In Depth

Super Mario Odyssey review: a ‘massive’ new adventure

Real-world environments and a new sidekick feature in the Italian plumber’s latest adventure

Super Mario has made his debut on the Nintendo Switch, seven years after the Italian plumber’s last outing on the popular Wii console.

The latest instalment, which is called Odyssey, is the first open world game since Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo GameCube. While players are still tasked with saving Princess Peach from Bowser, there’s a host of new abilities and locations for Mario to discover, inspired by real-world places. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Mario's latest adventure:

The Week Reviews Super Mario Odyssey

There are very few games that match the size, creativity and attention to detail of Super Mario. 

Since the series kicked off on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985, Mario games has been among the Japanese tech giant’s most important titles.

Odyssey - the first Super Mario game to debut on the new Nintendo Switch - continues the success story, even though it is unlike any other game in the series. 

In Odyssey, Mario travels around the globe trying save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser once again. He’s joined by a new companion, Cappy, who lives inside Mario’s iconic red hat and grants him a host of new abilities.

Although Mario has often had few moves aside from jumping in previous games, he can now XXX through his hat at enemies and even use it as a platform to get to difficult-to-reach places. 

Along with these unique additions to Odyssey, series veterans will also find features they already know and love.

In some aspects, it’s quite similar to Super Mario 64, from 1996, featuring massive open worlds filled with different missions and hidden collectibles to discover. And clearing all the story missions in one world, there are still a staggering amount of items to find once you’ve completed the game.

Technically, Odyssey is by far the best-looking title on the Switch. Most of the game’s worlds feature realistic and vibrant textures that are a welcome departure from the cartoon-like visuals of previous Mario games. 

Even more impressive is the company’s attention to detail. For instance, if Mario walks under a waterfall, he dips his head slightly under the weight of the water. He also dances to music when walking past a boom box, and spreads his arms like a aeroplane when running down a steep hill.

Odyssey is an incredibly well-crafted computer game that has all the personality and charm of a Disney Pixar movie. 

Those looking for something new will appreciate the quirkiness of Odyssey, as every level is packed with different stories and settings. 

And the abundance of references to adventures past should be well received by those who have played Mario games for decades.

What do the critics think?

Super Mario Odyssey is proving a big hit among critics, with IGN scoring it ten out of ten - the first time the site has handed a Mario game a perfect rating. 

Players are tasked with collecting “Power Moons” that unlock new worlds to visit, the site says, where you can take on quests and challenges from specific characters in each kingdom. The ultimate goal is to save Princess Peach from Bowser’s clutches once again.

But even after that plot has been resolved, adds IGN, you can continue playing to grab “new unlockables” that range from “a clever new implementation of an old friend” to “entire new worlds”.

Odyssey is “basically structured like a massive playground”, says Polygon, where you can “spend as much time as you want messing around” and probably get rewarded for it. 

And the game's emphasis on “exploration and discovery serves as a bottomless well from which to draw buckets of good feelings”, the site says. 

Mario’s new companion, Cappy, “could have joined the ranks of annoying video game sidekicks”, says The Guardian, but he has some “funny lines”,  and the relationship he shares with the Italian plumber is “sweet”. 

Tech Radar advises Nintendo Switch owners should “play it now”, as Odyssey is “one of those unique games which manages to be both instantly familiar and breathtakingly groundbreaking at the same time”.

The core formula hasn't changed, unlike some of the latest Nintendo games, says the site, “but it's fresh and different enough to what has gone before to comfortably rank as one of Mario's finest adventures in recent memory”. 

When does it come out? 

Super Mario Odyssey is now available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. But unlike Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario’s latest adventure will not be available on Nintendo’s old system – the Wii U.  

Is it any different to Super Mario Galaxy 2?

Yes. Odyssey features 3D open worlds similar to Super Mario 64 that came out in 1996, a clear departure from the planet-style levels that appeared in the Italian plumber’s last adventure on the Nintendo Wii – Super Mario Galaxy 2.

While players hunted for Power Stars in previous games, The Daily Telegraph says gamers will need to seek out Power Moons in Odyssey to progress to new worlds. 

As each world is open, the paper says players need to explore locations and take part in several quests to be rewarded with a Power Moon. These missions include a “skipping rope challenge in a park in New Donk City” and driving remote control cars. 

Can I change his outfits?

Mario has been kitted out in blue dungarees and a red shirt since his first appearance in Donkey Kong in 1981, but you can change the Italian plumber’s style in Odyssey thanks to its in-game shops. 

Additional outfits and caps are unlocked as you move through the main story, says Gadgets 360. They can be bought at “Crazy Cap” shops in each kingdom. 

Items can be purchased with in-game currency, the website says, and this changes depending on the kingdom you’re in. Unlike most conventional games, players aren’t allowed to buy in-game currency with their own money. 

What are the various ‘kingdoms’? 

They are recurring places. Instead of having the linear level design of older Mario games, such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Business Insider says players can freely travel between these places, known as kingdoms, in Odyssey. Many of these are inspired by real-world locations.

Some of the kingdoms include:

Bonneton – Cap Kingdom

Bubblaine – Seaside Kingdom

Fossil Falls – Cascade Kingdom

Mount Volbono – Luncheon Kingdom

New Donk City – Metro Kingdom

Shiveria – Snow Kingdom

Steam Gardens – Wooded Kingdom

Tostarena – Sand Kingdom

Tropical island – Unknown kingdom

Why does Mario’s hat have eyes?

Mario’s hat is the plumber’s sidekick in the game, the website says. It has the “power to be thrown and take control of enemies and objects.”

Players can toss Mario’s companion, which is called Cappy, and jump on top of it to get into hard-to-reach areas of the map. Cappy can also be thrown at enemies, such as small Goombas and a massive Tyrannosaurus Red, allowing players to take control of them. 

Where can I order it?

Amazon has opened orders for both physical and digital copies of Super Mario Odyssey at £41.99 each. Physical copies will be sent in the post, while digital versions will be downloaded straight to your Switch.

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