It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot as I’ve played through Super Mario Odyssey, which launches on the Nintendo Switch tomorrow. There are the core details, of course: Mario jumps, he collects coins, he stomps bad guys. At some point he’ll probably face off against an angry turtle named Bowser. But there’s something else at the heart of the series, something that has helped it live on for more than three decades across multiple platforms: an unyielding desire to surprise.
At their best, Super Mario games constantly confront you with new ideas, whether it’s a new place to explore or a new ability that changes the way you interact with the world around you. And Odyssey exemplifies this more than any game in the series before. It’s simply bursting with wild creativity. One minute you’re driving a tank down a rain-slicked city street, the next you’re dressed as a clown while trying to guide sheep across the desert. At one point you literally possess a giant slab of meat.
But through all of this strangeness — and Odyssey can get really weird — the game remains a constant delight to play.