Mario is back. Like, you have no idea how back Mario is.
There’s every chance that the first year of Nintendo Switch’s life could go down as the best first year for a console in history. With consistent bangers appearing from the first party, along with the huge success of Mario+Rabbids, and the Switch becoming the new indie darling, it can seemingly do no wrong, and no crappy voice chat app is going to change the stance that Nintendo have got it right all over again, and are consistently delivering. I take my hat off to you, Ninty. Welcome back.
Talking of taking your hat off, my first hands-on with Super Mario Odyssey, a month and a bit away from release has me so absurdly, ridiculously hyped to see absolutely everything this game has to offer, and will possibly keep me far busier exploring every nook and cranny than Breath of the Wild ever did.
Yeah, if you haven’t guessed already I had an absolutely brilliant time with Odyssey. In the time I was given I managed to run around the Metro Kingdom to my hearts content and feel exactly how Mario should feel, with not a Rabbid in sight. I was playing on two separate Joy-Con’s connected with some kind of security lead which made it feel a little uncomfortable at first (you have no idea how great it feels when they aren’t this restricted), and lead to me wondering if this would affect the enjoyment of the game. And did it? Well, what the hell do you think? Mario moves with all the fluidity of a gold-medal winning ice-skater across the gravel of New Donk City, allowing you to soak in every moment as he powers through this new world that he’s found himself in.
Obviously I’ve seen screens and video of Mario interacting in this ‘real-world’ setting, but having finally played it it’s bizarre how completely natural it feels, like it’s just another world for Mario to explore and chat to the locals, even if the locals now are fully grown human beings (what must they think of Mario?). As I triple-jumped my way around the City I was given a task by Mayor Pauline to round up a band, with each member scattered around the City. It was a mission I took on with particular glee as I knew it would allow me to explore as much as I could and take full advantage of Mario’s magic new hat and all the abilities it offers.
As I soared through the air in electrical wires I very quickly realised this was another masterstroke of games design for the former plumber (currently unemployed, it would seem). One thing that caught me off guard was that I didn’t initially catch onto was that it wasn’t automatic, and I needed to push Mario through these wires that he used to get to higher areas. Videos had me think it was as simple as throwing the hat, but was thrown a little when I physically had to move Mario. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation. My first experience of throwing Cappy towards an these wires, I was paused for a moment until it hit me that I had to navigate the movement, and it was something I would have only picked up whilst playing. Glad I know that now.
So as I was tasked with securing four band members for Mayor Pauline, it was simple enough for at least 50% of the band, with one of them right outside the building the mission is given to you playing the drums. I remembered seeing a guitarist in park with dancers in front of him (the staff member advised me to jump on the heads of the dancer, and I’m very glad I did). and then it was the turn of Cappy to get me to higher areas in order to find the others. Each time I found a musician I gained a moon, seemingly they’re scattered around everywhere to encourage exploration, something that for me won’t be a problem in a Mario game, as it’s something I enjoy doing should I ever find some secrets hidden away.
Once all four musicians were found I gave my last few minutes to just wondering around and seeing what madness I could find. I figured I would change Mario’s look so I gave him a new suit and hat with the coin I had earned from the band mission, and as Mario explored New Donk City wearing a pin-striped suit I was pretty much in love. I came across two girls playing jump rope and suddenly found myself in a mini-game where I was challenged to do 30 jumps in unison with them. Erm, let’s just say I didn’t hit 30 and leave it there.
There wasn’t a single moment of the demonstration that I didn’t immediately fall in love with. This is the 3D Mario game we’ve been waiting for since what feels like forever. Since I got that final star on Mario Galaxy 2 I’ve wanted to see a new world I could take him, and that we have so many new worlds to explore with some delicious nods to Mario games past.
If the rest of the game was as astoundingly fun as just running around New Donk City finding ways to earn some Moon’s, I’m almost certain Super Mario Odyssey will end up in the Game of the Year discussions.