The Nintendo Switch may have the best opening-year lineup for any console ever. The hybrid system that can be taken on the road and played in the living room launched with the likely game of the year in "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild." Nintendo has followed that up with a string of great games that include "Arms," "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" and "Splatoon 2." "Maro + Rabbids Kingdom Battle" is increasingly looking like a great new strategy game.
It appears that Nintendo will be capping the year off with another potential game of the year candidate with "Super Mario Odyssey." I had a chance to play the platformer at E3 a few weeks back, and it was by far the most impressive hands-on experience at the show. I spent time in two areas: the Metro Kingdom and the Sand Kingdom. They offered two different experiences. The Sand Kingdom was more conventional and showed off what Mario and his new sidekick, Cappy, can do against Goombas and Bullet Bills.
As its name implies, Cappy is a magical hat, and Mario can toss the chapeau and defeat Bowser's minions. But being a makeshift boomerang isn't Cappy's only power. The level also showed off Cappy's special ability. If Mario throws it at certain enemies, he can transform into them. Mario needs to throw Cappy at Bullet Bill to become the enemy so he can fly across long gaps. In addition, he can also use Cappy as a stepping stone to cross chasms that he couldn't normally do.
In Metro Kingdom, which is a place called New Donk City, Nintendo showed off more of the unconventional elements and platforming in "Super Mario Odyssey." Here, Cappy can take over telescopes so that Mario can get a better lay of the land. It can use electricity lines to get to other parts of the map. Metro Kingdom is also the place where Mario can ride a scooter. That's the first time I've seen him ride something not named Yoshi in a long time.
"Super Mario Odyssey" also boasts shops that take special coins found throughout each map. Special coins can only be used in worlds they are collected in. They don't work between levels. Regular coins can also be used at shops, and this is how players can buy different costumes and even powerups.
In terms of structure, "Super Mario Odyssey" most resembles the original "Super Mario 64." In each level, he has to find Moons scattered throughout the stage. Each map is essentially a playground where players can both explore and experiment with Mario and Cappy's abilities. They can find Moons in a variety of places such as blocks, shops and hard to reach areas. Once players have enough Moons, they can travel to other stages.
"Super Mario Odyssey" takes Nintendo's famous plumber to new places, and the novelty is refreshing for the series. Players can get their hands on the game when it's released Oct. 27. ___
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