Wooderon Games of the year 2017: #4

You know how I talked up how the Playstation 4 has the better exclusives in comparison to Microsoft and the Xbox One at the beginning of yesterday’s post. Well, again spoilers, yesterday was the only game I played on the PS4 that makes it onto this list. There were other Playstation exclusives I picked up, but it’s not my main console.

It’s just that I’m not really a fan of Uncharted… I picked up Cosmic Star Heroine. That was cool, but I never really started playing it properly became of Overwatch being an all consuming void of time for good portions of the year. Oh, Puyo Puyo Tetris! Very cool game. I mean who doesn’t like Tetris, and it actually taught me how to play Puyo Puyo to a passible standard, so it’s got that going for it. But technically, this game has been out in Japan for ages, so I can’t really put it on my list… Yeah.

So… Back to the list. Please don’t hate me Sony fans.

#10: Prey

#9: Star Wars Battlefront II

#8: Cuphead

#7: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

#6: Destiny 2

#5: Horizon Zero Dawn

#4: Super Mario Odyssey

Played on the Nintendo Switch | Released 27th October | Developed by Nintendo EPD

I mentioned how I was kind of reluctant to pick up an Switch initially as I had been burned by the Wii U. Well I’m glad I caved in because as it turns out the Switch is a hell of a little system. I’ve been dismissive of the gimmicks of Nintendo’s recent consoles, but the pick up and play anywhere aspect of the device has worked wonders for it. And it’s made all the better by having a brand new Mario title in its first year.

Super Mario Odyssey is a joy. It’s bright, it’s colourful and it’s really quirky. It’s the type of game you play with a big dumb smile on your face the whole time. Despite the obvious wrappings of Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach, something even Nintendo have stopped making self referential joke about. At this point it’s an inevitability. Even Mario seems to forget about the pressing concern unless it’s right in front of him. The big goofy smile and yahoos are never far from his lips during the game, when God only knows what’s going on with the Princess at that time.

Odyssey’s main gameplay quirk is the addition of a character called Cappy. Because of course when Mario meets a race of sentient hats, then the one that joins him on his journey has the most on the nose name he could possibly have. The main ability Mario has is to throw the hat which either damages the enemy, or if they are conspicuously hat absent, then the player can possess them.

Possession is a very cool ability that lets you take control of all manner of enemies, including a lot of mainstay enemies from the series past. Goombas, Hammer Bros, sentient chunks of lava, the list goes on. They’ve all got their own unique mechanics which bring cool twists to each stage and make them stand out all the more. The game takes place in a series of “kingdoms” around the Mario world, all of which are large open areas in which the player can just explore at their own leisure and collect the power moons that allow them to unlock the next kingdom.

It’s nice to see even mainline Mario games taking steps away from their old formula. Rather than having a hub with a series of prepared missions sprung off of it, the game just dumps you in a big open space and lets you solve problems and collect moons in your own time and in whichever order you’d like. It’s a lot more free form than Mario games of the past and I really enjoy that about it. Some Kingdoms can feel a little uninteresting compared to the more audacious ones, but Nintendo have done a great job of making them all feel unique and full of individual charm.

The game also seems to have a lot of self referential stuff in it, to older games in the series. It’s a huge surprise to see the lengths they go to for these nostalgia moments and they work incredibly well. There are a number of sections that delve into a 2D style with graphics from the original Mario bros, in a mechanic that feels right out of a Link Between Worlds, the mixing of the music in these parts sticks out as such a cool little addition. My one sole complaint about the game is that it would have been really cool some of the Kingdoms you visit were direct areas from previous games. If Seaside Kingdom would have been an area from Mario Sunshine for example. But the game is already self referential enough that I can’t hold it against it.

This is a must buy for anyone who gets a Switch. Fantastic game with a ton of content, plus you can play it on the go. And it’s got that Nintendo charm and high polish that seems to come with every mainline Nintendo game these days.

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