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Super Mario Odyssey Review


See PixlBit's Review Policies On 11/21/2017 at 11:00 AM by Casey Curran

Bring on Super Mario Illiad!
The Bottom Line: Own a Switch? Buy this game! Don't own a Switch? Can't say you should buy it for this game, but if you get one anyways, definitely buy this game!

I used to love playing baseball when I was a kid. But the one part I hated about Little League was the participation trophies at the end of the year. I was on some really bad teams and really good teams and on both we got more or less the same reward. Even as a kid I could tell that trophy was meaningless despite the fun I had playing during the season. Like Little League Baseball, Super Mario Odyssey provided me with a ride that is an absolute blast along the way, yet failed to provide a rewarding experience.

Most games have the goal of making controlling a character feel functional. Yet Super Mario Odyssey goes that extra step, where moving around as Mario not only feels as natural as walking, but is fun in and of itself. The weight and momentum behind controlling Mario feels so perfectly calibrated. These actions are simple to perform as well, yet there are many secret maneuvers such as the backflip or hat spin which take a little more mastery to use well, yet keep Mario’s abilities interesting.

Speaking of hats, Mario has a new one this time named Cappy. Cappy is sentient and adds a new move where Mario can throw him at enemies, allowing Mario to capture them where he takes control. The game feels built around the capture mechanic, and is a near perfect success. I’m still shocked just how simple and fluid this mechanic feels. The second Cappy landed on any of the twenty plus unique captures, it was an instant transition with new controls and moves I seamlessly understood.

Equally as important is the wealth of possibilities this adds to the game. Flying across large gaps as a Bullet Bill, swimming through a pool of lava as a fireball, and jumping super high as a frog are only scratching the surface. It finds a solution to give Mario endless possibilities while setting limits to the madness. In fact, I feel this should be as much of a staple to Mario games as mushrooms and fireballs. My mind is exploding with the possibilities of seeing this mechanic in future Mario platformers, Smash Bros, Mario RPGs, and crossovers with screaming rabbits.

However, this being a Nintendo game, captures do come with pointless tacked on motion controls. While the motion controls are completely optional, they provided more efficient maneuvers in possessions than button presses, mostly boiling down to Mario performing the same move faster. However, this is a bizarre move considering a large portion of people will be playing this game on handheld mode, where the motion controls will really get in the way.

Odyssey’s worlds (dubbed Kingdoms) lend themselves well to capturing enemies, as each Kingdom contains its own special enemies to capture and discover secrets in a unique way. While many worlds feel standard, such as the water and ice kingdoms, many other worlds get much more creative. Instead of a lava area, for instance, Mario visits the Luncheon Kingdom, full of inhabitants resembling forks, knives and spoons and a pink soup which burns Mario if he falls in. The variety lends itself well as the game highly encourages exploration with its plethora of moons.

These moons end up being a mixed bag. Each world has another collectable varying with its theme, but is always purple and only used for buying costumes and accessories for Mario’s ship. So moons end up being the only thing needed to progress, a system which streamlines collecting yet has a few drawbacks. Because moons are the only reward, it took away much of the mystery in exploring these worlds as the prize was always a moon. This was especially apparent in the post game content (which is substantial enough to be a fundamental part of the experience) as there were no bosses or strange objectives to offer surprises once Bowser is defeated. This could have been mitigated had the challenge rooms remained hidden, but each was clearly marked on the map. It’s quite ironic a game named Odyssey had little sense of discovery for over half my experience with it.

My other beef with moons lies in just how many there are. 880 to be exact, across 16 different Kingdoms. Some of these can only have about 20, which is a reasonable number, yet others have over 80 or even 100. And at a certain point it feels like the game is just throwing as many at you as possible. The game would throw moons for actions as simple as breaking open a crate. While this does work well for playing the game on-the-go, finding moons quickly stopped feeling rewarding. Those tricky ones to find or accomplish meant nothing because Toadette gave me twenty in a row for completing tasks I wasn’t trying to do. They felt more like collecting coins in Mario 64 rather than stars. Since these are the big collectable which are meant to feel satisfying, that is an issue.

Yet even with Odyssey’s problems, nothing could take away from how much fun this game is to play. I can’t quite say that I would recommend buying a Switch to play Mario Odyssey, but I do think it is a must buy for any Switch owners. Mario Odyssey may not be perfect, but it probably has the broadest appeal of any game released this year.

VERDICT
BUY

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

KnightDriver

11/23/2017 at 11:54 AM

If and when I get a Switch, I'll at least have to try this game out. Like what you said about Mario's basic moves being fun, I think it's worth it to experience that even if the rest of the game isn't all it should be. I was wowed by Mario's moves in Mario 64 way back when. Even though I never finished the game, it was a revelation to experience the best in game mechanics. 

Our Take

Nick DiMola Director

11/27/2017 at 05:06 PM

Casey offered me a spot in this review to say my piece about this game, but I felt he did a great job explaining his position on the game, even if it runs counter to my own.

That being said, I wanted to add my two cents down here in the comments. The tl;dr version is simply that I am madly in love with this game. It's easily my game of the year, surpassing even Zelda, which in any other instance would never be the case. Given how fantastic the year 2017 has been for games, choosing a single game of the year is no small feat, but Super Mario Odyssey just ticks all the boxes for me in a big way.

Some background - Super Mario Sunshine is my favorite 3D Mario game (maybe was at this point... we'll see, need to let that sit for a bit before making such a proclamation). I've always enjoyed the more exploratory 3D Mario games, with some of the more recent ones (3D Land/World) being my least favorite in the entire span of the series. I'd always felt like Super Mario 64 basically established what we should expect from the 3D games and that was something very different from the 2D games. Starting with Galaxy things definitely pushed closer to the 2D formula and I've missed the roots of the 3D games since.

Odyssey is an exploration game first and foremost and a platformer second. There's definitely a variety of challenges that are very platforming oriented, but it's clear that the platforming mechanics are in service of the exploration. So as you might imagine, that's precisely what I've been wanting from this series for a very long time.

I know one of Casey's gripes was that the power moons were too plentiful or that some were too easy to get, thus reducing that rush of completing something and honestly, I just never felt that. I love that there are so many and that they harmonized the various widgets to collect down to moons and tokens.

It's an insanely fun game to play and the amount of effort Nintendo put into fan service is tremendous. There are so many callbacks to past Mario games and the outfits are largely callbacks in and of themselves. I'm smiling just thinking of all the clever stuff they packed into the game.

The hat mechanic with Cappy is brilliant and the gameplay opportunities they still haven't explored with what they created are numerous. I'm totally hoping for a Super Mario Odyssey 2 that's basically like Galaxy 2 was to Galaxy. Just really squeezes everything out of the formula and makes for a challenging, fun experience that's very gameplay-focused.

I highly recommend the game to everyone and I absolutely think it's worth buying a Switch for. It's the first exclusive (Zelda being on Wii U) that is a strongly compelling reason to get the hardware.

mothman

11/28/2017 at 05:09 PM

While I can certainly see Casey's side in that some Moons aren't hard to get you still have to look for most of them and that for me is the fun part. I'm probably close to the end but I'm going back through the Kingdoms and simply exploring, going for a swim, and trying things I haven't tried yet. 

As I said when I started playing, this is the Mario game I've been asking for since Mario 64 and to a lesser extent Sunshine.

I bought my Switch for Mario and I am not disappointed. I don't expect to get all the moons like my son did but I'll keep on playing until I don't feel like playing anymore. 

Nick DiMola Director

11/29/2017 at 09:46 AM

If I might make one suggestion - if you're going back and exploring now, I'd suggest "beating" the game first. There's good reason to do your backtracking after that, so just something to keep in mind.

I can totally see Casey's points as well, which is exactly why I didn't want to mess with the content of his review. While I might feel differently, I don't think that he's coming out of left field. Regardless, I think we all agree that the game is great, just probably at different levels of greatness.

Glad you're enjoying it as much as I am and that you too were looking for the same kind of Mario experience. Given how warm the reception to it has been, I'm really hoping the next few Mario offerings are also exploration-based like the earliest 3D games.

Casey Curran Staff Writer

11/29/2017 at 10:47 AM

Personally, I'm hoping for a middle ground between the two next game. I do like just roaming around these worlds, but I'd like secrets to lead to stages similar to Sunshine's FLUDD-less ones. There were a few similar to that in Odyssey, but I'd prefer if they were part of the core experience as Galaxy is by far my favorite take on 3D Mario. Feel that could be a good compromise, have enough of each that people can progress just by doing the exploration moons or seeking all the challenge stages.

Nick DiMola Director

11/29/2017 at 12:08 PM

Something close to Sunshine is fine by me. You know how I feel about that one haha.

mothman

11/29/2017 at 07:31 PM

That would be fine with me too.

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