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Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

Super Mario Odyssey (NS) - Review

by Evan Norris , posted on 15 November 2017 / 10,230 Views

"Tell me, O Muse, of the man of many devices..."

This line begins Homer's epic poem The Odyssey but it could function easily as an introduction to Nintendo's own magnum opus, Super Mario Odyssey. In Odyssey, Nintendo's latest attempt to redefine a genre it more or less invented in 1981, Mario is a man of many devices, a wearer of many hats (literally), and a possessor of many things, both animate and inanimate. Most importantly, he is the star of his very own odyssey: a platform-adventure game so surprising, so joyful, and so endlessly-inventive that it ranks among the best of 2017.

Super Mario Odyssey wedding

In this newest Mario adventure, the mustachioed hero must travel from kingdom to kingdom, tracking down Bowser, the big baddie of the Mario universe. Bowser has arranged a shotgun wedding between himself and Mushroom Kingdom monarch (and Mario's sometimes-girlfriend) Peach, and needs several items to complete the ceremony. One of those items is a sentient crown named Tiara. As a result Mario teams up with Tiara's brother Cappy, a being with amazing transformational powers, to rescue the two damsels in distress.

As far as Super Mario storylines go, this is one of the more involving. Don't expect anything as substantial as the game's namesake, but don't be surprised to see a strong through line, an abundance of interesting NPCs, and even a little character development. Odyssey's greatest contribution to the series' narrative gestalt, however, might just be the expansion and elaboration of its fictional world — which is saying something, as previous games sent Mario into the cosmos.

Super Mario Odyssey ship

In Odyssey, we meet new races and species; encounter different societies and civilizations, some bustling, some ancient, some decaying; and, vitally, witness, via the heroic twosome's flying machine, how all these things are connected spatially. Never before has a Mario adventure felt so structured or so systematic. Instead of a series of loosely-connected levels or worlds, Odyssey gives players an organized system of kingdoms united by transportation, commerce, and tourism.

These kingdoms form the heart of the game. Each is a miniature sandbox filled with NPCs, platforming challenges, and dozens of collectibles. There are 14 to explore before the end credits, and several more afterward. Every one is thoughtfully-designed, meticulously-detailed, and beautifully-rendered. There are traditional kingdoms with desert, ice, and water themes, but also many surprising locales: a prehistoric kingdom complete with T-Rex; a realm of giant comestibles and cheese as hard as quartz; and, the crown jewel of Super Mario Odyssey, the busy metropolis New Donk City.

Super Mario Odyssey New Donk City

Inside all of these kingdoms are scores of collectibles, including gold coins, purple coins, outfits, souvenirs, and power moons. Purple coins buy new costumes and trinkets from each location, and moons power the Odyssey, the hat-shaped airship that ferries Mario and Cappy between kingdoms. Like stars and shine sprites before them, power moons are the main currency of this Mario adventure. In Odyssey, however, there aren't six or seven moons per kingdom. There are dozens. In Super Mario 64, hitting 120 stars meant your journey was at an end. Here, 120 moons is just the beginning.

Some moons are hidden under rocks or locked behind mini-games. Others function as rewards for fetch quests. Many more are found by taking advantage of Odyssey's signature gameplay hook: possession, or "capture" if you're one of Nintendo's PR folks. By flicking Cappy on to unsuspecting Goombas, Lakitus, and even inanimate objects like huge slabs of meat (yes, really), Mario can take over control of those beings' motor functions. It's a brilliant mechanic that opens up a world of "many devices" to our modern Odysseus.

Super Mario Odyssey capture

Things start simply. Mario possesses a frog and uses his jumping ability to scale a tall cliff. Then it's a Paragoomba, who flies safely above poisonous smog. Then a Chain Chomp, deployed to smash through a rock wall. Next, a T-Rex, at which point all bets are off. Even without the "capture" mechanic, Mario has a huge portfolio of moves. When Nintendo adds possessed creatures into the mix, the diversity of motions and mechanics shoots off the chart. The sheer number of ideas, notions, and gameplay conceits on display in Super Mario Odyssey is staggering. Each kingdom is a game unto itself.

It helps greatly that, somehow, every captured creature plays perfectly, despite its unique weight, mass, and actions. Odyssey has impossibly flawless controls, across the board. In a franchise known for tight, snappy controls, this game stands above all others. 

Super Mario Odyssey desert

So, Odyssey provides over a dozen mini-sandboxes with hundreds of moons to collect, and invites players to explore those sandboxes with perfect controls and a unique possession mechanic that opens up virtually endless gameplay possibilities. What's the catch? If there is one, it's this: the game is easy.

Much of Odyssey's main campaign is a breeze. Finding enough moons to power up the Odyssey and advance to the next kingdom is never a problem. Many are earned merely by talking to an NPC or by wearing the correct costume. Others are dislodged with a simple ground pound. Some are on full display, unhidden and obvious.

Super Mario Odyssey garden

The counter argument is that nabbing all this low-hanging fruit isn't the true challenge of Super Mario Odyssey. Much like Yoshi's Island, in which finishing a level is relatively easy but finishing that same level with all hidden items and full health is demanding, Odyssey has two layers of difficulty: one of simple completion and one of 100 percent completion. While there's some truth to that, it doesn't explain the game's pushover bosses or the general lack of penalties for failure. 

That said, the game's easiness is mitigated in a big way by a shockingly substantial end-game, nearly as big as the main campaign. Upon finishing the final boss battle and subsequent platforming episode, players are dumped into a very familiar kingdom. From there they can use moons to unlock new kingdoms, return to old kingdoms to find new moons, purchase previously-unavailable costumes, and even experience new story moments. Nintendo as a game-maker has long prioritized value and replay value, and in Odyssey it has made a game that can rival Breath of the Wild as a playground of playtime.

Super Mario Odyssey food

In terms of production values, Odyssey is practically peerless. Its orchestral soundtrack is full of catchy, exciting, and atmospheric themes; its sound design captures the diversity of the game's large roster of animals, materials, and weather systems; and its flexible, inventive art direction runs the gamut from gothic horror to medieval Japan. Only a few unsightly textures and a lot of aliasing — particularly bad among the shadows of New Donk City — serve to break the illusion.

While Mario's exploits in Super Mario Odyssey don't match up with Odysseus' quest in The Odyssey (although both feature a hero seeking a love interest pursued by an illegitimate suitor), they do coalesce into an epic voyage. With so many characters, sandboxes, collectibles, and mechanics, the title feels like many games in one — all of which surprise and delight at every turn. Odyssey is one of Nintendo's most inventive, joyful, and audacious adventures, and one of the marquee games of 2017, a year fast becoming one of the industry's best.



This review is based on a retail copy of Super Mario Odyssey for the NS

Read more about our Review Methodology here

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45 Comments
TruckOSaurus (on 15 November 2017)

The main quest is great fun but like you said it's pretty easy but the end-game is so fantastic in the amount of stuff to do and upgrading the difficulty. Nintendo pulled off the impossible task of rejuvenating a 30 year-old franchise twice this year.

  • +7
Sunstrider TruckOSaurus (on 15 November 2017)

Hear hear!

  • +1
Ganoncrotch (on 15 November 2017)

Has the Author of this completed the dark side of the moon without assist mode to call the game easy?

  • +2
thetonestarr Ganoncrotch (on 15 November 2017)

Or the Darker Side, even? I mean honestly.

  • +1
Johnw1104 Ganoncrotch (on 15 November 2017)

There's really only two challenging segments in that, but they were so frustrating that I had to try it over and over lol... first, it's hard to get through that section on the platforms with the exploding rings (always make sure I'm at full health for that), and otherwise the swinging targets you beak yourself onto as a bird weirded me out at first as the beak kind of warps when you're swinging. Otherwise, the rest of it is exceedingly simple, but by that point I had just about every moon in the game so it felt like second nature.

  • 0
Johnw1104 Ganoncrotch (on 15 November 2017)

Which is to say, if I'd just gone straight to it I probably would have found it very difficult, by after a few dozen hours you feel so comfortable with controlling Mario... Seriously, the controls in this game make just running around and leaping so much fun.

  • 0
Ganoncrotch Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

When you say always make sure your at full health? you mean... by not losing any health right? not doing something else like using an amiibo or w/e to gain health.

  • 0
Ganoncrotch Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

completely agree btw Tonestarr, Darker side was such a massive long stage with zero checkpoints in it, felt so punishing for just a single mistake, falling off towards the end meant redoing the whole lot from the very start... very punishing and certainly not what I would consider as "easy"

  • 0
bigjon Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

I gave up on the Darker side of the moon for now.... I will eventually give it another try....

Game is difficult. Just not difficult to beat main "story" most of the challenging content is after you beat the game. I definitely have had a few "stone tube" dungeons where I have died 20+ times before I finally got it.

  • 0
Johnw1104 Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

@Gannon after many attempts I learned where every 3 heart boost and 1 heart were located throughout that challenge (there's actually quite a lot of them), so I'd always seek them out and generally enter that challenging bit with the full 6 health.

  • 0
AlfredoTurkey Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

If you have to go out of your way to find a challenge outside of the main goal (beating the game), it's too easy.

  • 0
TruckOSaurus Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

Two of the most challenging moons are on Darker Side where you don't have Cappy. I raged so much doing the vanishing road one and I'm still trying to do the one with the bullet bills destroying the bridge and having to come back on the bottom with ridiculously precise long jumping.

  • +2
Ganoncrotch Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

would you call them... "easy" Trucks?

  • 0
TruckOSaurus Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

Nope, not at all. The post game has some nice challenges.

  • +1
Johnw1104 Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

I believe that running one was probably just about my least favorite of the group... it just felt like there was zero room for creativity, and you just had to do EXACTLY the one thing they intended that you do. Otherwise, that second start with the bills is definitely very hard... basically, just bop the first bill on the head and fall down, facing back immediately and then use the bumper to instantly reposition the cannon. From there, as long as you time your long jumps to take place at the edge of each pedestal you should be able to get across.

  • 0
Johnw1104 Ganoncrotch (on 16 November 2017)

Camera*, not cannon... I don't know how to delete these posts lol

  • 0
roadkillers (on 15 November 2017)

Honestly, this game is fantastic and I am so happy it happened to gaming's biggest icon. The reviewer put on the easy side, but I disagree. Sure you can just walk into some areas to get moons, but it definitely takes exploration and some of the moons get difficult. I'm playing the game where I don't spend coins to get hints, not using the internet, and looking for myself.

One grip would be the multiplayer. I was spoiled with Super Mario 3D World and having someone control the cap is lame. A Luigi second player would have been sweet.

  • +2
Locknuts (on 16 November 2017)

The difficulty makes it perfect for my daughter and I to play. Main game for her, post game content for me!

  • +1
Azzanation (on 15 November 2017)

Those at Nintendo are masterminds. They lead this industry and set the example. If there's one company I want to do well its Nintendo. They definitely know what games are about. Zelda and Mario are front runners for GOTY 2017. Any one says otherwise, I suggest you play them first.

  • +1
Johnw1104 (on 15 November 2017)

I'm frustrated as the only two moons I can't get (I got all of them without looking at the internet, including one "hint" moon that damn near drove me insane) are the "Jump Rope 100 times" and "Volleyball 100 times" lol... I'm terrible at them, but my friend list suggests many people here cruised comfortably past 100. It's driving me insane as I've otherwise completed the game every way that you can.

  • +1
SuperNintend0rk Johnw1104 (on 16 November 2017)

For the volleyball, have you tried switching to 2 player mode and completing it using the second joy con to control Cappy? That makes it significantly easier. As for the jump rope, I still haven't completed it myself but I've heard that some people found it easier to do it while riding a scooter, since it has much smaller jumps than Mario. I tried it myself and found it was actually harder with the scooter but it might work for you

  • +2
Mandalore76 Johnw1104 (on 16 November 2017)

The jump rope I got over 100 after a few tries. I leveled the camera and moved Mario into position and started jumping. From there it's just timed button presses as the rope swings. But yeah, the leaderboard has some insane totals that I can't even fathom coming anywhere near.

  • +2
SuperNintend0rk Johnw1104 (on 16 November 2017)

Hmm I'll have to try that. Not sure I have the coordination for it though lol

  • +2
Johnw1104 Johnw1104 (on 16 November 2017)

That two player volleyball is definitely a great idea! I'll probably try re-positioning the camera for jump roping as well... I actually thought to try the scooter but I found it seemed more likely to make contact with the rope as it's difficult to perfectly position yourself with it.

  • 0
Junojun (on 15 November 2017)

I don't think it was too easy. For me it had the right amount difficulty. When a game becomes to difficult it gets to the point where I lose my interest and stop playing.

  • +1
AlfredoTurkey Junojun (on 16 November 2017)

That's so interesting because you have a Metroid as an avatar. There aren't many easy Metroid games.

  • 0
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andisart Junojun (on 16 November 2017)

This is how I feel too! I didn't find it too easy, but felt it had a great flow of playing. I'm too old to sit in front of frustratingly hard sequences trying to beat them. Where Odyssey succeeds though is offering a variety of difficulties, the player often can choose. Exemplified in this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pLl7lbbpjig

I find that rather an achievement that Nintendo made the game accessible for all kinds of players. People criticizing a lack of difficulty either haven't finished everything or haven't challenged themselves going harder routes to goal.

  • 0
Junojun Junojun (on 16 November 2017)

Well I didn't finish Prime 2 because of that. It became kind of difficult and I lost my interest in it.

  • 0
Flilix (on 15 November 2017)

I guess I'm the only one who found the game rather difficult.

  • +1
andisart Flilix (on 16 November 2017)

Not really, I found at least enough parts of the game where I died several times. And I'm not talking about the harder post-story things

  • +1
monocle_layton (on 15 November 2017)

It's amazing how it's praised, and yet still leaves us wanting to see even more be explored. Great article as well - the fluidity and momentum of the article stayed consistent throughout its entirety

  • +1
TalonMan (on 22 February 2018)

Great review - wish there was a VGChartz Score... :)

  • 0
AngryLittleAlchemist (on 16 November 2017)

Great review dude! It was worth the wait! I'm surprised a positive isn't the ending. I was laughing my ass off at that ending xD But I won't spoil it ...

  • 0
OTBWY AngryLittleAlchemist (on 16 November 2017)

Horrible ending that made me hate a certain character.

  • 0

I can't tell if I love the ending ironically, if I love the ending because it's like a Pixar film ending, or if I hate the ending because it confirms what I've believed since childhood : Daisy >

  • 0
OTBWY AngryLittleAlchemist (on 16 November 2017)

It sends a bad message, and it caused that particular character to be disliked. No wonder Mario x Pauline is becoming so popular.

  • 0

Well Pauline is our "one-up" girl ;)

  • +1
OTBWY AngryLittleAlchemist (on 16 November 2017)

I like Pauline more. She wasn't handed everything like Peach. Born with privilege and a title. She was a kidnapping(and maybe rape) victim and went about her life improving and becoming successful. And she's talented. Mario should concern himself with her more. Go in a different pipe if you know what I mean.

  • 0
Ggordon (on 15 November 2017)

those cons dont seem like cons to me

  • 0
ampersand (on 15 November 2017)

All I have heard is great things about this game. I will be shocked if it doesn't sell 30m lifetime.

  • 0
KratosLives (on 16 November 2017)
  • -7