Super Mario Odyssey: The Most Important Mario Title to Date?

In case you hadn’t heard, Super Mario is back and some might say he’s better than ever before.

Despite their enviable track record, Nintendo appeared to have dropped the ball a bit with the Wii U. Sales were far below where they were expected to be making them a third horse in the console wars.

Nintendo has been slaying it in the video game market since before Playstation and Xbox were even a concept. They had to come back strong and they have done just that with their latest console the Switch.

Whichever side you stand with, the facts are that the top 5 selling consoles of all time feature 2 Playstations and 3 Nintendo consoles. The PS4 has enjoyed a meteoric success as one of the fastest selling consoles of all time. The Switch, by comparison, is currently selling at nearly 3 times that rate in their domestic market. The Switch has sold more units in the first 6 months than the PS4 managed in the first 18.

Every great Nintendo console needs a great Mario title; to coincide with the Switch’s success, Nintendo launched a groundbreaking one. Super Mario Odyssey is a departure for the franchise featuring less linear gameplay and a number of new mechanics. So just how good is Super Mario Odyssey? And could it become the most successful Mario game to date?

A Link to the Past

If you’ll excuse the pun; a large part of what makes Super Mario Odyssey so special is the loyalty to its roots. It has been lauded by some as a spiritual successor to Super Mario 64, one of the most revolutionary Mario titles of all time.

Nintendo has paid an affectionate homage to their previous title with a number of similarities and hidden easter eggs. In fact near the end of the game players can acquire a ‘Mario 64 Suit’ which reverts the protagonist back to his polygonal form from the Super Mario 64 game. You can also explore Peach’s Castle as I’m sure fans will know was the main setting for that game.

The team haven’t just paid affection to one of their landmark titles though, there are a scattered stream of references that borrow from various mechanics in numerous other Mario games. There are elements of the warped environment traversal from Super Mario Galaxy, with certain walls and ceilings forming makeshift floors. There are squids which Mario can possess whose controls bare a striking similarity to F.L.U.D.D from Super Mario Sunshine. And even pipes that will take you inside walls for some old school 8-bit 2D platforming.

One Plumber and Two New Mechanics

Aside from paying tribute to the classics that came before it Super Mario Odyssey couldn’t truly stand out without taking it up a level. For a start, it’s a lot less linear of a narrative than traditional Mario games. Players do have to complete one world to advance to the next, but the world’s are much more open.

There is really no specific order in which you should collect the moons, although some can only be acquired after completing other tasks. The more non-linear format puts control in the player’s hand and encourages them to explore their surroundings. And boy is it worth it – some of the environments and landmarks are truly stunning.

You can throw your cap on it:

The first significant new mechanic is the inclusion of Cappy, Mario’s latest ally on a quest to save his sister. Cappy can be used as both an attack and an additional platform to gain leverage. Throw Cappy over a chasm and Mario can use him as a springboard to reach areas that would have before been unreachable.

Of course, the principal use of Cappy is to allow Mario to possess and take control of other characters within the adventure. Mario can possess everything from a slab of meat to a giant T-Rex, with all the Goombas, Koopa Troopers and Hammer Bros. in between. It’s a player’s first opportunity to play as some of Mario’s long-standing foes, each with their own abilities and it does not disappoint.

Photorealism:

Mario has always had an art style entirely his own that borders on the weird and a little neurotic. Super Mario Odyssey took this example and cranked up the Weird-o-Meter again with the inclusion of photorealistic textures. Some models are incredibly lifelike such as the T-rex which is a juxtaposition to the colourful cartoonish backgrounds surrounding it.

We’re not sure why as it’s not really explained but it looks awesome and we love it. What’s more, Super Mario Odyssey is equipped with an ever-popular camera feature so players can snap and upload photos of anything they find that’s cool within the world.

Super Mario Odyssey vs Breath of the Wild

Nintendo’s second most popular franchise is the Legend of Zelda that featured in the launch title Breath of the Wild. As a launch title, it would play an integral role in sales of the Switch so it needed to be great and it was.

The game received universal acclaim in what was already a hugely critically acclaimed series. Much like with Odyssey, Breath of the Wild re-invented the Zelda franchise taking it to new unparalleled levels. The Nintendo team are hoping for a similar response in the months to come for Super Mario Odyssey.

Breath of the Wild surpassed sales expectations, selling nearly 5 million copies in its first 8 months on Switch alone. By comparison, Super Mario Odyssey sold 2 million copies in its first weekend, with Nintendo forecasting sales of 17 million copies in its first 6 months.

It’s already the fastest selling Mario game ever in the European market and if the trend keeps up, it is well on course to be the best selling Mario game to date. In a sought-after franchise that has already delivered so much, Super Mario Odyssey could well be the best of the lot.

Tis the Season

Sales are still behind the Wii which was Nintendo’s best selling home console but the future looks bright. The Gamecube was also a commercial failure which was the predecessor to the Wii so Nintendo has been here before. Christmas is coming up and the Super Mario Odyssey Switch Bundle should be on your list to Santa. We cannot stress this enough.

Nintendo has once again revolutionized the gameplay of the series and it is incredibly fun to play. Whether you’re a hardcore Mario fan or not, this is a gameplay experience that all gamers should have.

Super Mario Odyssey reminds us of Mario’s significance not just to gaming but to our own development as gamers. Every seasoned gamer has played a Mario title at some point in their life.  If you’re too young to be a part of that bracket, Super Mario Odyssey is a great place to start.