(image credit: Nintendo)

“Super Mario Odyssey,” the newest game in the mainline Mario series, made its highly anticipated appearance on the Nintendo Switch on October 27. Returning to its (3D) roots of fully explorative worlds, “Odyssey” satisfies an appetite for many longtime fans, while being accessible enough for those trying out Mario for the first time. 

The famous plumber is equipped with his regular set of moves, allowing for phenomenal free-running. The distinctive addition to this installment is the new “Capture” ability. By throwing Mario’s cap, one can possess most enemies and items. By doing so, Mario can utilize their abilities. This is a massive leap forward in opening the possibilities of what can be done in a Mario game. 

The world variety is diverse and, in many cases, more lifelike than they’ve been in previous Mario games. This is in part due to the stellar graphical capabilities on the Switch. One new world shown off profusely prior to release is New Donk City, a modern industrial landscape for Mario to roam free.  

There is a constant rewarding thrill of finding some obvious and some obscure power moons, which have replaced stars as the main collectible in “Super Mario Odyssey.” 

The level of challenge for “Odyssey” is fairly high, though “easy mode” does exist for those wanting a more casual experience. With a health bar allowing three hits and limited ways to replenish health until the next goal is met, the challenge is present, but not overbearing.  

Also new to the series is losing coins upon death, instead of lives. In “Odyssey,” coins count as spendable currency, which can be used to buy different outfits for Mario to wear. While no outfits change function, the entertainment factor is priceless 

The main game takes only five to ten hours to beat with minimal exploration. Fortunately, most of what “Super Mario Odyssey” has to offer exists after the princess is rescued. Collecting the moons located on the “main path” won’t take too long, but one will find that each world is packed much tighter with eventful surroundings than initially expected. 

Besides moons, players have to collect regular coins as well as regional purple coins. These coins are specific to each world and can only be spent in the world they were acquired in. Purple coins can be used to purchase world-exclusive costumes and other collectibles. 

Like any Mario game, it’s never fair to blame the controls over player error. The controls are refined and operate best when the joy-con controllers are separated. The motion controls are optional, but extremely helpful. After throwing their cap, the player can hone in on a nearby target by flicking the controller in the desired direction. Additionally, special moves such as the hat spin can be executed by flicking both joy-cons at the same time. 

Prior to release, “Super Mario Odyssey” set high expectations. A return to open-world, sandbox style play was welcome, but players needed something new, as Nintendo is ever-aware of. The implementation of the capture ability alongside the classic, senseless fun of free-roaming makes for a masterful creation for both old and new players

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