plumber hero has never set out on such an exciting adventure. We leapt into paintings in Super Mario 64 to recover Power Stars, washed away graffiti on Isle Delfino in Super Mario Sunshine, soared among the stars in Super Mario Galaxy, and scurried across the Sprixie Kingdom in Super Mario 3D World. But, in Super Mario Odyssey, we’re travelling the world powering up a hat-shaped airship in an effort to chase down Bowser.
While Peach has been kidnapped yet again, the circumstances are different this time around. Bowser suddenly wants to tie the knot with the Mushroom Kingdom princess, and he sets out across the world to gather everything that he needs to throw a lavish royal wedding.
Mario isn’t particularly pleased to learn about such a dastardly plan, and, while I can’t go into any more detail, ultimately meets up with Cappy at Bonneton in the Cap Kingdom. When Cappy explains that Bowser has kidnapped his sister Tiara, the newfound friends join forces to track him down – with Cappy transforming into Mario’s iconic red cap.
Super Mario Odyssey producer Yoshiaki Koizumi has spoken about how the Nintendo Switch exclusive would see Mario jump out of the Mushroom Kingdom and journey to an unknown world, the development team having looked to convey the excitement at having the chance to visit countries for the first time. And, that has easily been achieved in bucket loads. (Lots of buckets).
While teaming up with Cappy serves as an introduction to your adventure, a linear excursion across the Cap Kingdom will familiarise players with the new powers that Mario has free control over – such as Cap Throw, Cap Jump, and Capture.
With the Cap Kingdom having been bombarded by Bowser’s fleet, it’s a monochrome start to your journey with Mario’s red cap, red shirt, and blue dungarees standing out against the kingdom’s black and white aesthetic – with Mario becoming covered in soot when hopping on any smouldering wreckage nearby.
Whether playfully running down hills with arms extended like a plane, slamming your cap against wooden crates to bust them open, or capturing a frog for the first time – an otherworldly experience that will be as memorable for Mario as it is for you – this initial playground presents the chance to get to grips with the core gameplay mechanics before Nintendo throws you into a wider sandbox.
The next destination on our whistle-stop tour was Mount Volbono in the Luncheon Kingdom, which many will have seen extensively explored at Gamescom 2017. Famous for its cuisine, the kingdom’s Stupendous Stew has wafted its way into Bowser’s nostrils and he has now set his sights on serving it to his guests at the royal wedding.
With ingredients growing to enormous proportions thanks to the volcanic climate, this vibrant and colourful setting, complete with candy-coloured pink lava, is a true feast for the eyes. Chucking golden turnips into cooking pots, being flung up buildings using well-placed forks, or hurling frying pans as a Hammer Bros. to carve at cheese, Nintendo isn’t short on ideas to challenge you. And away from everything that most will have already seen, we even stumbled on one of the mysterious paintings that many will have spotted in last week’s Nintendo Direct…
If that wasn’t packed with enough charm, then Bubblaine in the Seaside Kingdom never failed to raise a smile. (And no, I’m not talking about the sudden nipple controversy that Mario was met with last week.) The holiday resort sits by a carbonated ocean that is crystal clear. There are four fountains that spray seawater toward a majestic Glass Tower that sits between them, that blends the liquid to create “a deep, elegant flavour” to become Sparkle Water. This tasty beverage is said to bring good fortune, happiness, and even romance to those who drink it, so we can certainly tell why Bowser would want to get his hands on the miraculous mixture.
Swimming can often be a cumbersome way for Mario to get around in any of his adventures, but the Capture mechanic soon makes it far less of a chore once you chuck your cap at a Cheep Cheep or a purple squid-like enemy that wraps itself in a bubble and can either skim across the surface or use water to propel itself skyward – at least until it has to collect more water. These are just two examples that the Capture mechanic presents you with, easily demonstrating how this will be a gameplay experience unlike any other.
With each kingdom only seeming to have one main objective that will reward you with a Multi Moon, players are left to explore to their heart’s content to recover as many Power Moons as possible. It’s freedom like you never knew, and, in Bubblaine, that curiosity will see you chase musical notes, climb up a lighthouse, complete side-scrolling sections underwater, and meet up with Captain Toad once more. And, if you need any pointers you can turn to the squawking parrot Talkatoo, Hint Toad, or Uncle amiibo to point you in the right direction.
It’s worth mentioning the Crazy Cap shops, too. There are two in each kingdom, a yellow shop where you can spend normal Coins and another purple shop in which you can chuck Regional Coins at the owner. This will let you buy outfits that are themed around the kingdom that you are in or even those that celebrate Mario’s past professions, as well as stickers and souvenirs to decorate the Odyssey with.
And then there’s Snapshot Mode. It’s on trend for inclusion in games these days, but in Super Mario Odyssey‘s case seems the most fitting. Easily accessed by hitting downwards on the Directional Buttons, it freezes whatever’s happening – leaving you to move, rotate, tilt, and zoom with the camera to line up that perfect shot. There are filters to play around with such as throwbacks to the NES, Game Boy, and NES as well as Cartoon, Oil Painting, and Silhouette, and you can even slap on the game’s logo to help spread the word. Think of it as the perfect picture postcard, and a neat way to share your adventures.
If variety is the spice of life, then Super Mario Odyssey is a particularly flavourful feast indeed. It is the return to that open-ended sandbox approach that looks destined to see the Nintendo Switch exclusive score superstardom, which, on early impressions, is set to shortly be celebrated as Mario’s greatest ever adventure. You could say my hat is off to you, Nintendo.