Super Mario Odyssey Retrospective
Super Mario Odyssey is a 3D platformer in the Mario series developed and published by Nintendo. In Super Mario Odyssey, players control Mario and his new ally Cappy — a sentient hat that allows Mario to “capture” other characters and objects with an ability called capturing — as they journey across various kingdoms to save Princess Peach from Mario’s nemesis Bowser. This game contrasts the linear gameplay of previous entries, as it returns to the primarily open-ended, 3D platform gameplay featured in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. On 27 October 2017, Odyssey was released for the Nintendo Switch, six months after the launch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Since its release, Mario Odyssey has sold 23.93 million copies as of June 2022, which makes it the sixth highest-selling game on the Switch, according to Nintendo. A free update on 25 April 2019 added support for the Nintendo Labo VR kit. This peripheral allowed players to “Join Mario for a bite-sized bonus experience, in family-friendly VR,” said Nintendo in the reveal trailer. In this mini-game, there are three kingdoms, each of which present a unique experience. For example, in the Cap Kingdom, there are music notes to collect, and in the Seaside Kingdom, you can run around with a dog that steals Mario’s cap. It won’t blow you away, and it’s a bit clunky to control, but it’s still fun.
In the base game, there are 900 Power Moons to collect across 17 kingdoms. Moons act as this game’s version of the Power Star from previous entries, but you don’t get kicked out of a level when you collect one. The capture mechanic also opens up various gameplay opportunities. You can capture a Hammer Bro, wait for its big bounce, jump out of it, and then wall jump to reach dizzying heights. Odyssey has so much room for expressive gameplay that it’s almost absurd. It’s even more ridiculous, considering where the series had been heading for several entries before it came out. After Super Mario Sunshine released in 2002, the Mario series became very linear with titles such as Galaxy (Wii), Galaxy 2 (Wii), 3D Land (3DS), and 3D World (Wii U). Don’t get me wrong, all these games are excellent in their own way. Still, there is something special about disregarding tradition and giving fans what they have wanted for years.
Fans eventually grew tired of the status quo with another popular Nintendo franchise. I am, of course, talking about Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I am not insinuating that one affected the other, but it’s respectable when developers listen to their fans. It also helps that Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild both turned out great, but what is even better is how both series are now as exciting as ever. Odyssey’s capture mechanic opens up so much untapped potential that thinking of a way the franchise can go next is almost unfathomable. Where do you go from here when you’re literally the power up?
It gets even better with Bowser’s Fury. Due to that game being open-world, Mario is finally doing what most have wanted for a long time. However, Odyssey has glaring flaws, and the collectibles can feel overly bloated. Likewise, some of the kingdoms feel tame compared to the wild originality of other worlds. None of these are dire, but they upset some longtime fans of the series. Although, I think problems are inevitable when trying to rethink a series with a legacy as significant as Mario’s.
While it didn’t have the same cultural impact as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the Super Mario titles still benefited from Odyssey’s design. Due to Nintendo's willingness to take risks with the Mario franchise, its fans might have more excitement on the horizon. As a fan of those games, I eagerly await the next major installment. What I’m more excited about, though, are the newcomers. Now that Nintendo has succeeded with Odyssey, Mario’s games have most likely reached a broader audience, which is a positive any way you look at it. Videogames should be for everyone, especially Mario, so now that the future is brighter than ever for the portly Italian plumber, I can’t wait to see what comes next. Now, where is Odyssey 2?