Odyssey and 64 are both great. In the context of when they came out, though (1996 and 2017), I don't think anything can compete with Mario 64. Here's why:
In 1996 most people were used to 16 bit games where the hero could run on the X axis and jump on the Y axis. To those who were born a little later, grew up with 3D games, and don't remember what gaming was like without them, this was the most impressive leap forward gaming will ever see. Everything since then has just been refining the foundation that was paved in 1996. But the foundation itself hasn't really undergone such a fundamental, groundbreaking change since then.
For another thing, I was six years old when Mario 64 came out, and eight years old by the time I got a Nintendo 64 as a birthday present. At that age things just seem more magical and awe-inspiring. Mario Odyssey is pleasant and smile inducing to me now, and I'm certainly pleased that I bought it. But I'm also a bit older and harder to impress now, so it's hard for that to compete with how I experienced Mario when I was younger and more impressionable. Twenty-something year olds in the year 2038 will probably be saying the same about Mario Odyssey compared to whatever Mario is out by then.
Honestly, Mario 3D World was the first game in a long while that I felt like just embraced the "timeless fun" aspect of Mario? Like it did fun stuff for the sake of fun, which is something not that many games do nowadays, because it's all about story and graphics and new innovative mechanics and all that. 3D World just took some simple steps and made a vibrant, feel-good atmosphere while maintaining fun and accessible gameplay.
And then Odyssey just cranked that up to 11. Just watching the E3 trailer and listening to Jump Up Super Star was the first time I'd felt like a kid in a long, long while. And then when I finally got my hands on the game, the capture mechanics added so much to the basic Mario experience without being completely overwhelming? It was all pretty fluid and easy to grasp and didn't detract much at all from the first massive, open-world collectathon experience that Nintendo's provided us since like... shit, I dunno, Donkey Kong 64?
Odyssey is just a really great game and it's probably my top Mario of all time at the moment. It might take a couple of months for the initial hype to die down and for myself and other people to point out flaws and things they could've done better, but I certainly can't think of anything it remotely screwed up. At least with BotW, I had issues with weapon durability and such from Day One before more issues like enemy variety came to light, but nothing with Odyssey yet.
Oh they have like a hundred times more going on in them than SM64's levels, that one just sounds like nostalgia goggles talking. I would say size-wise, maybe the levels aren't tooooo much bigger than some of 64's? They just have a much higher density of nooks and crannies and collectibles floating around.
It definitely encourages and rewards exploration to a much higher degree than 64, where you'd usually pick one of six Stars to go for and then make a beeline for it before getting booted back out to try another Star. Odyssey just lets you run wild and grab whatever you can see, out of the dozens of collectibles available per level.
I see. Apparently, my friend didn't care for much of that... They say that the Moons do not really hold much value, since there are too many and many of them require little to no effort to get. They also found that most of the bosses were pointless for often times they found enough Moons to leave the area before even reaching the boss... Which I found to be really weird.
Thank you for answering, though. I will be certain to relay your response to them.
Oh yeah, the game definitely gives you a lot of leeway with what percentage of the collectibles you need to actually see most of the game's content. A lot of it is just fluff for if you love exploration and completion, which some people just aren't into I guess.
But that is just it. My friend says they loved the exploration SM64/DS and Sunshine offered. Especially with Sunshine. They completed all three of those games multiple times... Odyssey did not seem to satisfy them, though... I think that they might feel that Odyssey was way overhyped and that they could have done a lot more. After they pointed out a few things to me, I suppose I kind of do agree with them that Odyssey could have had a lot more to it... at least to make it stand out from SM64 and Sunshine.
between these two, i choose odyssey because it was one of the most satisfying mario experiences i've had, ever. the game is packed with so many things to collect and i'm a slut for collectibles. the game was so balanced between things that are accessible and easy (to make it easier for, say, younger players to finish the story and beat the game), and challenging and well-hidden for those who are willing to 100% it. and none of it felt overly tedious in a way that made me just want to throw something against the wall. after collecting and achieving every last thing in the game, i'm eager to do it all over again (and maybe take it slower this time and really smell the flowers)
however, i gotta hand it to sm64 for paving the way for other mario 3d platformers (and 3d platformers in general) to be something truly great. i owe it to that game for making a genre that is my all time favorite
meanwhile, if this poll was odyssey vs sunshine, i might have a harder time choosing. i just...love that game to pieces. nostalgia has a hand in why i think it's a masterpiece i'm sure, but it has such an extremely special place in my heart