Super Mario Odyssey is a solid addition to the franchise

How should one review “Super Mario Odyssey”? Should we analyze based on previous Mario games? Should a comparison be drawn against other titles the Switch has to offer since its March launch? Or should it get analyzed based upon advancements in graphics? After all, we have come to an age in which every individual hair is rendered onto the beloved plumber’s model. Everything matters when comes to the Odyssey, an adventure so extravagant the classic eight worlds wasn’t enough.

When the first trailers came out for the game, I was skeptical. Mario became a meme for his presence in a Grand Theft Auto type world. The plumber is associated with fantasy world adventures, and seeing the plumber in a world that resembles New York felt out of place. Ever since the 2010 release of “Super Mario Galaxy 2,” Mario hasn’t seen another 3D platform adventure besides the “Super Mario 3D World” franchise. Where the 3D environments were copy paste worlds from the side scroller adventure, so it didn’t bring anything new to the table. With “Super Mario Sunshine”, the 2002 3D adventure release on the GameCube, it was devoid of the classic setting in the Mushroom Kingdom. Taken away from the repetitive worlds, the Delfino Plaza Resort gave new obstacles to Mario. Either having to defeat ghosts in hotels, or fight bosses on a rollercoaster, a new variety of gameplay never experienced was entertaining. In short, I knew inserting Mario into worlds built from the ground up works. When “Super Mario Odyssey” included a world of realism, which was lackluster of the fantasy elements such as hill with eyes, I was drawn back.

It wasn’t until I booted up the game after a software update that I was blasted with the intro of, you guessed it, Peach getting kidnapped by Bowser. The plot kicks in fast after Mario’s hat is torn to shreds then shoved into worlds never seen before. I was hooked. Being able to take your time in worlds without a taunting countdown makes it fun to get a hang of game mechanics while admiring scenic views. Each area brought its own set of challenges, characters, and puzzles. The first thing “Super Mario Odyssey” gets right is explaining the new mechanic of Mario’s stand-in hat, Cappy, your companion on this odyssey. The character brings in new gaming mechanics to the franchise while being someone the player can interact with. During the game, Mario uses Cappy as a weapon, and Cappy can be a guide giving advice. By the time you reach the end of the overarching Bowser chase, you’re met with a grand finale that wouldn’t have been possible without Cappy’s involvement. Everything has a purpose, and when it pays off all the hard work means something. Even after playing through the main storyline, you’re given more puzzles in each world to go back to that keeps the fun going.

Since Mario started flipping between 2D platforming to 3D adventures starting with the 1996 release of “Super Mario 64,” many changes over the whacky controls have persisted. Mario is a guaranteed great side-scroller, but it gets hard to navigate 3D worlds with a set of unbearable controls. Camera angles were something that ruined my gameplay of the 64 release. I could get lost and stuck due to set angles. It didn’t help either that not all controls were set in stone, as I could double jump myself into the dark abyss. In “Super Mario Sunshine,” improvements were made with the Gamecube’s controls. I could do successful wall jumping and complex actions with the help of better camera management and controls. However, something “Super Mario Sunshine” has that “Super Mario Odyssey” does better is the second joy-con on the Switch. Being able to navigate the world with the moving Joy-Con on the left and the camera positioning Joy-Con on the right led to engaging gameplay. A Mario game becomes legendary when even water levels are fun.

I was immersed into the world as I held my switch close, and then, I realized something “Super Mario Odyssey” did wrong. If you like playing with the Joy-Cons attached to the screen, be prepared for the shakes. The shakes start when you realize that many secondary controls need the Joy-Cons to shake in certain directions, and when you shake the Joy-Cons, you shake the screen. The game can be finished without shaking, but makes for awkward times when testing out motion control abilities. It also can make some puzzles harder when you avoid the shaking, but this complaint is only for those who love playing the switch with Joy-Cons attached.

Multiplayer is a hit or miss with the Switch. The small screen on the Switch is harder for two players to play on compared to a full tv screen. When other games scrap the idea altogether, “Super Mario Odyssey” decided to add in the mechanic. The idea is that one player is Mario while another is Cappy. Usually, when I tested this mechanic, I’d play as Mario. It is great until you realize communication and timing with the person you’re playing with is key. Not being able to use Cappy leads to a lot of death screens. When switching my character to Cappy, I realized that there isn’t much to do alongside Mario. The game mode is something that needs getting used to, and I would not recommend buying for a two-player experience.

“Super Mario Odyssey” has gorgeous graphics and hits it home for the classic Mario style. Everything is colored beautifully and nothing feels lazily put together. The  score for the game is diverse and sets each world’s mood. Super Mario Odyssey is a solid 9/10.