TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Super Mario Odyssey ground-pounds all questions that ask if this new game is as great as Mario 64 and reaches a new level of excellence that few games could ever achieve. Playing as the overalls-wearing, mustache-donning, Italian plumber has never felt more polished or been this fun. Whether it’s grinding to collect coins, solving puzzles, or searching far and wide for the last Power Moon that turned out to be in the most obvious of places, Odyssey will keep a dopey grin on your face long after the credits roll.
Much in the spirit of Super Mario 64, with a sprinkle of Super Mario Sunshine and the Super Mario Galaxy games thrown in, Odyssey boasts more than a dozen kingdoms, each with their own distinct theme that you explore as you make your way to Bowser’s castle in an attempt to save Princess Peach from being forced to marry him.
While this isn’t Mario’s first time embarking on a quest to save his princess, he has some assistance this time around. A charming little spirit named Cappy takes the form of Mario’s hat, giving him the ability to take the form of any enemy he throws it at. Each foe’s distinct movement style often helps with traversing hard to reach areas and uncovering secret warp pipes. For example, taking over a Cheep Cheep allows you to breathe underwater and collect hard to reach items at the bottom of the ocean.
Controlling Cappy is one of the few faults about the game. While it allows you to throw your hat with the press of a button, the most accurate way to throw him is with the Nintendo Switch’s motion controls. If you can master the gestures, your success rate at capturing on the first try will be higher, but as someone who prefers the Nintendo Pro Controller, I dealt with retrying on multiple occasions. It’d be nice if Nintendo let the motion controls love affair end. The last time I used motion controls was in 2006 while losing at Wii bowling to my grandparents, and I’d rather not relive those memories.
Moment-to-moment gameplay mainly consists of collecting Power Moons that are scattered throughout each environment. Power Moons are used as the fuel source to fly your ship to the next kingdom, and there are hundreds and hundreds to find. They vary from being in plain sight, to being so hidden that it at times feels a bit unfair. After my playthrough of the main story was over, I had roughly 180 moons, and there are allegedly over 900. While collecting them all seems like an insurmountable task, with each power moon found, you won’t be able to fight that urge of going after just one more.
Super Mario Odyssey cements itself as the best game to date on the Nintendo Switch, and quite possibly one of the best games of this console generation. There are some truly special moments, especially in the back half of the game. While the motion controls are a minor setback, and the difficulty is at times too easy, exploring the beautifully created kingdoms and uncovering secrets establishes a gameplay hook that’s hard to deny. Hats off to Nintendo for creating this masterpiece.