Ahead of the October launch of Super Mario Odyssey, I was given the opportunity to play the game at Nintendo HQ. Everyone who attended the event was given a copy of the game too. It’s one I’ve been playing with open wide-eyed wonder since.
Nintendo UK is based in a really cool space in the historic town of Windsor. In fact, they are right next to the famous Windsor Castle. On arrival, I was greeted by the Nintendo community manager and given a goodie bag with a Mario hat and other cool items including the game.
I took a moment to take in the games room, which is the kind of space that I’d love to have in a future mayamada office (#officegoals). Nintendo artwork was spread along the entrance wall and Nintendo Switch posters showcasing games including Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles and of course Super Mario Odyssey.
Opposite that wall is a row of widescreen televisions with Switches plugged into them and mesmerised gamers plugged into those Switches. But before I could sit down to play I had to get into the sandwiches, fruit, and cookies that had been spread out for us. Priorities.
Fully fed, I could now focus on the matter at hand. Despite having the Switch at our own GamePad events, this was the first time since launch I’ve had a proper play session with the console.
As I parked myself on the nearest sofa next to someone playing the Switch in television mode. With no TVs free, I opted for the handheld configuration. That moment was an instant reminder of the great versatility the console has and how seamlessly you can transition from one play mode to another.
If it had been a while since playing the Switch, it was even longer since I had owned a standalone Mario game. In fact, almost a decade ago with Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.
After watching Nintendo’s E3 live stream back in June, I wasn’t initially taken with the game, although the idea of moving from 3D to classic 2D Mario did intrigue me. Following the showing at E3, I realised that Nintendo generally doesn’t make bad Mario games, so maybe I shouldn’t be too quick to judge.
What has come so far has proven my initial scepticism to be completely unfounded. This may be the best Mario game ever.
Mario Oydessy is an absolute delight to play. There have been several great open world Mario games since the Nintendo 64, but Odyssey takes things in new directions after a familiar start. The major difference here is Mario’s new sentient hat, Cappy, who teams up with Mario to track down Bowser and save Princess Peach.
This means Mario’s headwear is no longer just for the look. Cappy can be thrown onto a variety of objects in the game world, allowing Mario to take control of them. It brings a new and extremely fun dimension to the game. Each world will bring new objects and character to control and solve puzzles with.
Throwing the hat onto an unsuspecting frog brings the ability to jump to extreme heights. Taking control of a Bullet Bill means you can now fly over large chasms. Our favourite (former)plumber can even take control of zippers in one world!
I’m still making my way through the game and have been constantly impressed with the way each level brings an original way to make use of Cappy.
Another new feature is the ability to take in-game snapshots while playing. They can be shared on social media which is a brilliant move by Nintendo.
We made good use of this feature during the event. At the end of the day we all screenshots to find the funniest, most artistic and cutest shots taken. It resulted in many hilarious and unexpected sights!
And that’s really the best thing about Mario Odyssey. To play it is to continue discovering delightful moments that make you smile or marvel at the inventiveness and care the developers have taken into crafting such an excellent game.
This isn’t necessarily a review. But I do think you should think strongly about adding this game to your Nintendo Switch library. Now excuse me while I discover what other delights are in store on this odyssey…