He’s back, Mario’s back! He’s leaping on to the Nintendo Switch with his latest adventure, bringing all the known and loved features of Mario games with one big difference: open world gaming. Mario’s world is expanding with lavish, detailed 3D environments to explore, jump and race your way through. Here in my Super Mario Odyssey review, you’ll be finding out what I joy that is to do!
Super Mario Odyssey includes all the loveable characters from the Mushroom Kingdom and features Hat Kingdom where Mario meets his new companion ‘Cappy’. This hedonistic fella joins Mario in his Odyssey in the shape of Mario’s signature red hat with large expressive eyes! ‘Cappy’ provides the role of advisor, companion, comedy sidekick and most importantly a whole new way of interacting with Mario’s world.
Nintendo has brought a truly unique Mario experience that manages to capture all the nostalgia and greatness of previous Mario games and utilise the functionality of the Nintendo Switch. It’s amazing in every aspect, check out why below, but first a BIG question I’d love to see you answer!
Review Side Quest
Which is your favorite Mario game to date?
Get in the Disqus or Facebook Comments at the end of the review. And please share this so other gamers can get involved, and enjoy the review.
How does it play?
Super Mario Odyssey feels like a pair of slippers, red one’s of course! It feels familiar, comfortable and faithfully delivers an experience that we have come to know and love from Mario games.
Mario feels like he’s got a bag full of new tricks, he moves with a comical grace through the levels. Mario has a move set that is larger than any other game and combined with the use of Cappy you can do some really clever things.
Like most open world games there’s never just one way to solve a puzzle or to complete a task. Super Mario Odyssey rewards players who think outside of the box and are willing to explore and search for secrets.
Completion of a level is usually achieved by collecting a certain number of moons and Super Mario Odyssey offers the player a great amount of choice on how to acquire them. The other currency that Mario has always had is coins, the ‘kaa-ching’ sound of collecting coins with Mario is iconic and players will be rewarded for collecting.
Each level contains its own unique world currency which is optional to gather. How you go about competing each world is your choice, Super Mario Odyssey will please the slow, methodological player who wants to gather everything and search every corner of the world solving every puzzle.
Likewise, if you want to speed run through the level collecting the minimum amount of moons then you may miss some of the hidden content but the experience is still challenging in a different way.
Down the pipe to nostalgia…
As a rounded experience Super Mario Odyssey delivers something for all players. Having played Mario games since the days of game and watch and NES systems I really liked how the reference to Mario’s retro era is present in the game.
Scattered throughout each world are nostalgic references in the form of graffiti, interactive objects, characters and puzzles. Whilst these references may not reach the new gamer who’s new to Mario they are a richness of detail that makes each world enjoyable to play.
There’s something that every player will identify with and more than often trigger a smile when you get the reference. Nintendo manages to also deliver game play that will please retro fans, I really liked how the 2D Mario world level design was brought into the larger open world 3D environments.
Scattered about the worlds are the iconic green warp pipes, on entering them Mario is transformed into an 8bit 2D sprite who must complete a retro styled level. These 2D Mario level were really enjoyable and at the same time many to capture the gameplay and frustrations of the original Mario genre. Often the 2D Mario levels will be mapped around a 3D world object, for example you can find yourself on the side of a castle, on a pyramid or a skyscraper.
This is what Mario is all about, reliving the nostalgia of the experiences of being Mario!
Cappy-tain of your own destiny…
I tried out different controller combinations during the review and i felt that using the Pro Controller provided are more rounded experience. I was able to combine accuracy of jumping with comfort of playing and at the same time experience some of the motion controls.
Using the joy-cons in each hand gives a different experience and uses the motion controls really well to move Cappy and Mario. In the undocked handheld mode use of the joy cons attached to the Nintendo Switch worked but felt like a compromise as use of the motion controls was more difficult.
All the different control methods work well and the flexibility offered will suit a wider range of players. The 2 player cooperative mode utilises a combination of the previously discussed controllers and will be discussed further in this review.
It’s not Cappy-tal punishment…
As many previous players of Mario games will agree that difficulty is something that we have grown with during the evolution of Mario from 2D to 3D. I still find some of the original Mario games a struggle to play and Mario often slips off platforms plummeting to his death when I miss a jump.
Super Mario Odyssey introduces an Assist Mode which will help younger gamers, new gamers or those that want a more accessible game to play. Assist Mode provides additional hearts to give you more chances against getting injured.
There is an ability to quickly resume play if you fall into something dangerous and making Mario stand still will restore your health gradually. But the assist that I liked the most was the helpful blue arrows which give hints on which way to go.
Given that the game is open world and the environment are vast in size, the guide arrows won’t direct you to find all the hidden items, they will direct you to towards your main goal which is the pursuit of Bowser and the kidnapped princess Peach.
I really liked how Nintendo have made Super Mario Odyssey more accessible and inclusive to all gamers, no matter what age or ability you can enjoy the experience.
Presentation and Graphics
Graphically Super Mario Odyssey looks gorgeous, the vast open-world levels are highly detailed and packed with iconic Mario obstacles along with themed layouts. Camera control is given to the player to allow Mario to be viewed from many different angles whilst playing.
Whilst running through the huge outdoor worlds the Nintendo Switch displays the detail and vastness very well. There are no frame rate or popup issues present that sometimes plague open world games. Graphically Super Mario Odyssey is a game that wants you to stop, pan the camera and enjoy what you are seeing.
Many times i felt the urge to stop and take in the world like a virtual tourist. As a tourist you have access to an in game camera system to create photos of what you literally see. I really enjoyed this feature of the game and it encouraged me to examine the detailed graphical environment (more detail on this feature later).
It’s all Sunshine In Mario Land
Super Mario Odyssey plays both in TV mode and undocked handheld equally well. The detailed world environment looks gorgeous in TV mode and this game shines on the big screen. I played Super Mario Odyssey in undocked mode with the Nintendo Switch stood on the table.
Using the smaller format screen it still looked equally good, it would appear theres a slightly lower screen resolution present to ensure that the game runs optimally undocked but it doesn’t affect the game. Frame rate in both modes is stable and even in the lavishly detailed play areas that include many moving objects, collectables and other characters I didn’t notice any slowdown of gameplay.
Nintendo have done really good job of optimising Super Mario Odyssey to run in both TV docked and Handheld undocked play modes.
Everything about Super Mario Odyssey looks like is a tribute to Mario games of the last 35 years. The in menus, the title screens and helpful guides to actions have a distinct familiarity to anyone that’s played a Mario game before.
I really liked the action guide which shows a video demonstration of each move that Mario is capable of doing along with the associated buttons for each controller. There’s really helpful bonus menu showing travel tips with some really important hints on how Amiibo’s function in the game.
One of the features I really liked was the Map mode which shows a flip open leaflet style guide including a map and detailed information about each of the kingdoms. It’s almost like you are given a tourist brochure for each of the kingdoms with fun facts and sights to see.
In one of the kingdoms there’s a cute picture of Goomba’s in some woodland. The brochure describes this as “slightly scary woods” and warns that it is “a bit more dangerous than it looks. A bit”. Then suggests “why not treat yourself to a walk?” Its these charming small details that add to the whole experience, at a glance they may seem superfluous but I recommend you take the time to read it!
The main mode of gameplay is the story mode, which features the usual Mario needs to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. It’s a format that anyone who has played a Mario game will be familiar with.
Like most Mario games there is a platform gaming theme present in the open world environment. But if you don’t want to go jumping on platforms you can be like Captain Toad and seek out the hidden areas and items. There no timer urging you to rush towards the level goal, you can spend as much time on each level as you wish.
What I really like about open world/sandbox games is that whilst you have a goal to achieve there may be many different ways to achieve that goal. In Super Mario World you can literally ‘Choose your own adventure’ and you are at liberty to try out different approaches.
For example, instead of leaping and spinning towards the entrance of large fortress I chose to climb up a water feature only to be rewarded access to a different area. Whilst exploring this area I found more collectable moons and world currency which I most likely would have missed if I have followed the obvious route.
I would be more correct if I said that Super Mario Odyssey wants you to spend time exploring its lavish worlds, it’s not a mandatory activity but one that will enrich your gaming experience greatly. At the end of each area you get a typical boss fight.
For me the boss fights were one of the best parts in the game. I won’t spoil any of the boss fights by talking any further about them. You will be in for a real Mario treat!
No Super Mario Bro’s this time…
Multiplayer in Super Mario Odyssey is present in the story mode, unlike many of the previous Mario games a second player usually controls Mario’s brother Luigi as part of the Super Mario Bro’s team up.
However, Player two gets to share control of the loveable Cappy sidekick to assist player one who controls Mario. Sharing is key here as clever use of Cappy will enable Mario to reach new heights. Mario can also control Cappy and there’s no doubt that player two can make its really annoying for Mario if they don’t cooperate.
Whilst this mode isn’t really a true two player mode, it’s more a support mode. It is fun and it allows the game to be a shared experience with two players. There’s no split screen functionality and Cappy has to go where Mario wants to go.
The cooperative nature of this two player relationship reminded me of playing “SnipperClips”, it’s not essential to the game, but at the same time it adds more fun. expect some arguments and laughs when playing this mode.
Snapbacks bring your Cappy-back..
One of the parts of Super Mario Odyssey that I really like is the role that Mario’s sidekick Cappy brings to the game. Cappy is more than a comic side kick, he has some really unique ability that allow you to change your game play.
Fans of the 2D retro Mario experience will probably at this point tell me to shush as 35 years of jumping and bouncing doesn’t need any changes. Yes, to a certain degree since 1981 gamers have been boinging there way along platforms and jumping on the heads of Goomba’s.
But what would you say if I told you that you don’t have to play like this anymore? The choice is yours, you can ask to know more or ‘carry on boinging’ your way up the platforms inevitably towards a certain big ape.
I will focus on my two favorite ways of using Cappy, yes there are more that I’m sure you will find, I leave you to do that in your own time.
One small step for Mario, one giant with leap with Cappy…
Firstly, we have the ‘Cappy jump’, all Mario players will know of the Mario triple jump. Its three well timed jumps completing with a somersault to extra height as a finale. This jump has always provided Mario with an extra boost to gain more height and reach that slightly out of reach platform.
In Super Mario Odyssey you can hurl Cappy away from Mario and leap onto him, for a short amount of time Mario is able to continue his jump a bit further. This mechanic is initially a fiddly one to learn, but with some practice you will soon master it.
Using the ‘Cappy Jump’ as i have now officially named it! Will allow access to areas that you couldn’t previously reach even with the triple jump. On occasions I was successfully able to chain the ‘Cappy Jumps’ together to continue my journey over the abyss and upwards towards a distant platform.
This mechanic will really suit gamers who want explore areas that are normally out of reach. It will undoubtedly find its way into the move-set of speed runners too as it allows different ways of getting quickly through an area. Whilst this is difficult to master i really like how this opens up Mario world to the gamer.
“Hobbes: Want to see my transmogrifier?”
The second way of using Cappy is the one that you will have most likely already used if you’ve played a pre-release demo or have seen in an advert for the game. After throwing Cappy at your target object it will now be sporting a red cap and Mario moustache, no doubt it is an almost literal possession by Mario.
There was some initial debate on the internet about the metaphysical definition of transferring Mario’s essence and the very soul of his actual being into objects. But putting aside this debate (which I’m sure will continue on the internet) Nintendo have been very quick to define the use of Cappy to gain control of a different object as “Capturing”.
By the Twitter Statement; “Um, actually he’s been “Captured” by Mario.” Or as I prefer to say “Cappy-turing” as it’s much more hip and happening! The actions of objects that Mario is able to Cappy-ture in Super Mario Odyssey is only restricted by the imagination of the player and what they use them for.
I don’t want to give away too much of the excitement by telling you about what you can Cappy-ture so I will only focus on the mechanic. By Cappy-turing an adversary of Mario’s you can gain some of their abilities or on the flip side of the coin, Mario gets to find out what it’s like to be one of them. I believe that the main purpose of the Cappy-ture is to promote non-linear gameplay behaviour. Ponder on that thought for a moment and when you get to try it in game revisit it. You will understand.
Good and Evil
Like Homer’s Greek Odyssey, Super Mario Odyssey is full of adventure with a struggle between good and evil and a hard one triumph. But how long does it take to play.
Well according to Nintendo there’s 30 hours of game time. I didn’t take the most direct route and I did spend a lot of time exploring and enjoying the sandbox/open world elements of the game. Depending on how you play you may take longer or less only you will know!
But like all Mario games there’s always the proverbial message “Sorry, but our Princess is in another castle”. In Super Mario Odyssey Mario is always chasing after Princess Peach and Bowser right up to the end of the campaign. What happens after the campaign I won’t spoil in this review, but I will say one thing, there’s a lot more to do after you finish the main story campaign.
Putting that aside there are many mini-games that you can play during the story. Some of the more memorable ones I enjoyed are the jump rope game, the foot sprint races and the radio control car racing. These are just a few, there’s lots more of which some will be a hit and some will be a miss depending what you enjoy.
Additional Features: Get Snappy…
Camera mode is a very nice additional feature to Super Mario Odyssey. In almost every part of the game you can pause and access the camera snapshot mode. The camera has most of the hallmark controls and features of a Digital SLR Camera.
You can zoom, pan, rotate around Mario to capture the angle you want. There are a range of filters available that include blurs, sharpen, texture and some really nice Nintendo effects that include some of the Iconic retro consoles.
Being a photographer it would be fair to say that I spent a lot of time using the camera mode. The tools that are provided allow creation and capture of limitless photo content. Combined with the rich graphical environment the camera wants you to take photos.
Once processed you can apply logos to your photos and save them to your storage card. The Nintendo Switch uses the standard functionality to allow photo sharing across social media and export to your home computer.
Plastic army men…
Amiibo Support is present in the Super Mario Odyssey. Using you current collection of Mario themed Amiibo’s will allow you to gain hints on where some of the elusively hidden moons are with an X marks the spot appearing on your map.
The new Super Mario Odyssey Wedding themed Amiibo’s have slightly different in game functionality. Which I’m not going to spoil for readers of this review. But you will enjoy using them!
Should I play this?
Super Mario Odyssey is something special, a remarkable game that oozes both classic gameplay and modern execution and features.
It’s pure enjoyment and fun from the moment you pick it up and turn off your Nintendo Switch. Its Mario’s first solo game on the Nintendo Switch and it’s one that may go down as the best Mario of all time in some gamers eyes.
It manages to bring something new to the platformer genre and at the same time plays homage to the 35 years of Mario that gamers of all ages undoubtedly will remember. For me it was truly special experience playing Super Mario Odyssey, one that felt akin to seeing an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years, sitting down, talking about the good old times and sharing new adventures.
Gamers who should…
If you like Mario games then Super Mario Odyssey is something that you will already be considering buying. If you have played Mario games in the past and are tempted to leap back in with this latest adventure you wont be disappointed.
There’s something for everyone in this game. I have waited 5 years for this game to arrive and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Gamers who probably shouldn’t…
If you dislike platform games, with the need to obsessively collect and gather as you progress through the game. Then you might want to avoid.
But seriously I can’t imagine that there’s much in this game that will turn away most gamers. It’s not about hyper realism. Mario is all about pure enjoyable fun and escapism.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Amazing gameplay||Some Mini-games could be better||None during review|
|Rewarding boss fights|
|Gorgeous visuals & nostalgia|