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Super Mario Odyssey Review - An Adventure of a Lifetime

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There was something magical that happened to me during my time with Super Mario Odyssey that is hard to put into words. As I journeyed across the planet to the different kingdoms that were filled with secrets to uncover, creatures and objects to possess with Cappy, my magical hat, and of course the few, but great selection of bosses to fight, a feeling of overwhelming joy filled my body. Every moon I found gave me this great satisfaction and this urge to carry on and find more. There was never a moment I wanted to give up due to broken platforming, and the entire journey and its 500 plus moons to collect was an absolute joy. 

All images in this review were taken with the game's photo mode Think of it as a photo album of my travels through the game. 

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Super Mario Odyssey is one of the greatest games I have ever played as it merges two of the best Mario games into one package so perfectly wrapped and delivered that you want to stare at it for hours on end before ripping it apart like a child on Christmas day. Super Mario Odyssey feels so much like Super Mario Galaxy with a touch of Mario Sunshine, while still keeping something unique and fresh about the game that is hard to put my finger on. 

Mrs Princes Peach Bowser

Bowser is up to his no good tricks again and this time he plans on marrying Princess Peach. He needs all sorts wedding items to make the perfect wedding and these are scattered around the globe throughout each kingdom. A wedding dress from the Lake Kingdom, a bouquet of Piranha Plants from the Wooded Kingdom, and sparkling juice from the Seaside Kingdom. These are just a few items on Bowsers list of things he needs to get and of course, Bowser, being Bowser, refuses to take no for an answer and plans to steal them without an issue.

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While Mario Odyssey does not have a world hub, the game is made up of a series of selectable kingdoms, over fifteen of them to be precise. Each of them consists of large open world hubs that hold secrets, a unique look and feel, and of course all the characters you could ever imagine to be in a Mario game. The sheer amount of detail put into each world and the unique feel you get from each one is half of why Odyssey is so great. The soundtracks, characters, puzzles, enemies, and the overall feel of each kingdom all blend together to deliver an experience like never before. 

The Sand Kingdom, for example, is an early location in the game that has just experienced a strange drop in temperature. Ice pillars are scattered around the desert and the people who live there are all Mexican-inspired townsfolk that jump around with maracas. The Lake Kingdom is a stunning underwater area filled with mermaid-like fish, and the best of all is the Metro Kingdom that has a human population. So much goes on in this Metro Kingdom that you forget about time in the game and all you want to do is jump from building to building, leap from cars, and speak to every person walking around. 

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Every Kingdom has a Story to Tell

The magic in Mario Odyssey lies in its worlds and how alive they all feel throughout the game. It would also mean nothing if Mario was unable to explore them and from the get-go, Mario can do everything you can do in the end game which allows you to explore every corner of every kingdom. Cappy, Mario's side-kick, is the newest character to make his way into the series. Cappy comes from, wait for it.... the Cap Kingdom and seen as he is a ghost he has the power to possess objects and creatures in the game. Almost every moving object can be Cappy-fied, allowing Mario to teleport into this creature and take control of it.

From the start of the game, this feature is one of the most exciting mechanics in the Mario series to date as it traded the classic costumes seen in past games like the Racoon and the most recent one Cat Mario, for a system that lets Mario become whatever he tosses his hat at. A 7 storey-high T-Rex, a ball of flaming lava, Goombas, and so many more surprising characters can be possessed and controlled in the game. Each and every one of them has unique abilities and a movement system to master and this all combines together for the challenges that await in each world.

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Most of the time when I took over a creature there was a puzzle or a platforming segment in the game that needed to be completed using the possed enemy at hand. Goombas can stack on top of each other and if you are high enough you can reach new platforms in the air. A shaded rock statue can put his sunglasses on and see hidden blocks that you can walk on. A frog can leap into the air and reach new heights and let us not forget the second most awesome one which is the T-Rex that can stomp into groups of enemies and smash into rocks revealing new parts of the map and treasures. What is the most awesome thing a player can possess you ask? Well, that is a surprise as it has to be seen to be believed. 

Mario is Goomba? 

Mario is not completely helpless without his cap possessing things as he can move around, jump, slide down walls, and with Cappy, every standard ability of Mario's arsenal has been enhanced. He can flick his cap at enemies to kill them, but you can also flick your cap when trying to make a long jump that will act as a second jump in the air and give you more reach. Flicking and hold your cap in the air will leave it spinning in the distance and you can jump on it to reach a higher heigh too. We then also have the standard attacks for Cappy which lets Mario toss him upwards, down to the ground, and a spinning attack that will flick him around Mario to disperse any crowds that might be homing in on him. 

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All these movement abilities worked like a dream with the Switch's hardware and to be honest I said I would not be playing the game with motion controls an I played the entire thing with them. Using my right hand to flick Cappy just felt right and it took me back to the Super Mario Galaxy days of using Luma to do the same thing. I also felt that using the two Joy-Con individually in each hand gave me more control over Mario and dare I say more tosses of Cappy as he could chain attacks together if you spammed the flick of your wrist.

I played so much with the motion controls that when I switched over to the portable mode I found myself trying to flick my wrist when jumping and attacking even though the Joy-Con was attached to the screen. I know, noob move I laughed at myself too. 

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This Trip May Take a While

With all this possession and Mario taking trips to new kingdoms, the game revolves around one thing and that is Moons. Scattered across each kingdom are dozens of moons that grant the Odyssey the power to travel to the next kingdom. The game and every puzzle, challenge, race, and mini-game revolve around Mario getting to the end of a pipe challenge, winning the race, or just possessing a specific animal in order to get to a specific part of the map in order to get a moon. There are a good 500+ in the game and even after completing the entire game and going back to each world to bask in its beauty I was only close to 300.

The true returning factor in the game are these moons and you will want to collect them all as each of them is as rewarding as the last. Sure, by the time you are mid-way through the game you will have more than an abundance of moons at your disposal and the cap preventing you from going to the next kingdom will seem like child's play compared to the amount in your bag. That is the joy of Mario Odyssey, the fact that it can warp you into each kingdom and in every one of them you feel as if you are ready to spend a dozen hours in it alone. 

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There is also lots to do in each kingdom that includes finding purple currency, not to be confused with gold coins, that lets you buy unique outfits for Mario that resonate with the kingdom you are in. The Crazy Cap stores are always divided into two versions. One that accepts gold coins and has a moon to buy, a heart container, and some clothes, and a second store that house better outfits, and collectable souvenirs that you can place in the Odyssey for decoration. There are 50 or 100 purple currency in each kingdom depending on the size and they are worth finding as you can buy everything in the store and look awesome after changing into each outfit.

While these outfits have no real effect on Mario's abilities, movement, or Cappy's too, they are so gorgeously designed that you simply have to buy them all. I mean why would you not want Mario in a top hat and tuxedo while walking around the Metro Kingdom? 

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Balanced Bosses Challenge You

Every kingdom or so I visited was also welcomed by a boss fight that, even though easy, offered an experience that I missed in games too. An octopus that floats in the air and shoots gushing water at you, a statue that has massive stone hands and wants to squash you flat, and not to mention the Broodles, Odyssey's answer to the Koopalings. This gang of rabbits have been hired by Bowser to make sure your chase to the wedding is postponed. The boss fight also incorporates some sort of possession that is obtained in that kingdom so it is kept nice and refreshing each time. The Broodle battles, on the other hand, are classic Mario versus boss and using Cappy to attack them and them smashing onto their heads was the only way to kill them. 

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Exploration is a strong factor in the game as every kingdom is vast and holds so many secrets. Exploring them is fun and charming in every possible Mario way, and if you want those moons you have to make sure you find every cave, every hidden block to reach new heights and play through every classic 16-bit Mario segment. These classic platforming areas are stuck to walls and see Mario go into a pipe as he transforms to the original Mario from the NES days. Everything in these segments is also classicly designed and the music in the kingdom also changes its tune to fit into the retro look and feel of them. They are always perfectly designed to either offer a moon at the end or be used to get to the top of a pillar. As you control Mario through these sections you can smash bricks, collect coins, and knock a Koopa shell around like the old days.  

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There is nothing I can say about Super Mario Odyssey that could put it in a bad light. From the moment you watch the opening scene where Bowser snatches poor Peach, right until the end, after you have beaten the hidden world and now you have to go back and collect moons, the game oozes with charm. It is one of the finest creations in video game design and a true landmark title for Nintendo. Super Mario Odyssey takes you on a once in a lifetime adventure and every second of it will be remembered for years to come. 

Available On: Nintendo Switch Release Date: 27 October 2017 | RRP: R749

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