The big holiday-season release for Nintendo’s smash-hit console, the Switch, is what every gamer dreams about: a new Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey features everyone’s favorite former plumber throwing his hat at fantastical creatures and possessing them (in the game’s lingo, CAPturing them, ha) so that he can rescue his girlfriend Peach from marrying Bowser, the large, spiky fire turtle. You can dress him up in different outfits!
As if that weren’t enough, the reviews are in, and, surprise, surprise: Everyone loves it and is in love with it. Vice says that “it feels like the sequel ‘Mario 64’ fans have been waiting for since 1996,” and that sentiment seems to be echoed elsewhere. That’s a pretty lofty comparison, given that Super Mario 64 basically invented the 3-D-platforming genre and is still considered a hallmark of gaming history. “I don’t know how Odyssey was developed,” they write, “but it feels as though Nintendo’s designers had a game jam, where they came up with wild and unexpected ways of interacting with a 3-D Mario game. Instead of picking and choosing a few, though, they tossed all of them into a single game.”
Most of the reviews also touted how well the game rewards exploration, dropping the player into bright colorful environments and encouraging them to mess around in novel ways. “The whole game is basically structured like a massive playground,” Polygon writes. “Spend as much time as you want messing around; chances are you’ll be rewarded for it. And, just like I remember from my formative years, this emphasis on exploration and discovery serves as a bottomless well from which to draw buckets of good feelings.”
“Odyssey’s levels are, down to the last little patch of terrain, breathtakingly gorgeous, intricately designed, and wildly varied” Kotaku says, but in order to fully appreciate them, you’ll definitely want to play it on the TV, and not in the Switch’s handheld mode. “The drawback to playing on the go,” IGN writes, “is that the tiny screen doesn’t do nearly as good a job of showing off the scope and detail of the characters and worlds, such as the funny faces Mario makes when performing certain actions.”
The other drawback is the game’s occasional reliance on woefully imprecise motion controls to accomplish certain tasks. Shaking around the controller can become a hassle, but it’s apparently easy enough to overlook in the grand scheme of things. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s other marquee game this year, suffered similar problems. Game Informer, for what it’s worth, appears to prefer the motion controls.
All in all, people really like Super Mario Odyssey, which is a shock to absolutely nobody who has ever played a Mario game before. If you want to play a game that lets you turn into both a dinosaur, a taxi, and a big-city businessman, this is the game for you.