Hold onto Your Hat – Super Mario Odyssey Review

Silhouetted adventure in Odyssey

If someone doesn’t stop Nintendo right now, according to the law of universal balance, something very, very bad awaits all of us soon. Because it is impossible to release so many amazing games in such a short period of time and think that everything will go smoothly for you. First, Breath of the Wild, then Splatoon 2, and now what? Super Mario, you say, Odyssey? No, the great cosmos won’t just let it go. Maybe in 2018 we’ll have to unlock games from loot boxes or every release will turn into Borderlands 2, but something like that will definitely happen.

However, you know what? Let it be. “Odyssey” gives such sincere, positive, and warm emotions that you can even withstand a flood after it. Even in the company of a former plumber, it’s not scary.

Bowser's menacing presence

As Mario embarks on another adventure in his century, it is probably unnecessary to explain for long. Everyone knows about the restless Bowser and his eternal captive Princess Peach, and Nintendo understands that the “damsel in distress” motif has always worked beautifully in the context of the series – and will continue to work for a very long time. Immediately after Kingdom Battle It’s a bit unusual to hear the helpless “Ma-a-a-ario-o-o!” again, but canonical images oblige.

The important thing is that our hero is no longer alone. To the rescue operation, Mario is joined by Cappy – a sharp-eyed, intelligent hat that not only chatters for both of them but also plays the role of a very useful tool in our arsenal. The newly acquired comrade allows for full exploitation: he can be thrown at enemies, thus avoiding close contact, used to collect coins, or even as an improvised platform. However, his main skill and, at the same time, the main trick, Odyssey, is much more interesting.

In addition to everything else, Cappy is capable of taking on the form and characteristics of various creatures and objects. This process is called, ahem, “capturing,” and it is the best thing that has happened to platformers in many, many years.

Setting sail on a grand ship
Donning stylish glasses

Surely you have caught yourself thinking something like “I wish I could do that” when encountering characters with unique tricks in other games. It could be some ordinary spider crawling on walls, or a flying boss – anyone who can do more than you, or just something different. Especially if that “something different” would save a lot of nerves when passing a tricky section, if only game designers weren’t such annoying pests.

Nintendo, on the other hand, wants us to be able to do absolutely everything. Need to reach the bottom of a body of water but lack oxygen? Possess a passing fish and explore the depths of the sea as much as you want. An interesting passage is blocked by a wall? Throw your hat on a tank and blast through the obstacle with a precise (or not so precise) shot. In a moment, we are building a giant tower made of goombas, and shortly after, we are wreaking havoc in the skin of a mustachioed tyrannosaurus, solving completely different tasks.

For each controlled objective, there is a small mechanic that neatly fits into just two buttons, but feels like a solid mini-game at least. The root idea is encapsulated in their skillful combination: Super Mario Odyssey does not adhere to a specific set of abilities, but constantly shuffles them. The problems change – along with them, the methods change, and vice versa. And considering how much can be influenced by hat-throwing and how cleverly whole stages are built around this trick, they never stop changing.

Confronting a Goomba adversary

The philosophy of the game itself is transforming. Each new level is not so much “How do I properly use my abilities?” but rather “What abilities do I have this time?” You never know in advance whether you’ll have to fly, shoot, stretch, or wear fashionable glasses through which you can see phantom bridges. You don’t even always know if you’ll have to play in 3D or not. You only know that it will be controlled with the same Y and B buttons.

That’s why the transitions between kingdoms in Odyssey really feel like a journey to other worlds. The difference is not only visual – they all operate according to their own mysterious rules, which are learned and utilized through Cappy.

Transitioning into the 2D world
A speedy taxi ride

This by no means means that Mario himself takes a back seat. On the contrary, the running and jumping part here is the main one and is worked out no worse than the trendy hat tricks. The description of all the acrobatic talents of the cheerful Italian takes up a whole encyclopedia in the game, and not without reason. Mario has some crazy number of variations of jumps, rolls, and dashes, which, with the necessary skill, are combined into extremely impressive combos. It is not necessary to master everything for comfortable passage, but without some techniques from the “extended” list, the path to certain secrets will be closed to you.

In Super Mario Odyssey, of course, there is a huge, simply indecent number of secrets. Exploration is entirely dedicated to collecting coins and moons, and finding anything here is the greatest pleasure. The critical mass of collectibles necessary for progress in the plot is more or less visible, but for those who want to linger, hundreds of secluded corners with puzzles and tasks requiring attention, skill, and reaction are prepared.

Controlling a powerful tank

Amiibo power in Odyssey

Well, at least it came in handy somewhere.

This, if you will, is the second layer of the game, more hardcore, as absurd as it may sound. Odyssey works and positions itself as a project for children – but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing for the adult audience here. In reality, the side activity makes up about 70 percent of all the content, and not all of it is as easily cracked as on the main path. What can I say: I still have about a dozen challenges that I simply couldn’t complete. To be fair, I’m far from being a professional platformer… er (platformer player?), but still.

Perhaps it is the exploratory element that captivates the most. It’s the feeling of true discovery every time you find an unfamiliar piece or finally understand where the last moon is hidden in the well-explored locations. The same childlike delight was once evoked in me by the excellent Psychonauts – only there, new things were discovered with the acquisition of new gadgets. Here, it is revealed with the acquisition of new knowledge about the mechanics that were initially in your hands. Or, more accurately, on your head.

Facing formidable bosses

Only two facts slightly overshadow the impression. Firstly, many boss battles turned out to be much more boring and trivial than anything else. The rabbits from Bowser’s entourage, whose names are already forgotten, irritate more with the predictability of their algorithms than they conclude the preceding creative marathon. Without these clashes in principle, little would have changed.

Well, secondly, Nintendo is becoming more and more aggressive in pushing the use of gyroscopes. Yes, when launching “Odyssey,” it is stated that you can play however and with whatever you want – only about half of the hero’s moves have no button alternatives at all. Waving the Pro controller or, God forbid, the whole “Switch” is not a great idea, so willingly or unwillingly, you have to switch to separate Joy-Cons mode.

Loading screen

In all other respects, Super Mario Odyssey turned out to be a phenomenal adventure – unpredictable and inventive, but on a traditionally simple and friendly basis. If you, like many others, constantly wonder where games like “Mario” and “Zelda” get such sky-high ratings on Metacritic, this is your best chance to clarify the situation for yourself. And at the same time, get acquainted with one of those games that can bring generations together.

Super Mario Odyssey
Adventure, Co-op
Nintendo EPD
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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