Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
Creative worlds to explore
A wide range of difficulty
Super Mario Odyssey is a 3D platformer fun for all ages. Its exploration-based gameplay adds a fun new twist to traditional Mario, making it an instant classic on the Nintendo Switch.
Super Mario Odyssey is a 3D platformer balanced to be fun for all ages and all ranges of gameplay abilities. Players can explore unique, visually fun worlds by solving puzzles and jumping through courses. You’re still able to enjoy traditional Mario platforming gameplay, but with a new and exciting flare. We took a close look at its plot, gameplay, graphics, and kid-friendliness―and found Odyssey to be an instant winner.
Super Mario Odyssey either requires a cartridge or a download, depending on whether or not you purchased the physical version of the game or the digital one. The setup is simple. Once inserted or installed, you’ll launch the game and start it. You’ll be shown a quick cut scene before the main menu will open and ask if you’d like to start a new game.
Like many Mario games, the premise is saving Princess Peach from the horrible Bowser. In the beginning, a cut scene plays where Mario fights Bowser in his attempt to save the Princess. But Mario doesn’t fare well, and a classily dressed, suit-wearing Bowser throws Mario into the sky and off his flying ship.
Mario’s hat is destroyed as he plummets to the ground, falling unconscious on a new world. A new character, a small ghost-like hat, picks up the remains of Mario’s iconic hat and watches Bowser fly off. This ghost-hat’s name is Cappy, and he’ll wake up Mario―or you, in this case―and offer his help because Bowser hasn’t just taken Princess Peach hostage, he’s also taken Cappy’s sister.
Simply put, if you own a Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey is a must buy.
You’ll set out as a duo, with Cappy leading you through his world to a wired electrical post where you’ll travel to the next world over. There, Cappy will help you find enough moons to power an old, forgotten airship belonging to Cappy’s people. This will help establish the basic premise of the game.
You’ll go to a new world as you chase after Bowser, and there, you will hunt for moons. These moons, once brought to your new ship, will grow the size of the airship’s balloon, increasing its ability to travel further. Broodals (evil anthropomorphic rabbits that serve Bowser) will try to stop you, and you’ll have to fight a different one in each world as you go. These boss battles are what leads up to your inevitable face-off against Bowser, and hopefully this time, with Cappy’s help, you’ll be able to save Princess Peach and Cappy’s sister.
In Super Mario Odyssey, the gameplay ranges from casual platforming with simple jumps, to more difficult maneuvers where you must use Cappy to reach places and unlock areas you wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise.
Some of what Cappy has to offer is simple. You can throw Cappy in a circle around you, and he’ll spin, knocking down enemies nearby. But Cappy can do a whole lot more than that. He can also take control of certain creatures you’ll meet, allowing you to interact with the world in a unique way. In one, you can take control of a dinosaur and use it to smash through blocks that are otherwise impenetrable. In another, you’ll be able to take over a fish and swim underwater without fear of drowning. This new abilities Cappy offers Mario are part of what gives Super Mario Odyssey a unique feel.
Even with this uniqueness, Odyssey still connects to previous Mario games as a platformer. While it does give you a sense of open-world exploration, where you’re given an objective of collecting a certain number of moons per level, it’s up to you to find these moons. You can also find purple coins scattered throughout the game. These let you buy cosmetics like stickers for your ship, clothing, or statues. It’s also up to you if you’re going to attempt to find every single moon and purple coin, or just enough to move on to the next world.
There’s also an amazing balance, where the game combines the new visuals of these worlds with the old visuals of previous Mario games for a bit of nostalgic flair.
Finding moons can also range in difficulty. Some moons are very easy to find, requiring little to no puzzle solving. But others take some thinking, such as the one in Wooded Kingdom, where you’ll travel through a series of pipes and have to figure out which will lead you to the moon. Others will take skill, such as in Sand Kingdom where you must ride a Jaxi (stone lion-like creatures) through a course to reach the moon at the end.
It’s this range of difficulty that can both be fun, but also frustrating. Some moons feel impossible to reach, while others feel so simple, you come across them without even meaning to. Either way, prepare yourself because there’s a lot to discover and find in Odyssey. It’s easy to get lost in the game for hours trying to do it all.
Even though this game has a childish feel to its graphics with its bright, saturated colors, it’s still beautiful. The visuals are smooth and artistic. The game designers clearly took a lot of care in creating the worlds and making sure they each had something special to offer visually.
In the introductory world, Cap Kingdom, the bright yellow moon is beautifully set against the ghostly-white landscape. Sand Kingdom’s colorful buildings pop against the orange sand, and Cloud Kingdom is pastelly and dream-like. The stunning visuals of each world just make you want to explore the next and the next. There’s also an amazing balance, where the game combines the new visuals of these worlds with the old visuals of previous Mario games for a bit of nostalgic flair.
For instance, while you’ll encounter enemies recognizable from previous Mario games, such as Goombas and Cheep Cheeps, you’ll also be introduced to new characters you’ve never met before, such as the fork locals from the Luncheon Kingdom. This combination of old with the new gives long-time players a bit of nostalgia, while still providing enough excitement to carry the gameplay forward.
Super Mario Odyssey is a game everyone will love. The mechanics aren’t overly complicated, but do have a range of difficulty. If your goal in the game is to hunt down every purple coin and every moon, you’ll have to take the time to learn how to use all of the special skills Cappy allows Mario, not to mention timing your jumps perfectly. But if you aren’t the best platformer, it doesn’t matter. You can still accomplish enough of the game to play till the end. This range of difficulty is part of what makes the game great for any age. Whether you’re good at games or not, competitive or casual, old or young, you can play Odyssey whatever way works best for you.
Whether you’re good at games or not, competitive or casual, old or young, you can play Odyssey whatever way works best for you.
As an added bonus there’s co-op, where a friend can play as Cappy and help you along the way. Admittedly, Mario can do a lot more in the game than Cappy can, so whoever is interested in playing the main action character should take the role of Mario. But Cappy can still help, making jumps easier for Mario, and helping with attacks in boss fights. This can be a great option for an older sibling playing with a younger sibling, or for a parent and child.
Super Mario Odyssey is worth the buy. At $59.99 MSRP, in our opinion, you get more than enough quality gameplay to warrant the cost, especially considering even after you play through the main storyline, you can still go back to each world and explore everything, finding every moon and every purple coin. That means bonus hours of gameplay to return to, and a variety of goals to chase after even after you finish the main storyline.
Depending on what you liked best about Super Mario Odyssey, there are a lot of other games that you might enjoy. On the Switch, it’s worth looking into Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Yooka-Laylee (which is also available on Playstation 4, PC, and Xbox One). Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will be more puzzle based, and be similar to certain puzzle solving aspects of Super Mario Odyssey.
Yooka-Laylee will share the 3D platforming feel of Odyssey, as well as its bright colors and contrasting visuals. Yooka-Laylee also has local co-op, just like Super Mario Odyssey if you’re looking for another game to play with a friend or significant other.
The last game worth looking at is A Hat in Time (available on PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One). A Hat in Time is very similar to Super Mario Odyssey, with the adventurous feel of a 3D platformer, a fun kid-friendly design, and a combination of puzzles and fighting.
A game worth every penny
Super Mario Odyssey is a game even players who aren’t Nintendo fans will love. The 3D platforming has smooth controls, with a variety of mechanics available to help you explore every nook and cranny the world has to offer. The visuals are fun and yet still beautiful. Cappy is a great new addition to the Mario team, and has a personality all his own that stands strong. Simply put, if you own a Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey is a must buy.