Haters gonna hate but Nintendo have somehow managed to stunningly get their shit together this year. Nintendo are now locked in a battle with themselves for Game Of The Year between their first party games, The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and their latest title Super Mario Odyssey; quite a feat considering their latest console the Switch is only around 9 months old and had to wade through a barrage of negativity from nay-sayers.
Super Mario Odyssey shows us why the often backward thinking folks at Nintendo are still the best game developers out there. From the stellar but simple gameplay to the sheer scope and thematic variety of each of the many open hub worlds Mario must traverse is nothing but pure, colourful brilliance in an age of saturated annual FPS games and yearly sports titles.
Kicking Luigi into touch, Mario’s new 3D platforming adventure companion is a ghost that has taken on the form of Mario’s famed hat; when thrown at one of the games many enemies, this parasitic demon pulls Mario into the enemy’s mind causing us to take control and utilise their skills. Where it be a frog to jump high as balls, or a caterpillar to accordion your way from place to place, the amazing world design means you’re never within the mind of another for too long before having to jump back out for a new obstacle to tackle.
Speaking of, the fact that nobody really gives a shit that Mario and his ghostly pal going from place to place, subjugating the will of the area’s natives and breaking their mind, body, and spirit, and stealing the area’s resources shows how well crafted this game is as it leads us to believe that we are the hero and that what we’re doing is right.
Hell, if you want a challenge then you don’t have to capture the feeble minds of others to get to your goals. Super Mario Odyssey‘s greatest trick is the sheer openness of its levels and the freedom the game offers you to get shit done however you want. Mario’s movement staple is explained with about three buttons to press. Jump, throw Cappy (your ghost hat), and duck. Smashing these buttons in a variety of ways opens up a huge-ass moveset, which even after hours of play I’m still discovering new and better ways of reaching that high ledge, or jumping over that chasm without having to take control of a flying enemy. The menu shows you the list of individual moves but it’s up to the player to figure out how and if they can be strung together for that extra challenge.
A few inescapable moves require you to shake or thrust the controllers about like the days of bowling with your nan on the Nintendo Wii which is a bit of a pain in the dick especially if you’re playing in portable mode on a bus. I wished that Nintendo would’ve mapped these moves to button presses like everything else.
Another thing is the lack of micro transactions that seem to be an utter plague on the industry. Amidst the stories of developers and publishers being vilified for shitting out a game for the sole purpose of tapping into the addictive gambling traits of the poor assholes who can’t help but spend money on a digital outfit for their character, Nintendo, albeit a company existing to make money, have everything that these people could desire but unlockable by just playing the game and collecting coins and stuff. They already have your money and for some reason they don’t want anymore of it which is almost unheard of these days.
I spent a long time in each of the hub worlds, doing little side quests that throw you back into the 8-bit, 2D Mario and exploring the densely packed lands before finally completing the area and moving on, but shit me was I nowhere near uncovering a quarter of what this game had to offer. Once all is said and done, the worlds you’ve previously visited become repopulated with further challenges and items to collect.
This game made me smile from start to the increasingly distant finish. Who’d have thought that a 3D platformer would be critically hailed as a masterpeice in 2017? Not me, but it is.