Super Mario Odyssey was the reason that made many people buy the Nintendo Switch. Launched on the console on October 27, the title brings back the company's series of platforms, with its most famous character. This time, the karts and the other thousands of heroes and allies are left out so that the focus is all on Mario and the new challenges that the adventure presents. If you, like many people, bought the Switch just to play this title, know that your investment paid off.
Super Mario Odyssey begins with the already classic cry of Princess Peach, crying for help to his beloved, in front of a new abduction of the villain Bowser. However, the situation now looks even worse, since it was not just Peach who suffered with the enemy. Mario begins the adventure defeated by the opponent, with his classic beret torn and thrown into a gray world, dejected and lifeless. The climate is one of complete defeat.
The bad environment, however, lasts little. Our blue and red hero finds salvation in the figure of Cappy, a mysterious hat-shaped ally with conscience - and eyes! - who proposes to join Mario, taking the form of his new beret to save his beloved, kidnapped with Peach. The double part with a single objective, but for this they will have to go through different worlds and with various challenges.
As always, the story of a Super Mario is told in just a handful of scenes. Throughout the game, we are discovering more about the kidnapping of Peach and about Bowser's new allies, bizarre rabbits wearing magic hats - but there is nothing much beyond that. The unique narrative of Nintendo, without using almost no line of dialogue, is what shines in this type of game.
As an example of a 3D platform game, Super Mario Odyssey tells his tale of the diversity of scenarios, computer characters encountered by the hero in each world, Cappy's speechless, text-only conversations throughout the journey. Mario is still a "silent" protagonist, who only sketches reactions and repeats his famous basic phrases in the irreplaceable voice of Charles Martinet. Even so, it is something so simple as to win over anyone. A lesson on how games can and should be told in some cases.
Mario X GTA
It is not only in the narrative of his simple, yet captivating, story that Odyssey shines. As with Zelda in March of this same year, the game "reinvents the wheel" and brings a whole new dynamic to the already loaded platform adventure genre. The classic phases no longer exist and Mario now lives in an environment that brings him closer to the open world system - almost a GTA. But, attention, we quote "almost" and we must watch the game well to understand this comparison that borders the absurd.
Even in Super Mario 3D World we had the familiar system of worlds and phases - in the best style "World 3, Phase 1", or simply "3-1", for example. A formula that, if not created by the series, was popularized by the same. After so much time, it is necessary to move again in what the game proposes, even more when we are talking about a game for Switch, console that made its reputation for being "different from everything that is in the market."
What we have at hand is a Super Mario that gives you freedom. In the first phase after the prologue, which is in a small, short three-level setting, you can lose more than an hour just to hunt down all the secrets and explore everything the scenery has to offer - secret coins, hidden passages , enemies that give their own abilities (calm, let's get to this point). This is repeated more and more in later worlds, which are even larger in size and in terms of collectibles, items, opponents, and so on.
Instead of advancing through this world on a "phase by phase" basis, Mario has a kind of "amusement park" at his disposal, in which the only limitation is the skill level of the one in control. The common goal in each world, and also what moves you to the next, is to have to collect a minimum number of moons, the most important items of the time. Think of them as the stars of Super Mario 64. But if there the complete game could bring about 150 of them, here it is possible to reach more than 300 before the half of the adventure.
Mario and his hat
We came up here and commented on story and novelties in the exploration of scenarios, but we have not yet touched on the main subject of Super Mario Odyssey: the presence of Cappy. The "living hat" of the character gives an even more unique dynamic to the game, considering that nothing similar has been done so far in the series. For the first time, in the main saga, we have Mario with a constant form of attack that goes beyond his jump, also ensuring a somewhat higher difficulty, to balance things.
As already seen in trailers and throughout the release of the game, Cappy gives Mario the power to "own" enemies and objects through the phases. It's not as vast as Nintendo promised - that is, you can not own anything at all - but still amuse yourself enough to be a mechanic worthy of note. In some cases, it is only possible to go through an obstacle if Mario takes possession of an enemy that gives him unique power, such as swimming faster in a fish or blowing elements of the scenery with a large cloud.
Cappy works simply: press a button to launch it forward. Like a boomerang, the hat automatically goes back to the character's head if you do not touch anything along the way. It also has the power to eliminate enemies, collect coins or interact with elements of the scenario to get them out of the way, like logs, poison or snow. You can even launch the item with the Joy-Con motion sensor and there we have the possible first (and perhaps only) problem of Super Mario Odyssey.
Nintendo decided it was better to play Super Mario Odyssey with motion sensor to launch Cappy, and this may not be as good as it looks. It is possible to use it by pressing a button, but the sensor brings new maneuvers and ways to do so. While shaking Joy-Con, for example, Mario launches Cappy through the air, but a new shake causes him to surround and eliminate enemies or collect items. It could stop there and it was all very good, but there are too many moves for each direction in which we shake control and that confuses things a little.
The weak link of this element to the motion sensor is that it is not possible to turn it off completely. At most, you can disable it to move the camera when it is time to aim at something - such as when we have a tank - but not to turn off Cappy's movements. This is a bit annoying because the sensor is very sensitive and any modification in the position of your hand can influence the interaction of the control with the character.
There are parts of the game that the sensor is even required to move forward, given that certain Cappy actions are only possible with it. But do not be fooled: the sensor moves work great and are interesting enough additions to be new to the game, but the obligation is that it does not fit and takes that "brilliance of perfection" that Super Mario Odyssey could have - after all, we are speaking of a game that stands out in all other general aspects.
It's Mario, how a Mario should be
Going back to the general scenario of Super Mario Odyssey, everything else is as it should be - and even better, actually. You advance through the worlds collecting moons, uncovering secrets, and bumping into other collectibles that will give the game extra life - like the purple coins, unique in every environment, that allow you to buy clothes for our hero.
And by the way, it's just one more of the incredible aspects that Mario Odyssey has. Nintendo went beyond giving a talking hat to your hero and now you can customize their appearance by fantasizing it with cowboy clothes, astronaut, pirate and even retro style. The changes are visual, merely cosmetic, but they guarantee fun by presenting us versions of Mario that we've never seen, or at least never imagined in a major game in the series.
There is also cooperative multiplayer mode for two players, one Mario command and another with Cappy. It would not be necessary, but it was included with some mastery. Controlling the two characters at once can be confusing at first, but then it sounds natural and still makes more sense to the presence of the talking hat. Best of all, this mode can be turned on or off with just one click on the pause menu. Without loading a new game, without stopping unnecessarily in the middle of the adventure, nothing. Practical and fast.
Added to all this we still have the incredible battles against bosses, in general all very simple but always fun, and the elements of puzzle that make up a Mario adventure. There are several tributes to past games, from the time the hero was known only as "Jump Man", but we will not detail here to not spoil his surprise, or his expression of happiness, when he comes across all of them. We even have a photo mode with classic elements such as "NES", "SNES" and "Game Boy" filters.
Mushroom Kingdom Symphony Orchestra
This is also the most beautiful Super Mario, but that should not come as a surprise. While the Switch is not as powerful as the newer models on the PS4 or Xbox One, Nintendo always knows how to take "stone milk" from their own devices. Super Mario Odyssey runs with unmatched lightness and always displays the latest graphics. The hero's own model stands out, but there will be times when players will be amazed at the environments, especially those that are vast and immense, like the desert world, right at the beginning.
Super Mario Odyssey (Photo: Reproduction / Felipe Vinha) Super Mario Odyssey (Photo: Reproduction / Felipe Vinha)
The soundtrack closely follows the overall quality of the game. Super Mario Odyssey has sound orchestrated at all times, with songs always alive, happy or sad, depending on the current scenario, and with a "jazz" footprint at times. This shows already in the trailers, with the song "Jump Up Super Star", that hovered in the materials of disclosure. Unparalleled work of all the Nintendo composition team and one of the best games tracks ever made by the Japanese company.
Super Mario Odyssey completely changes the way of playing "Mario" and puts us in a more open environment, without delimited phases, and with incredible new powers. The presence of Cappy, a "live" hat that allows you to take control of enemies and targets, presents not only a new form of control, but also attack. The graphics are at a very high level and the soundtrack was composed as carefully as possible. Although it presents small frustrations in the control, it is one of the best games of the whole series and also of the Nintendo Switch.