Super Mario Odyssey review: A sequel that more than lives up to its name

Mario Odyssey Wooded Kingdom
(Image: © iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: Super Mario Odyssey is one of the greatest platformers and was an epic way to launch the Nintendo Switch. It's fun, challenging, and will have you coming back for more. With new game mechanics, charming characters, and so many ways to play, this is definitely a title that needs to be in your Switch library if it isn't already.


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    Fun and challenging platforms

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    Creative levels

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    Charming characters

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    Plenty of extras to keep you playing

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    Nostalgic touches

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    Great graphics and catchy soundtrack


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    Co-op isn't that great or necessary

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    The storyline is basic...but it's Mario.

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Super Mario Odyssey Switch Hero

Super Mario Odyssey Switch Hero (Image credit: Nintendo)

The Super Mario franchise has been around since 1985, and 32 years is a long time for any series to stick around and still feel fresh. While Nintendo's mascot consistently has fantastic platformers, every so often, one game rises out of the rest to truly be something noteworthy. Since Mario 64, the Mario saga has been solid, but not quite outstanding. Sure, titles like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D World were a lot of fun, but the formula remained pretty much the same with a few additional details to make it feel new.

However, Super Mario Odyssey crushed that trend by becoming one of the best platforming experiences to date. The latest franchise entry in the beloved series takes platforming to new heights with clever level design, exciting new game mechanics, and enough endgame content to keep you playing well past the main story.

Super Mario Odyssey: Hats off to Nintendo

Mario Odyssey Desert

Mario Odyssey Desert (Image credit: iMore)

We join our hero, Mario, in a battle against his old rival, Bowser. King Koopa has kidnapped Princess Peach again, but this time he intends to make her his bride. Unfortunately, Bowser has some new tricks up his sleeve and takes off, leaving Mario hat-less and plummeting to the world below. All is not lost! Our favorite plumber has a new companion, Cappy, to help him in his quest to rescue the princess.

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CategoryGame Name
TitleSuper Mario Odyssey
ConsoleNintendo Switch
Game Size5.6 GB
Play Time15-60 hours
PlayersSingle-player, two-player

The storyline may be standard Mario fare, but the gameplay puts a new spin on things. Cappy is more than just a wise-cracking side-kick — he is the game mechanic. Mario can throw his pal at all sorts of objects and enemies to take over their bodies. Mario can even become a Goomba. You can also use Mario's new hat to reach new heights, cause damage, or as a temporary platform if you time it right. Rather than just a bunch of costumes that give players powers, this design breaks that mold.

But don't worry! Costumes are still a thing, and Mario will still have different powers; things just work a little differently in Super Mario Odyssey. When using Cappy to take control of other creatures, players gain different abilities. Goombas can stack, Chain Chomps can crumble walls, and you can become a T-rex. And believe me, it is so much fun.

Mario can still run, jump, and wall-kick his way around. This game takes all the best parts of previous franchise entries and molds it into one beautiful platforming experience.

Exploring the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond

Mario Odyssey Stacking Goombas

Mario Odyssey Stacking Goombas (Image credit: iMore)

Like previous Mario games, the main goal of Super Mario Odyssey is to collect certain objects and save Princess Peach. To catch up to Bowser, Mario has to visit different worlds and collect Moons to power his spaceship, the Odyssey. Each planet the famous plumber visits has already been terrorized by Bowser and needs a little help. Every world has a unique theme and level design that has an open-world feel, but a classic Mario touch.

Within each area, players can take the time to explore, complete mini-missions, access mini-games, and get lost. The world themes come with more than just distinct designs from a metro city to a food-inspired landscape. The challenges hide secret moons, nostalgic nods, and fun extras, like a volleyball game or stunning musical number.

While on the subject of music, the soundtrack is catchy and captures the spirit of traditional Mario games with a modern twist. It doesn't get old, even if you die a hundred times. Nintendo pulled out all the stops to make its classic platformer a brand new experience.

Costumes, end-game, and collectibles!

Mario Odyssey Koopa Troopa

Mario Odyssey Koopa Troopa (Image credit: iMore)

While the main story is only about 15 hours long if you do the bare minimum, there is so much more you can do to explore the world of Super Mario Odyssey. After finishing the game, players can return to each world with brand new objectives and side missions.

The easiest thing to do in a playthrough is to collect costumes. Mario can purchase fun hat and suit combos that match the theme of each world. Some cost a few gold coins, while others require special currency you can find as you explore the levels, like purple snowflakes, gears, or pyramids. These costumes don't really impact the game, but it's fun to have Mario run around levels dressed up like a 1920s mob boss, for instance. The more power moons you buy, the more you can unlock. Or you can just use an amiibo if you don't want to put in the work.

Mario Odyssey Moon Map

Mario Odyssey Moon Map (Image credit: iMore)

Finding the Power Moons in Mario is not only part of the main quest, but it's also a good chunk of the end game as well. Players can scour the world and find 880 unique power moons, or 999 if they double up on a few dupes. You can find them anywhere. Catch a bunny? Get a moon. Do a mini-mission? Get a moon. Defeat a game boss? Get three moons!

You only need 124 moons to beat the game, but why stop there when there are so many to collect? Plus, not every moon is collectible until after you finish the main quest. Once you beat the game, you can unlock maps to help you locate any moons you may have missed. As you collect more moons, more things open up to you, like different worlds and additional costumes.

Aside from moons, costumes, and coins, there are plenty of other things to collect: stickers to decorate the Odyssey ship, souvenirs, and even music. Every jump into Super Mario Odyssey will have you doing something new.

Mini-games galore

Mario Odyssey Luigi

Mario Odyssey Luigi (Image credit: iMore)

Mini-games are peppered throughout the Super Mario Odyssey universe. These activities range from jumping rope without stumbling to playing volleyball. Playing and succeeding at these mini-games can earn you more Power Moons, but really, the mini-game everyone wants to play is Luigi's Balloon World.

Introduced in February 2018 via a game update, Luigi gets to take part in Mario's new adventure... sort of. In a subtle nod to the Nintendo classic Balloon Fight, players have to find balloons hidden by other players. If you find balloons, you get coins.

You can replay any of these challenges multiple times, and it's a fun way to earn coins fast. Plus, you can brush up on your platforming skills in the process and become a real Mario pro.

Super Mario Odyssey really uses that Switch hardware

Nintendo Switch and accessories

Nintendo Switch and accessories (Image credit: iMore)

A final plus for Super Mario Odyssey is that it takes advantage of all the Nintendo Switch has to offer. It uses motion controls, amiibo, and works great on the dock and in handheld mode. If you aren't a fan of the motion controls, like me, you can opt out. I tend to favor my Pro Controller, which works great for this type of game.

It is worth noting that if you have a Switch Lite, some of these options are not going to be available. Since plenty of Mario's moves are tied to motion controls, players can end up shaking their Switch Lite around, or you may have to opt out of that play option entirely. It's also more challenging to play co-op using the handheld system, but as you'll learn, you might not want to touch that feature at all.

Super Mario Odyssey: A few odds and ends

Mario Odyssey Moon

Mario Odyssey Moon (Image credit: iMore)

When it comes to negatives, there are a few areas that Super Mario Odyssey is lacking, but most of them are pretty nit-picky. The story follows the traditional Mario shtick, but I can't imagine anyone is picking up this game for an emotional journey. It does add some new twists on an old favorite, but the innovative game mechanics and rich worlds more than make up for any shortcomings.

The only true area Super Mario Odyssey fails is the co-op experience. Past Mario games were either a solo experience or Player Two took the form of Luigi, Princess, or Toad. Both players would either attempt the level at the same time or play off and on, like in Super Mario 3. Sometimes it was even a competition! The way Odyssey does it is a little different, and not nearly as satisfying.

Instead of joining Mario as Toad or Luigi, Player Two can control Cappy. This can prove to be frustrating if both players aren't cooperating. Imagine trying to get a carefully placed power moon, and then your partner trolls you by moving Cappy away at a crucial moment. The co-op play here doesn't feel like it fits since Cappy acts as an extension of Mario and is the source of all his power. Mario can't take control of enemies without his partner, and crowd control is way more complicated. The game works better as a solo experience.

Super Mario Odyssey: Should you buy it?

Mario Odyssey Metro

Mario Odyssey Metro (Image credit: iMore)

If you love Super Mario or you're a fan of platforming in general, this game needs to be in your Nintendo Switch library. With clever new game mechanics, a fun cast of characters, catchy-tunes, and so much to do, this is a game you will not only sink plenty of hours into but pick up multiple times.

While other Mario games are a joy to play, few titles pull me back in time after time — Super Mario 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, and now Super Mario Odyssey. It's one of those games with a perfect balance of difficulty for hardcore players and easy levels to help introduce anyone to the series. It's just plain fun.

If you are looking for a title that you can lose literal hours playing, Super Mario Odyssey is the pick for you. While the co-op may not be as great, there is so much more about this franchise entry that can delight players of all levels. So, hang on to your hat and grab what is easily one of the platformers in years.

Sara Gitkos

Sara is the Freelance Coordinator, writer, and editor at iMore. When not editing or writing away, she's glued to her Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or PS5, though she's a retro gamer at heart.