Before I delve into the details, I’m going to cut to the chase. Super Mario Odyssey is incredible. There’s so much to say about the game, but if you’re looking for a quality title on the Nintendo Switch, this new entry in the Mario series is certainly worth your time.
Super Mario Odyssey starts off quite abruptly. You’re treated to a cutscene showing suited Bowser effortlessly beating Mario to a pulp. Our hero eventually lands in a kingdom full of living hats, and he befriends a shapeshifting hat called Cappy. Together, they find a ship, the Odyssey, and set out to rescue Peach as well as Cappy’s little sister. Meanwhile, Bowser is trying to set up a wedding to marry Peach and he has recruited a group of rabbit henchmen, known as the Broodals, to help him carry out his plans.
The story is nothing particularly deep but it gets the job done and helps you quickly settle into the gameplay. Like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, you navigate through open levels and collect Power Moons, this game’s equivalent of Stars and Shine Sprites, to fuel the Odyssey. What’s different, however, is that each level is absolutely packed to the brim with Power Moons. They can be found in nearly every corner and even more apear in previous levels as you progress forward. There are literally hundreds of Power Moons to collect.
Mario himself has his usual array of moves, being able to run, jump, and stomp, but Cappy brings a number of new gameplay mechanics into the fray. Cappy can freely be tossed out like a boomerang, which allows Mario to attack enemies from a safe distance. Mario can even hold Cappy in a place to use him as a bounce pad. The most important mechanic, however, is that Cappy has the ability to possess things, like enemies and even inanimate objects. This offers many different gameplay styles and means to solve puzzles. On top of all this, Mario can also enter special warp pipes that lead to sidescrolling areas with classic retro Mario gameplay.
If the number of Power Moons seems overwhelming, there are ways to gain hints. You can give Toad a small number of coins to flat out mark the location of any Power Moon on the map. Alternatively, you can ask a parrot Talkatoo to give you hints. You can even scan Amiibo to hunt down hints and locations. All this eliminates a lot of frustration if you’re down to just a few scattered collectibles on the map.
Dying in Super Mario Odyssey is also a simple slap on the wrist. There’s no life system this time around. Instead, each time you die, you merely lose a small amount of coin. With the abundance of coins scattered around the map, this is hardly an issue. The game heavily encourages experimentation, and you’re rewarded for checking out every last corner of each level.
All in all, the gameplay is simply sublime. Mario himself is immensely satisfying to control, and the possession mechanic brings a huge variety of experiences to the table. Levels are gigantic with full of things to do. That said, with so much scope, there’s naturally bound to be annoyances here and there. Some Power Moons simply aren’t very exciting to get while others can be borderline tedious. Also, some of the things you can possess can be annoying to control. That said, the good far outweighs the bad. I quickly forgot any frustrations I had upon moving on and experiencing more of the amazing gameplay.
There is just one thing that bothers me though and that’s the forced motion controls. All of your basic functions can be done without them, and none of them are really necessary to use, but if you want to do fancier maneuvers such as spinning Cappy around Mario, you need to shake and flick the controller. Many of your actions are assigned to two buttons each, so it seems a bit ridiculous that some of these controls couldn’t just be mapped to other buttons, especially since a lot of the motion controls aren’t very accurate. I hardly ever used them because they were finicky to pull off. But all this is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and I was able to get by just fine without using them often.
The main story itself isn’t very long. If you’re simply trying to reach the last world to rescue Peach, you’ll be done with Super Mario Odyssey in just a few hours. The real length of the game comes down to trying to collect every single Power Moon there is. There's also loads of post-game content, and while the majority of Super Mario Odyssey isn’t too challenging, the last parts of the game can really test your mettle. You’re also encouraged to find other collectibles such as purple coins, which can be used to buy souvenirs and stickers for your ship, as well as new costumes for Mario to wear.
Speaking of costumes, Super Mario Odyssey is a joy to look at. Each kingdom you visit is incredibly distinct. There were many occasions I simply wandered around levels, taking in the creative and frequently bizarre visuals. Each kingdom also has NPCs scattered about, adding even more personality to the colorful locations. Mario can also wear a bunch of different outfits, and you can even mix and match costumes and hats. Do you want to run around in boxer shorts while wearing a poofy clown wig? You can totally do that.
The music is also worthy of mention. Each kingdom has a number of songs that feel right at home with their aesthetics, and they did a fantastic job at getting me even more immersed in whatever I was doing. The Cap Kingdom is accompanied with music reminiscent of Danny Elfman's compositions, while New Donk City features more upbeat, jazzy music. Retro areas have nice little 8-bit tunes, and caves will often feature slower and more atmospheric music. Also, if you haven’t heard the song "Jump Up, Super Star!", I recommend looking it up immediately.
Super Mario Odyssey is a lovely experience from beginning to end. The sheer scope of the game can be a little overwhelming and there are some bumps you’ll encounter in your journey. If you’re searching for a solid experience on the Nintendo Switch beside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you should definitely take this odyssey with Mario.
Hi, I'm James. I like to play video games and then scream at people's faces about them. I started getting into gaming around the PS1 and N64 days, and I've been addicted ever since.