Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform: Switch
Our 50 best games of the year countdown isn’t in any order, we’re just going through fifty of the finest the year has given us. Find out more here.
Super Mario Odyssey only released on Nintendo Switch at the end of October, making it one of the most recent entries on our list, but it’s really wasted no time in catapulting itself into Game of the Year contention for many a gamer. The magnificently moustachioed maestro’s first proper 3D outing since Super Mario Galaxy 2 (that’s right, Super Mario 3D World, I’m calling you out) had a lot riding on it in terms of industry hype, not to mention with it being a flagship release as the Switch moves into its first holiday sales period. Thankfully, the game delivered, and then some.
As I cooed in my review, the game is really good. It’s an impeccably well-designed and remarkably well-polished adventure for our portly hero. It looks phenomenal, with bold colours, inventive characters and lush environments combining in a landslide of visual charm. The sound design is typical of a Mario game, with new tunes and a few classic tracks joining forces to set up camp in your head for the foreseeable future.
Mario’s new buddy, Cappy, makes for a fine addition to the standard setup. Integrating himself nicely into Mario’s existing moveset, Cappy also adds a few new abilities to our hero’s repertoire. Some of these help Mario navigate his way around the stages, such as Cappy’s ability to hover in the air to allow Mario a springboard for a further jump, while others have more of a combat focus. The most useful skill that Cappy brings to the party, however, is his ‘capture’ ability. If Mario chucks Cappy at certain enemies, he is able to gain control of that enemy and their abilities, opening up an array of new options for exploration and combat. There are a good few capture abilities to be discovered, each as useful as they are delightful, so you’ll definitely feel motivated to seek out as many as possible.
Aside from Cappy, the real standout is the emphasis that Super Mario Odyssey places on exploring its intricately crafted world. The goal of each stage is to collect enough Power Moons for Mario’s ship, the Odyssey, to move on to the next area. These Power Moons are hidden throughout each stage with varying degrees of fiendishness, so thorough exploration is key. Super Mario Odyssey opts for a return to the more sandbox-style nature of platforming play not seen in a 3D Mario title since Super Mario Sunshine back in the Gamecube days, presenting the player with a series of wonderfully expansive levels filled to the brim with collectibles and secrets and encouraging them to get cracking. Curiosity is heavily encouraged, and diligent exploration is thoroughly rewarded. You’ll be merrily pattering around the various Kingdoms in no time.
In short, Super Mario Odyssey is a wonderful celebration of everything that makes a 3D Mario title magical. That typical Nintendo oozes from every part of the game, and the staggering amount of content means that you should be hooked for a jolly long time. It’s definitely one of the best games released this year and, as far as Nintendo games are concerned, Super Mario Odyssey is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with a certain other game starring a pointy-eared Hylian.
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