Super Mario Odyssey has been a long time coming. While Mario games are a fairly regular occurrence, it’s been 7 years since Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Wii – the last expansive, 3D adventure title in the franchise.

These types of Mario games have a habit of being exceptional. Super Mario 64 pioneered the type of 3D gaming we take for granted nowadays. Super Mario Sunshine made fantastic strides polishing and perfecting the genre. Both Super Mario Galaxy games gave us 3D platforming experiences that were as close to perfect as any 3D game has gotten.

After a long wait, it feels like being reunited with an old friend. There’s an inherent familiarity to Super Mario Odyssey, despite its slew of new game mechanics and worlds to visit. This is still very much a Mario adventure.

The biggest and newest part of Odyssey revolves around Mario’s hat. You can throw it at just about anything and it’ll do something. Throwing it at a person, animal or even a car can allow you to take control of it. It can collect coins and other things. If you throw it at an electrical line you can travel along said line as electricity.

Nintendo want you to throw your hat at everything just to see what will happen. And you’ll want to. Super Mario Odyssey is a game built for exploration – yes, there’s a storyline to follow and quests to undertake. But what would happen if you threw your hat at that rocket over there?

The answer is usually something. Odyssey is designed to be poked and picked apart. If you’re stuck on or bored with whatever it is you’re doing then you can simply go somewhere else and there are half a dozen other things to occupy your time. There’s always something to do, no matter which way you go.

Unlike previous Mario games, you’re not kicked out of a level each time you fail. You won’t lose all of your lives and progress for dying an arbitrary number of times. Instead, you simply pay 10 coins and attack the problem again. With the fear of losing progress more or less removed, Super Mario Odyssey encourages experimentation to go along with its stellar exploration.

All of this is wrapped up in the tight, excellent 3D Mario gameplay we already know.

Super Mario Odyssey launches exclusively for Switch on October 27, 2017.

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