How do you feel about this story?
It’s been years since Nintendo released a new 3D Mario collect-a-thon, but now we have one in the form of Super Mario Odyssey. This is the first time since the GameCube where Mario is being given a series of levels to explore and root out secrets. Super Mario Odyssey came out on October 27th, so our take is a bit delayed. Still, we’re here to give our thoughts and opinions on the game and how it holds up to the series as a whole.
Super Mario Odyssey follows Mario through another adventure to rescue the perpetual damsel, Peach. As always, the story is very loose and serves more as justification to get Mario moving. The levels are the main draw, but this game really has a lot of appeal to it. Worlds have exploration in mind, just like in SM64 and Sunshine. There is still linearity to the plot, though. Each level is a self-contained world where you can explore as much as you want and find moons in any order. However, you go to the levels in a set order.
With all that said, let’s dive into the meat of the review.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Nintendo has stated time and time again that they begin work on a game by refining a core mechanic. Once they’re certain that core mechanic works perfectly and is inherently fun to use, that mechanic informs the rest of the game design. Never has that felt more true than when playing Super Mario Odyssey. The basic mechanics of movement are naturally fun to use. On top of that it seems like an incredible amount of thought went into the design of things, making certain jumps and skips just barely possible, if you know the advanced jumps that make them possible.
However, Nintendo also believes in accessibility, which we can confirm is present in Super Mario Odyssey from the moment you start up the game. Not only are the advanced mechanics and motion controls almost entirely unnecessary to complete the game, but even the very little ones won’t have too much trouble, if they use the Assist Guide, which lays arrows on the ground to guide you and makes bottomless pits no longer lethal.
Motion controls are present, and while they do afford you some new techniques you couldn’t get without them, there’s only one or two moons where they become even remotely necessary. In case motion controls in aiming bother you, this can be turned off in the settings menu, but we found the motion controls were good enough they didn’t mess us up at all.
With all the thought that went into the core gameplay mechanics and the level designs revolving around them, we can happily say this aspect of the game is nearly perfect.
Graphics and Sound Design
Super Mario Odyssey boasts a brand new soundtrack of original BGMs and a few beloved classic remixes. While the remixes of old songs are a staple, the new music is where the sound designers get to shine. Nearly every track is immediately recognizable and totally unique from the rest of the OST in a way we haven’t seen since the Nintendo 64. Nintendo’s always been known for their music, but this time they’ve really knocked it out of the park.
Meanwhile the graphics are less on the impressive end, but the game still looks great for what it is. Everything is so crisp and clean, with the toony graphics matching the feel of the game. We didn’t personally find the juxtaposition of Mario next to regular humans to be so off-putting, but it could easily bother some players who get caught off guard by this.
Altogether, the game provides a package of audio and visuals that perfectly compliments the adventure that we’re sending Mario through. As an added bonus, the entire soundtrack is available to you after putting in some work and beating the final boss. You can choose to play any song you’d like from the entire game instead of what normally belongs there. It’s the perfect way to drive home the stronger pieces in your soundtrack, leaving us with nothing but good memories.
It might be entirely fair to accuse Super Mario Odyssey of having too much content. Overall, there’s over 800 moons to collect regularly and 999 total after buying the rest. Moons can be collected for clearing an insane gauntlet of challenges or simply ground pounding a glowing spot. This actually creates a bit of an inconsistent tone. Easy moons you get for wandering into the right room or wearing the right clothes make harder moons feel a bit undervalued.
Even so, that range of difficulty is more to allow players of all skill levels to reach a reasonable point in the game. Even the hardest moons in the game didn’t leave us feeling too defeated, anyways. Aside from that, there’s purple regional coins to collect along the way. They allow players to buy new outfits for Mario, or souvenirs and stickers for the Odyssey. That becomes another collection criteria, later on.
Nintendo split every level into four sections. A story segment comes first where only a few moons along the game’s intended path are available. Next, the open exploration where routes that were closed to you are now available. Worlds open up and most moons become available. Third, there’s a post-game segment where elements start popping up that only work after the conclusion. Finally, there’s a moon block in every level that can be opened to release even more moons to collect. Some levels have well over 100 moons, which may get a bit overwhelming.
In all honesty, these are just minor nitpicks. We do still feel it stops the game from netting that perfect score. Even so, you shouldn’t run out of things to do too soon. Assuming you don’t just reach the end of the game and stop there, that is.
Conclusions about Super Mario Odyssey
Without question, Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece. We will remember this game for its stellar game content, amazing new soundtrack, and inherently fun gameplay mechanics. There are a variety of challenges for all players ranging from just barely old enough to hardcore veterans. This isn’t the most difficult game to grace the Super Mario franchise, but it delivers for hardcore players, too. Granted, some objectives may cheapen the experience of harder ones via similar rewards. However, Super Mario Odyssey still lives up to the Super Mario reputation. It may even be the best one to date!