A cap-ti­vat­ing ride

Su­per Mario Odyssey

GAX (Malaysia) - - TEST - By Michael Low

As some­one who grew up play­ing all of the main­line Mario games (in­clud­ing the por­ta­ble ones), I can con­fi­dently say that Su­per Mario Odyssey is the first 3D open-world sand­box game in the fran­chise to truly click with me. That’s not to dis­count the im­por­tance of Su­per Mario 64 in the his­tory of video games. Not only did the N64 en­try usher the se­ries into the third di­men­sion, it also rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial of mis­sion-based level de­sign and full ana­log con­trols. Six years later, Su­per Mario Sun­shine at­tempted to shake things up by bas­ing the game around jet­pack and wa­ter-spray me­chan­ics, but it lacked the pol­ish we’ve come to ex­pect from Nin­tendo, from clumsy cam­era and aim­ing con­trols, to con­fus­ing ob­jec­tives and unin­spir­ing mis­sions.

From the get-go, it’s clear that Nin­tendo has taken what worked in the 3D Mario games, de­vi­ated ever so slightly from es­tab­lished for­mula, and cre­ated a globe-trot­ting ad­ven­ture that mar­ries the best of mod­ern sand­box de­sign with Nin­tendo’s sen­si­bil­i­ties. Af­ter a quick run-in with Bowser, which re­sulted in the lost of his sig­na­ture cap, Mario gained the abil­ity to ‘cap­ture’ wan­der­ing crea­tures and ob­jects with the help of Cappy, a sen­tient cap that sits atop our mus­ta­chioed hero’s head. In less ca­pa­ble hands, this power-up me­chanic would prob­a­bly get old fast, but we were con­tin­u­ally sur­prised by the cor­po­real form Mario takes, as well as the abil­i­ties gained from these tem­po­ral pos­ses­sions.

While Mario has many moves at his dis­posal (e.g. butt stomps, dive jumps, and triple jumps), some of the more elu­sive col­lectibles can only be reached by way of cap throws and cre­ative think­ing. In fact, cer­tain plat­form­ing puz­zles are made eas­ier with mo­tion con­trols, and the game made it clear that the pre­ferred way of play is with the Joy-Con con­trollers de­tached and on both hands. With that said, a sec­ond player can join in as Cappy to roam around and wreak havoc on the en­e­mies.

Speak­ing of col­lectibles, there are more than 10 King­doms (of vary­ing sizes) in Su­per Mario Odyssey, each with their own theme, na­tives, se­crets, op­tional chal­lenges, and Pur­ple Coins – the lat­ter which can only be used in the re­spec­tive King­doms to pur­chase new hats, out­fits, and travel me­men­tos. As there are no 1-Ups or powerup mush­rooms, play­ers will in­stead lose 10 reg­u­lar coins each time Mario runs out of lives or falls into a bot­tom­less pit. By col­lect­ing the pre­req­ui­site num­ber of Power Moons, Mario and Cappy can then set sail to the next avail­able desti­na­tion on the tit­u­lar hat-shaped air­ship, Odyssey, or re­visit ear­lier ones as part of their pos­tendgame ac­tiv­i­ties.

CON­CLU­SION Su­per Mario Odyssey dances be­tween sur­prise and fa­mil­iar­ity with great suc­cess.

Spot the adorable Cap­tain Toad and he’ll gift you with a Power Moon.

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