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I'll be clear from the get-go: until the story finishes, the game is excellent. The capture mechanic is surprisingly nice and well-used (albeit at the cost of some vanilla platforming) and it has a lot of tricks under its sleeve - tricks that are helped by the amount of traps and enemies you encounter through the worlds. Also, the game's pacing is really good and even rewards exploration by letting you unlock further areas faster the more Power Moons you have. It gives you a free world and, most importantly, it encourages you to explore it - something that I find incredibly uncommon in the open-world genre (which often throws content around its world and gives you no reason to go through it, assuming you are playing blind). The final area is really cool, as well, and the Balloon minigame that was eventually added was a nice skill test.
But then we get to the post-game.
The Dark Side of the Moon is fairly easy to unlock. Depending on how much you've done before beating the Moon, it's likely to be around 50 moons worth of effort, or less. But then there's the Darker Side of the Moon, which requires you to double the amount of Power Moons you currently have. And then there's the harder bosses, that require 880 Power Moons at most. That means "grinding", and that means slowing the game's pace to a crawl, quickly making you lose motivation as you realize you are getting Power Moons for the sake of getting them (either that, or it's spamming the Balloons minigame or an exploit just for the sake of doing them, as well). And that's a horrible thing to happen in a game. It makes you think "So why was I doing this?" and you give up the game (which I did before even reaching 300 Power Moons).
And it's unfortunate, because up to the point the main story ends, it was easily one of the best Mario games ever... but the post-game makes it lose a lot of its worth.
Prerelease, I was super excited for this game, and was even thinking it'd dethrone Super Mario Sunshine as my favorite 3D Mario game. The end result, however was, as Marlon Random would say, "good, GOOD... but, not great."
First off is the volume of content. Yes, there's a lot of it. Yes, a lot of it is simple. Yes, a lot of it gets repeated. Far too many of the Moons are barely involved, and a lot of them are just there, even in the postgame. Compared to the prior "spacebound object collecting" Mario games, this game feels far too basic. I remember a postgame moon in the Cascade Kingdom which was hidden under a pole, which you had to break with a T-Rex Capture. That Moon was unique and required a bit of thought to figure out, but that's the exception, as opposed to the rule. Hint Arts are another example of Moons that require deeper thought to solve, which is much appreciated.
Furthermore, the fact that Moons are the reward for everything severely devalues them. Say what you will about the execution of Sunshine's Blue Coins, but I feel like they nicely rewarded exploration without devaluing the primary collectible: Shine Sprites, which were only given for the main missions, and occasionally for hidden bonuses like the yellow birds or Red Coin challenges. Blue Coins would allow you to work your way towards a Shine and still be given stuff for going out of your way. Here, though, Moons are everywhere. Walk in a pattern for a Koopa? That's a Moon. Ground Pound a shiny spot? Moon there. Bonk a bird with your hat? Free Moon. Pick up a bunch of rainbow music notes? You get a Moon. Go fishing? Animal Crossing your way to a Moon. The reward being the same for almost everything makes the game feel very bland.
Capturing seems like a good idea on the surface, but very little actually gets done with it in practice. Much like the Moons, few of the Captures actually have significant time and unique scenarios dedicated to them. The Pokio is a good example of a Capture given the respect it deserves; they get introduced early in Bowser's Kingdom, have their mechanics established, and then they have you use them all throughout the level, and even for the boss. In this case, you get taught to climb walls and redirect bombs in a safe space before they start introducing moving walls and much more hazardous scenarios. However, once more, that's the exception, as opposed to the rule, and very few Captures get to have this level of depth.
The amount of platforming in this game leaves something to be desired too. A lot of the time, you're using the Captures, but when you aren't, the platforming is usually very shallow, compared to other staple 3D Marios like the Galaxy games, 3D World, Sunshine, and even 64. Even Culmina Crater/Darker Side left me wanting more in terms of platforming.
Not all is terrible and horrible, though. The Captures they get right (like Pokio and Gushen) are a blast to use, the levels are all unique in terms of design (aside from Honeylune, Rabbit Ridge, and Darker Side, since they're all on the Moon), the majority of the music is outstanding, and the outfits are an incredibly pointless touch that I love anyway (welcome back, Sunshine Shine Sprite shirt and shades). Cappy's a fun character that reminds me of the best parts of Huey, and Mario's movement is as satisfying as it was in Sunshine, even if most of it isn't really necessary.
If you're a fan of Mario, come on down and throw your hat in the ring. On a first playthrough, you'll likely have a pretty good time, even if you don't see it through to 100% Completion.
I'm a Galaxy guy, and have held that as the best of the series for a while. How did this do?
I think the title gives you the tone perfectly. It doesn't have the same atmosphere and intrigue as Galaxy, but it has tons more adventure and wonder than a Land or World title. It's a simpler, more comical story, yes (happy, Miyamoto?), but there's such fascinating detail in the worlds and a very cinematic tone that pulls you through a story despite lots of room for exploration.
The controls are pretty good, though the Joy-Cons' motion controls are occasionally required. Not a problem for me, but it's definitely not as satisfying as the Wii Remote. Mario's mechanics are all solid, and Cappy works well as a boomerang and an advanced platforming device. This moveset gives you the same platforming freedom as Galaxy did if you can learn it, and this time, the developers encourage and reward platforming skill with caches of hard-to-reach coins. It's a great nod to more hardcore players. While the overworld levels aren't as obstacle coursey as some might prefer, they usually have some places where you can whiz through them with Cappy's help.
In fact, this game caters to all fans. There are references and elements from previous games all over, and most of the time it feels like an elegant synthesis of the entire series rather than blatant fanservice...though that is appreciated too.
The gimmick/motif is hats, introduced by your sidekick Cappy, who is an actual character and a great one, too. He possesses Mario's hat and can let Mario possess or "capture" certain enemies when thrown at them. Some of these captures are very creative and they all have clever gameplay balances.
The game mostly sees you scouring open levels for this game's celestial fuel source, Power Moons. The story of the game is lots of fun, but it's really about searching levels and completing challenges off the path. In fact, most levels require some exploring because the plot-related Moons aren't enough to get you further in the game. Sublevels entered with pipes and doors offer puzzles and platform challenges akin to older games, which is welcome.
The worlds are all creative and each have their artistic flair, though only a couple are drastically different styles. Familiar settings are frequently twisted—I dare you to find a more unique desert or lava world in the other Mario games.
Not all is fun. There are challenges and diversions that break from Mario platforming, and they're all terrible. Their harder versions? Completely rage-inducing. When the NPC-race challenges are the best side mechanic, it's bad. I also feel like most of the postgame rewards are given too early, and so it's hard to muster up the drive to get the hardest Moons in the game.
In the end, though, it's a great Mario game, successfully giving fans what they want and taking a small step forward for the series. I definitely recommend it.
At least in my opinion, Mario games are all about entertaining platform actions and well-designed levels that reward thorough exploration and creative thinking. Ever since Super Mario 64 took Mario into the third dimension and provided new takes on familiar ideas, Super Mario Odyssey is the game that best captures these concepts, and is thus possibly the best Mario game in two decdes
The plot is the standard "Bowser kidnaps Peach" one, although this time, he's trying to marry her, and needs to steal various wedding-related objects in order to throw his wedding. The latter part gives you a sense of purpose, as you aren't just gathering Power Moons because the game asks you to, but to keep pursuing Bowser and his minions, and so that you can eventually settle the score with him.
Throughout Mario's adventure, you'll explore various kingdoms, which are often fairly interesting takes on the standard set of worlds. Each one has dozens of Power Moons hidden all over- some are in relatively plain sight and others are carefully hidden. Whether traversing obstacle courses, solving puzzles or defeating bosses, they're tests of your various skills, and present a variety of challenges.
The game has a fairly compelling hat throwing mechanic. Apart from being usable as an attack and a way of executing advanced maneuvers, you can take possession of enemies, and use them in various ways, such as using a Bullet Bill to fly across a long gap or using a T-Rex to smash your way through anything in your path. You'll need those abilities to overcome certain challenges, which may require you to use them in somewhat unconventional ways.
While the main story doesn't take very long to finish, and only requires you to find a relatively fraction of the game's Power Moons, there's quite a bit more to do once you finish. After completing the game, an entirely new world opens up, additional Power Moons can be found in the worlds you've previously explored, and some of the most challenging areas can be accessed by gathering even more Power Moons.
If I had to name a flaw, getting 100 percent completion is a daunting task. Not only are some of the moons very difficult to achieve, particularly those related to the mini-games (such as jumping rope or beach volleyball), but a lot of the moons are simply found by ground pounding in certain locations, and aren't as fun to find as some of the others. That said, you don't have to find any Power Moons that you're having trouble with.
All in all, if you're a fan of Mario games, I'd highly recommend Super Mario Odyssey, and if you're looking into buying a Switch, this game should be your first purchase for the system.
What makes a Mario game? Is it the characters? The setting? The type of gameplay?
It's a valid question, considering this is the same series that gave us Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario 64.
And now that the series has decided to embrace open-world level design again, it brings us to Super Mario Odyssey. A Mario game in which you can drive a motor scooter through a variation of New York City while being chased by a photorealistic T-rex wearing aviator goggles, while you're dressed like a member of the mafia.
It feels like Nintendo was trying to come up with as many new ideas as they could when designing this game. Therefore, we get an anachronistic New York City-esque environ with 1950s-era people who use laptops, a Tim Burton-esque black, white and yellow land of flying hat-shaped ghosts, a Mexico-Egypt hybrid populated by Day of the Dead skeleton dancers, a dark and creepy crumbling castle, a forest garden tended to by robotic watering cans, and other wacky ideas. We even get a concert with full vocalized lyrics and excellent lip syncing and dancing performed by Pauline from the original Donkey Kong!
At the same time, the gameplay is mostly "Super Mario 64 II". You explore levels and collect things. Collect enough things, you can move on to the next level. Mario's ability to possess other creatures changes the movement, mechanics and abilities, but at times it feels gimmicky to me. Other times, they come up with very creative uses for these abilities, such as having to climb a challenging wall using a bird's pointy beak as a spring.
When you first play through the game, there is a story and a sense of progression. You visit a world that's in crisis, and you deal with the crisis. A giant soup container is being ruined by a giant bird. A UFO is sucking up all the flowers from a hidden garden. You deal with the crisis, and the world changes to be happier and more lively, with the civilians basically coming out to play. You explore and collect moons to earn the way to the next level. And you move on, pursuing Bowser across the planet as he attempts to marry Peach.
Once you rescue Peach, the game continues, but the theme changes from progressing forwards, to one of having a big vacation. Tons of new objectives show up in the previously visited levels, and the people from the different worlds are also visiting each other's worlds as tourists! It's very charming and nice and upbeat. The game is almost a vacation simulator - not only do you visit worlds populated by tourists from other worlds, but there's an excellent photo-taking feature, and you can collect souvenirs and stickers for your ship.
The worlds themselves are small - larger than any level in Super Mario 64, but they don't feel big enough to be worlds for me. Still, they're imaginative, diverse, and original. I wish there were more worlds, but the game is charming, fun and very imaginative.
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