The 2010s saw a resurgence for the platforming genre after it fell into the shadows in the years following its peak in the 1990s. We saw old platforming mascots return throughout the decade in the form of the Nsane and Reignited Trilogies and the indie scene made for some unforgettable entries too, with the likes of Ori and the Blind Forest, Shovel Knight, Celeste, and Yooka-Laylee making their first appearances. We had an abundance of choice when mulling over our most essential platformers of the decade, but it was Nintendo's moustachioed poster boy's return to the sandbox genre that was a clear frontrunner for us despite the stiff competition.
Super Mario Odyssey may be one of our most recently released picks of the decade but even despite its relative youth, it's hard to deny its impact on ourselves and the broader gaming community. Alongside Breath of the Wild, it has been largely responsible for sending the Switch off to an absolutely roaring start and with 15.38 million units sold it means that 1 in 3 Switch owners have scooped it up and added it to their libraries. Critical reaction has been similarly ecstatic with many regarding it as one of the best entries in the franchise - a pretty impressive feat for a series that started on the NES more than 30 years ago.
As mentioned, Odyssey is a return to Mario's more sandbox style of platforming, which is in the style of previous entries Sunshine and 64. Arguably the most notable addition here is your cute googly-eyed companion Cappy, who can be used to possess enemies that occupy the many distinctive kingdoms you'll visit. Ever wondered what it's like to soar through the air like a Bullet Bill? Or have you ever just fancied being a Chain Chomp for the day? Well, all this and more is possible in Odyssey. Taking command of these iconic baddies is often required to scale new areas or to uncover hidden power moons, and it's a creative extension of Mario's move set and something that we always felt giddy doing.
The presentation here just oozes charm and every kingdom that we visited stood out as feeling memorable despite many lending motifs from what we've previously seen before. The Metro Kingdom shared a look similar to downtown New York and saw us bouncing on cars and swinging on lamp posts to scale our way up to the rooftops. Another favourite of ours was the Luncheon Kingdom, which as its name suggests is a food-inspired location. The world, much like the Metro Kingdom, added its own fun twists to platforming and saw us avoiding hazardous pools of pink goo by rolling on top of corn and taking command of smiley-faced folk to gradually fling our way up onto a ledge.
Power moons are the main collectible within Odyssey and you'll need to snatch up a fair few to power up the titular vessel and continue on your journey to rescue Peach. What we loved about Odyssey was that there were so many different distractions there to help you earn the moons needed, making the process of collecting them feel continually exciting. With so many moons on offer, we never felt pushed into completing anything truly arduous just to progress. These moments include things as simple as playing Toad the song he's thinking about, through to more complex challenges such as having to land 100 consecutive jump rope swings (we gave up on that last one a very long time ago!).
Even after thwarting Bowser's plans and being snubbed by Princess Peach, there was an abundance of content to keep us busy with a ludicrous 999 power moons to collect in total. After the main story wraps up more power moons become available prompting you to return to the worlds you have already visited (almost like you're starting a completely new adventure). On top of this, you can head back to the Mushroom Kingdom for a journey to Peach's castle and ride on Yoshi and there's also the Darker Side of the Moon you can unlock that offers a truly punishing gauntlet to test the skills of even the most seasoned platforming veterans.
Even beyond us rewarding Odyssey a 9/10 score back in late 2017, the game has continued to grow with a few subtle improvements here and there. Nintendo Labo owners now have the option of playing a handful of specifically curated challenges in VR, which sees Mario on the hunt for missing instruments. There's also a Balloon World mini-game that introduced multiplayer functionality to the game and tasks players with hiding balloons in the most creative places imaginable before others are given just 30 seconds to find them. These additions haven't drastically changed the game in any way, but it's great to see that Nintendo has continued to add value to the package in the form of free updates.
If we haven't made it clear already, Super Mario Odyssey is an absolute must-have for the Switch and a game that we are sure we will continue to declare our love for in the years to come. We particularly enjoyed how Cappy presented a creative extension to Mario's platforming skills allowing us to exploit the abilities of many of Bowser's goons. What's more, each of explorable kingdoms is teeming with its own charm and personality and the 999 collectable moons mean you'll be in for hours and hours of fun, with reasons to return well after the credits have rolled.
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