Finished Super Mario Odyssey tonight on Twitch. This is my first review and I’m excited to share it all with you. The review for SMO is for main-game Content. I’m aware there is post-game content!
Super Mario Odyssey is a great game. I play SMO for the gameplay and it delivered. By far this is one of the best games in the Mario series franchise. The gameplay worked well, and the layout of every level was intuitive without being boring and straight-forward. There were moments of discovery left to the gamer which felt exciting and nothing was heavy handed in explanations for how the game works.
I loved the nostalgia of 2D Mario being incorporated throughout the game. It hit me with a wave of nostalgia from my first Mario games in the franchise. I’ve been playing Nintendo games for as long as I can remember, and it was a fantastically well-incorporated homage to the old games. I appreciated that it wasn’t a one-off and that the developers included 2D Mario throughout various worlds and levels. Each time I saw the 16-bit tube I felt excited. New enemies for Cappy to suck the soul out of? Excited! New worlds to explore? Excited. I felt motivated to go through each level and see what the worlds had to offer me.
Do I recommend the game? If you own a Nintendo Switch I think the game is a must-have experience despite my overall score being 3.5/5. My rating of the game includes other factors to me beyond if I just enjoyed game! While I think Gameplay is the most important feature and Nintendo is most known for their gameplay and originality over other things I do want to talk about my thoughts on where I think the game could be improved.
I wanted to rate the game holistically and I’ll talk about why Art/Story/Character received a measly 2/5 from me.
The art drove me crazy! Mario/Peach/Bowser returned in their iconic cartoony goodness, but certain worlds were semi-realistic. It could be passable if the worlds were consistently semi-realistic, but half of the worlds had that classic art style that worked well, and the other half had a jarring semi-realistic look that really didn’t vibe with me.
These are from the same game! They really needed a stronger sense of direction with the style of art they were going for. One includes semi-realistic textures and the other is cartoony and soft.
As for the world, characters and plot—Nintendo-produced games are not known for having fantastic plots and I don’t go into a Mario game expecting a deep and insightful story-line.
I wish that the worlds felt more connected and alive. When I’m exploring all these new lands I want to feel like they exist beyond Mario—and they don’t. The only time I felt that the worlds were alive are when they included ‘mini quests’ such as herding all the sheep back to the farmer or finding seeds for a character to grow. I’m not docking for Nintendo’s simplistic style which includes a lack of dialogue—I’m docking points because the worlds felt static and two-dimensional. Mario is supposed to be a voyager dropping in and helping, but I felt that they only existed as plot-items instead of characters.
Super Mario Sunshine is a great example of a Mario game that felt ‘alive’. I loved exploring Delfino island and honestly, I spent most of my time running around it rather than playing the actual game! I have great memories of finding the small island off the coast, swimming in the docks and doing parkour on the wires and off the resident’s heads. I think SMO would have benefited from having a home world similar to Delfino Island where the playing could goof off if they wanted. Even a larger inside of the Odyssey for the player to explore would have been a nice addition.
The plot I also found strange—a wedding? It certainly was unique and memorable. As I said prior I don’t play Mario games for the plot: I play for the game play and experience. I have mixed feelings on the plot since one hand I do enjoy how unexpected it was but on the other it felt jarring and out of place! Why a wedding? I would find myself thinking and it wasn’t ever answered.
I was also bothered by the ship breaking down at every stop with no explanation—was it Cappy? Is the ship old? Did it run out of gas? I wish it had been acknowledged within the game why the ship broke down so often. I didn’t need a super logical reason—it is a game about saving the princess of a toad kingdom from a short and thick dragon—but it needed to feel that it still worked within the rules of the world.
Despite the deficits in the world-building and art-style I really enjoyed my experience with SMO. I found myself easily immersed in the gameplay and could comfortably play for a few hours at a time. I like that the game can be played aiming for a 100% grind but it’s not necessary to gather every coin and moon for gamers like myself who want to casually enjoy the experience. The difficulty of the game increased the deeper into the game I progressed, but it never felt overwhelming or unmanageable. I struggled a lot throughout the game but that was due to my personal ability than to any fault of the game! I was pleasantly amused by the ‘helper’ that appeared after failing a boss a few times that allowed me to buy an extra heart to increase my life points to 6! It was welcomed due to it being optional and non-intrusive. It wasn’t making the boss any easier, just giving me more chances!
I’d recommend this game to anyone who loves the Mario series, platformers and games alike. The game uses fresh concepts (Goomba stacking! A new twist on power-ups! I became a dinosaur!) while still holding onto the integrity of the Mario series.
- Gameplay incredibly innovative and fresh feeling. Lots of quirky and originally gameplay. Loved having to ‘discover’ how each character interacted with their world.
- The pacing for the game was great! It didn’t drag at all, by the time I felt ‘done’ with a world I’d be zooming off in the Odyssey to the next one!
- Felt great to stream. Not all games make a good game for Twitch and Super Mario Odyssey works for the platform. It allowed for good viewer interaction and people can join the stream at any time and feel apart of the adventure!
- Lack of art consistency. At times would be completely cartooned and other times semi-realistic
- A wedding? Why?
- Worlds didn’t feel alive beyond being plot-pieces.