Overall - 90%
If you're a Switch owner, you probably already have Super Mario Odyssey. If you do not, and you even remotely enjoy platformers or Mario, I don't know what you are waiting for - pick up this game.
With the recent resurgence of 3D platformers, Super Mario Odyssey has arrived to reclaim the crown. Is the trip to the Mushroom Kingdom worth it, or are you better off sticking to Hyrule with your Switch? Check out our review and find out.
Super Mario Odyssey Review
The story of Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a new one. Mario and Bowser are fighting, because Peach has been kidnapped yet again and Bowser has beaten Mario. It’s now up to Mario to fight Bowser through various worlds to prevent him from marrying Peach. During the fight, Mario’s hat is destroyed, and a hat spirit named Cappy introduces himself. He restores Mario’s hat and joins him on the adventure, because Bowser has also taken his sister captive and he needs to get her back. The story is actually pretty short, clocking in around 10 hours. That said, there is a ton of stuff to do outside the main story that can easily keep you occupied for up to 50 hours.
Cappy isn’t just a stylish hat though; he is also very helpful. Tossing Cappy at certain objects and creatures in the game will let you take them over. Taking something over replaces most of the power-ups you would typically find in a Mario game such as fireballs or a cape. You do lose a bit of the nostalgia factor with this, but it does increase the number of power-ups you get by a considerable amount. If you don’t feel like taking something over, you can still jump on its head to end its life. Still, it’s fun to just chill as a Cheep or a Lakitu every now and then.
Cappy is needed for some of the platforming elements in Odyssey as well. You can toss him out and use him to get a second jump by landing on the hat. If you are really good, you can toss the hat, jump off it, toss it again and jump off it again. Using motion controls with Cappy, you can hit enemies and do a 360 spin attack. Having to use motion controls for these attacks doesn’t matter much in TV mode, but in handheld mode it feels off. You basically have to shake your whole Switch in various directions for certain abilities to work with Cappy. This might have just been an issue with me, but I definitely prefer TV mode because of it.
To catch up with Bowser, you need to collect Moons from the various Kingdoms you visit. Mario Odyssey has way too many Moons for its own good. For those who have played Breath of the Wild, they are basically the Korok seeds of the game. There are times when you just turn a corner and get a Moon for doing nothing. Other times you just ground pound a glowing spot on the ground and get another Moon. Getting Moons easily happens much too often, and I feel like a less is more approach could have been used here. I’m not saying there aren’t challenging moons, because there are. There are some well-designed courses and events that provide the challenge of an old-school Mario. Sadly though, there just aren’t enough of these moments.
The real challenge comes in finding the level coins, which you can use to unlock costumes and decorations for your ship. Each level has its own set of coins to find and they some of them are hidden very well. Normally you can find enough to get the costume for a level pretty quickly, but collecting all in a Kingdom is a nightmare. You have to search in every nook and cranny, and even then you will probably end up doubling back a couple of times. This search felt like Mario to me; a solid challenge of platforming and exploration that a lot of the Moons just didn’t have. In addition, you cannot use amiibo to help you find level coins the same way you can Moons.
Speaking of the exploration and platforming, the Kingdom design in Super Mario Odyssey is really well done. Most of them are small to medium-sized, with various levels to them. That is one positive thing I will say about Moons – even when you think a path is a dead end, you are normally rewarded with a Moon. It all comes together in an almost perfect way, and getting lost was never an issue for me. I’m a big fan of pacing, and it felt like the Kingdom were paced in a great way. Each time I got to a new Kingdom I was excited to be there. Considering you change Kingdoms often, this is a testament to Nintendo’s level design, as it is truly one of the best in the business.
I did run into a few issues with the camera. Sometimes the game will auto-correct it for you, and other times it wouldn’t. Having full control over the camera is wonderful for all those crazy jumps you are trying to attempt. However, when you are moving quickly, it would have been better to have it stick behind Mario to make the jumping easier on the player. Again, this could 100% just be a me thing, but it did irk me to the point of losing progress.
If you’re a Switch owner, you probably already have Super Mario Odyssey. If you do not, and you even remotely enjoy platformers or Mario, I don’t know what you are waiting for – pick up this game.