Hands On Preview – Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

Super Mario Odyssey - hands on preview

Earlier this week, Nintendo Scene were invited to attend a press event at Nintendo UK HQ to play the games from Nintendo’s stellar showing at E3 2017. So over the next few days, we will be posting hands on previews of the various games that we got to play at the event. Next on the list; Super Mario Odyssey!

REUBEN

When a new Mario game rolls around each generation, it’s always a bit of an event. The many adventures of the portly plumber have always been some of the most enjoyable experiences on Nintendo platforms and, I must admit, I wondered how Nintendo would top Super Mario 3D World or the phenomenal Super Mario Galaxy but I think they might just have done it.

Mechanically, Super Mario Odyssey plays out almost exactly like you would expect a 3D Mario game to play. As Mario, you jump around various stages beating enemies and collecting Moons (this game’s Stars, or Shines). The main gimmick shaking up this core gameplay, as every Mario game needs one, is that Mario can throw his hat as a projectile to attack or unlock additional bits in the level, and to ‘cap-ture’ enemies and take control of them (complete with little Mario moustache) for a set time. The level of depth that this gives the gameplay is quite incredible, for instance a flick to the right of the controls will make Mario swing the hat around him in a circle creating a small area of effect attack around him that can be used to cause damage or collect multiple coins at once.

Speaking of coins, there are no lives in Super Mario Odyssey, with coins being deducted every time that you lose all of your hit points. This makes for an interesting dynamic in which the player has to avoid deaths as the coins are actually used for many other things in the game world so dying repeatedly could actually temporarily hinder progress. Furthermore, each level also has its own distinct currency that can only be used in that level. I didn’t personally find where I could spend that currency, but as it’s bright purple, it’s pretty easy to spot.

In terms of size, even just the demo was huge. I only played one level of the two available, but that level had multiple paths and areas, and even completely different mechanical features at points. It does appear that Mario has taken a few pointers from Link in terms of world design, but instead of the sprawling, unfocused stretch of Zelda, Mario has given the visual impression (and the tangible actuality) of huge worlds whilst still maintaining a sort of linearity, which I considerably prefer and got a lot of enjoyment out of. Also, the Moons in each level are not only given for set objectives but also cleverly hidden throughout the levels, which will no doubt become a fun talking point between fans on release as players endeavour to find them all.

Super Mario Odyssey is absolutely breathtaking to behold in motion. Every location is bright, colourful and entirely distinct from the last, all of the character and enemy models are charming and full of life, the movement in the game is silky smooth and without any jitters. The music is both classic Mario fare, but fitting for the game world and so addictive that I was humming it for a while afterwards. Simply put, this game is clearly a labour of love and a fantastic one at that. I cannot wait to dive properly into this world and see what more secrets Mario has to offer.

WES

It’s fair to say that I have very high hopes for Super Mario Odyssey and I’m happy to admit that the Mario Galaxy games sit comfortably within my list of favourite all time games. A brand new sand box style, open world, 3D Mario game has been top of my most wanted list for a little while now and Odyssey certainly looks like it’s going to be what I crave.

I spent some thoroughly enjoyable time running, jumping and scooting around a couple of different areas during my hands on with the game, both of which were very different and both of which introduced a number of different new play mechanics. With the opportunity to, amongst other things, and just off the top of my head; spend area specific coins I’d collected in a shop, ride a scooter, crontrol a bullet bill, turn into a electrical current and travel along a cable, operate a radio controlled toy car, via the hands of a human man AND take on the form of 2D Mario, then turn back into 3D simply by jumping out of the top of the wall space, I experienced so much in what was, essentially, just a taster and a short demo of this brand new Mario adventure.

The game oozes the love, attention and polish we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Little touches, like using HD rumble to find the right spot in an area to ground pound, the controller vibrating just a little more when you’re in the right place; spotting Captain Toad hidden at the end of a small platform, just waiting for a little chat; classic Mario moves such as the long jump, triple jump and wall jumps all in there; shaking the controller to throw out your hat; this game has everything you’d expect, plus plenty more. This is a proper, triple A game and another example of Nintendo at their best.

I could go on some more, about how I found myself racing around a desert area on the back of a lion; how, on falling into a sink hole, expecting to be killed, I found myself in a secret underground icy platform jumping area; how I couldn’t stop smiling at Mario running about the place in a suit and fedora; how fun it was rolling – a new move for Mario this time around, launched from a crouch position.

And what this all leads up to is the collecting of Moons. I don’t know how many there are, but, like Mario Sunshine’s Shines and Mario Galaxy’s Stars, Moons are strategically placed around the play areas and you will need to collect a specific amount in each map before you’re able to move on to the next. It was great to see that, on finding a Moon, perhaps after following a set path around the map to the top of a tower or, simply by smashing open a glowing crate with my cap, I was allowed to carry on exploring, rather than being put back to that world’s starting point. Which, I will add, in both levels, seems to be the parking area for Mario’s Space Ship – a hat shaped vehicle known as the Odyssey.

On what I’ve played so far this is shaping up to be one of the greatest Mario games, if not any game, of all time. Expectations firmly set high; everything I’ve seen here suggests we could be close to launch of the Switch’s killer app. A system seller for sure. I can’t wait to see what else the game features; from new worlds and characters to game play, fresh ideas, amiibo use and challenges.

Are you looking forward to Super Mario Odyssey? Can’t wait to get your hands on it? Lets us know @nintendoscene on Twitter or in the comments below.

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