Super Mario Odyssey will soon let us set out on a globe-trotting adventure with the moustachioed Italian plumber, presenting a whole world to explore that will let us wander neon-lit cities, mysterious ruins, and a partly frozen desert.
With secrets to discover and Power Moons to collect, Princess Peach once again needs rescuing from the dastardly Bowser who is planning a lavish wedding to tie the knot to become Mushroom Kingdom royalty.
There’s plenty to be excited about, and, after taking the Nintendo Switch exclusive for another spin at Gamescom 2017, here are 10 things that we love in particular:
1. The Freedom
Unlike the last handful of Mario platformers, we’re no longer simply going from point A to B. Now we’re given the freedom to explore anywhere within a sandbox-style world be it a small town, the ruins behind it or just out into the vast Tostarena desert itself. The game actively encourages and rewards those who are adventurous and search every nook and cranny with even the most unexpected of places concealing hidden areas and surprises.
2. 2D Segments
Despite the sheer size of the Tostarena desert stage we did manage to find a few instances where Mario would transform into his 2D sprite-based self, using the walls of the ruins as his new playground. The switch over is very seamless and while the Super Mario Galaxy series may have done the whole 3D to 2D change-up in some of its galaxies, this is definitely a neat way to top that. Best of all though is you get to see sprite versions of all Mario’s new outfits.
3. Changing Outfits
And speaking of outfits. While the plumber is no stranger to throwing on the odd Cat Suit or Penguin Suit every now and again, Super Mario Odyssey looks to take this idea even further. Every kingdom will feature its own clothing shop where Mario can purchase a number of outfits. Of the ones I got to try on, the Mexican-style get up was my favourite and even though it didn’t appear to offer anything new in the way of abilities, it did allow me into places I would have otherwise been rejected from in my normal attire. Furthermore having costumes to buy means that now…
4. Coins Finally Have a Purpose
That’s right, that mountain of gold coins you accumulate throughout your journey can now be used to buy the above-mentioned hats and outfits for Mario. In fact, lives have been removed altogether where falling into a bottomless pit or losing all your health now takes from your coin count instead.
Coins also come in two forms. The familiar gold-looking ones can be used anywhere in the game while purple coins are only spendable in the kingdom you find them. With 100 to find in each stage, it is just another reason to make sure you scour every corner of each kingdom.
5. Controlling Mario
Of course, any platforming title is only as strong as its controls and as expected Super Mario Odyssey handles perfectly. Within seconds I was easily pulling off backflips, triple jumps and even trying out some of Mario’s newer manoeuvres. Even with the game’s motion controls turned on, flicking my cap toward an unsuspecting enemy felt very satisfying. It’s also very easy to see that this game is brimming with speed-running possibilities thanks to Mario’s constant rolling move and also the ability to use his hat as a mini-trampoline mid jump.
6. Capturing With Your Hat
It should come as no surprise but the new hook in Super Mario Odyssey just so happens to be one of its most fun aspects of the game. At the simple throw of a hat, I was able to take over Bullet Bills, electricity cables and Moe-Eyes, the last of which grants you the ability to place on some cool looking sunglasses in order to reveal hidden platforms. Trying out each enemy or object and what they can do is just as much fun as exploring the world you’re in.
7. How Beautiful it all Looks
Mario games have never been a slouch when it comes to visuals and Odyssey continues that tradition with what may be the best-looking title in the series yet. Even though I’ve only tried out two of the games kingdoms, both deliver in terms of detail and art design. Sure, New Donk City isn’t the most creative of environments but the little touches to be found throughout feels endless and even though our favourite plumber may look out of place the visuals still carry that Mario charm. It’s Tostarena that truly shines through with a Day of the Dead feel to its village and icicles littering the sand for reasons we’ve still yet to uncover. I can’t wait to see where the game takes us next.
8. Miniature Playgrounds
While exploring a huge city or wide desert is a great time, sometimes it’s nice to have some concentrated platforming fun too. Super Mario Odyssey has this area covered with a number of discoverable buildings or secrets that transport you away to small platforming playgrounds complete with the expected mix of moving platforms and such. One example had Mario using poles to spin and leap off of in order to grab the Power Moon at the end. It’s really encouraging to see these sorts of mini-challenges included as it just shows the wealth of content the game might and probably will be hiding away.
9. Cameos and Nods Galore
Halfway through my playthrough of New Donk City, I came across an old familiar face – Captain Toad. It was a small cameo but one that nonetheless raised a smile. Of course, I’m sure you’ve all seen the likes of Pauline in her new role as Mayor, but it raises the question, how far will these references and cameo appearances go? We know New Donk City is in reference to the great ape with streets named after the likes of Diddy Kong and Rambi the Rhino but will we see any of the primates pop up in the game? I hope so.
10. The Maps
This is a real small one but a great little touch nonetheless. When pausing the game you open up a physical map of the kingdom you’re in, complete with prime tourist spots (obviously ideal for hiding away Power Moons) and key details including its size, currency and climate. As I said it’s a minute thing but one that lends itself well to the whole voyage aspect of the game.
Super Mario Odyssey will release exclusively for Nintendo Switch worldwide on October 27th.