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How Super Mario Odyssey Earned My Heart

 

When I got my Nintendo Switch last summer, I was having fun playing Zelda, Splatoon 2 and overcooked2. However, I never felt so impressed by the interactive gameplay experience until I played Super Mario Odyssey. Feeling both brand new and comfortingly familiar, Super Mario Odyssey wins hearts and minds of gamers and brings memory and fun to gamers. Just like the other Mario series, the biggest boss is Bowser (Kuppa), who kidnaps Princess Peach at the beginning of the game. However, this time, Bowser is wearing a formal suit and ready to marry Princess Peach. In pursuit of Bowser and Peach, Mario needs to collect “Power Moons” to fuel his craft, the Odyssey, in different worlds.

 

Even though there is no innovation in the story itself, visually, it has improved way more than enough compared to the previous ones. I still remembered when I was still in primary school, my first Nintendo game was Super Mario 64 on Nintendo DS. I was so addicted in it that I would hide my game console anywhere away from my parents. Because of the technological limitation by that time, Nintendo focused on the storytelling, which undoubtedly leaded the future development of video game by that time. In Super Mario Odssey, all the visual hints are shown much better and clearly. You will be surprised that you can see every object moving when you interact with them. The details are done so well that I would never get disappointed by Nintendo.

The theme of the Odyssey is also very commendable. In addition to the natural themes such as waterfalls, forests, lakes, oceans, and snow-capped mountains, there are also heterogeneous scenes such as clouds, cooking kingdoms, cities, and Japanese castles. The birds are all different and almost no repetition of the art resources. The map of each level is also made into a travel magazine. Players can be teleported between archive points. They can also zoom in on the map, read tips like sight spots, find checkpoints and rewards associated with them. There is really a feeling of travel.

 

From operation and level design aspects, Super Mario Odyssey is not a 3D platform action game made solely for Switch. It maintains a high level of platform action elements while further weakening the level continuity in the original platform action game. The game gives the player a lot of freedom to explore while maintaining a certain level of the process, so even if it is the same level, everyone is not the same. Even though it is a platform jumping game, the jumping posture in the Odyssey is very complicated, and there are all kinds of action applications such as backflip, side flip, stepping on the wall, and flying. The second jump of the hat once again raises the upper limit of Mario's difficulty in jumping, allowing players to pass difficult puzzles through complicated operations. After being cleared once and indulging in the unlocked new content, I finally realized that the excellence of the Odyssey is completely beyond all our imagination of the platform jumping game. Its play is innovative enough, the experience is amazing enough, and it is rich in the content of the so-called "sandbox game”. More importantly, it also represents Nintendo's attitude of advancing with the times.

 

Additionally, the most interesting aspect of this game is the interaction between the game and the gamer. The gameplay has improved a lot when compared to the previous series. The magic hat can take over various enemies and items in the game. They can be objects or characters. After possessing them, Mario will be granted abilities that can help him solve the puzzle. For instance, Mario can become a telescope that overlooks the whole map; he can become a frog that jumps over the high obstacle; or he can attach on a zipper that unzips another hidden world. All the settings in the game become more interactive with the player. Besides walking through the map and collecting “Power Moons”, he can now try to throw the hat and to see what it can possess. Additionally, the gameplay involves 2D Mario plane. When I see the familiar green tube and hear the classical Mario music, it blows my mind. Odyssey inherits the old 2D features and it brings me back to my childhood. With the improvement of gyro and infrared sensor, the gameplay in Odyssey involves a lot of motion control with its Joy- Cons as well. The player can shake the Joy-Con to throw the magic hat in circle or move it left to right to navigate the environment. Every time I was surprised when I found out something fresh and I can never stop discovering.

 

If there is anything that needs to be improved next time, I would point out the co-op mechanism in Odyssey. Even though the second player, the cappy, can gather items and remove harmful hazards in the nearby environment, I don’t feel quite involved and competitive throughout the whole game. The initiative of Nintendo Switch is collaborating and competing locally with friends. The interaction of the gamer and the game has achieved success in many aspects but the interaction between gamers are limited in the gameplay. In addition, sometimes, the angle of view is limited or auto-controlled. It makes me feel uncomfortable and I find it hard to manipulate. If the player can fully control the visual angle, it will be more convenient to adapt for different gamers. As what Yoshiaki Koizumi, the Deputy General Manager of Nintendo, said in the interview: “Compared to what makes people feel interesting now, we are more concerned about making a work that allows players to recall the picture at that time, even after 10 years.”

Overall, to me, Super Mario Odyssey is the best Nintendo Switch of the year. It is a well- deserved sequel of Super Mario 64. Without doubt, it has outdone its predecessors in different ways including mechanism, image quality, user experience and background muisc. You will never feel tired of the diversity of the interactive gameplays. Even though I have walked through the whole game, it turns out that I only have collected one third of the “Power Moon”. The adventure still continues, so does my love.

 

02/07/2019

Ava Tan

Pittsburgh, PA