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NOTE: This review contains some minor spoilers.

There are very few game series which have existed for more than three decades. There are even fewer which have managed to maintain enough popularity, originality and passion to have regular releases over that long period of time. Mario is one such series and with the release of Super Mario Odyssey, we see Nintendo have worked their magic once again.

It is monumentally impressive that Nintendo continue to create several main series Mario games for each platform they release with each and every one receiving critical acclaim. They truly are the masters of giving fans what they want in their favourite series, while still bringing something new and different to every game. Oh, and believe me, Super Mario Odyssey is very new and different!

For those of you who have seen the game’s E3 trailer (which is embedded above), I am sure that you, like I, were shocked at the prospect of Mario controlling a T-Rex (featuring a ridiculous but hilarious moustache). You might have imagined that this moment would come near the end of the game and that Mario would use the T-Rex to destroy a gigantic Bowser warship in a stunning finale, perhaps? Well, not quite! The dinosaur capture actually appears very early in the game and is little more than a silly introduction to the mechanic, although he may make a reappearance! Nintendo have far more exciting and inventive captures waiting further down the line.

Speaking of captures, this new mechanic is enabled via a mysterious sentient hat from the Cap Kingdom called Cappy. This hat will be your companion for the vast majority of the game and the new capture mechanic replaces Power-Ups. It is a brave move by Nintendo to ditch something which has been so core to Mario for quite some time now, but I can wholeheartedly say, it is a move that pays off. Cappy is the most versatile and original mechanic introduced to the Mario series to date. This makes Odyssey feel more fresh than any other Mario game I’ve played in recent times.

Each capture (there are a total of 52) in Super Mario Odyssey has it’s own unique control scheme and abilities. For example, capturing a Chain Chomp will allow you to wind up in one direction and release to send flying in the opposite direction. This allows you to break certain walls. Goombas have the ability to walk on icy terrain without slipping, unlike Mario. Furthermore, capturing a Paragoomba will allow you to fly. There are many, many more exciting captures in the game which you will discover as you play through the various Kingdoms in the game.

Let’s talk about collectables. The main objective across the entire of Super Mario Odyssey is to collect Power Moons. These are, in a way, similar to Power Stars from Galaxy and Galaxy 2, however, there are far, far more of them. Super Mario Odyssey contains over 800 Power Moons. Some of these are very easy to find and only require completion of a simple puzzle to unlock while others are far more well hidden and require application of an inventive capture or move. Power Moons are used to power up the Odyssey and once you collect enough moons, you will be able to advance to the next kingdom.

However, Power Moons are not the only collectable present in Super Mario Odyssey. Coins, a staple of the Mario series, are present, but have a greater role than ever before. Odyssey ditches the lives and 1-UP system in favour of a mechanic which sees you lose coins each time you die. Why would you care? Well, coins are used to buy souvenirs, clothing outfits and even some Power Moons. As there are no Power-Ups, Odyssey features a three heart system in which if you lose all three hearts, you die. You can also find an item which increases the number of hearts you can hold to six hearts, however, once you drop back to three, you won’t be able to hold six again until you find the item once more. Each Kingdom also features a special type of coin, a coin which is Kingdom specific. These coins can also be used to be outfits and souvenirs, however, they can only be used in the Kingdom in which you found them. This means that Mario Odyssey has a sometimes seemingly endless abyss of items to collect and completionists will have to invest a huge amount of time to achieve 100% completion.

The role of Mario himself has not been neglected despite the expansiveness and importance of the capture mechanic; he is complete with a huge moveset of his own. Many of these moves are only possible using motion controls (assumedly because the sheer volume of button combos would become overwhelming to more casual players). Mario can backflip, roll, side somersault, triple jump, wall jump, ground pound and more. When not in capture mode, Cappy can also be used in combat. For example, tilt both joycons either to the left or right and Cappy while begin to spin in circles around Mario, destroying anything in its path. Tilting the Joycons up towards you will send Cappy up into the air above you. Cappy can even be thrown forward and spin and be used as a platform for jumping! All in all, Odyssey is a delight to control, offering more options for how to play than ever. It feels fresh, it feels personal and it caters to all styles of play. Being open world, there is often more than one way to complete an objective. This diverse moveset enables players to choose their preferred way to platform and that truly gives Odyssey a beautiful feel.

On another note, the game looks absolutely stunning. It might not be what you are used to with a Mario game, tending towards a more photorealistic aesthetic at times, however, it undeniably charms and delights with its design. The game looks crisp and unbelievably vivid and some kingdoms will take your breath away as you first experience them. The sound design is similarly masterful, with each Kingdom having music which feels perfectly matched; starting off as more calm as it eases into the main theme for that world.

Overall, to put it simply, Super Mario Odyssey is flawless. The game brought me a level of joy which I rarely feel when playing a game and I firmly believe this is a contender for the best Mario game ever created. I cannot stress it enough: this game is a must-play. It is a credit to Nintendo that their talented development and design teams continue to create Mario titles with such magic and Odyssey is the latest masterpiece to be delivered.