Super Mario Odyssey Review

Mario games are almost as old as consoles themselves and every new entry in the series is met with a great deal of triumphalism and anticipation. Almost every main entry receives nigh-on perfect scores when review embargoes lift and it’s only in the fullness of time that a true opinion forms.

Super Mario Sunshine is a perfect example. The Gamecube game sits at 92/100 on long-standing game aggregate site Metacritic, but is routinely panned in a number of media circles for being a weak Mario game with a number of issues.

So, as Super Mario Odyssey sits at 98/100 on the more modern Open Critic, will Odyssey stand the test of time like Galaxy? Or be ridiculed in the future like Sunshine?

So far, we’ve played Odyssey extensively and have loved every minute of it. The change this time compared to Mario’s previous adventures is in the way Nintendo has altered the layout of the levels and also the addition of Mario’s companion for this adventure, Cappy.

Your hat friend takes the place of Mario’s usual head garment and can be swung in more than a few ways. Most intriguingly, it can be used to force Mario into the body of other enemies and objects in order to take over them, allowing you to use different actions and reach new areas that Mario on his own wouldn’t be able to get to.

This time around you’re after Power Moons, which fuel Mario and Cappy’s ship the Odyssey. Once again you’re chasing Bowser except this time it’s around the world in an attempt to (yet again) free Princess Peach. The only difference is that this time Bowser is trying to marry her, so you need to catch him and save the day.

In every Kingdom you visit, Mario will find Moons in a variety of places. Some will need a simple Ground Pound to uncover, others will require you to beat Koopas in a free-running race, some will require more intricate platforming and there’s also the odd boss fight to take care of. That doesn’t quite cover it all though. The variety of missions and challenges that you’ll face when collecting Moons will differ considerably. From the super easy, to the most difficult of jumps; the way you play through Odyssey will differ depending on how you want to play it.

You can spend ages in the first main world and collect as many Moons on offer by exploring the breadth of the world or you can acquire just a few Moons and move on. However you want to move forward, the game doesn’t penalise you for it. You can make it to the final boss with a modest 100 plus Moons or get to the end with a more substantial amount.

The worlds you’ll visit don’t just differ by aesthetics but also size. Some you visit will be large open worlds that you can scale horizontally as well as vertically, while others will be more linear and controlled. Despite the size differences, each offers plenty of opportunities to use yours and Cappy’s abilities and Odyssey features some really great uses of taking over other characters.

In the Sand Kingdom you’ll need to take over a creature that lets you see hidden paths in order to cross poisonous lakes, in New Donk City you’ll use scooters to drive away from an oncoming monster and the Snow Kingdom lets you take over a unique creature who races in a special kind of way – we won’t spoil it here, but needless to say that it’s a fun change from the usual run, jump and collect. The best thing, is that this is just a small selection of the tens (maybe hundreds?) of creatures you can cap-ture and take advantage of in order to get new gameplay mechanics.

Completing Odyssey’s story is just part of the overall picture though. There are over 900 Moons to collect in the game as well as additional levels to unlock after the end credits roll. So while the game can be beaten in a traditional sense, those who want to carry on for hours more will find plenty to get their teeth stuck into.

One thing that resonated with me whilst playing is how there was always something to do or places to go to. Exploration is the game’s biggest plus and how, no matter where you go, you’re always rewarded. Whether it be a special 2D section or a hidden puzzle, that once completed, provides you with a Moon. Odyssey rewards explorers and those with a nose for discovery and at almost every turn, it does so with a smile.

One thing about Odyssey that may be a worry for some is that it isn’t overly difficult. You can easily get through most of the levels and to the end boss without dying too many times. This is in part due to the game’s health system which allows for 3 hits before you find yourself restarting again. You can even add 3 additional hit points to your health meter by finding a certain Heart icon. Lives have also been removed in a series first and instead replaced by a cost of 10 coins each time you restart. However, you’ll never run out of coins as they’re plentiful and can be spent to give Mario new costumes.

Each world you visit will also have its own special currency, which is limited and can only be spent in the world you find them in. This will also unlock different items of clothes, stickers and statues which will be placed within your ship.

I could go on all day about the small touches that Odyssey presents to the player and the special moments it’s able to conjure up but, honestly, it would spoil a truly magical game. Odyssey is best to be explored on your own. Don’t search for spoilers, even early-game ones and don’t use a guide. Just discover. Super Mario Odyssey is best played when you know as little as possible. You’ll be surprised when you throw your hat onto objects you wouldn’t think you could capture and control in your wildest dreams. So, buy Odyssey, play Odyssey and enjoy Odyssey.

Super Mario Odyssey Review Conclusion

Super Mario Odyssey is a love letter to Mario’s past and offers a reward for exploration at every turn. It might be a long time until something this good comes around again.

5/5

We tested Super Mario Odyssey after receiving a review code from Nintendo. Super Mario Odyssey is out on now for Nintendo Switch.

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