Within eight months of its release, the Nintendo Switch has received one of the best chapters in The Legend of Zelda saga, and one of the best Super Mario games ever. Not too shabby Nintendo, not at all. Super Mario Odyssey is a fantastic Mario game, perhaps the best ever, especially if you leave nostalgia aside, as Nintendo added several new ingredients to the Super Mario formula in a game that stands on its own, but has countless surprises and Easter eggs (and other eggs!) for fans of the franchise. It's a true tribute to the character and to those who have accompanied him on this long journey - and what a fantastic trip it has been.
Super Mario Odyssey is a 3D Mario game which shares several similarities with Super Mario 64; the campaign is divided into Kingdoms, which function as medium-sized worlds, the way you approach each level is non-linear, and you can accomplish the goals in a completely different order from other players. That said, the platform segments themselves are linear, and you can look at them as a series of levels connected to a bigger world. It's an approach that works quite well, although, in terms of the overall experience, it's not particularly risky or innovative.
The game kicks off like so many others: the abduction of Princess Peach. Bowser has decided to marry the princess against her will (it's getting increasingly difficult to be sympathetic with Bowser), leaving Mario behind. Defeated, Mario ends up in the Cap Kingdom, where he meets Cappy, Nintendo's biggest new feature in Super Mario Odyssey. Cappy is a creature that resembles a hat, and has great magical properties, as not only can he take the form of any hat, but he can also offer Mario control over other creatures. The duo decides to join forces to pursue Bowser, who not only has the princess, but also Cappy's sister (Peach's hat).
To pursue Bowser, Mario and Cappy need a ship, the Odyssey, which is powered by Power Moons. In each kingdom, you'll need to find a specific number of Power Moons to advance, both by eliminating the local boss (another requirement to continue your journey) or by exploring the Kingdom, as each level includes many more than the number needed to progress. One word about these bosses, they appear in the form of evil rabbits that are helping Bowser prepare his marriage. Although not particularly difficult (we defeated the majority without dying once), they are imaginative and entertaining, and you'll face them all more than once, usually in a slightly more difficult version than the previous one. There are other bosses too... but those we won't spoil.
Each kingdom consists of several platforming sections, and countless secrets. There's a lot to explore in each realm, and some Power Moons will require a lot of effort from the player, either through precise platforming, fortuitous exploration, or imaginative objectives. From collecting all the lost sheep for a character to exploring watercourses, there are countless ways to find Power Moons, and a player that devotes themselves to finding them all will be gaming far beyond the story campaign. In this regard, there is content that only unlocks after finishing the story... and it's a treat.
In addition to Power Moons, each level also includes special coins in addition to traditional coins. While traditional coins can be used in all realms, special coins are specific to the level in question. With traditional coins you can buy a heart that enhances Mario's life, a Power Moon, and standard suits, but with special coins you can acquire other suits to help with the level in question, and decorative items for the Odyssey, also themed after the kingdom. Unlike traditional coins that reappear after some time, or if you return to the level later, the special coins are one time items and can only be collected once.