Super Mario Odyssey celebrates its fifth anniversary today. While in gaming terms that’s relatively long, the platforming adventure is aging brilliantly and still plays as fresh today as it did the day it was released on Nintendo Switch. With its mix of open-world exploration sections and challenging platforming, Super Mario Odyssey has once again shown that when it comes to platforming titles, no one does it quite like Mario.
Ever since he came running and jumping across gamers’ screens in the mid-1980s, Mario has established himself as a household name and mascot not just for Nintendo, but for the video game industry itself. In an ever-changing landscape, Mario has been a constant for nearly four decades. His red cap and bushy mustache are instantly recognizable to almost anyone on the planet, and he shows no signs of slowing down, with his first animated feature coming out next year.
Super Mario has a history of high-quality platforming
Super Mario Odyssey is the latest in a long line of high-quality 3D platformers featuring everyone’s favorite plumber. Over the years, Nintendo has strategically used its main attraction to regularly show off the strength of its consoles. The launch of Super Mario 64 alongside the Nintendo 64 in 1996 was considered a landmark moment in the industry, and as a title the game is highly revered as one of the greatest of all time.
This was followed six years later with Super Mario Sun for the Nintendo Gamecube, which, while not as universally beloved as its predecessor, still garnered strong reviews. Following an open-world formula similar to Super Mario 64, Sun introduced FLUDD, a water device strapped to Mario’s back, and was the first instance of Mario deviating from his standard range of motion.
Mario’s catalog of 3D platformers has expanded further with the arrival of super mario galaxyand its sequel Super Mario Galaxy 2, released for the Wii in 2007 and 2010 respectively. These titles once again pushed the boundaries of what Mario, and platformers in general, could do. 3D Super Mario Land for the Nintendo 3DS took the 3D antics of Mario and moved it to a more linear, level-based approach in 2011. This was developed in Super Mario 3D World which arrived two years later for the Wii U. Then, after four years of relative silence, Super Mario Odyssey burst onto the scene.
Super Mario Odyssey showcased the Switch perfectly
Featuring all the features of the revolutionary Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey was the perfect title to raise the profile of the console. The graphics capabilities of the Switch are put to full use to create vibrant worlds bursting with life. Mario’s movements are as fluid as ever, and the game cleverly adds new mechanics to shake up the usual formula, including using the Switch’s revolutionary Joy-Con controllers. Mario’s hat, named “Cappy”, is animated and has a personality of its own. He has multiple goals, all of which can help him in his quest.
Mario is able to throw Cappy as a weapon, or even use him as a makeshift platform to jump on. But his most unique ability is the one that allows Mario to possess enemy creatures by throwing Cappy at them, allowing the player to temporarily take control of them. This element adds a whole new dynamic to the proceedings, and throughout the game, the player is able to take control of all kinds of creatures, from tiny caterpillar types to a mighty T-Rex. It’s innovative, exciting, and yet another example of Nintendo knowing precisely how to keep its mascot relevant.
In terms of worldview, Super Mario Odyssey landed the landing perfectly, with vast divergent worlds full of things to do, and, as this is a Mario game, there’s plenty to collect too. Mario travels from world to world aboard an airship called the Odyssey. The game’s difficulty curve is perfect, with players of all ages able to play and complete the game, but only highly skilled players are able to master it 100% and collect it all. Doing this rewards players with a nice little bonus level featuring some of the toughest platforming sections ever seen in a 3D platformer.
In the years since Super Mario Odyssey, fans have been eagerly awaiting news of a sequel. 2020 saw the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars for the Switch, which was a compilation of Super Mario 64, Sunshineand Galaxy in a single collection. Then in 2021, Super Mario 3D World has been re-released for the Switch, with an all-new expansion titled Bowser’s Fury. But while those releases were both great new additions to Mario’s library, they’re not the next big blockbuster fans have been waiting for.
main line Super Mario entries only come in every couple of years, and it’s a testament to Nintendo’s refusal to deviate from the high-quality bar that’s been set and raised with every previous iteration. In direct contrast to other mascots, such as Sega’s sonic the hedgehogwhose catalog of games is vast and extremely inconsistent in terms of quality, Super Mario is synonymous with critical acclaim, and the series shows no signs of changing.
Super Mario Odyssey remains Nintendo’s last entry into 3D Super Mario series. With news of a new entry still out, fans are hoping 2023 will be a big year for Mario. That will be six years between releases, which is as long as any gap between all of his other titles. His first animated feature will be released on April 7, titled The movie Super Mario Bros., and Nintendo may well delay announcing a new game after the movie’s release, in order to maximize its marketing strategy. If the next entry is a direct continuation of Odysseyor something else entirely, it’s now perfectly safe to assume that fans are ready for another groundbreaking adventure.
Super Mario Odyssey is now available for Nintendo Switch.
MORE: Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope’s Planets Take After Star Wars