Super Mario Odyssey Review
Every Nintendo generation has had an epic Super Mario adventure – 2 on the Wii! – so when Nintendo announces a Mario title, you assume it’s the only one you’ll get in the generation. Super Mario 64 on Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine on GameCube, a pair of Super Mario Galaxy titles on Wii, Super Mario 3D World on Wii U, and now the pinnacle of them all: Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch. Odyssey spans the history of the whole series, from the 80s to today. And it is so good!
Celebration of Mario
Mario Odyssey is a celebration of all things Mario, from the 2D side scrolling of the original Mario Bros. to jumping into paintings ala Super Mario 64, and the cat suite wall graffiti, a subtle nod to Super Mario 3D World. Everywhere you turn in Super Mario Odyssey, you are bound to get smacked with a really good dose of nostalgia, depending on your age and video game playing history.
While lots of the game is pulled from previous titles – including a host of moves like the backflip and long jump that I very much love – Nintendo did do a great job of making this title still feel fresh and new. The Kingdoms themselves are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in a Mario game, both in their aesthetics and the way they brilliantly work into the new game mechanics. Speaking of which…
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Think Like Your Enemies, Literally
Mario has had a number of companions over the years. Of course, we can never forget one of his first companions, Yoshi, but since then Mario has been accompanied by Luma (Super Mario Galaxy), F.L.U.D.D. (Super Mario Sunshine), and now the very stern – and frankly not very loveable – Cappy. While Mario is working to save Peach from a forced wedding from Bowser – original, we know! – Cappy is also attempting to save something Bowser has stolen: his sister Tiara.
As your companion, Cappy gives Mario the opportunity to take over enemies and take on all their characteristics and abilities. This is where the brilliant level design works into the games new companions. See a Power Moon you aren’t sure how to reach, there is a really good chance taking over an enemy will help you get it. Enemy abilities vary, from the basic Goomba which can stack with friends to create a tall tower, to the frying pan throwing Koopas, and to newer enemies not yet seen in the Mario series.
Each has an ability that will aid Mario in his Power Moon hunting adventures, and while their uses are not always 100 evident, exploring each and every world will eventually lead you to obvious conclusions.
Easy to Beat, Hard to Complete
Getting through Super Mario Odyssey is likely to only take you a good 6-8 hours. Each world will have you collect a set number of Power Moons to power up the Odyssey – Mario’s ship – and reach the next kingdom. Depending on the size of the kingdom, the number of required moons will vary. What is 100% sure, however, is that the number of Power Moons you are required to collect to advance is only a fraction of the moons available in the world. For example, in the Sand Kingdom, you only need to collect 20 moons, while the world has a total of 69.
Not all the Power Moons are easy to obtain, but when you only need to collect 1/3 from each level to move the story forward, it’s not too difficult to find a the easiest Moons, and skip the rest. The most disappointing aspect of Odyssey for the longtime fans of the franchise is not the few moons required to continue the journey – as you are more than welcome to collect more than the required amount – but rather the lackluster boss fights you will engage in. None of The Broodals are particularly hard to defeat – my longest boss fights only lasting a few minutes – and the other bosses sparingly found around the worlds are also really easy, once you learn their weakness.
Where the Challenge Lies
The reality is Super Mario Odyssey is one of the most accessible Mario titles ever created. Great for kids, great for adults, and great for gamers and non gamers alike. While I did find the main game easy, I still applaud Nintendo for opening up Mario to everyone, regardless of age or skill. If the game was totally easy, and nothing supplied a challenge at all, I’d be scoring Super Mario Odyssey much differently. However, once the game is ‘beat’ the challenge really begins.
Post Game Content
To beat Super Mario Odyssey, players only need around 130 moons – although over 500 can be found prior to beating the game – and most players will likely gather the easiest moons first, leaving the harder moons for later. Once you’ve beat the game, there are over 800 moons to track down, minus the ones you’ve already collected. On top of all those moons – which, based on my experience, will take you hours – there are also the Kingdom specific coins to find, 50 or 100 depending on the size of the kingdom.
If that wasn’t enough, there are also additional worlds to explore, one of which harkens back in a big way to Super Mario 64, and two more, one of which acts like a super long boss fight as you attempt to defeat all of the games bosses, but on a harder difficulty. This is where the true challenge lies; Super Mario fans will find a fair challenge here that will test them to their core. This is a game for all and Nintendo hit every note perfectly.
Customizing characters has become a really important feature for video games in 2017 and Nintendo is getting in on that fun with a variety of great costumes for Mario to wear.
In most cases, these costumes are purely for customization, with tons to choose from – including Mario in his boxers – it adds a little extra fun to the experience, especially if you get Mario posing with weird costumes, which you can snap a photo of in Photo Mode! Other times, however, these costumes will be necessary to access locked rooms spread around the kingdom. Nintendo does a great job here, not requiring you to purchase everything, but giving you incentive to at least pick up a few items and experiment with their idea of character customization.
Like all good Nintendo titles, Super Mario Odyssey also includes amiibo support and a trio of new amiibo for you to add to your collection. While all your older amiibo can be scanned into the game when at specific portals – which have a cool down timer by the way – you can unlock a hint for the world you are exploring. This will come in handy when trying to find that last, elusive moon. I personally highly recommend grabbing the amiibo associated with this game. Not only do they look great – and, how many wedding cakes in 2017 and 2018 will have Mario and Peach atop them in their wedding attire – but you can also unlock costumes with them (Peach’s dress, Bowsers suite complete with shell), but each also give you an additional perk: Peach will give you extra hearts for an upcoming battle and Mario will allow you to be invincible for a short period of time.
When other amiibo are scanned in, they might also unlock a special outfit for Mario to where; this includes Wario, Dr. Mario, and Luigi, among others. Note, that if you don’t have the associated amiibo for these costumes, they can all be purchased in game with in-game coins!
The way Nintendo has balanced the old and the new in Super Mario Odyssey is truly fantastic. Around every corner, subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – nods to the older Mario games can be found, but yet Nintendo has still created enough new and exciting experiences to make Super Mario Odysssey stand on it’s own, regardless of your familiarity with the franchise as a whole. The team behind Super Mario Odyssey has done a great job of mixing linear experiences with open worlds, giving players a reason to explore every inch of every level.
After all, you never know where a Power Moon might be hiding! Have you picked up Super Mario Odyssey already, or plan to do so in the next little while? Be sure to chat with us on social media and enter our contest to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card that you can put towards your own copy of Super Mario Odyssey, a Cappy hat, or even some amiibo!