Switch's "Odyssey" a worthy addition to the "Super Mario" pantheon of games | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Switch's "Odyssey" a worthy addition to the "Super Mario" pantheon of games

TORONTO - As Nintendo's prominence in the video game industry has risen and waned over the years, the popularity of company mascot Mario has remained constant.

The mustachioed plumber has lent his star power to every Nintendo console. The company's flagship "Super Mario" franchise has graced the top-selling Nintendo Entertainment System and Wii. He's also been there when Nintendo has had to play catch-up to the competition, beefing up the libraries of the GameCube and Wii U.

Nintendo is on the rise again after releasing the popular Switch earlier this year, and demand for the console-handheld hybrid should increase with the release of "Super Mario Odyssey" this week. The latest addition to the pantheon of "Super Mario" titles holds its own against the very best games of the series.

"Odyssey" takes a lot of the common elements that have made the "Super Mario" games successful — creative level design and presentation, likable characters, optimistic tone — and added a wealth of new gameplay mechanics that are, for the most part, well implemented and fun.

Joining Mario on yet another quest to save Princess Peach from the unrequited amorous advances of the loathsome series antagonist Bowser is Cappy, a sentient hat who also has a score to settle with Mario's arch-enemy.

Mario can throw Cappy to defeat enemies, break objects and collect coins. But the biggest asset this talking tuque really brings to the table is giving Mario the ability to possess an object or creature and use it in his quest. Frogs that can leap to otherwise inaccessible heights, tanks that can blast through enemies and obstacles and giant snow monsters who breathe torrents of frosty air are among the game's denizens that Mario and Cappy can exploit.

Early in the game Mario is even able to control a velociraptor and take it on a destructive rampage, making for one of the most satisfying sequences in a "Super Mario" game to date.

As Mario follows Bowser's airship through the game's many worlds, he will need to find "power moons" to fuel his vessel, the Odyssey. Mario will find enough moons to get him to the next world through completing the world's main objectives, usually culminating in a boss battle against one of Bowser's minions. But a lot of the fun is going back to these worlds later and finding other collectibles, often hidden behind fun puzzles.

Some of the power moons are hiding in plain sight, some are earned after completing such challenges as driving a tank through an obstacle course, navigating through an 8-bit world based on the original "Super Mario Bros." or even pushing through a rush-hour crowd in a limited amount of time.

For the completionist, each world has its own distinct type of coin that can be used to purchase cosmetic items, different aesthetic looks for Mario and Cappy and the like. Players can also buy decals and souvenirs to decorate the Odyssey.

One area where the game does not innovate is the well-worn storyline of the imperilled Princess Peach ending up in the vile clutches of Bowser. This time, the fire-breathing anthropomorphic turtle is trying to force Peach into marriage and is stealing precious wedding-related treasures from the game's worlds to fulfil his diabolical plan.

While it would have been refreshing to see something other than a damsel-in-distress plot, Bowser does look resplendent in his white wedding tuxedo.

The game is not without other flaws. Some of the jumping puzzles are fiddly and annoying, though the more irksome challenges are optional tasks for those looking to obtain every power moon and coin.

The camera can be very problematic in select areas, and in some cases it is impossible to get it behind Mario, leaving you to blindly press on without being able to see if danger is right in front of you.

But these problems are minimal when put against the scope, variety, innovation and fun the latest Mario adventure brings. It's a must-have for Switch owners, and may be enough for some gamers who held off on buying Nintendo's new machine to take the plunge.

"Super Mario Odyssey" is rated E10, suitable for all gamers, and retails for around $79.99.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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