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
Brandon Orselli

About

Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.