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Super Mario Odyssey Review

  • First Released Oct 27, 2017
  • Reviewed Oct 26, 2017
  • NS

Shoot for the moon.

Super Mario Odyssey displays a clear understanding of what makes Mario tick, and is neck and neck for top billing among its esteemed predecessors. It surprises you with not just inventive mechanics, of which there are many, but with expertly tuned level design and moments of charismatic wit. It is comfortable in absurdity and wields this attitude to cut through the limitations of its otherwise straightforward structure and keep you smiling all along the way.

Above all else, Odyssey is refined. It generously doles out new worlds to explore, effortlessly cycling from one charming enemy and unique gameplay idea to the next. Its collection of open-world Kingdoms is varied and broad, and sometimes clearly inspired by Super Mario 64. Though it isn't necessarily a groundbreaking game like its ancestor, which redefined expectations for 3D games at large, Odyssey outpaces it at every turn. Its environments are bigger and some of the most interesting ever seen in a Mario game--just wait until you lay eyes on Bowser's elaborate fortress. All the extra space is invaluable, as the dense layouts of challenges and rewards justifies every building and landmass you encounter.

Your mission to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser--which actually takes a surprising turn for a change--is ultimately the hunt for Power Moons. These are Odyssey's version of the series' star collectables, which are rewarded for feats big and small alike. Acquiring a moon can call upon your platforming skills, but it can also entail quirky activities like answering trivia questions from a charmingly simple-minded Sphinx, or exploring your surroundings for buried treasure with a doting pup (who will also play fetch if you know the trick). From boss battles to tossing your hat onto a peculiar piece of architecture, you can readily stumble into new moons--even 40 hours in--so long as you make sure to constantly shift your perspective on the world and engage with new possibilities as they come into view.

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You're guided through all of this by Cappy, Mario's new sidekick: a living hat that can possess the minds of other creatures and put you in the driver's seat. Cappy is content resting atop Mario's head, but when you spot another character without a hat, friend or foe, you can simply throw him on their head to take over their body and put their unique skills to use. The selection of 52 capturable...things...spans the likes of lowly Goomba grunts and flying Bullet Bills to unexpected hits like a Christmas tree or a giant slab of neon meat. Shout out to the Easter Island-inspired statues that wear pink shades to reveal hidden platforms.

The opportunities introduced by possessing others isn't just an easy source of laughs, but also works hand in hand with Odyssey's ever-present challenges. Highlights include a caterpillar's ability to stretch around bends like an accordion and the stout Pokio bird's beak, which can be stuck into walls and used to fling you to hard-to-reach places. There's usually always something in sight that you can possess and some way to exploit its traits. There are also plenty of exceptional set-piece possessions to look forward to, like a T-Rex or the tank you control in New Donk City. These emphasize just how impressive Cappy's ability is in the context of a Mario game, and how Odyssey doesn't want you to just work for your moons, but enjoy the process from the get-go.

The opportunities introduced by possessing others isn't just an easy source of laughs, but also works hand in hand with Odyssey's ever-present challenges.

Cappy's usefulness extends beyond his mind-control capability: he can be thrown like a boomerang to retrieve coins or used as a trampoline to extend the range of your jumps. Some of his abilities can be triggered via motion controls or button presses, but the few that require you to flick your controller one way or the other are unwieldy when playing specifically in handheld mode. It's a blemish, albeit a small one, as no critical objectives require complex manipulation of Cappy's trajectory.

It's also possible for a second player to join in and control Cappy as a full-fledged independent character capable of collecting coins, defeating small enemies, and remotely possessing targets while Mario does his thing. Given that two players have to share a single camera, this isn't necessarily a great way to overcome difficult objectives, but it can be a great source of amusement.

By and large Cappy's tricks are easy to use yet difficult to master in conjunction with Mario's various flips, bounds, and hops. When used in harmony, Mario's innate athleticism and Cappy's support allow for intricate and efficient traversal. Combined with the game's typically unusual tasks, and all the capturable enemies and objects, Odyssey very quickly becomes a game that's easy to admire.

One of the most interesting facets of Odyssey is its seamless incorporation of 8-bit Super Mario Bros. gameplay. And because these sections are 2D, it stands to reason--in a game filled with loopy logic--that these occur on the surface of locations like lake bottoms and on the side of skyscrapers. Despite the stark difference in presentation, retro challenges fit smartly not only into the spaces you're exploring, but within the general flow of gameplay. It's also the basis for one of the game's most elaborate and heartwarming scenes, especially if you're a fan of Mario.

Once you've "finished" the main quest--recovering about 20% of the game's 800-plus moons--the push towards new outfits is a bonus given the amount of undiscovered opportunities that await.

Though you no longer wear different outfits to change Mario's behavior (unless you count bodies you possess as outfits), you can dress up for fun by mixing and matching a large selection of hats and suits from Mario's past. You can find costumes inspired by games like Mario Paint, NES Open Tournament Golf, and Yoshi's Cookie. There are also an array of real-world styles like a bomber jacket and scuba gear, again, just for the fun of seeing Mario cosplay. There are only a handful of chances to use a costume to your advantage, usually to gain access to a locked room for an easy moon grab, but that doesn't diminish their valuable contribution to keeping the long-haul feeling fresh, if only in superficial terms.

Each Kingdom offers access to two stores where you can pick up new threads. One takes special coins found in limited supply in each kingdom (another deviously hidden collectable to seek out) and another that takes generic coins found throughout the game. The general store unlocks costumes for purchase based on the number of moons you've collected, though many of them can also be unlocked immediately if you possess the right Amiibo. Once you've "finished" the main quest--recovering about 20% of the game's 800-plus moons--the push towards new outfits is a bonus given the amount of undiscovered opportunities that await, but one that can keep you steeped in powerful nostalgia.

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As the end-game sets lofty moon-collection goals, it's interesting to see the general store begin to sell unlimited amounts of moons at 100 coins a pop--at least buying moons doesn't remove them from the world, leaving every challenge intact. This can help expedite the process of collecting hundreds of new moons, or to get that one or two more you need to unlock a new costume, but relying upon it isn't efficient or recommended. At best, it's helpful in a pinch, but it also runs the risk of undermining Odyssey's top-class level design. It's ultimately difficult to grow bored in the first place, however, as a significant number of new moons and hidden levels open up in each kingdom after the credits roll, ensuring that you aren't staring at the same old locations with the same old set of eyes.

Once you reach Odyssey's more significant moon demands, you're rewarded with access to small but meaningful new areas that pack some of the biggest challenges in the game. In short bursts, Odyssey can be challenging throughout, but it's generally forgiving in all cases. In the final stages, you are up against gauntlets that demand consistent precision; die, and you go back to the beginning. Though these chapters aren't as significant as the rest of the game, it's a welcome way to cap off Mario's quest--though there's a fair chance you still have hundreds moons left to find elsewhere.

Odyssey is sustained beyond its major milestones not only through colorful worlds and hidden challenges, but through the sheer joy of controlling Mario, who's never felt more responsive or dynamic in action. Even with everything new that's been introduced, Nintendo's forward-thinking platformer retains the series' classic handcrafted appeal, which is even more impressive when you realize how densely packed each kingdom is. Mario's latest outing is big, bold, and bursting with new ideas, and like Breath of the Wild, is another instance of Nintendo going above and beyond to redefine our expectations. It's a shining example of refined creativity, and another crown jewel for Switch that is without equal.

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The Good
A large game where nearly every landmark is put to good use
Extensive variety of platforming challenges and puzzles
Capture ability turns almost every enemy into an opportunity, and greatly expands Mario's skillset
Dozens of new outfits let you customize Mario to suit your mood
Strange characters and sharp writing keep you entertained throughout
Two-player coop is surprisingly robust
The Bad
Some of Cappy's minor actions require the use of motion controls
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Peter spent roughly 40 hours with Super Mario Odyssey, earning 515 Power Moons and most of the unlocks in the game. Nintendo provided a complimentary copy of the game for the purpose of this review.
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Avatar image for saad_suleman

Super Mario odyssey is brilliant, well done Nintendo for creating such a fun game

Avatar image for brettsiebenhaar

I would love to have an open world Mario game like Zelda BoTW. Or something as simple as Mario 64 with how you jump in the pictures inside Peach's Castle, but instead, have the entire Mushroom Kingdom and have the worlds spread all over the Mushroom Kingdom, something like the Oblivion gates from Elder Scrolls Oblivion! This would be an amazing Mario game!!!

Avatar image for imagescore

First, I love that Gamespot is loving on Nintendo for a change. But I couldn't disagree more. Odyssey is odd, boring and more complicated than any other Mario game outside of Sunshine, which you gave an 8 for some of the same reasons this should not have received a 10. When you have about 15 buttons between your two hands, it's not the brilliant, simple Mario game that has always made Mario so brilliant. And the concept is like a drug tripped version of Mario and just too much. A hat world? Really?

I have owned every single Nintendo console since the original NES when I was in grade school. I've never owned a Playstation or an Xbox. Only Nintendo with my original NES and Gamecube still upstairs with all of my games. I can't part with either of them. I also have two young girls who are Nintendo obsessed. And as much as I'm trying with the Switch, this is Nintendo's worst console to date. Everyone loves to crap on the Wii U (which the Gamepad portion deserves) but my gosh, the games on that were amazing! Super Mario 3D World is one of the greatest multi-player games ever created on any platform. Mario Kart 8 was brilliant (and re-purposed for the Switch). The Switch's controllers are terrible, the portable idea is a worse gimmick than the Gamepad and we have had the console since the day it came out and my kids (11 and 6) still never touch it but we play the Wii U and Wii games almost daily together. I am a Nintendo lifer. I love this company and the joy they have brought gamers acrross the world. But I still don't understand the love for the Switch. I think it is Nintendo's weakest entry to date. Yes, weaker than the Gamecube. I don't get the love, and Odyssey may just be the first Mario game I don't like. It feels like Mario has finally jumped the shark.... Man, that hurt to write.

Avatar image for Staryoshi87

This is the best platforming game since Mario 64. It's worth buying a switch to experience it.

Avatar image for brettsiebenhaar

Unfortunately, I haven't turned this game on in well over a month...

Avatar image for brettsiebenhaar

@brettsiebenhaar: I turned it on the other day and did the balloon challenge thing with Luigi...I got bored with that after 20 or so minutes...

Avatar image for forester057

Oh gee let me guess...the princess doesnt need that dang plumber to rescue her cause she’s now a self empowered modern woman who thinks she can do everything and has a nervous breakdown because she just can’t. Ok that last part probably got cut at the last moment but will be revealed later by data miners lol. But comon. Admit it...we all need saving. We’re a damn mess.

Avatar image for itchyflop

so much depth in this game, i thought zelda was good and it is, however as usual Mario delivers unique platforming along with some crazy innovative ideas with some Nintendo polish that you'll rarely find on any other platform.

Incredible and such a joy to play

Avatar image for deactivated-5a03c1b04304d

The level of joy this game delivers is truly unparalleled. Easy 10/10. Get a Switch. Between this and BotW you have on offer two of the most unique stellar gaming experiences in the last ten years. I cant rave about this game enough. From start to end to the true end, I have been set ablaze with wonderment.

Avatar image for mari3k

maybe for kids and j&r lovers... but games have evolved this days... its barly a 6/10 for me

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@mari3k: no for adults too, evolved is overrated and a joke, its a toy, a mere hobby all of gaming 9/10 easy, solid controls, plenty to do, see, evolved to what ? EA ? Ubisoft ? Fetch quests ? repeat Far Cry titles ? generic shooters ? games haven't evolved, only became worse, this game is really the only type of game worth playing.

Avatar image for superklyph

@mari3k: barly eh?

Avatar image for LethalBurst

@mari3k: Most fortunately, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. This is one of the best games I've played in a very long time, and I've been gaming for over 40 years.

Avatar image for jules__badguy

@mari3k: I'm in my mid 30's and I love this game.

Avatar image for djezhel619

@mari3k: STFU you havent even played it.

Avatar image for Angryduck67

This one just doesn't quite hit the mark for me. It's a smooth and responsive game with some decent level design and consistent variety, but the levels are generally much smaller than they first appear, there are just way more moons than are practical for most people to collect, the motion controls are necessary for collecting certain moons and they are awful in tablet mode, and the return of loose n' slippery Mario controls make precision platforming a pain point throughout the entire experience.

The raw experience is a huge step backwards in many ways from 3D world, that was a really tight and easy game to grasp without having to master a bunch of haphazard and somewhat flimsy super-jumps, like the triple jump to throw your hat to air-dive into your hat to air dive again for maximum distance... give the ol' guy a break Nintendo, this is ridiculous.

I suppose this is just the way it goes now, concept wins over execution almost every single time and Nintendo is fully embracing that. At least those absurd level timers are gone!

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@Angryduck67: Yea I think its a big leap forward from 3D world, much much better game, amazing, 9/10, 3D world doesn't even come close, large levels, lots to do, junkies for collectibles, great step forward. 3D worlds controls are highly capped off, no real variety, levels are relatively linear, a pretty overrated game, one of the few Mario titles I didn't enjoy...many ways this is a big improvement. Far more content, far more things to do in general, but to each their own - everyone likes what they want. I used Pro controller, had no issues w/ controls. Only 11 moons are the motion controls even remotely necessary, not even 4% of the game utilizes what can easily be turned off. But your right concept wins, and for the most part it pays off (Breath of the Wild - case in point). 3D wasn't well executed, one of the worse titles I played in recent years, smaller then Odyssey, worse controls then Galaxy. A wanna be that falls somewhere in between, and a very flat, forgettable experience. But I know some people (only a few) that enjoyed it. Thank god for Odyssey though a return to true 3D open sandbox Mario, the way it should of been, 3D world alot of people complained, it was somewhere in the middle, a lack of identity as a Mario was just a poorly designed game, even despite the critical acclaim 3D world got - the dev team w/ Koichi Hayashida said "I was overall disappointed with the over-arching level design, despite really loving the sound design this game had, I felt despite its success there was much more that could of been done" the first half of 3D world felt very underwhelming level design wise, I felt it really didnt stick out, vs the previous 2 entries from the same Galaxy-team were strong, smaller but more concentrated, that was my biggest issue. But it serves the more dedicated collector junkie well - this game executes quite well all you need is pro controller and turn DLRMI off. Done, no issues w/ platforming.

Avatar image for imagescore

I'm fascinated by this. 3D World is one of the best Mario entries in the history of Mario and I can't stand Odyssey. To each their own.

Avatar image for greaseman1985

Mario does what Sonican't.

Avatar image for DarkKenshinX

A perfect score, huh? Well, that's Nintendo and Mario for ya. Looks like they put a lot of thought and time into this game, so it's well-deserved.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

Motion controls are easy enough with the Pro controller anyway but are they going to patch the controls as they are too loose. I was expecting way better from a Nintendo game. Camera also often obscures the character completely despite supposedly having full control over it.

3 times now i have been stuck behind a wall that does not change by moving the camera.

The perspective in relation to certain objects on screen is not properly conveyed either making it extremely difficult to time certain jumps.

It's a solid game but in no way deserves a 10.

It seems like this is just unfairly being called near perfect just because of the Mario name.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@deviltaz35: thats opinion.- I've only had 1 major instance so far. for me its about 9.

Avatar image for spoofrice11

I tried the Demo out at Walmart and was disappointed. I got bored after 5 minutes of walking around some desert area with no clue where I needed to go.

I always enjoyed the Mario games with a path of where to go during the stage. (I'm sure some like an open area to explore, but I prefer to not waste my time walking in circles accomplishing nothing).

Avatar image for ekolite

@spoofrice11: Try the tutorial first. Complete the first stage and it guides you through it. Never judge a game sitting idly in the middle. Kind of like watching a movie starting from the middle. Watch it from the beginning and your opinion may differ. And yes this is a fairly non linear game that focuses on exploration, much like 64, but your goals are largely the same throughout. Hope you give it another shot. It's finally starting to get a little challenging for me and, I think I am about halfway through the 17 kingdoms.

Avatar image for spoofrice11

@ekolite: I appreciate your response, and I will probably look more into it if I get a Switch, but as of now I am waiting. (Also, disappointed in Mario Kart just being an upgrade version of the Wii U one I have).

I enjoy playing stages with direct goals, and have never enjoyed open games with no direction (I don't have that much time to waste doing nothing), so I'm not sure I will like this game like the last 2, which is disappointing because I thought the Wii U was worth getting just for the 2 Mario games, Kart, and Smash Bros. The Switch still doesn't have a must get game to me.

Avatar image for ekolite

@spoofrice11: First of all, have you tried Super Mario 3d world? If not then go out and buy it or download or whatever, cause it's amazing. Second of all, don't feel bad for owning a Wii U. Everyone that still has one and most that had one for a while love it and cherish it with good memories. It had stellar exclusives and a very impressive eShop. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe should have been a $40.00 game on the Switch. And Smash, how incredible it is on Wii U, you know there i something on the horizon coming soon for Switch. Just don't know what it is gonna be yet. I think if I only had a Wii U and no Switch, I would play it often. Wii U was the era everyone shit on Nintendo for some reason, don't know exactly why. The name was shit, Wii You U? Wtf Wii or U make up your mind lol, the gamepad wasnt perfect, but functional. I will cherish my Wind Waker Wii U forever even if it dies. Anyways as you can tell I have lots of love for Wii U. A pretty poor selling console, by todays standards. A console, no matter how bad it got ,still said **** you people, here is another badass game, rip me to shreds lol.

Avatar image for solomonmozart

Next up, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. My hope is that its systems and mechanics aren't too complicated. I'd love for my eight-year-old boy to be able to enjoy a story-intensive Xeno game. (His Dad is a Xenogears & Xenosaga fanatic.) However, if the menus and user interface are going to be unnecessarily complicated, I'll pass. 8 year old kids just want to enjoy the darn game.

Also, after playing this Mario and seeing Sonic Forces on the horizon, I really hope Sonic does something different soon. Make Sonic an open-world game, or RPG, or something. I'm a little disappointed to see the same-ol, same-ol in this newest Sonic entry.

Avatar image for greaseman1985

@solomonmozart: I think that's what made Sonic Adventure so great, it was somewhat of a departure from traditional Sonic games. It all went downhill from there.

Avatar image for ekolite

@solomonmozart: I agree that classic Sonic gameplay has aged like a jar of piss. The control is terrible, also you never know when you are going to fall to your death, or run into an enemy when you are blazing. The concept is cool, but I would rather them make a fantastic 3d entry, which may not happen. I think everyone has gave them enough chances. Bring back Nights or Panzer Dragoon maybe.

Also, for your boy. I recommend waiting for the next Pikmin installment, which he would probably love. Also keep an eye out for the upcoming Yoshi and Kirby games. Pikmin would more than likely be a good step up in challenge for him for sure.

Avatar image for solomonmozart

I'm a retired gamer, with an eight-year-old son. Systems have come and gone. For example, I bought a PS3 along with Devil May Cry, GTA 4, and MGS 4. I ended up selling the system due to lack of interest.

I bought my boy the Switch and Zelda, and on Friday, Mario. Not for nostalgia, but this system is the first system to get me remotely interested in videogames again.

And let's say you guys retort with, "You only like those games for nostalgia." Then, what about my boy?

I tell you: I gave my boy that Switch and he went wild with it. He returned with his official report and had 20 hearts in Zelda, the master sword, two stamina wheels. I nodded my head in approval, as a tear of joy slowly rolled down my cheek.

I bought Mario first thing before work on Friday, and once again, my boy's having a blast playing it.

To be sure, I play both games as well. But it's more than the nostalgia guys. My boy has played Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, Mario 3d World -- and he just finds these two latest iterations on the Switch to be superior.

Alright, guys. Those are my two pennies. Don't spend 'em everywhere!

(waves like George Costanza, leaves on a high note)

Alright. That's it for me!

Avatar image for Byshop

No "a hero wears many hats..." tag line on the review? Missed opportunity. :(

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Avatar image for forester057

Mario was always a time waster at best for me. Still appears to be mostly nostalgia fueled. Makes me wonder if the new zelda is really good or if it is also nostalgia based love.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@forester057: Zelda is good but if you didn't like Ocarina i would skip it. It feels like an improvement on that game. I didn't find it as revolutionary as so many keep saying though.

It certainly doesn't have the freedom of things like Fallout series or Skyrim for instance and the story is not as compelling as something like The Witcher series.

It has it's charms but i found i was bored if i played it more than an hour or two in any given session.

Avatar image for urbanman2004

Ninty really outdid themselves with this version of Mario, however I don't care for the motion controls and rather they'd left them out. Other than that well done

Avatar image for forester057

@urbanman2004: Oh no. I'm out. I hate motion controls. Been considering the switch. No way to turn off motion controls or use a different controller. I know nothing about the switch.

Avatar image for LethalBurst

@forester057: You can, in fact, turn off the motion controls, and you can also use the Nintendo Pro Controller.

Avatar image for zerohournow

Given how disappointing and dull BotW was, I hope this ten is actually legit.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@zerohournow: Botw was anything but dull and disappointing, infact the only real zelda worth playing, tons of content - BOTW's 10 was legit, sorry. But considering you enjoyed Wolfenstein 2 (which is already a very bad game, highly overrated, horrendous title) see ? knife cuts both ways, BOTW = amazing, Wolf 2 = generic ugly shooter, boring, basic, premise been done what ? its just gaming, a hobby, mere toys, "dull" is the games you consider great, and games I consider great you consider dull, nob ody wins, nobody is right, just random opinions slapping against each other online, then we log off, I go back to enjoying BOTW an amazing, easy - polished large open world game, and you go back to a 12 hour Nazi (zzzZzZZZ) generic, been there, done that type game...we all have our preferences. Atleast its not COD - great thing about internet & comments though everyone is right in their own mind, what you find horrendous and dull millions of others love, what you find great & enjoyable, many find shitty, repetitive and boring, such is the world - opinions = mean nothing, we log off, we forget what other people say.

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709

Not interested in getting a Switch, but I'm happy that things are going well for Nintendo. Excuse me while I find my salt repellent.

Avatar image for ekolite

Most horrid comment section yet. Topics all over the place, ranging from the mob causing social media behavior to bashing Trump. I didn't vote for either of those assholes, but I'm neither better for it. I suppose the Gamespot community has become a sesspool for people to complain about everything imaginable because they don't have anyone around in real life that will listen to their shitt? Ah well. Stay here. So It doesn't get as scattered everywhere else. :)

Super Mario Odyssey More Info

  • First Released Oct 27, 2017
    • Nintendo Switch
    Mario embarks on a new journey through unknown worlds, running and jumping through huge 3D worlds in the first sandbox-style Mario game since Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.
    Average Rating148 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Action, 3D, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief