One of the coolest things about Super Mario Odyssey is every enemy (and many objects) present a new way to play the game.
Blessed at the beginning with a new, sentient hat named Cappy, the plucky plumber will throw his new companion like a boomerang. This offers a hat trick of benefits: Cappy collects collectibles, bashes baddies, and even provides a temporary platform for Mario to reach the unreachable.
But Cappy’s just getting started.
After a tutorial level full of things for you to throw Cappy at, you’re presented with actual enemies. This is when you’re shown its real power. Scoring a hit will land the cap on the enemy, and transport Mario’s consciousness into the frontal cortex of whatever poor Goomba thought it’d be enjoying free will that day.
Somehow. Don’t think about it too much.
These mind-controlled enemies fit in with their peers, who are quietly impressed with their friends’ new “hat and moustache” look. They also give you full control of their abilities.
I saw some great uses of this system in my time with the game, and it’ll be 100% necessary to use it to overcome Odyssey‘s puzzles and bosses.
In the Seaside Kingdom, a squid offered a very useful water squirt ability. Not only was it great for ocean propulsion, it also cleared up dangerous lava around objectives. Underwater exploration was also made easy by controlling the fish.
These new forms do come with limitations, however. As you can expect, amphibious minions don’t do too well on land — no matter how stylish their headwear.
Even when treading water or in mid-jump, landing a hat on baddies is easy. One flick of the Joy-Con (or pressing X or Y) will toss Cappy straight outward, and repeating the input will target it on a closeby enemy.
This helped a lot in the Luncheon Kingdom, which had forks stuck into walls and floors. Possessing them would allow you to fling Mario in any direction. Soon there were groups of forks requiring chained flinging with expert aim. It requires the occasional mid-air throw of Cappy.
This was probably the hardest section I saw, combining dexterity with a bit of puzzle solving.
Plants can also be targeted. A fire flower in Seaside Kingdom would strap a rocket to your back and propel you so fast you could run over the water.
Each level I saw was populated with 10-20 different enemies, all with different abilities to exploit to collect Odyssey‘s main objective: Moons.
I felt like I was playing several different games within the one game. That’s even without the more outlandish scenes in the trailers, with modes shifting to 2D platforming or top-down racing.
If there was one downside, it’s that these abilities were too perfect for their situations. Using them eliminated the challenge. But I’m fairly sure I was shown early levels. Knowing Nintendo, it’ll have that difficulty curve ironed out perfectly.
I look forward to requiring some diabolical combinations of abilities to reach those last few elusive moons.