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CONSOLE: Nintendo Switch DEVELOPER: Nintendo PUBLISHER: Nintendo
RELEASE DATE (NA): October 27, 2017 GENRE: Platformer
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Odd-to-see, yes-sy!

Super Mario Sunshine left a bad taste in a lot of gamers' mouths. I don't know why, particularly. Its visuals, sound design and gameplay are some of the finest on the Nintendo GameCube. I'm not sure if it was gamer backlash or Nintendo having a misguided sense of what Mario is, but the following Super Mario games have been obstacle courses rather than immersive 3D adventures. It's not that 3D World or Galaxy are bad games; au contraire, it's just Super Mario 64 brought us the logical next step of Super Mario World's "revisit levels" gameplay, and Sunshine embellished on it with special abilities that opened up new challenges in earlier areas, like a Metroid title. I missed that in Super Mario for the longest time, and Odyssey gives us that long-lost sense of exploration back.

The story starts where most Super Mario games end: the confrontation with Bowser. However, Mario is defeated and through a set of convenient developments befriends a hat-shaped ghost named Cappy. Cappy provides us with Mario's new repertoire of abilities, a series of more parkour-influenced jumps and dives that make the mustachioed menace nimbler than ever. With a new friend on his head, Mario powers through Bowser's traps on a quest to stop the most fiendish plan yet... Bowser plans to marry Princess Peach!

You know what, I'm not doing this. This review probably reads like countless reviews for Super Mario Odyssey already out there. You probably scrolled down to the score and clicked off already. Who cares what I felt about Sunshine? My opinions aside, you've likely seen the trailers. This isn't the fully immersive Super Mario we wanted. This still has rooms and sections that echo the timeless issues I've experienced since Galaxy. Obstacle courses. It's not an open world to explore; it's a sandbox at best. A series of loosely arranged goals.

The game hands out its Power Moons (Stars) like Skittles candy. Poof! There's a Moon. Boom! There's another! Smash! You tripped over a rock, so here's another Power Moon. You hardly need to even look for them. Something seems ever so slightly out of place — it's a Power Moon. It's so telling that even when the game has these beautiful, wonderfully constructed worlds brimming with excitement, there's still a primary focus on handing over collectables like methadone to an addict... The game's hidden Mushroom Kingdom area and Super Mario 64 costume were what most people were excited about discovering. Let's face it, people just want Super Mario 64 over and over again. Why bother to innovate?

Never has Mario looked so crisp.. or confused by a skull in a sombrero.

To lengthen out the game's overall playtime, Nintendo opted to charge exorbitant fees for the in-game costumes. One even costs 9999 coins, the maximum amount you can carry. If you're somebody who wants to own all the outfits, you're expected to farm coins over and over in that Bowser's Kingdom hidden pipe. It's not even entertaining at that point; it becomes a chore. Super Mario becomes a chore. I'd rather do actual chores, honestly. Laundry becomes a form of escapism when playing Super Mario Odyssey.

That Pro Controller you bought for Splatoon 2, put it to one side. The biggest mistake you can make playing this game is to use any controller, even the controller grip that comes with the console. Super Mario Odyssey is designed for a JoyCon in each hand. The game is impossible to enjoy unless it's played this way. Flicking the Pro Controller to do things? Dumb, cumbersome. Dumbersome.

The dialogue reads like garbage. About the only saving grace is you power through it by spamming A. Recommended you do that. Reading it puts you at risk of earning an aneurysm. It's dull. The humour that is present is self-referencial and written by someone without a good idea what actually constitutes a joke. Too many nods to previous games. If you wish you were Galaxy, be Galaxy. Don't be this hybrid mashup of '64 and 3D World, trying to pass yourself off as the next truly 3D Super Mario game. You're no Sunshine, sunshine.

The game is a masterpiece, of course it is. Nintendo knocks it out of the park, as always. But I'd barely call this innovative... Nintendo wouldn't dare innovate after the Wii U flopped. This is playing it safe, tickling those nostalgia receptors with a Mario World feather. "Remember when our games looked great and were actually immersive?"

Granted, there are moments in Super Mario Odyssey where I felt like I really was exploring... until I noticed I was pretty much still going in a straight line. That's when it hit me like a Banzai Bill: No branching paths. Just obstacle courses. No lesson was learned.

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