Super Mario Odyssey is here
There are few moments in gaming as big as the release of a new 3D Mario game. From Super Mario 64, to Super Mario Sunshine, to Super Mario Galaxy, this is what gaming is all about. Fantastical worlds to explore, inventive gameplay, new and returning characters we simply adore—that’s Super Mario. And Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch is arguably Mario’s greatest adventure yet.
That’s no exaggeration either, Super Mario Odyssey has earned its place among Nintendo’s finest gaming achievements ever. It presents a world, or worlds rather, that you’ll want to get lost in for countless hours. Every nook and cranny—big or small—holds wondrous secrets begging for you to discover. And the rewards for doing so will make any Mario fan smile.
There’s no point in holding back in this review: Super Mario Odyssey is my favourite game of 2017 thus far. Ironically enough it ousted The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild from that spot, another Nintendo-developed video game. What a year it’s been for Nintendo, and what a year it’s been for Nintendo Switch.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Let’s go on an Odyssey
Super Mario games have never really focused on story, and that much hasn’t changed here. Princess Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser, and Mario naturally comes to the rescue. Things don’t go so well for our moustached hero though and he gets flung high off Bowser’s airship.
After falling to the ground, a cute ghost named Cappy introduces himself and says Bowser also nabbed his sister, Tiara. The two then decide to team-up and put a stop to Bowser’s wedding plans.
A-capturing we will go!
It’s a simple set-up that introduces Cappy, a character who winds up having an enormous impact on the gameplay. You see, he has the ability to “capture” creatures both large and small, letting Mario control them. It fundamentally changes how you approach obstacles and challenges in fun, surprising ways.
In all, there are 52 different captures ranging from the familiar, like Goombas, to the awe-inspiring, such as a T-Rex. Each one bestows specific powers to Mario and can be used to combat enemies, solve puzzles, or help with platforming. But beyond that, these captures take us into a pure dream-like state where few boundaries exists. See an inaccessible pillar far off in the distance? Capture a Bullet Bill and fly your way towards it. Spot an underwater cavern with no available oxygen? Capture a Cheep Cheep and swim there as a fish.
For the first time ever you can experience life as some of Mario’s most iconic enemies and characters. Virtually every baddie suddenly has become Mario’s greatest asset. It’s invigorating, novel, and just plain fun. The best is when you start discovering the tips and tricks that go along with each new capture. For example, as a Goomba by jumping on other Goombas you’ll form an ever-increasing Goomba Tower. As a Lava Bubble you’ll be able to hop on molten surfaces far too hot for Mario. Learning the ins and outs of each new capture helps keep the gameplay exceedingly fresh, even after dozens of hours.
Before getting into the game’s actual costumes, I need to explain how much I adore Mario’s captured forms. For most captures, it adds Mario’s iconic red cap with the “M” symbol and his utterly stylish moustache. Seeing a Chain Chomp with wearing Mario’s hat and moustache is always funny, no matter if you’ve captured it umpteen times. Likewise, the bespectacled Lakitu looks ten times nerdier when donning a moustache and cap. Mario characters are usually fun to look at, but here they’re virtually irresistible to take your eyes off of.
In addition to all of this, you’ve got dozens of costumes to purchase using either standards Coins or Regional Coins. These come in two different forms—hats or outfits—and you can mix and match as you please. Many costumes pay homage to earlier Mario titles, such as the Doctor outfit being a clear reference to Dr. Mario. The remainder let you dress Mario in creative new ways, with particular highlights being the Pirate and Tuxedo suits.
Hidden in 17 different Kingdoms you’ll venture to are hundreds of Power Moons waiting for you to find and collect. A few you’ll get naturally as you play, such as after defeating bosses, but most are tucked away. Each one is a mini challenge encouraging you to leave no stone unturned as you search the Kingdoms.
What I love best about Power Moons is how they reward your creativity. If you see a seemingly inaccessible high ledge, spending a few minutes trying to reach it often yields a Moon. The same goes for areas below your feet. You might walk around a deceptively hidden corner only to find a Warp Pipe leading to a Moon underground. After a while you’ll want to explore everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Climbing trees, kicking stones, chasing animals—you name it, there’s probably a Moon you’ll find doing it.
Even when your rummaging doesn’t net you a Moon, you’ll likely find Coins or other goodies to make the effort worthwhile. This is a game that loves to reward your curiosity and turns every moment into a fascinating treasure hunt.
A celebration of Mario
Super Mario Odyssey was clearly designed as a love letter to long-time fans. There are references to past Mario games everywhere and it’s a delight to see so many in one game. The most obvious example is the recurring 2D segments reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. for NES. What’s so extraordinary is Nintendo actually made 2D sprites of Mario in each costume, a truly over-the-top nice touch.
There are so many more moments of nostalgia is hard to know where to begin. Whether it’s pulling up Turnips à la Super Mario Bros. 2 or jumping into Super Mario 64-esque picture frames, reverential nods are everywhere. My favourite one though is the reappearance of Pauline—Mario’s first love—who makes a tremendous splash in the overall adventure.
Super Mario Odyssey contains numerous boss fights that dazzle you with colours and eye-popping animations. Your biggest threat are The Broodals, a group of six rabbit-like creatures that are helping Bowser plan for his wedding. Props go to Nintendo’s naming team for their use of double meanings, as a brood is a group of animals while “Broodals” sounds awfully similar to “brutals.” The same goes for Cappy who’s a cap that captures. Clearly every name was given meticulous thought.
The good news is The Broodals, and most other bosses, are fairly easy to beat. Veteran players will likely breeze through the game with little issues, and for newcomers there’s an Assist Mode. Toggling on the assist will give Mario more health, and directional arrows will nudge you in the right direction.
Many more bosses await you over the adventure, from a massive dragon, to a laser-firing UFO, to familiar Mario baddies. Each one is filled with extraordinary detail and animated so well you’ll feel like you’ve warped inside a Pixar film. This high level of detail extends to the whole game, which overall might be Nintendo’s most beautiful game yet. My only complaint, and it’s relatively minor, is the slight repetition in boss fights in the latter-half of the game.
Before ending off this review I must point out the incredible amiibo that released alongside Super Mario Odyssey. There are three available, Mario, Peach, and Bowser, who are all sporting their brand new white wedding outfits. I love the designs, and seeing them wear these suits in-game is such a feast for the eyes. Here are the link to the 3-pack bundle and individual figures:
- Super Mario Odyssey Mario / Peach / Bowser Wedding Outfit amiibo
- Super Mario Odyssey Mario Wedding Outfit amiibo
- Super Mario Odyssey Bowser Wedding Outfit amiibo
- Super Mario Odyssey Peach Wedding Outfit amiibo
As well, Super Mario Odyssey is compatible with all existing amiibo. I tapped my Luigi amiibo and it unlocked his outfit in-game, a very pleasant surprise. Other amiibos can unlock costumes too, and the rest will offer help in-game such as making you temporarily invincible. Try out your favourite amiibo to see what they do!
Games like Super Mario Odyssey are the reason why I play video games. It’s a game that will delight veteran Super Mario fans, as well as inspire a whole new generation of gamers. Super Mario Odyssey is far beyond outstanding, it’s pure magic, the caliber of which only Nintendo is capable of. Game of the year? Most certainly. Best Super Mario game of all time? It’s definitely in the conversation. This is a game that will make you happy, make you smile, and make you fall in love with Mario all over again.
+ Utterly fantastic world designs
+ Teaming with secrets
+ Capturing is immensely fun
+ Bright, colourful, and cheery
+ Rewarding beyond your imagination
+ Replay value is off the charts
+ Cappy is just the best
– Some boss repetition
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5