Why Super Mario Odyssey is the Game of the Year


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Super Mario Odyssey takes the tried and true Super Mario formula and evolves it in virtually every way with the ability to capture nearly all of Mario’s enemies. It’s available on the Nintendo Switch home gaming console. Photo via MyNintendo.

How Nintendo leveled up their superstar mascot

In the past three decades, Mario has become a worldwide icon for video gaming. With Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), his franchise set a precedent for how 2-dimensional platforming should work. Later, with Super Mario 64, Nintendo established the standard for 3D platformers with smooth physics and the constant incentive to collect another Power Star to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. Now, not only has Nintendo expanded the boundaries and expectations of Mario with Super Mario Odyssey, they’ve managed to raise the bar for how all games should be handled. Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece of a game, fit for the title of Game of the Year.

Super Mario Odyssey is a game that builds upon its predecessors in virtually every way. While Nintendo marketed it as a continuation of the gameplay styles found within Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, there are callbacks and direct inspirations from the NES era of Mario games as well as the 3D releases. One moment you’re wandering around an open, jungle-themed obstacle course with full control of a 3D Mario, and the next moment you crawl into a pipe and you’re inside the a wall.

While instances like that are neat, the real hook to this new adventure is Mario’s trusty new sidekick and hat, Cappy. For decades Mario’s cap has been a symbol for himself and Nintendo as well, but never really has it had much meaning besides being super stylish. In Super Mario Odyssey, Mario’s cap is lost and Cappy takes its place.

Cappy is a ghost hat that has the ability to transform into any possible styled hat. More interestingly, and the more appealing part in a gameplay perspective, is Cappy’s ability to also possess anything it lands upon. Mario can throw Cappy onto hatless enemies to possess and take their shape, size and power. While that may sound spooky, it’s actually a lot of fun.

Throughout the game you explore various Kingdoms, and in one of the very first Kingdoms you encounter a group of frogs. If you throw Cappy onto a frog, Mario is able to enter the body of the frog and jump much higher. Not only does this open up new areas to explore, but it allows you to re-explore previous areas that you couldn’t reach normally. This pattern of breaking the conventions of Mario level design is echoed throughout all of the Kingdoms, with Mario being granted the power to turn into a T-Rex, a Chain Chomp and even a manhole cover.

That’s not even the limit to what Cappy can do. With well-timed throws and jumps, players can chain together combinations of maneuvers to send Mario farther than ever before. With the use of the Nintendo Switch’s motion controls, players can flick, shake and twist their controllers to intuitively navigate the many puzzles.

In order to progress through the Kingdoms, Mario must fuel his ship, the Odyssey, with Power Moons. Power Moons are collected through numerous challenges. It truly is a jam-packed experience that will keep you coming back for more.

The orchestral score is a marvelous joy to listen to. Along with that there are beautiful vistas, wacky character designs and even more magical, charming moments and design choices that will put a smile on anyone’s face, child and adult alike.

Super Mario Odyssey is not only one of the best games of the year, but it’ll go down as one of the greatest games of all time. It is the perfect culmination of immersive gameplay controls, captivating music, stunning visuals and an undefinable charm. It’ll not only satisfy gamers who have been Mario fans for years, it’ll make new gamers Mario fans for decades to come.

About the author: Kazden Risk

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