If there is a single certainty in gaming, it’s that when Nintendo makes a Mario platformer, chances are it’s going to be great.
Which is why going into my hands-on of its first dedicated Nintendo Switch flagship, Mario Odyssey, I had pretty high expectations most games would have chance of meeting. Despite this, after 20 minutes with two of the game’s levels, somehow Mario Odyssey managed to exceed all of them.
Starting off with the basic facts: Odyssey is a more open game than Nintendo’s past Mario adventures over the last couple of years that follows a an open world exploration format similar to Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine.
It features the same iconic platforming, mini games and charming visuals you’d expect from the iconic series, but comes with an added twist – you can throw his hat.
Ok, I know this sounds pretty stupid, but don’t forget this is Nintendo we’re talking about, a company that has managed to make some of the most entertaining and innovative gaming experiences in the world using the simplest of premises.
This remains the case with Odyssey’s hat mechanics. At a basic level you can use the hat to attack enemies using the Joypad motion controls. These include throwing your hat forwards, spinning it round you and lobbing it pretty much any way you want. But what makes it ingenious is how Nintendo has integrated it with the game’s platforming sections.
Playing the demo’s opening desert level, I was free to hunt for Moons – which act as the fuel you use to fuel the spaceship that carries you between areas.
Spotting a hefty looking mountain in the distance I decided to start there. The climb was full of switches, levers, moving platforms and pretty much all the gubbins you’d expect from Mario and was a blast to hop, skip and triple-jump through.
The best part of the demo was waiting for me at the top of the mountain, however. Near the peak I was confronted with a giant chasm with a Moon on the other side. The distance between me and the Moon was well outside of Mario’s normal jump distance and there were no clear platforms or walls for me to vault off.
With giant Bullet Bills circling, in a moment of panic I sent my hat flying with a flick of the wrist. Turns out if your hat collides with a character, Bullet or otherwise, you can take control of it. I duly did, and navigated it across the chasm to pick up a Moon.
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Traveling back to the city world, my joy continued as Nintendo’s painstaking, loving attention to detail shone through pretty every aspect of the level design. The level was full of hidden platforms, scalable skyscrapers and odes to Nintendo fans. After just 20 minutes, I want more.