Nintendo has completely outdone themselves with Super Mario Odyssey. I cannot think of another game in the last decade that left a permanent grin on my face, let alone cry, laugh, and applaud as the credits rolled. Not only did Nintendo reinvent the platformer gameplay, they brought a fun and rewarding story with a cast of loveable characters that left me in total awe.
Super Mario Odyssey follows Mario on another adventure in his attempt to save Princess Peach from a forced marriage with Bowser. But this time, Mario is joined by a new sidekick, Cappy, who wants to save his sister Tiara from the clutches of Bowser. The duo travel from kingdom to kingdom collecting power moons, which act as fuel for their ship, the Odyssey, to catch up with Bowser to save the Princess and Tiara. The story may not be original, but what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for with charm and wonder. Super Mario Odyssey is an absolute treat to journey through.
Super Mario Odyssey’s biggest twist is Cappy himself. Cappy gives Mario the power to possess enemies. Yup. Mario can take over iconic enemies from the series such as Lakitu, Goomba, Bullet Bill, and Hammer Bros. Mario uses these possessed enemies to overcome obstacles, traverse the expansive worlds, or just have a good time. Not only does Cappy possess enemies, he can act as a weapon or a jumping pad for Mario. Most of the smile-inducing possessions are better left for the player to discover, but my personal favorite is the Pokio, a cute little bird that stabs things with his beak.
Super Mario Odyssey feels like a direct follow-up to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. The controls are perfectly suited for the open world environments. Nintendo encourages players to use the motion controls and for once, I agree. Normally, motion controls in games are poorly implemented or feel awkward, but the motion controls in Super Mario Odyssey feel natural. Flicking the Joy Cons up will cause Mario to toss Cappy into the air. Flick them down and Cappy will be tossed towards the ground. Flick them to the side and Mario will toss Cappy in a circle around him. While the controls are solid, the camera still leaves a little to be desired. There were a few instances where the camera struggled to keep up, but it happened so little that it’s mostly a moot point. While on the subject of controls and suggestions, I do suggest leaving your switch on the TV while you play. Super Mario Odyssey doesn’t tank while you play in handheld mode, but the smaller screen doesn’t do justice to the polish that Nintendo has added to the game.
Mario titles have never been known for their difficulty and Super Mario Odyssey follows suit. When the player dies, they don’t lose a life. Instead, they just lose ten coins. The true difficulty lies in the exploration of each world. As the player starts their journey, the kingdoms start out relatively small and easy to navigate. However, the kingdoms become expansive as the player journeys forwards. Most of the moons aren’t too hidden and if the player searches the map they’ll find more than enough Power Moons to continue.
Seeing that the Switch is a relatively new system, Super Mario Odyssey is going to attract new players to the Mario series and Nintendo thought of a way to help ease new players, or younger siblings, into Mario with their assist mode. Assist mode places an arrow on the ground for players to follow to make it through the story mode. I personally never used it, but I can see this as an excellent bonding method between parents and kids or siblings.
Out of all the kingdoms in Super Mario Odyssey, the Metro Kingdom, an urban-themed kingdom, is my personal favorite. The Metro Kingdom is the home of New Donk City where Pauline is mayor and is also home to my favorite scene in the entire game, the New Donk City Festival. The cityscape is a nice change to the Mario series, but it also encourages players to think outside the box when it comes to platforming up skyscrapers. The New Donk City Festival becomes a celebration of Mario throughout history. It becomes a love letter to fans. This is the climax of when Super Mario Odyssey truly connects to the player.
And if you’re like myself and the story leaves you wanting more, don’t worry. Odyssey has an answer. On my first campaign playthrough, I collected roughly 230 moons, meaning I only gathered little over a quarter of the total of moons available in the game. After the story, I planned on going through and collecting every moon and calling it a job done, but I wasn’t ready just for the number of extras that Nintendo added after the story. A myriad of new moons appear in each kingdom, and the new costumes are a nod to other Mario characters or other franchises that Mario has been a part of.
What more is there to say other than Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece. It offers something for the hardcore Nintendo fans, to those just cutting their teeth on Mario. Odyssey is an absolute blast to play, the music is captivating and gets caught in your head, the visuals are mesmerizing and pop with color, and the story is charming and is decently funny. Super Mario Odyssey has taken me by storm and has quickly cemented itself as my favorite game of this year. This isn’t something you should sleep on. I cannot recommend it enough. Super Mario Odyssey had me laughing, smiling, and in tears by the end and it feels like a gigantic leap forward for Nintendo and a massive love letter to Mario fans. So please, go play Super Mario Odyssey and start your journey.
Super Mario Odyssey is now available on Nintendo Switch. This review is based on a copy purchased by the writer for the review.