Super Mario Odyssey Review: Charming, Fun And The Best Game Of 2017

10
  • Switch
  • Action-Adventure
  • Open World
  • Platformer
2017-10-27
super mario odyssey box art-Edited
The box art for Super Mario Odyssey Nintendo

When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released back in March, I was certain that I’ve played the 2017 Game of the Year. Fast-forward to October and my prediction may have been a bit premature after the release of Super Mario Odyssey.

Super Mario Odyssey is the best game I’ve played in 2017 on any system. Combining slick gameplay, an engaging story, great visuals and an overwhelming charm I haven’t experienced in a long time, any gamer regardless of age and experience will have a great time playing this game. I sure did.

STORY

The story of Super Mario Odyssey is simple and familiar enough. Bowser has taken Princess Peach hostage to get her to marry him. Mario is trying to stop him but is easily dispatched and thrown from Bowser’s flying ship to a world filled with sentient top hats. It’s up to Mario and his new friend Cappy to travel between Kingdoms to catch Bowser before the wedding.

What makes the story of Odyssey special are the the new characters and the Kingdoms. Each Kingdom is unique and brings a lot of charm to the overall journey (and yes, I’ll use the word “charm” a lot in this review). You have a Kingdom under water, one in the desert. There is a Kingdom set in in lush woods and another made of food. Each world feels unique and brings new experiences to the game. I would go as far and say that each Kingdom has its own personality, filled with snarky remarks, meta commentary and so much more. I had some laughs talking with the locals and the game made me seek out each and every one of them.

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Blending in with the locals. Photo: Nintendo

As for the new characters, we have Cappy, who will likely become a fan-favorite in no time thanks to his cute appearance and unbreakable spirit. The residents of each Kingdom are well-designed and offer a lot to your gameplay experience. The new villains and bosses are also very unique and memorable.   

Without spoiling anything, the end of the story is very satisfying. Along the way, there’s plenty of moments and nods to the history of Mario that will make you smile.

GAMEPLAY

Anyone familiar with the past 3D Mario games will feel at home with Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo has always done a great job of mixing classic platforming with a more open-concept world: Odyssey has plenty of both. You’ll hop on moving platforms, dive underwater and soar through the sky using old and new moves. You’ll hone your new skills, like the Cappy throws and double jumps, and although you’ll be doing them a lot, it never gets old slapping Goombas with Cappy.

cappy super mario odyssey
Cappy and Mario are inseparable in Odyssey. Photo: Nintendo

One new mechanic introduced in Odyssey is the capture system. By tossing Cappy at an enemy or object, Mario can “become” that thing, offering a variety of ways to traverse each Kingdom. Each capture helps Mario find much-needed Power Moons, coins or to get to your next objective. Even some of the captures that aren’t necessary to progress the story have some function in the Kingdom. That’s something I absolutely loved about Odyssey, everything feels purposeful. Every character you come across, every rock and sign is there for a reason, whether you realize it or not. A lot of the fun is figuring out what each nook and cranny of each Kingdom offers and how it can help you.

plant enemy super mario odyssey
Check out this new enemy you can possess with Mario Photo: Nintendo

I completed Odyssey’s main story in about 15 hours, but there’s still a lot to do after you’ve finished. Completionists can return to the Kingdoms and find more Power Moons (something you can’t do until after finishing the story). There is also more to the overall story that you’ll need to explore and find so there is even more to enjoy after the story is over. Even after the story is done, you’ll definitely want to jump back in your ship and explore more of this world.

As for how the game utilizes the unique features of the Nintendo Switch, Odyssey may be the first title for the console that combines the motion controls with the normal controls in a satisfying and meaningful way.

The Joy Cons, pro controller and handheld mode all feel great. Flicking your wrist to throw Cappy is fun while using the Joy Cons, though not necessary as the Y button will suffice. However, players will need to use various motions to activate certain abilities, like Cappy’s homing attack and spin. While it may sound like a pain, these extra movements become second nature quickly and the motion controls are remarkably responsive.

Super Mario Odyssey also has a co-op mode that lets one player control Mario and the other Cappy. This does make the game easier and it’s fun to explore with friends in a local environment. This is also a great tool to play with young kids who may not feel confident enough to play the game alone.

BUT IS IT PERFECT?

No, Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a “perfect” game (those don’t exist). The difficulty and the camera angles could have been better, but neither took away from my overall enjoyment of the game.

While Odyssey isn’t easy, I could have used more of a challenge in my playthrough. The producers of the game did away with lives in favor of exchanging 10 coins to return to a checkpoint to make it more accessible to younger players. However, t when the 10 coins you lose can be reclaimed simply by returning to where you died, it lowers the stakes. I’m sure the purpose was to give players the desire to explore and make mistakes and do all sorts of things, but it could have been balanced with greater challenge. This is especially the case with the boss battles, which are fun and unique, but relatively easy.

Camera angles are a bit hard to control. You have the RT button to  reset your camera angle, but depending on the situation, it may not stay in the spot you were hoping. You are better off manually changing your camera angles.

VERDICT

I can’t praise Super Mario Odyssey enough. The Nintendo Switch title has slick controls, amazing visuals and a charm (there’s that word again) that I haven't come across before. The story is simple but supplemented with a large cast of new characters and worlds that expand the Mario Universe in a way that, hopefully, Nintendo can expand on for years to come. It’s accessible for younger players and challenging enough for veterans.

I can’t understate how much fun and joy I had playing this game, no matter how many consecutive hours I’ve put into it. This is the perfect Switch title and Odyssey solidifies a new golden age for Nintendo.

REVIEW SUMMARY
Super Mario Odyssey
10
Charming, Fun And The Best Game Of 2017
The Nintendo Switch title has slick controls, amazing visuals and a charm (there’s that word again) that I haven't come across before. The story is simple but supplemented with a large cast of new characters and worlds that expand the Mario Universe in a way that, hopefully, Nintendo can expand on for years to come. It’s accessible for younger players and challenging enough for veterans.
  • Visually pleasing
  • Great Story
  • Controls are amazing and uses Switch motion controls the best
  • Great new characters and environments
  • Could be more difficult
  • Camera angles can get annoying
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