Super Mario Odyssey Review – You’re Still Our 1-UP Boi

Super Mario Odyssey is the latest major entry in the franchise since Super Mario 3D World and the first entry on the Nintendo Switch, so there’s quite a lot of expectation, hype, and possibilities with the game. I eagerly waited for the game since I got my Switch on launch day, and in all honesty I haven’t been this excited for a game in the franchise since Super Mario Sunshine. Does the game hold up to the massive amount of hype? Is it really a successor worthy of Nintendo’s bold new gaming console? Let’s dive into the game together in my review!

Super Mario Odyssey
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Switch (Reviewed)
Release Date: October 27th, 2017
Players: Single Player or Multi-Player
Price: $59.99

Super Mario Odyssey is a wonderfully colorful and vibrant game, making full use of the hardware crammed into the Switch. Water is bubbly and flows very nicely, forest areas feel lush and alive, snowy levels are frigid and overwhelming, and the Mushroom Kingdom feels like you’re just returning home after a long vacation. There’s an excellent variety of environments and themes.

The game has a really fantastic variety of new and old enemies, as well as entirely new kingdoms that are filled with yet again – new and old puzzles alike. You’ll feel right at home and yet there’s lots of new and fun things to see. It’s even more Mario and it’s a blissful, nostalgic trip that simply feels and looks both fun and fresh, from start to finish.

For all the gleeful visuals and typically rock solid performance, the game occasionally has framerate dips and some odd clipping here or there. This sort of thing is somewhat rare and usually isolated but it’s something I definitely noticed. I’m not sure if this is a limitation of the hardware, or possibly lack of power in portable mode. I have received reports of game crashes, but haven’t had any myself.

The Super Mario games have always been exemplary beacons for superb, masterful game design and mechanics – so naturally Odyssey has to at least match its predecessors and hopefully takes things a bit further, if possible. Thankfully, the game not only retains all of its game design excellence, it simply unfolds as you go, making it an unforgettable and hard-to-put-down title.

The game has so many “a-ha!” moments that it’s quite an experience, to say the least. All of the puzzles, level designs, progression, collectibles, enemy mechanics and utilizing said enemies – everything had a purpose. Everything felt like it encouraged players to explore, experiment, and have fun. The game has lots of inference with the environment, which is something I love.

I really couldn’t find anything wrong with how the game plays nor how the overall package all comes together for one masterfully built, cohesive experience. There are so many fun enemies and mechanics that I found myself just exploring every inch of a level looking for more puzzles and more things to collect, including new costumes and things for your ship.

The worlds are well fleshed out and simply a joy to wander through and explore.

One minor gripe I had with the game is that for all the wonderful hub worlds/kingdoms that you’ll traverse, there are a few smaller kingdoms that leave a bit to be desired. These worlds are generally not meant to be at the same level of detail nor have the same amount of hidden stuff. Still, I would have preferred having all the kingdoms feature roughly the same amount of content.

The addition of Cappy brings with it the ability to take control of enemies, environment pieces, as well as extending Mario’s own physical maneuverability. To go a step further, the game really rewards you for experimenting and trying to find alternative ways to overcome environments, obstacles, and puzzles. It’s a wonderful blend of semi open-world feelings and solid direction.

The story within Odyssey is more of what you’ve come to expect through the years – Bowser kidnaps Peach once again while Mario is off – I dunno, finally getting a break for once.

The shelled villain decides to up the ante this time in his lifelong pursuit of one-upping Mario: now he’s looking to literally make Peach his wife. Mario will understandably not take this, so he quickly starts the pursuit of the soon-to-be-wed pair in an entirely new adventure.

The vast majority of the game’s story is classic style storytelling, meaning it won’t beat you over the head and force you to watch prolonged cutscenes. Instead, you’re seeing little in-game animations and interacting with various in-game characters to basically collect more things or unlock more areas to explore.

Overall the progression in both story and level design is something to behold in this game, a shining example of Nintendo’s panache for implementing a game that basically has a perfect balance between gameplay and story. There’s still an obvious focus on gameplay as gameplay is king, but it’s nice to feel like everything just flows so damn nicely.

The soundtrack in Odyssey is the stuff you’d expect from a flagship Mario game – a combination of brilliant new tunes and returning favorites that are arranged in a nice way. There’s also a nice selection of chiptune versions for the various main world themes. You can even play them on the radio as you explore worlds, especially if you have a favorite tune.

I think overall the mix of songs really match the wide variety of themed-worlds as well. The more fantasy-inspired tracks really give you a nice sense of adventure and greatness, more eerie and or ethereal tracks can put you in a more relaxed mood, and most notably the city-inspired jazz is naturally spectacular. Every track has lots of love and is once again simply a fun listen.

I wanted to note that Charles Martinet recording all new Mario voicework is great but you can notice his age, and while it’s not necessarily a bad thing it’s something noticeable. When donning the literal Mario 64 costume I was hoping to hear the SFX revert to match, but it kept the modern sound. Overall sound design and voicework (what little there is) are top-notch.

Super Mario Odyssey is an expertly built game from some of the best game designers and developers in the industry, and it breathes new life into the long-running franchise. While there are small and rare performance issues and certain worlds feel a little lacking, they still don’t take away from this incredible game.

Nintendo has yet another winner in Super Mario Odyssey, a game that every Nintendo Switch owner should purchase and enjoy. The game is unadulterated fun, and it was probably equally fun to make as there are multiple layers of polish and love put into this game. I’ll even go as far as saying this game validates purchasing a Switch console, if you haven’t already.

Super Mario Odyssey was reviewed on Switch using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 10

The Good:

  • Vibrant, gorgeous visuals and worlds
  • Tons of things to collect
  • Top-notch and rewarding gameplay
  • Superb music

The Bad:

  • Some worlds are too small or plain
  • Some moons are stupidly easy to get, or discovering them feels less special
  • Minor but rare/isolated performance issues
  • Anon_Amous

    Great review. I wonder if DLC will be coming for this title? Seems strange for a mainline 3D Mario but I think I’d welcome it, particularly if I could get a full-sized kingdom where you encounter a certain scaly beast…

  • NukeA6

    Is it better than Super Mario 64?

  • I wanted to avoid comparing to other games in the series, but I will discuss it separately from the review.

    I’d say it matches Super Mario 64 in terms of overall wonder and fun-factor, but I think SM64 will always have a special place in my heart that no other game can match. However, it’s a bigger game that is simply fun as well.

    I will say that I miss the swimming mechanics in SM64, they changed the swimming in this game and focused more on the enemy-control mechanics.

  • Michael Richardson

    It’s a ton of fun. Second best Switch release of the year after Breath of the Wild, and easily the system’s best exclusive.

    I still think Super Mario Galaxy has a better campaign, though this game wins in terms of the huge amount of post-game content.

  • Dewey Defeats Truman

    If they do DLC I’d want either full new kingdoms or fleshing out the 50-coin kingdoms a bit.

  • Fear Me I Am Free

    I’m hearing it’s good, but I found out the ending and it sounded a little dumb.

    Apparently Mario saves Peach, but she rejects him when he asks her to marry him.

    Why? Seriously Nintendo. Why?

  • Mechonis

    Yeah the easy moons I guess are for game journalists just so they can get through the main game. Some of these later Moons are stumping me actually. Overall great game, definitely worth a 10/10

  • mega jew

    Postgame is when the game begins

  • Anon_Amous

    Why tie the knot? Once Mario settles down he’ll stop going on adventures, nobody wants that. Plus this keeps things open for Pauline action.

  • Riosine

    Mario can now do a roll run, there are classic 2D sidescroller segments scattered around the game and he will drop 10coins if he dies. (i’d only imagine how badly the switch would lag if it tried to drops 10k coins instead)

    I thnk the easy moons are meant for speedrun throught the game

  • Uncle Ocelot

    Why do you think she’s always going off with Bowser? The kidnappings are just a cover and the entire Mario series is about the struggle between Virgin and Chad.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    Well, if mainline Zelda can get DLC I wouldn’t be shocked to see mainline Mario get some.

  • Tubsiwub

    I was expecting a 7 or whatever you gave Breath of the Wild seeing as this game also got lots of praise out of release.

  • Michael Richardson

    Very true. The campaign is a bit short and easy, but there is so much cool shit to do in this game. Also, the best kingdom unlocks immediately after the ending credits.

  • Michael Richardson

    It makes sense in context. Not a huge fan of the ending, but not because I feel like Peach crossed a line. I just would have preferred something more emotional and epic, like in Galaxy.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    even better than purple coins and Luigi mode?

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    You’re telling me they made this the ending?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4mv54lw3nM

  • iswear12

    Well, this proves they aren’t contrarians for the sake of being contrarians then?
    It was funny to see the sheer amount of butthurt coming out for that Breath of the Skyrim review (which ended up being true)

  • SuuLoliBoob

    Or in Sunshine…. Oh, wait.

  • SuuLoliBoob

    >Some moons are stupidly easy to get, or discovering them feels less special

    To be fair, it does have things like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a382dmNvRXs

  • PaRaLLaXTHeTiCS

    Well I’ve held off long enough. Just had to pick up Switch today for Super Mario Odyssey.

  • Fear Me I Am Free

    I don’t know. I think it would add an interesting new dynamic in my opinion. Mario having to save his wife instead of his maybe/maybe not girlfriend. I guess it just annoys me that Nintendo won’t take the plunge and properly define their relationship when it’s clear they like each other.

  • Fear Me I Am Free

    Basically.

  • InkViper

    Good review, and no mention of dark souls. lol.

  • Dewey Defeats Truman

    It’s just a lighthearted jokey ending that helps explain what they’re up to in the postgame, but for some reason people on both sides have taken it as some kind of social statement that either ruins the game or makes it the automatic GOTY. People just love to read into shit way too much.

  • Fear Me I Am Free

    I didn’t see it as any sort of social statement, I’m just a hopeless romantic who’d like to see them finally get together. XD

  • Squirrel on crack cocaine.

    I have to admit, Nintendo do know how to make a great game. Also good to see a AAA game without all the DLC bullshit.

  • chaoguy

    Great review, but a lot of the images are semi-spoilers like The final level, a Bowser boss battle where he grows big (hardly a surprise, but still), and especially Peach’s Castle. Maybe mentioning Mario 64 costume is kind of a spoiler as well..
    Being most of the games appeal is from the “A-Ha” and “Surprise!” moments like you said, you might want to use images already out, or from stuff that’s not as big a deal.

  • ProxyDoug

    Argh, what is this warm fuzzy feeling?

  • RetroGamer

    My main beef with that review wasn’t the score itself; a reviewer’s task is to give his honest opinions of a game. My problem was the absolutist tone with lines such as “you should question the integrity of any reviewer who gives this a 10.” Oh? Only your review is correct and everyone else is an unethical liar? Complete and utter nonsense.

  • Funtime Happysnacks

    You should, Skyward Sword also got rave reviews and then it turned out to be the worst 3D Zelda.

  • Funtime Happysnacks

    It’s almost like things don’t work the way you think they do.

  • Sam XXX

    Still not worth the purchase of a Switch,

  • RetroGamer

    That’s a completely different game, though. BOTW is widely regarded as one of the best 3D Zeldas.

  • Yeah that won’t be happening anymore.

  • Joe

    Snickers @ Mario games having “campaigns”

  • Joe

    The Switch only has like 2 exclusive games, so not much competition there.

  • Michael Richardson

    ARMS
    Fast RMX
    Kamiko
    1, 2, Switch
    Splatoon 2
    Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
    Mario + Rabbids
    Golf Story
    Super Mario Odyssey

    That’s all I can think of right now.

  • Hmmmm I was trying to avoid any images from cutscenes or the final ending but I think you’re right. I really wanted to avoid anything already seen but nothing spoiler-y

  • Funtime Happysnacks

    … You’re missing the point. Really hard. The point is that what you just said, is what people also said when SS came out. And it turned out to be fanboy blindness.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    I wonder if the babies who cried about Breath of the Wild not getting 10/10 will be appeased by this?

  • Snorlaxation

    why would they if it’s a completely different game?

  • Snorlaxation

    one game should never be a reason to buy an entire console. although i kind of regret it, that’s why my love for jet set radio future didn’t inspire me to buy the original x box.

    But here, odyssey, breath of the wild, mario kart, xenoblade? I think together those are enough to warrant getting a switch

  • Snorlaxation

    they didn’t end up being true though. the biggest issue was jordan trying to be some kind of ‘above it all’ reviewer and just coming off as pretentious

  • Snorlaxation

    but the alternative point is that most people still enjoy breath of the wild immensely. thankfully they’re no longer Over hyping it and accepting it’s faults (8-9 out of 10), compared to SS where the majority are now seeing that it wasn’t that great at all.

    it’s like with sonic, where so many claim the games are fantastic and fixing the series, whereas they usually (with time) are revealed to just be more dirt on the grave.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    Because Nintendrones.

  • Snorlaxation

    That’s hardly an explanation.