E3 2017: Hands On: Super Mario Odyssey (Switch, 2017)

Five minutes into my session with Super Mario Odyssey and it felt like coming home. You can’t even call Mario’s first (at least in part) open world adventure a return to form because the truth is, the form never went away. Even now, four months out from release, it is a clear example of Nintendo doing what Nintendo do best.

The demo we were handed featured two distinct parts — The Desert and New Donk City. We dove into New Donk first as it promised the most freedom, being more about exploration than combat.

The first thing you feel when using the joystick is Mario’s weight. He feels a little heavier than he has before but this in no way makes him harder to control. His jumps remain precise, his speed just the right balance between speed and control and his list of moves is expanded and smoother to use than ever before.

Visually, Super Mario Odyssey represents the nicest looking game the Mario series has ever seen. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, running on Nintendo’s latest hardware. New Donk City itself recalls, funnily enough, the look of the city from Sonic Adventure all those years ago — this realistic looking world filled with more-or-less realistic looking people and there, in the middle of it, your boy Mario, a good two feet shorter than everyone else and looking straight out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

New Donk City allowed us to travel where we liked. While we were given a few quests here and there (find four musicians for the mayor’s festival, for instance), there was nothing to stop us going for a wander. I found myself on top of New Donk City’s many skyscrapers, scampering about collecting coins. We haven’t even gotten into all the things Mario’s new hat can do — we used to it to throw and own enemies, transform into different people and creatures, turn into electricity and travel up buildings … Nintendo have been very creative in how they’ve approached ways to use this hat.

Our time with the game, sadly, was criminally short (though this is not Nintendo’s fault as much as this writer’s ability to become attached to a game he likes in the blink of an eye) but what we played left an impression. Super Mario Odyssey as it stands right now feels like The Real Deal. We look forward to reviewing it in full when it releases in October.

The author is reporting from E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre. Accommodation in Los Angeles provided by Ramada West Hollywood. For rates and booking, click here.