Super Mario Odyssey Hands-On – Fresh meets familiar

Posted on September 20, 2017

Super Mario Oddyssey is one of the most anticipated titles in what has already been a massive year for the Nintendo Switch. A few of us in the Checkpoint team had the opportunity to go hands-on with the title – a big thanks to Nintendo for giving us the opportunity! So what were our thoughts?

Archer: Most people for the last couple(see 2010 onwards) of years would consider me a Nintendo skeptic and that would be in the politer of terms, but with the Switch and Nintendo’s current direction I’m actually exceedingly impressed, and Super Mario Odyssey only raises my opinion further.

I felt that that New Super Mario series kind of threw the baby out with the bath water. They wanted a way to re-capture the feeling of their old 2D platform titles, but in the process dropped everything that made titles like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine so incredible in the first place. For a child of the 90s who got into games relatively late, these are what I grew up on and Sunshine will still go down as one of the quintessential Mario titles.

Odyssey takes everything Nintendo knows and has learnt from their ridiculously long time making platformers and blended all the best ideas as well as actually taking notice of the rest of the industry and advancements & methodologies other developers use. If you want a single line to summaries what Odyssey is like, I’d probably say it plays like Sunshine, but with the best bits of every other Mario title, while maintaining excellent approachability.

This is the Mario game you’ve been waiting for, it’s fresh but back to form; easy to pick up but enough complexity that it takes skill to master. From a reformed Nintendo skeptic, this will not be a title to miss.

Luke: Getting to spend time in Food World, one of the kingdoms we’ve seen footage of from recent presentations, it’s immediately apparent that the vibrancy and personality that Nintendo are able to craft so well is here in spades. I never thought I’d see a fork get so emotional and actually empathise, but here we are.

The entire world feels like it is living and breathing around you, with plenty of characters, enemies and hidden secrets just waiting to be uncovered. The open world style that was made popular way back in Mario 64 is here, allowing you to tackle things at your own pace, which opens up so many fantastic possibilities and will surely achieve what Breath of the Wild did back in March, with lots of secrets and goodies for fans to discuss with friends.

Perhaps the best part about Super Mario Odyssey is how intuitive it is. We’ve been playing Mario in this 3D style for over 20 years now, and all of the familiar jumps, actions and animations felt like a warm fuzzy blanket wrapping around me. That’s not to say it’s all about nostalgia though; there are so many fresh ideas that any idea of this being “just another Mario title” is thrown out the window.

Possessing – sorry, CAPturing enemies and other creatures with Cappy is such a clever inclusion, and even in the Kingdoms we got to experience felt unique and exciting each time. In Food World for example, capturing a Koopa allows you to fling frying pans at enemies and your environment with reckless, giddy abandon. It’s this feeling of discovery and excitement that kept me smiling throughout my entire play session; I can’t wait to explore more next month.

Rachel: To say I’m a bit of a Nintendo fan girl is an understatement. I don’t think there’s a Nintendo console I don’t own or have not played and I’m definitely deeply invested in Nintendo’s continued gaming future.

Stepping into Mario Odyssey I was quite simply blown away! Forgetting for a minute here that it’s a Mario game and I’m already excited, the art style is simply sublime. Each individual world we got to play was a unique visual experience and is a new take on the already well established Mario universe. In regards to actual gameplay, I personally got hands on with the Seaside Kingdom world. Whilst everyone else took a more goal orientated approach in their time with the game, I found myself keen to simply explore the world and test out the various wildlife.

Tossing Cappy around like a happy demonic frisbee looking for my next victim of possession, I soon discovered that embodying a fish is my new favourite past-time. Whilst you’ll need a mixture of Mario and Cappy to get through the worlds, exploring as your favourite captured creature is perfectly fine. In fact this is actually a completely legitimate way to play the game for those wondering. Mario Odyssey definitely encourages you to explore every inch of its stunning and beautifully designed open world to the best of your ability and I’ll be doing just that in October!

“…animations have personality, and a feeling of dense realness, like this is a world you could step right into.”

Sav: Super Mario Odyssey is the prettiest Mario I’ve ever experienced. Like, Super Mario Sunshine was gorgeous, but it it’s finally been outdone. The colours are vibrant and beautiful. The lighting is incredibly well done. The particle effects made me giddy with how satisfying they were.

The animations make everything come to life, from Mario, to each living thing to encounter. They all have personality, and a feeling of dense realness, like this is a world you could step through the Switch into.

Now, I’ve never been very good at Mario games. But with the Switch motion controls of the Joy-cons, it felt ridiculously interactive. Normally, I just feel a bit ridiculous with motion controls, like I’m waving around my hands for no reason, but it felt like the motions I made with my hands and the ones on screen really matched up and made sense. We were surprised that using the Joy-con’s like this was actually the most logical and comfortable way to play.

It was a wonderful experience. It feels like for Super Mario Odyssey, they have really struck a balance between Mario nostalgia and something new and fresh. It isn’t just repeating the same Mario tropes of the past, but engaging with its newer audience and the balance feels like a breath of new life for our old favourite.

Super Mario Odyssey is set for release on October 27th; keep your eyes on Checkpoint for a full review closer to launch.