“The game is fun. If it’s not fun, why bother?” -Reggie Fils-Aimé, CEO of Nintendo of America
Nothing could sum up my thoughts about Mario’s latest adventure in 3D better than that. Mario Odyssey is simply fun, there is no other way to describe it. I could sit here for hours chattering at length about the game’s short comings and triumphs (mostly consisting of the latter) but I feel like that would be somewhat of a misdirection from its true purpose. It’s a game that makes you say things like: “holy shit I can’t believe I just made that jump! No way that’s how you’re supposed to get up here” or “I can turn into a T-rex and jump on a trampoline in the first 10 minutes of the game? TEN OUTTA TEN” and that’s what gaming is (or should be) as a core experience.
You don’t always need a game to be so serious and emotional you get pulled in by the plot and the characters feel like your own family for it to be a good experience. We have so many methods of consuming media in 2018 that it boggles my mind that companies like Sony, Microsoft, Sky, Netflix etc. only seem to be interested in greenlighting hard hitting drama or gory, sweary, nudie things (and that just ain’t Christian) when Nintendo are making a very decent time for themselves right now by holding a big middle finger up to that and making Mario dress up as a clown and knock the tin hat off of a gerbil with pigtails in makeup.
Odyssey isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a long game. You could bang this one out in an afternoon which I am very comfortable doing, but that’s not what I did. The times that I played Odyssey were times when other games frustrated me, or I was bored of playing Zelda, or getting my ass handed to me in Pokkén Tournament. 20 minutes into the game I was a master of movement. I was doing cap-jumps and dives and roll-jumps as if it was second nature. So, I had fun with that. Next, I went into the first capture area and became a frog so that was fun. Then I went and fought a simple but well-made boss, so that was fun. Then I flew in a hat shaped airship to another kingdom so that was… are you seeing the pattern here? FUN.
Zelda is a fantastic game, my love for BOTW is well known and it won game of the year for a reason; but y’know what also won game of the year? MARIO ODYSSEY BABY. It’s so easy to pick up and play. You don’t need to remind yourself of the plot or pay attention to confusing character plot lines or cut scenes, it’s just: there is a power moon over there…GET IT. Fuckin’ simple.
Odyssey doesn’t waste it’s time harping on substandard mechanics to make the good ones make sense or feel better in comparison. It doesn’t linger on the good ones too long to make you hate them, it moves right on to the next innovation straight away and it does it so seamlessly you won’t even notice. Seriously, if Zelda was the only reason to buy the switch before then now there’s two unmissable titles. Let’s hope now that two of Nintendo’s main franchises have knocked us flat on our asses that later in the year, Pokémon can respond in kind. I really hope they don’t fuck it up.