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Thursday July 27, 2017
Hands-on Preview: Super Mario Odyssey
by Vaughn Highfield | Jul 11, 2017 | Comment Now
Move over Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, Switch is host to the best Super Mario yet.
Hands-on Preview: Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is fantastic fun. That is all.

As much as I’d like to leave my thoughts there, I’m sure you’d like to know more about what Super Mario Odyssey is actually like. All of you who were concerned about Nintendo “messing” with the Super Mario formula with the introduction of Cappy and making it an open-world title need not worry. Cappy isn’t like Super Mario Sunshine’s FLUDD (which wasn’t anywhere near as annoying as people make it out to be), and the open-world environments are merely joyous sandboxes ripe for exploration.

If Super Mario 3D World didn’t tick your boxes, Super Mario Odyssey most certainly will. This is a return to form for Mario, bringing back fond memories of Super Mario 64Sunshine and Galaxy. Mario’s back to being his athletic self, long-jumping, wall-jumping, backflipping and now even rolling along the ground like a ball.

And, if anything, Odyssey’s open worlds feel more liberating. Instead of the objective-based levels found in Super Mario 64 or SunshineSuper Mario Odyssey is all about exploration. Bounding between skyscrapers or sliding down sand dunes in search of secrets is as important a use of your time as completing the bigger objectives. In the end, though, you still have to rescue Princess Peach from the clutches of the dastardly Bowser.

Super Mario Odyssey hands-on: Moonraker

You’d have thought that, thirty-two years on from her first kidnapping, the Mushroom Kingdom might have beefed-up castle security a bit, at least enough to stop Bowser waltzing in and stealing Peach away again. But, as you may have figured out already, the story of Super Mario Odyssey revolves another rescue attempt, and this time there’s a wedding in the offing.

To interrupt the nuptials and rescue Peach, Mario must chase down Bowser as he explores different worlds planning the perfect wedding – or at least that’s the gist I got from my short hands-on time. To do this, Mario teams up with a mysterious sentient hat: the now-infamous Cappy and uses his space ship, the Odyssey, to visit the many weird and wonderful planets in Super Mario Odyssey.

As well as stopping Bowser, Mario must track down special stones called Moons. These play a similar role to Stars in Super Mario 64 and Shines in Super Mario Sunshine, and they’re required to power your ship and propel you to new worlds, where you subsequently find even more Moons. Nintendo hasn’t revealed how many Moons are available to collect in total, but we’re informed that there are 30 to 50 Moons on each level.

Moons are hidden absolutely everywhere. There’s always a Moon to snap up as the main attraction in a level, but I stumbled upon one in a crate, while another lay under a tarpaulin. Most Moons you’ll find simply add to your total, but when you collect more story-focused Moons, the levels change, morphing into bigger playgrounds for you to explore.

Unlike 64 and SunshineOdyssey also doesn’t kick you out into a hub world once you’ve completed an objective or found a Moon. In Super Mario Odyssey everything carries on. In fact, the Odyssey is the only “hub” to speak of and then only as a means for jumping between worlds or changing Mario’s outfit.

And though Mario’s world isn’t as open as Link’s in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, these sandbox levels are so vast they might as well be.

Super Mario Odyssey hands-on: Super-duper Mario

In Super Mario Odyssey Mario is as lithe as ever and he’s a joy to control but it’s the addition of Cappy that takes this edition to the next level.

At his simplest, Cappy extends Mario’s abilities by allowing him to attack enemies by throwing his cap like a boomerang. A flick of the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller (or a tap of the Y button) sends Cappy spinning. Mario can spin Cappy around to take out enemies, fire him into the air or down to the ground. Mario can also dive towards Cappy in midair, helping him cross seemingly insurmountable gaps.

 

That’s not all, though. He can also possess objects and characters for a limited time, although you can’t take control of just anything. Bullet Bills are fair game, allowing you to guide them into obstacles or cross wide gaps but, Goombas are off limits. You can also take control of lookout points to help spot Moons or scout out levels, or use electrical wires to zip around levels.

Exploration is soaked into every inch of Super Mario Odyssey’s level design. Opportunities for mischief are hard to ignore and Odyssey’s director Kenta Motokura and producer Yoshiaki Koizumi clearly know that. Cappy’s inclusion could seem somewhat game-breaking to the Mario mould, but in reality he just helps you see these sandbox worlds in new ways.

Super Mario Odyssey hands-on: An incredibly early verdict

As I said at the top of this preview, the new Super Mario is incredible fun to play. The open world layout adds a level of depth and breadth I didn’t know the franchise needed and Cappy looks set to add an extra dimension, too.

I wish I could say more, but I feel it isn’t needed. Get your pre-orders in and book some time off work. It’s going to be a blast.



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