An Odyssey, y'see?
If you're a hardcore fan of early Mario games, Super Mario Odyssey has a variety of 2D platforming challenges to complete; and if you loved Super Mario Galaxy or even Sunshine, this new adventures' mechanics and concepts represent those games' most iconic elements. In short, Nintendo's upcoming Odyssey has something for everybody. In many ways, it feels like a collection of Mario's best offerings, but it's also a fundamentally new experience that welcomes you to explore and experiment with the new tools and adventures it provides.
During a recent Odyssey demo, I got to play two levels: the Luncheon Kingdom and the Seaside Kingdom. Both were visually distinct, exuding a vibrant and charming aesthetic. From the hard-candy surfaces that comprise the Luncheon Kingdom to the clear ocean waters of the Seaside Kingdom, it was difficult to not be enamored by the splendor of it all.
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With Mario's diverse repertoire of jumps and maneuvers, navigating these areas was a joy. Wall jumps, long jumps, and rolls are simple to pull off, but like past 3D Mario games, they demand a high level of skill and precision in order to utilize to the fullest of their capability. The sense of control you have over Mario's moves and the way they empower you when correctly executed feels satisfying. Moving and jumping feels just as fine-tuned as in Odyssey's predecessors--if not more so.
Amidst the beautiful locales and the minutiae of Mario's acrobatic jumps, there are a variety of activities to get wrapped up in. Possessing enemies with Mario's Cap paves the way for a multitude of different adventures. One moment I'm darting across pink lava as a giant Fire collecting a string of music notes, the next I'm smashing up cheese rocks as a frying-pan-wielding Hammer Bro to reveal Moon shards. This variety is commonplace; I'd often run towards an area expecting to do one thing, but end up doing something completely different. Odyssey's unexpected adventures keep me guessing, even in platforming sections that feel familiar or reminiscent of past games.
Like Breath of the Wild, there's a deep emphasis in Odyssey on charting your own unique experiences. While you're not given the same level of freedom as in Zelda, the sense of awe and wonder you feel as you explore remains the same. The open areas you traverse and the colorful characters you meet drive this feeling forward; the residents include a pompous Octoguy sitting atop an ornate glass tower, a mustachioed snail with a seashell necklace, and a living fork wearing a chef hat cooking stew. In every new activity or personality, there is always something to latch onto. And with the game's photo mode, there are an abundance of moments worth documenting.
In the two stages I played, Odyssey's fine-tuned mechanics and vibrant aesthetic already make it an enjoyable Mario experience. But to find out whether or not the full game can maintain that sense of wonder, I'll have to wait until October 27th when it launches on Switch.