Super Mario Odyssey First Impressions: The Jumpman Cometh

It isn't often that a game comes like Super Mario Odyssey comes around. That's true from both a gameplay standpoint and a release one. Since Super Mario 64 launched way back in 1996, we've only had three other open-ended 3D Mario games: Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Nintendo, it would seem, likes to take its sweet time on these games, and that's an approach that has paid off time and again, as 64, Sunshine, and both Galaxy titles can be counted among the best games ever made.

It's been more than seven years since the last Mario release of this kind, so to say that excitement has been high for Super Mario Odyssey is definitely understating it a bit. Though I haven't spent too terribly long with the game just yet, it would appear that fans' excitement was wholly justified, as Super Mario Odyssey is something special – not just special as it compares to the rest of the Super Mario series, but also when compared to other video games in general.

From the second you start up Super Mario Odyssey, it pulls you in and doesn't really let go. There's little in the way of exposition and there isn't really much of a tutorial to speak of, thanks to the presence of a new action menu that can be accessed from the pause screen. This action menu is referenced many times at the start of the game – much to the annoyance of some players, I'm sure – but that's because it lists some helpful actions that may not be intuitive, even to veterans.

This is where my only complaint about the game so far surfaces: some of these actions can only be carried out through motion controls. So far, I haven't actually encountered any segments of the game where motion controls have been necessary to advance, and in looking at some of the reviews for Super Mario Odyssey, those sequences seem rare.

Still, it really feels like Nintendo is clinging to a relic of the past by requiring motion controls for some actions, and even if they're rarely needed, it would be preferable if these actions were somehow mapped to button combinations.

Other than that one (admittedly minor) gripe, it really seems that Nintendo has crafted an excellent game in Super Mario Odyssey. It's an absolutely beautiful title, and though we got a taste of Mario in HD thanks to Wii U games like Super Mario 3D World and New Super Mario Bros U, seeing a 3D adventure game in the vein of Super Mario 64 in HD is a joyous thing indeed.

I'm also very excited that Nintendo sprinkled so many Power Moons to find throughout Super Mario Odyssey's world. Like the Power Stars and Shines that came before them, you need to collect Power Moons to advance through the game. Unlike Power Stars and Shines, which were limited to 120 in Mario 64 and Sunshine respectively, the number of Power Moons in Odyssey tops out somewhere around 600.

That means the game doesn't need to lock Power Moons away behind specific tasks as the sole method of obtaining them. Instead, many Moons are hidden throughout the game world, making exploration more important than it ever has been before. Every time I arrive at a new Kingdom, I'm excited to comb every inch of it, looking for Power Moons and secrets. Boosting the number of items to find makes the core gameplay loop of Super Mario Odyssey so much more enjoyable and addicting.

I'll have a full review of Super Mario Odyssey coming up soon, but for now, it seems that Nintendo has knocked it out of the park with this release. Unless the game takes a severe dive in quality in the latter hours, this is shaping up to be one of the best Nintendo Switch games available. More Odyssey coverage is on the way, but for now, head down to the comments section and let me know what you think of the game so far.