"Super Mario Odyssey" Game Review: Gameplay Overview, Pros and Cons!
What’s a Nintendo console without a Super Mario game? For the Nintendo Switch, we have the newest Mario game in the franchise: Super Mario Odyssey, a 3D partially open-world platformer, released in 2017.
Like most Mario games, Super Mario Odyssey revolves around the player helping Mario travel through different worlds to try and save his love interest, Princess Peach, from being abducted from his arch-nemesis, Bowser.
This time around, Bowser plans to marry Peach, and he drags her along to several kingdoms where he steals objects for their wedding (everything from a tiara for her to wear to the wedding, to soup to serve the guests at the reception). Mario, aided by his signature red hat- now a sentient creature named “Cappy”- follows in Bowser’s footsteps in his flying ship (the Odyssey) to each kingdom to bring harmony back to the citizens who were stolen from, and stop Bowser before he marries Peach.
As mentioned above, Mario has a new tool- Cappy! The main component of gameplay is throwing Mario’s cap to hit objects, defeat enemies, and even inhabit creatures. Mario can now throw his cap on a large list of creatures and objects and navigate the game as them. Ever wanted to play the Super Mario Games as a frog? Now’s your chance!
Mario’s signature moves from previous games are back, too; he can triple-jump, wall jump, ground pound and more. Old enemies like Goombas and Hammer Bros have also returned. Though there is a linear storyline, you’re given free roam within each level, and you don’t have to do anything in any particular order. You can return to worlds and leave them as you please- as long as you have the fuel to do so!
This game really harkens back to the days of “Super Mario 64”; not only is the 3D style similar, but the game style is also similar, with the objective to collect Power Moons (like the stars in Mario 64) by finding them via exploration or completing mini-puzzles.
The nostalgia doesn’t end there, though! Each kingdom has a 2D mini-game, where Mario can travel through his trademark pipe, and come out as a flat 2D version of himself, reminiscent of the original Super Mario Brothers games. These 2D interludes are extremely charming, and I loved playing them in each world.
All of the Kingdoms are vastly different and beautifully detailed; whether you’re exploring the dreamy underwater land of the Lake Lamode, or the foggy, Tim Burton-esque starting world of Bonneton. There’s a desert town called Tostarena, resplendent with Mariachi-sounding music and adobe buildings, a spoof of New York City called New Donk City, with skyscrapers, “normal” humans, and street performers, and even a food-themed buffet in the Luncheon Kingdom, with bright vegetables, and a simmering pot of soup atop a high mountaintop.
There are so many mini-games and puzzles, hidden rooms, and secret moons to find. Exploration is key in the game, as well as throwing your hat and seeing where it lands; you never know which creature you can “capture” and become, and that’s a big part of the fun.
This is also the first time that Mario’s coins mean something other than just an indicator of high score or additional lives; each kingdom has a gift shop where Mario can buy themed souvenirs (i.e. a dinosaur sculpture from Fossil Falls) to decorate his ship with, as well as clothing. Yes, Mario can change clothes in the game, and can wear a large variety of costumes which also correspond with each Kingdom’s theme- some of which are needed to unlock additional moons. Collecting souvenirs and clothing has very little meaning in the game (besides the few moons which require Mario to wear a specific outfit), but it’s still fun to decorate the Odyssey with souvenirs of yours and Mario's adventures, and it’s definitely nice to dress our favourite plumber in something other than his red cap and overalls for once!
My main two gripes with the game are the length and the difficulty level. I think both things definitely come down to the fact that the game was likely developed to be played for all ages- so hopefully an 8 year old playing the game on their Switch will be able to collect moons and defeat Bowser as easily as I- a grown woman and lifelong video game player- was able to.
One big change in the game is that Mario doesn’t really “die.” If he falls or gets hit by enemies, he suffers from damage hits, and after three hearts being loss, you’ll lose ten coins and restart at the last checkpoint in the game. I suppose it’s both a good and bad thing; there was nothing more frustrating back in the day than dying literally right before reaching the end of a level, and having to start over again. Then again, it takes a lot of the challenge out when death has very little repercussion.
On top of that, beating all the bosses and even Bowser at the end of the game was extremely easy, and I reached the end of the storyline after about 20 hours of gameplay. When I compare the level of skill and time it took to beat this game compared to other entries in the series, like the aforementioned Mario 64, or even the more recent Wii/Wii U Super Mario games (“Super Mario Galaxy” and “New Super Mario Bros. Wii”), it seems like Odyssey was far easier. Let’s put it this way: I’ve played Super Mario 64 on and off since it was released 20 years ago and still haven’t defeated Bowser. It seems odd that I was able to do it so casually in Odyssey.
However, thanks to the game’s open world, even after you’ve completed the main storyline, you can still go back to each world and look for more moons. Completing the game and collecting moons unlocks additional kingdoms, and there are 999 Power Moons in total to collect. Going back and finding moons has been my new goal post finishing the game, and most of them I’ve only been able to find with a walkthrough. If you’re a fan of collecting and exploration, this part of the game will certainly appeal to you.
Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars
Super Mario Odyssey is a fun and memorable entry in the Super Mario game series. As I said in the opening of the article, it’s almost a prerequisite with owning any Nintendo console to also own a Mario game, and this is no exception. Though the gameplay isn’t as challenging as some of the other Mario games, Odyssey still rewards the player with numerous hours of exploring, collecting, and interacting with creatures and interesting environments that you’ll have a hard time wanting to leave.
Super Mario Odyssey is only available for purchase for Nintendo Switch, either in physical retailers, or on the Switch e-store.
Have You Played Super Mario Odyssey?
Have you played Super Mario Odyssey? Do you agree with my review? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments section below!
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© 2019 Brittany Brown