2017 has been a stellar year for gamers of all types. PC, Console, Handheld, MMO, RPG, Shooter, Strategy, Racing – everyone has had at least one stellar release. But, if I’m going to be honest, there is no better overall game in 2017 than Super Mario Odyssey. Every detail is filled with wonder, joy, and a celebration of the series’ decades of existence. This is our Super Mario Odyssey review.
The core Mario games have always tried to improve upon themselves and differentiate themselves with each passing game. With the exception of Super Mario Galaxy 2, every Mario has its own unique twist to make it stand out. This is no different with your sentient hat Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s not a spoiler to say that Bowser once again takes off with Princess Peach in SMO, and in so doing he’s hopping from kingdom to kingdom taking their prized relics (which also happen to be unique wedding attire and accouterments). The first one he’s left ruined is the Hat Kingdom, of course, and you soon team up with Cappy to go off after Bowser as he’s taken both Peach and Cappy’s sister to serve as her bridal veil.
— Bill 🎃 Mirkwood (@TheBillMurphy) October 28, 2017
Super Mario Odyssey doesn’t have the world’s most serious story (thank God), but it’s richly told through in-engine cinematics and surprising voice overdone in “Mario-ese” with subtitles. About midway through the game’s narrative, you’ll catch up with Bowser and the scene that unfolds is epic. I’d kill for a Mario movie done in this style one day. It’s so gorgeously animated and shot, and the thing is – it’s all in-game.
Say what you will about the power of the Switch, but in the right hands, it can make a world look beautiful. Mario’s kingdoms are no different, and the animation of its characters it something otherworldly. Mario, Cappy, the local denizens of each kingdom, the enemies… attention to detail like this is what makes first-party Nintendo games so appealing visually. Zelda: Breath of the Wild had it, Splatoon 2 had it, and of course so does Super Mario Odyssey.
Odyssey refers to the ship Mario and Cappy pilot to get from Kingdom to Kingdom on their chase of Bowser. The ship needs power to get from place to place, and so you must collect Power Moons scattered across the globe to chase down Bowser. And while each new world is open and free to be tackled in whatever fashion you wish, the path from Kingdom to Kingdom is more linear than not, with the occasional choice of which one to take on first. In this way, it’s a lot like Mario 64, previously the best game in the long-running franchise (some still argue that title is reserved for Sunshine or Galaxy, too).
Mario has all of his old gymnastic tricks, and some new ones (rolling like a damned cannonball is probably my favorite). But it’s Cappy that brings on a host of new moves that are absolutely crucial to this game’s level design being so great. Each Kingdom has its own ecology and enemies, and some of them have special skills you’ll need to get the moons. The Lake Kingdom lets you become one of the redfish you’ve seen in basically every Mario, you can turn into a bolt of electricity and zoom along powerlines to travel fast. In another Kingdom you can become a walnut-like insect that can stretch up and reach high places, a caterpillar to reach far away coins, oh and a freaking TANK. Yes, everyone loves the T-Rex from the trailers, but it’s the other smaller details that floor me. I always loved becoming the Racoon in SMB3, and now it’s like I can become whatever I place my hat on.
If there is any one thing “wrong” with Super Mario Odyssey, it’s that Motion Controls are indeed something essential to completing challenges or getting certain Moons. Some folks won’t want to ever use them, and in some controller configurations, they can be a pain to pull off. Handheld mode, for instance, does not make it easy to do Cappy’s twirl attack. But overall, I cannot find anything worth complaining about. Visually, Odyssey stands head and shoulders with some of the PS4 and XB1’s best. Its music and soundscape are pitch perfect, and each new world you visit brings a new sense of awe and wonder to your smiling face.
Simply put, Super Mario Odyssey is the best game of 2017, and one of the greatest games of all time. Nintendo is on a roll. Long live the King.