23/11/2017

☆ Review: Super Mario Odyssey "You Can Almost Go Home Again" ☆ #MarioOdyssey

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Much like the great traveller Odysseus, who spent so many years from home, I have also been on a long journey back to that place. No, not Ithaca—for me, the Mushroom Kingdom, and my passion for exploration. I just finished my first of what will be many playthroughs, and I did not want it to end.
Nintendo wanted to send their hero on a far-reaching adventure as he sought to reclaim his bride—again, like in Homer’s Odyssey—and some will boil it down to an attractive looking collect-a-thon—attempting to separate pieces of a wholly blended experience—but for me it was a joyous epic that came close to recapturing more than just what I could throw my hat on.
Mario’s next great video game experience is here, and it is time to dive into the craziness, moustache first.

Why am I fighting a dapper brood of rabbit wedding planners?

Wait—let me begin somewhere else. When I first saw that Mario’s hat had eyes, I was honestly a little creeped out. Unlike this game, I do not have a hat fetish—don’t look good in them—but it is the main mechanic and once I realized that Mario’s signature red cap had been possessed by a ghost friendlier than Casper, it was a little easier to swallow.
The opening small story starts brilliantly in medias res with the classic fight between the titular former-plumber and Bowser but drops instantly into what makes this title different. I was following along well until the realization that I was expected to fly around in a giant metal hat that looked like a falling tugboat. All of this was really silly, especially with some of the outfits, kingdoms, and interactions, but no matter how good the drugs were that Nintendo had during the planning of this project, it didn’t take me long in that tutorial area to fully buy in.
There was such a familiar feeling after that first bit of adjustment. The journey that Mario took was a long road for me as well, one that quickly showed me I wasn’t there just to capture various enemies, coins, and moons, but to try and recapture those same feelings I had playing Super Mario 64 all those years ago.
From playing the demo and exploring the castle to finding hidden worlds and finally defeating King Bowser, I felt a sense of wonder in its purest form, something I’ve been searching for again for many years. I know I can’t, can never re-experience it for the first time, or quiet my expectations when embracing a new title, but it came so close this time.


Earlier I said I wanted to return home to the Mushroom Kingdom, which I was glad to see this game has, but specifically, there is a small part hidden away that is MY kingdom, in its 64-bit glory—or the courtyard of that palace at least. There are paintings that transport players to teaser areas for each kingdom, and the one for Peach’s Castle made me crave more ravenously. This almost overshadowed many of the new zones—a few of which are sadly forgettable. There are several fantastic environments that excel in their use of light, water, and fog, while Bowser’s castle is stunningly gorgeous, showing Nintendo’s use of colour and spatial presentation.
New Donk City wouldn’t be overshadowed though. The Donk—as I hear the residents refer to it in the colloquial—has the greatest festival in recorded history; all of Nintendo’s pomp and circumstance with a payoff accompanied by fireworks and nostalgia topped party favours. I loved it! I wanted an entire game that just took place in various parts of a large New Donk City, Metro Kingdom. Reclaiming those old feelings are quite difficult, but The Donk created some new ones for sure.
Perhaps one of the major reasons why it felt so easy to get into Odyssey was because it controlled so similarly to Mario 64, with almost every action feeling natural—just replace punching with hat-tossing and some un-intrusive motion controls that can honestly be ignored. The hat mechanic takes away the need for creating new power-ups, as now Mario has ascended into near-godhood and can simply become the enemy, by possessing these creatures and laying the smack down on their friends. The game is never hard in the main story, but optional platforming sections, challenges, and some post-game enhanced boss fights will test even avid players. The bosses themselves are simple but fantastic, only requiring that players learn mechanics and use the tools at hand.
I especially loved the Bowser battles and that octopus fight that takes up most of the stage, granting a fun sense of freedom and scope. The final encounter with King Koopa is energetic and astonishingly crafted, with that possession, so sweet. I was elated and wanted to do it all over again. There was still such an abundance to do afterwards though, with two more kingdoms and more activities and collectables than I could count.
Each of the kingdoms feels open and spacious without being daunting but still packed with stuff to do and things to collect. There are 999 moons supposedly, and some are in plain sight while others are a challenge to nab or just well-hidden, but this makes the pacing of collecting and exploring feel fun. Levels also change once they are beaten, encouraging repeat visits, along with many secrets that I spend too much time on figuring out sometimes. The outfits are collectable too, with some fun ones, even if I am mostly just running around as Luigi now. I’m not that big into fashion though, so I kind of wish they did a bit more, like each one having an ability, bonus, or some other cosmetic flare other than just getting the player into some small locked areas.


Summary:
Nintendo didn’t just put in a bunch of fanfare—though there is a ton and I love it all—but a lot of care into what they were making, building off of great experiences and attempting to innovate slightly.
Looking at the sound design is amazing and shows some attention to detail. Not only is the music for most areas spectacular, but some attentive people discovered that sound effects change to match the music for harmonization purposes that change as the character enters a new area of the kingdom.
It’s the little things, mixed in with how much is packed in the game, and just some sheer fun that will keep me flipping through my photos, reminiscing about the great adventure.
I can see old Mario sitting on his high-backed chair on that flying hat, reliving the glory days. This game validated my owning a Switch for sure.
I hope the rumour of DLC is true, bringing in more classic zones as new kingdoms, or maybe even the Koopalings because I love those guys.
Death can’t be the last great adventure, and Odyssey proves Mario still has a lot of life in him.


RATING: ICE COOL

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)



Game Link: Nintendo















Review By Wilds