For much of my childhood, platformers ruled the video game world. This classic style has since taken a backseat to more complex games, building full 3D worlds.
Every now and then an indie developer will try to revitalize the genre, and almost always fails — I’m looking at you, Yooka-Laylee.
Then steps in Nintendo, and reminds everyone why they will always be the king of 3D platformers. The case is no different with “Super Mario Odyssey,” with which Nintendo has crafted as a love letter to their past and the 3D platformer genre itself.
Understanding Mario’s past is crucial to understanding the significance of “Odyssey.” The landmark game “Super Mario 64” declared that 3D gaming was here to stay.
“Super Mario Sunshine” followed on the GameCube, but was too gimmicky. After that we received two “Super Mario Galaxy” games for Wii, which were great, but didn’t have the sandbox feel of the Nintendo 64 game.
This is why “Odyssey” feels like the first true sequel to “Super Mario 64,” and it outdoes it in every way.
The story is about as throwaway as any other Mario title. This time, Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser (shocker), but this time he is forcing her to marry him. With the help of Cappy, a living hat whose sister was also kidnapped by Bowser, Mario sets out once again to rescue the princess.
My first few hours with Odyssey were more experimental than anything, as I looked to see which abilities Mario had kept from past games, and which abilities were new. The biggest addition is his ability to possess enemies by throwing Cappy at them. The enemy will then grow a mustache, which makes for some hilarious screenshots, and give Mario the abilities of that enemy.
The controls are fluid and tight and are some of the best for a 3D platformer. The player will run around each Kingdom — the game’s version of a sandbox level — and collect power moons to power up the titular Odyssey, a flying ship Mario is using to chase down Bowser. A minimum 120 or so power moons are required to beat the main story. I had around 180 when I beat it, but there are a whopping 836 power moons in the game, so I’m far from done playing.
The game itself is breathtakingly beautiful, and rivals “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” for my pick for the best looking game ever Nintendo has developed.
Boss battles are enjoyable enough to play, albeit most are a bit too easy. After the final showdown with Bowser, players are treated to one of the biggest doses of nostalgia I’ve ever experienced with a video game.
With Bowser defeated, Mario ventures off to the Mushroom Kingdom and, more importantly, Peach’s Castle. The classic castle theme plays as Mario enters, and is almost a replica to the original in “Super Mario 64”. It is only the main room of the castle, but it is a great bit of fan service that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Odyssey” is filled with nostalgia-inducing moments like this, including the 2D sections spread across levels, that gave me chills. Like I said, this game is a love letter to Nintendo’s past, and it shows. More importantly, however, this masterpiece of a game pushes forward and proves that 3D platformers aren’t dead just yet. It just takes Nintendo periodically breathing life into the genre to keep it alive.