that. The platforming required for the main story wasn’t overly difficult, but if you want to get everything, well, good luck with the challenge! There are also motion controls, but I turned that feature off. Seriously, Nintendo… stop pushing those.
The biggest innovation in this Mario iteration is the Cappy Capture system. By throwing Mario’s hat buddy at certain enemies, crazy NPCs, inanimate objects, etc., you gain control of them, giving you special abilities when you become them. These captures are always needed to unlock the way forward, and are often used to exploit boss weaknesses. To be honest, the captures felt kind of cheesy most of the time, but there were a few special ones I had a lot of fun with. This game is all about collecting things more so than rescuing princesses. There are Purple Coins, various silly costumes, and like a bajillion Power Moons scattered across the lands. If you’re having trouble tracking down the near infinite Power Moons (yes, I really do like exaggerating), you can pay off Toad with normal coins or use an Amiibo figure to get an in-game hint (or just read a guide on the interwebz). Each Kingdom has a tourist brochure style map that describes all the main attractions. This was neat, but it took away some of the exploring fun. No one is forcing you to read it, though!
Repetitiveness was this game’s biggest weakness in my eyes. Although unique in their own special way, each Kingdom ultimately falls into the same pattern – follow the main story path, beat the boss(es) by exploiting a weakness three times (over increasing difficulty), explore the area again after the bosses are gone, power up the Odyssey and watch the same cutscene as you fly on. Most of the early boss fights were pretty cool, but some of the bosses (not mentioning any names) have frequent reappearances, making me eye-roll pretty hard (again). Also, the end game content is massive, but it requires you to go through ALL the same Kingdoms yet again. I would have preferred more Kingdoms and less backtracking, but meh, that’s just me.
My Overall Biased Opinion
So, I’m not a huge fan of save the princess stories, and most of the wacky humor moments fell flat with cranky old me. But that wasn’t the end of the world. This game is clearly meant to be silly and just plain fun. Right? Not everything has to be thought-provoking or a social revolution. Once I lightened up and found my happier inner child, my experience turned into a much more positive one. Mario’s latest adventure forced the concept of simple fun back into my gaming life. That’s important too!
Overall, this is a fantastic addition to the Mario series and worth checking out if you have a Switch. It certainly lives up to the high standard of quality first party Nintendo games are known for. I’m sure more cheerful Nintendo fans will be very pleased with the game’s whimsical charm, and many people will enjoy finding everything hidden in the Kingdoms. Just downing Bowser was enough for me. Back in the Mario 64 days, I remember that magical feeling of obtaining a rare Power Star. Power Moons are so plentiful in Odyssey it didn’t feel special at all when I got one, leaving me with zero motivation to go catch ’em all.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.
This section of my video game reviews is a way for me to remember my journey through a game. Major spoilers will be present here so please avoid this unless you’ve already played the game, or don’t have any plans to. Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had with this game in the comments area thingy below.
Let’s see what I remember…. hm. After Bowser nabs Peach and blasts Mario into the Cap Kingdom, Mario meets his new buddy Cappy. They team up and chase Bowser on his malevolent quest to force Princess Peach to marry him, while obtain weird wedding party items across several Kingdoms on the way to a church on the moon. Here’s the point form path I took (there are very few choices in the order of doing things).
- The Cascade Kingdom serves as the tutorial area. Here you capture the T-Rex they kept showing in the previews and power up the Odyssey for the first time.
- The Binding Band in the Sand Kingdom is gone, and the desert level is chilled at the start. Mario sets things right by pwning a boss that reminded me of Bongo Bongo from Ocarina of Time, except you take control of its hands with Cappy and punch it in the face with them (Yep! I wanted to yell “Stop hitting yourself!”).
- Bowser has stolen the Lake Kingdom’s designer Lochlady Dress, and the fashionable fishy folks that reside here are pretty upset about it. This eventually leads to a showdown with the Broodal that reminds me of Goofy.
- A Bowser tank army has taken a Soiree Bouquet from the Wooded Kingdom. Every bride needs flowers, I guess. I do love the forest environment of this Kingdom a lot. Anyway, the boss fight is the short angry Broodal, and then a cool flower harvesting flying saucer-like robot thingy. It reminded me of a Metroid boss!
- Mario catches up to Bowser’s airship and has a showdown with him in the Cloud Kingdom. The fight is neat and a little weird (like most of the boss fights in this game). Bowser throws his punching glove equipped hat at you, you throw Cappy at it to stop it, then jump on it wear it (it’s way too big for poor Mario). The hat has strange punching glove mechanism and you mash the attack button when you’re near Bowser to weaken him, while dodging flames and stuff. Mario wins the fight and Bowser shoots down the Odyssey in response. Bwahahaha!
- The Odyssey crash lands in the Lost Kingdom. Mario has to collect several Power Moons from the exotic jungle environment, complete with poisonous swamp, to repair it. I loved taking control of the stretchy caterpillar things and the glider guy.
- Off to the Metro Kingdom, finally! It felt a lot smaller than the previews led me to believe, but it was still cool to see Mario in a realistic city setting. Bowser’s big mechanical caterpillar creature is sucking the power out of the city. After Mario kills it with the tank capture, you help the highly respected Mayor Pauline (Peach needs to take notes) turn the power back on for a festival. This ends in an awesome 2D section with old school Donkey Kong, while a very cool music track sung by Pauline is playing.
- Bowser has taken Sparkle Water from the beautiful Seaside Kingdom, and plugged up their water fountains before leaving. To set things right, Mario has to fight a big octopus creature with the water propelled creature capture, after uncorking the fountains. Yarr! The pirate outfit is also purchased here.
- The Frost-Frosted Cake (not kidding, it’s named that) is usually a prize for a big bounding race the local Shiverians (they’re like Gorons with parkas) of the Snow Kingdom have, but Bowser took it. After fighting a Broodal, of course, Mario captures a Shiverian who has cold feet about the big race (hahaha) and wins the triple Power Moon prize instead.
- The food-riddled, pink lava-filled Luncheon Kingdom’s famous Stupendous Stew makes quite the wedding dish, apparently. The Broodals stole some stew, Mario fights one again, and then a big chef bird boss in a stew pot on top of a volcano thing. What can I say about this other than WTF? Definitely the weirdest Kingdom in my book.
- This is like my favourite part of the game!! So Mario chases down Bower’s airship, but Bowser makes a freaking cool entrance while riding a dragon named the Lord of Lightning!! OMG!! AWESOME! It shoots down the Odyssey and Mario has to fight the big lightning breathing dragon in the Ruined Kingdom. The lightning attacks are tricky to avoid, but I downed the dragon on my second try.
- Time for Bowser’s Kingdom. I really liked the Japanese temple theme, and the cool wall-climbing pokey nose capture creature. I DID NOT like the three repeat boss fights near the end. Bowser escapes to the moon and Mario has to fight all the Broodals in a wooden mech-like robot. That was fun! But no more Broodals… please.
- Mario crashes the wedding in the Moon Kingdom. I called it in my first impressions post! As expected, the outside area has low gravity physics with higher jumping ability. After going through a tricky fiery cavern area, the final fight with Bowser was fun but similar to the Cloud Kingdom battle.
- The moon tunnels are collapsing around passed out Bowser, terrified Peach, and our brave plumber hero. To escape you take, control of Bowser himself (cool cutscene, that one) while Peach rides on your shoulder. There was a 2D section and it even showed 2D Bowser with the the 2D Princess riding him. Not gonna lie, that escape was one most epic moments I’ve had in a video game.
- End scene – Back on the moon surface, Bowser and Mario both fight over giving Peach flowers. She’s not impressed and rides off in the Odyssey with the hat siblings. Mario does a cheesy jump thing with Cappy and the credits roll.
- End game – Hello Mario 64-like Mushroom Kingdom, which has a cool Yoshi capture. There are “Power Stars” to find in this Kingdom, and you are also encouraged to go back to all the previous Kingdoms. You can find Peach who went off traveling on her own (good for her), and the odd grey blocks in each Kingdom make more Power Moons. I just explored Cap Kingdom again for a bit. Once I got enough Power Moons I was able to get to the Dark Side of the moon. Guess what four idiots were there? Nope! I just couldn’t bring myself to fight the four Broodals… again in a gauntlet, and now with moon physics! Sigh. That’s where I called it a game.
Favourite Story Moment
The ending where Peach basically does a “screw you guys” and flies off in the ship with the hat siblings. Very Amusing! You go, girl.
[Princess Peach gains +10 LighningEllen approval]
Yarr! The pirate outfit was fantastic.
Favourite “Oh S@#%” Moment
When Bowser rode in on a lightning dragon. I love Bowser, I love lightning, and I love dragons so… ZOMG AWESOME!!
The end game Mushroom Kingdom area. It was a huge tribute to Mario 64 (even having paintings you jumped in to fight old bosses on hard mode). The nostalgia feelz were real for me since Mario 64 is my favourite Mario game.
Bowser. My favourite Mario character will always be badass Bowser. He never gives up, no matter how bad he fails or how delusional his goals are. I gotta respect that! I thought his tux in this game looked pretty cool too.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
Playing jump-rope in the Metro Kingdom. There’s a Power Moon for jumping 100 times in a row. Nope! I’m too old and lack the patience to go for that one.
Craziest Cappy Capture
A piece of meat in the Luncheon Kingdom… It’s how you get the Kingdom’s chef bird boss to carry you to the triple Power Moon in a stew pot, that’s teetering on top of a volcano. As odd as it sounds, trust me.
Gameplay Time: 10+ Hours
Cappy Captures: 43/52 Very Odd Things
Souvenirs Acquired: 5/43
Music List: 73/82
Costumes Acquired: 25 hats, 26 Outfits
Total Power Moons Acquired: 253
Cap Kingdom – 9/31 Power Moons, 24/50 Purple Coins
Cascade Kingdom – 9/25 Power Moons, 42/50 Purple Coins
Sand Kingdom – 17/69 Power Moons, 52/100 Purple Coins
Lake Kingdom – 15/33 Power Moons, 34/50 Purple Coins
Wooded Kingdom – 24/54 Power Moons, 67/100 Purple Coins
Cloud Kingdom – 0/2 Power Moons
Lost Kingdom – 15/25 Power Moons, 15/25 Purple Coins
Metro Kingdom – 24/66 Power Moons, 68/100 Purple Coins
Seaside Kingdom – 23/52 Power Moons, 67/100 Purple Coins
Snow Kingdom – 23/37 Power Moons, 34/50 Purple Coins
Luncheon Kingdom – 24/56 Power Moons, 75/100 Purple Coins
Ruined Kingdom – 2/5 Power Moons
Bowser’s Kingdom – 12/45 Power Moons, 20/100 Purple Coins
Moon Kingdom – 3/27 Power Moons, 13/50 Purple Coins
Mushroom Kingdom – 21/104 Power Moons, 50/100 Purple Coins
Dark Side – 0/24 Power Moons
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡