Super Mario Odyssey Review

Game Title: Super Mario Odyssey
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.5-3.5 hours
Download: 
5.3 GB

The Nintendo community is having a party right now, with Mario’s newest adventure and first official Mainline adventure debuting on the Nintendo Switch. Fans of Mario 64, Sunshine, and the franchise in general are raving about how amazing the new game is, as if it were the new Game of the Year-level game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

I, too, was looking forward to the game. With 64 being my personal favorite game of the franchise, a new sandbox Mario was something I was looking forward to. And after clearing the story and doing some post game content, I am ready to talk about it.

So, here we go. This is my review of Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

The game starts out with Bowser in the process of kidnapping Princess Peach with the goal of marrying her and Mario trying to stop him. After Mario is easily pummeled and his iconic cap torn to shreds, he falls into the Cap Kingdom. Having lost an ally of his own to Bowser, a magical cap known as Cappy teams up with Mario to track down Bowser and rescue the two captive Princesses.

The story is pretty standard for Mario. Peach gets kidnapped, Mario goes off to rescue her. The main difference being Cappy and the Wedding aspect the game sets up. It is an interesting enough premise to tell you why you are going on an adventure.

Gameplay

Like Mario 64 and Sunshine before it, Super Mario Odyssey is a 3D Sandbox-style platforming game. Just to be clear, Odyssey is not an “open world”game like Zelda:Breath of the Wild. The sandbox environments do have free roam but they are all still separate, unlike games like Zelda and Skyrim. Imagine it more like Mario 64 but with slightly-bigger worlds.

Although a lot of the game feels very similar to 64 and Sunshine, Odyssey’s biggest feature to pull you in is Cappy and the 2D sections.. You use Cappy to get around, from attaching him to objects to reveal hidden paths to getting hints from him to where the next objective is.

The bigger feature here is Capture. In previous Mario games, you fight off and kill enemies. In Odyssey, you can use Cappy to possess and play as most of the enemies. If you need to fly across a wide gap, possess the nearby Bullet Bill and rocket your way across, or take over a T-Rex and rampage your way through enemies and environments alike. This feature is heavily used in both normal areas and boss fights.

The 2D sections are also something to talk about. In many areas, you will have pixel pipes to teleport through and will see 2D areas with the same graphical style as the original Mario games, allowing you to traverse 3D walls and objects as 2D Mario. This isn’t that unlike the Wall Sections from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

Aside from that, we have a similar situation to what we had in Super Mario 64. Every world has story-based and optional Power Moons to collect, which are used to power your ship and access later worlds. Every time you start a new Kingdom, you get a Moon count that you need to meet before the next Kingdom unlocks. So, across fighting boss fights, helping the locals, or just finding Moons hanging around, your task is to increase that Moon count so you can go to the next kingdom.

The game has a lot of Moons to collect, but that also showcases the biggest flaw for anyone but very casual gamers: The game is, by far, the easiest Mario game I have ever played. As you play through the game, you will rarely find sections that give more than slight challenge, and the Moons are displayed in so many obvious and random areas that you will be mass-collecting moons even before you get to each Kingdom’s Story Boss. Quick progress is a nice feeling, but it almost feels like you are just being handed Moons over and over, unlike previous sandbox games where each Power Star had a certain challenge and puzzle-like nature behind them. In this game, they’re just randomly hanging around on the main path.

Now, this also leads to our Length question. Asking fans around will tell you the game lasts 20 hours for story, while others will say the game has 60+ hours to it. These time segments are based on an extreme amount of side options and exploration. If you want to mostly just do the story, you should be able to complete the story in about 8 hours, while doing a few side quests here and there.

Although if want more than just story, a lot of content opens up once you complete the story. You get a post-game Kingdom that Mario 64 fans will fall in love with, and the obtainable Moon count easily doubles. To give you an idea, you can obtain over 900 Power Moons in the game, in order to unlock the 2 final Kingdoms, a large number of costumes, and the alternate ending. Doing all of that is where those 60 hour claims are coming from.

Controls

Controlling the game is where a lot of the controversy comes from within Nintendo fans. Mario Odyssey promotes Joy Con play and the heavy use of the system’s Motion Capabilities. Almost everything you can do with Cappy can be used with the Motion Controls from simple throws to AoE spin attacks. It is worth noting that most of these can be done with button controls, but not all.

Now, the button controls are pretty simple, and everything is explained as situations for them come up. You can move Mario with the Left Analog Stick and access Amiibo functions and the Smash Bros-like Snapshot Mode with the Arrow Buttons. All four triggers are used as well. ZL and ZR are used for crouching while L and R are used for centering the camera behind Mario.

The face buttons are relatively standard. You use B to jump and A to interact with menus. Y is used for Cappy, be it using him to interact with object or for throwing him to possess a nearby enemy.

Presentation

As far as graphics are concerned, Mario Odyssey looks very polished and smooth in handheld and console modes. There is a ton of detail in everything, from eye movements to shadows and water effects. It really is a great handheld game, technically.

Performance is superb as well. Short loading sequences and perfect 60 fps gameplay in both console and handheld mode really make this an experience as smooth as butter.

Battery Life

One concern I had was about how the Battery Life would be for this huge sandbox, graphical powerhouse of a Nintendo Switch game. Much like I expected, here are my times from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 34 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 38 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 05 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 18 minutes

This is actually very much like the Battery Life of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. So, expect your on-the-go adventures with Mario and Cappy to last about 2-3 hours per charge.

Summary

In conclusion, Super Mario Odyssey is a colorful adventure with lots of collectibles and nostalgia for fans of Mario 64 and Sunshine. Although I feel that the game is a little too easy with Power Moon placement, it is still a very fun platformer that completionists will get dozens of hours out of.

9.5/10

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  • Lester Paredes

    This game is a pure joy to play