Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Adam Riley 26.10.2017

Review for Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch

It has been a long time coming, but finally Mario is back in a truly free roaming 3D adventure. After the success of the Super Mario Galaxy series of planet hopping shenanigans, for Super Mario Odyssey on Switch, Nintendo has taken the direction fans adored so much with Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. With the Nintendo 64 and GameCube classics so highly revered, does this new outing match the high expectations that have been building since its initial unveiling, or is this a mere pedestrian affair?

The story element of the Mario series has never exactly been a strong point, and that is not about the change here, as once again Bowser is the big bad, whisking Princess Peach away because he wants her to be his bride. Mario gets to meet a new friend, in the form of Cappy, who can take the form of anything it touches, and decides to ride along on Mario's head, being used as a weapon to despatch enemies, or give Mario access to the powers of certain foes/objects during the journey, in a similar way to the abilities gained in Yoshi's Island or Wario Land or even the Kirby series. Cappy also has, quite handily, a ship named the Odyssey that uses Power Moons as fuel, and thus begins the task of powering up the ship sufficiently enough to scour the world, hunting down the nefarious villainous King Koopa.

Everything actually starts off a little underwhelming, especially for old school fans of Mario's 3D outings, since Mario's running speed feels a touch more laboured than before, and his move set is nothing new, being pretty much the same as before, featuring squat-long-jumps, triple jump/flips, back flips, and so on all present, but nothing much else. Then the massive open worlds can be rather daunting for those that became accustomed to the closed in approach of the Galaxy duo, plus collecting Power Moons does not send Mario back to a central hub to start a stage afresh after each one is found, which is also a shock to the system, with the sense of achievement somewhat absent when finally obtaining a reward. Oh no! Mamma Mia, right? Well, not really…

Screenshot for Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch

Why? Well, because that all changes very quickly as the introduction of Cappy into the mix opens up a whole new slew of moves for Mario, on top of the additions to Mario's regular moves that are revealed. Looking at the regular moves, for instance, the portly plumber can now additionally do things like tucking and rolling to navigate undulating lands quickly, throwing Cappy away and holding the throw button for allowing players to use the strange being as a stepping-stone, or even doing a butt-stomp power jump, giving an extra boost to his feats of leaping prowess after slamming the ground. Then there are the abilities that can be gained by launching Cappy at key enemies or objects (Cheep Cheeps, Koopa Troopas, Chain Chomps…or even stuff like tanks, just to name a selection).

This Cappy-ability inclusion powers the heart of Super Mario Odyssey, with a constant supply of intriguing manoeuvres unlocked throughout the adventure and slotting into the action seamlessly. Want to walk carefully on ice, rather than slipping and sliding all over? Well, that handy Goomba with its stable feet nearby looks like it could be quite useful to take control of. How about needing to shoot across a treacherous expanse? Well, look here! There is a stream of Bullet Bills flying dangerously towards Mario. Why not get Cappy to draw Mario into one of them and fire over to safety? Spotted a Power Moon in a hidey-hole that simply cannot be reached? Hello, Mr. Extendable Caterpillar. Don't mind if I make use of your stretching, twisting and turning capabilities, do you? Thank you very much! The examples just keep stacking up, but the core fact is that it takes the Mario world to a completely new level and feels absolutely sublime, and never forced or shoe-horned into the action.

Screenshot for Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch

Abilities may maketh the hero in this instance, but it does not maketh the game…goodeth…right? For all the creativity of the new moves, it would all be for naught if the areas visited were not too impressive. Thankfully, Nintendo has gone into overdrive when crafting the lands for Mario and Cappy to visit as they travel around in the Moon-powered Odyssey craft, with the duo mostly able to choose where they go, but sometimes being forced down a particular story-driven path. In all instances, the places on offer are a complete joy to work through, packed to the brim with intricate details that will frequently wow gamers - be it the fantasy lands or more realistic ones being visited - and there are so many standard objectives included, as well as a plethora of secrets to discover on top of the main missions.

More often than not, despite using the mini-map to keep an eye on the main challenge at hand (a map that allows for quick travel between checkpoints, it should be noted), trying to make your way in that direction, something else will likely catch the eye. Maybe it will be a mere shiny area that needs a good ol' ground pound, or perhaps a cliff that has a suspicious coin floating just off the edge, enticing Mario closer only to discover a downwards passageway with a mysterious door at the bottom, or maybe even some non-playable character hanging around with an exclamation mark above their head, ready to dish out instructions for how to help them…and get a useful gift in return. Variety is in abundance, and as much as some may feel a wider world for Mario may lead to boredom eventually setting in, Nintendo never allows enough time for that to happen at all.

Disappearing walls, seemingly un-scalable ramps that need Mario to get a speed boost from somewhere, hoops to swing and jump from, areas that can only be accessed or passed by using the power of a specific creature/object - the game keeps players on their toes, on the edge of their seats, waiting with bated breath for what is coming next, and… well, other clichés like that. It is good. Then it is great. After that it is wonderful. Then it even gets right up there in the upper echelons of 3D platform adventuring, proving to be supremely fantastic through and through. Super Mario Odyssey will have you glued to the Nintendo Switch for a very long time indeed.

Screenshot for Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch

Oh, wait… What about boss battles? Visuals? Audio? All of the other bits and bobs usually mentioned in reviews?! Hmm, okay… it looks stunning in both handheld and docked modes, although some 'fade in' can be spotted at times for distant parts of scenery, but not to the detriment of the gameplay in any way. Seeing regular humans in a Mario title is one of those "Whoa" moments, as well, along with spotting Pauline, a regular in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, as Mayor of New Donk City (home to regular folk and American taxis, amongst other things). This is a game that will be catching long-term fans out from time to time, but that is not to say there are not the usual ice, sand, fire-filled kingdoms to explore - do not worry, there is familiarity in here! As for the music, Nintendo has some hits and misses on this front… or perhaps not quite 'misses,' more tunes not quite expected from the Mario world, so they take some time to grow accustomed to. Then there are the usual 'woo-hoos' and other Mario universe utterances, rather than full-on speech - standard fare, all adding to the family friendly, enjoyable atmosphere.

On the bosses side of things, they are handled expertly, taking the old theme of having to bop them on the head three times to defeat them and blending in the new ability possibilities to great effect, taking what some may have thought was a simple gimmick and making it an integral part of the overall experience. Been using a specific ability considerably in a world? Be prepared to make use of it in that land's end fight! Cappy and Mario really do go hand-in-glove, or maybe that should be hat-in-head… Whatever the case, Super Mario Odyssey is the sort of 3D adventure that Mario fans were dying for, in many instances, and did not even realise they wanted, in others. It integrates ideas from other Nintendo classics into the tried-and-trusted Mario formula, shaking things up, but not in such a volatile way as to put off veterans of the platforming series.

Throw in costumes to purchase that are not always just for show but actually part of certain puzzles, retro 'Pixel Mario' NES levels, use of motion controls for special boosts when using abilities and quick shakes for making Cap throwing moves easier for beginners (for example, using the cap as a homing weapon), and, as with the exemplary The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has definitely struck gold, upping its game beyond all expectations.

Screenshot for Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

The wait is over; the pinnacle of 3D adventures has arrived in the form of Super Mario Odyssey. It beggars belief just how much Nintendo has packed into this latest outing, without compromising the core Mario goodness of the past. Just as with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Mario series has now reached a special new level of greatness that will be hard to surpass in the future. The Nintendo Switch is fast becoming the hottest platform, crammed full of sublime quality gaming experiences like this fantastic new escapade.






3D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Oct 2017   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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