Super Mario Odyssey includes some of the best (and strangest) characters, level design, and gameplay in Nintendo’s storied history. The game features a new possession mechanic that allows Mario to use his new friend “Cappy” to take control of all sorts of wacky characters, allowing for a staggering amount of new gameplay possibilities. Mario can also use Cappy during combat and platforming sections to enhance his own abilities. While the game builds upon the foundation created by the likes of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, there are also plenty of nods to earlier eras. The game features some wonderful sections that incorporate classic 2D platforming into the 3D level design. These classic 8-bit-themed sections serve as a welcome change of pace and one particular section of throwback gameplay is among my favorite moments in the entire game. I won’t spoil it for you here, but anyone who has beaten the New Donk City level can probably guess what I’m referring to. In many ways, Super Mario Odyssey is a love letter to a series that already has a place in most of our hearts.
Super Mario Odyssey takes place across 12 different Kingdoms that are each stranger than the last (I’m looking at you, Luncheon Kingdom). Nintendo’s ability to constantly innovate on a genre that it’s been producing for more than 30 years is nothing short of amazing. Throughout the 12 expertly-crafted Kingdoms, Odyssey constantly provides new gameplay mechanics and a delightful world that brings back that same sense of wonder that I felt when I first played Super Mario 64. The gameplay loop revolves around traveling to a new kingdom in your ship (The Odyssey) and collecting enough moons (dozens of which are hidden in each level) to travel to the next location. Pro Tip – you can’t collect all of the moons on your first playthrough, as more are unlocked after you finish the story. Speaking of the story, it’s the standard Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach fare, but with a twist. Bowser has also kidnapped Cappy’s sister Tiarra in order to be used as a prop in his upcoming wedding to Peach. Throughout the “story,” you’ll be fighting a new gang of enemy rabbits (The Broodels) in order to put a stop to the royal wedding.