Super Mario Odyssey — Classic Gameplay with Modern Polish

3 min readAug 19, 2020

Super Mario Odyssey was an absolute joy to play. Despite missing out on the 3D platforming craze in the early 2000s, I’m still able to appreciate the smooth and responsive controls that Nintendo is known for in this genre. Nintendo changed gaming when they brought Mario to 3D on the N64. All these years later they remain the undisputed king of 3D platformers with the release of Super Mario Odyssey.

There are plenty of distinct sand boxes for you to explore in this game. And with 900 different power moons to find in the game, you can expect a power moon to be present in almost every new area you come across. Granted, many of them are in plain sight and easy to reach, some provide a hard platforming challenge or mini-game that may take you several attempts. Many 3D Mario purists will complain that having that many moons devalues them as a collectible. I would agree with this sentiment, but I fail to see how that makes them less enjoyable to collect. The collecting doesn’t stop with moons. Each area will have purple coins you can collect, which can be spent on unique costumes. Regular coins have also been put to good use in this game, as you will have to horde them if you have any hope of unlocking all the different cool costumes in the game. I’ve put about forty hours into the game and still have about half the outfits to still buy.

The capture mechanic is fun and unique. I never thought I’d be playing as a Goomba or a Cheep-Cheep, but Mario Odyssey turns this impossibility into a reality. While taking control of Mario’s enemies is a cool mechanic, the game doesn’t take this mechanic to its full potential. There are some areas where you are required to capture an enemy, but these areas are usually pretty straight forward. Simply use the special ability and you should be able to move on. There’s no thinking, no planning, no real puzzle. Nintendo is a very creative company. I’m sure they’re capable of coming up with some more complex, satisfying puzzles that require a little more brain work.

I loved the short 2D platforming sections you come across throughout the game. I thought the way the 3D world around you can still affect the 2D section you were in was really cool. I also enjoyed the 16 bit graphical style of these sections, paying an excellent homage to the original Mario. Nintendo even has a 16 bit model for every different costume Mario can wear. Seeing a 16 bit Mario rocking a baseball uniform or a pirate costume was very cool and I definitely appreciate Nintendo’s attention to detail here.

Mario Odyssey is a very well polished game. This is easily the best looking Mario game. Nintendo has found this perfect balance between cartoon and realism. Despite being able to see the texture of Mario’s overalls and hair, the realism doesn’t jarr the audience like when Smash Bros. Brawl came out on the Wii. Odyssey is able to keep its cartoony aesthetic while adding more visual details. I’m honestly not sure how a cartoony franchise like Mario, or Ratchet and Clank, or Banjo Kazooie could possibly look any better than Odyssey.

Super Mario Odyssey often draws comparison with Breath of the Wild, since they feature two of Nintendo’s most iconic characters. While I loved Odyssey, it does not come close to BOTW when it comes to exploration, world building, and innovation. Odyssey is an incredible game, but it’s essentially a sandbox Mario of old but with some updates. BOTW is unlike any other Zelda, any other game, so while Odyssey is one of the best games I’ve played this generation, It’s not on the same tier of BOTW, despite often being mentioned in the same conversation. With that being said, Super Mario Odyssey is still a must buy game for Nintendo Switch owners. It’s the newest, biggest game made by the world’s most iconic video game company for their most iconic character.