Everyone's favourite Italian plumber has made his proper Nintendo Switch debut with Super Mario Odyssey (Mario Kart doesn't count). Continuing the open-world style of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, players follow Mario as he explores a series of kingdoms in order to stop Bowser from marrying the kidnapped Princess Peach.
This 3D platformer will be immediately familiar to fans of the series, with Mario equipped with his trademark triple-jump plus a few new abilities.
This time out our moustachioed hero is aided by Cappy, a Bonneter from the Cap Kingdom (you've got to love the crazy writer that dreamt this stuff up) who has possessed Mario's hat. Cappy's sister has also been kidnapped and is going to be used as Peach's tiara at Bowsers's planned matrimony.
As well as being a side-kick, Cappy grants Mario some new abilities. Mario can throw Cappy as a weapon and he can also be used to possess objects, such as the rocket-like bullet boys, to get to out of reach places.
Mario and Cappy fly between kingdoms on a hat-shaped airship called Odyssey. Odyssey is powered by Power Moons, which are scattered about each kingdom. Mario will need to find a number these in order to recharge the airship and get to the next kingdom.
Bowser's wedding is being arranged by a fiendish race of top-hat-wearing rabbits called Broodals. During your initial hunt for Bowser, these creatures provide the end of level arena-style boss-battles.
The kingdoms are diverse environments, each with its own characters and enemies. There are seventeen different locations. Mario and Cappy negotiate kingdoms of sand, lava, water, lush vegetation and even a level based on New York.
As well as collecting coins and Power Moons, the kingdoms are full of secret areas to find and explore. Most notable are the “flat” zones that pixelate Mario back into his traditional 2D look, with matching gameplay. A nice touch for nostalgia fans.
Exploration and fun are a big part of the game. Instead of returning to the beginning of the level after getting killed you lose ten coins. You don't want to lose your coins, though, as they can be used to buy new outfits and hats and other items. The regular coins can be used in any kingdom, but there are others that can only be redeemed in the kingdom that you found them.
The game looks really good on the Switch's screen, but slightly washed out on a TV. I'm used to the crisp visuals of the PS4/XB1, so I'm perhaps comparing apples with oranges. The visual style follows the series' predecessor, opting for a clean, minimalistic look.
Plot-wise, Super Mario Odyssey is a delight, and that's coming from a reviewer that's no real affinity with Super Mario games beyond a dabble with Super Mario Sunshine, back in the day. It's nice to play a game without the sort of carnage 99% of releases seem to be filled with. Swapping gore for cute mushroom people and acrobatic plumbers make for a breath of fresh air.
Super Mario Odyssey ticks so many boxes for the sort of game that you can quickly pick up and play whilst you are out and about. This makes it, pretty-much the killer app for the Switch, more so, for me anyway, than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild- a game that I prefer to play on the TV.
Mario's latest adventure is a wonderful game and a must buy for any Switch owner.