The first reviews are in and it looks like Super Mario Odyssey isn't merely great, but one of the former-plumber's best games yet.
Various outlets published their comprehensive reviews of the latest Mario title this morning, and the early consensus suggests Odyssey is so good it may make the Nintendo Switch even harder to find than it currently is. From its inventive gameplay to epic boss battles, this game seems to be tuned to 3D platform adventure perfection.
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In his review, our Andrew E. Freedman rated Super Mario Odyssey a 9 out of 10, praising its beautiful graphics and style, joyous gameplay and addictive gameplay.
"The game is a celebration — of Nintendo's mascot, of the Switch and even of gaming itself. This title has an uncanny ability to bring a smile to your face, as if it knows just how much value escape can bring."
"It shouldn't surprise anyone that Odyssey is the best-looking Mario game ever. Each level is a mishmash of colors and patterns; there's texture in Mario’s hair and clothes, and even though the series maintains its cartoony looks, it's sharper and clearer than ever. Additionally, all of Mario’s new costumes, a mix of new ones and throwbacks to old games, look amazing, and you'll want to collect all of them."
"Super Mario Odyssey is perfection when it comes to video games as escapism. When I played over a rainy weekend, I felt as if I were surrounded by sunshine. On the train, I had to make sure I wasn't so engrossed I missed my stop. This game is truly medicine for the stressful times we live in, and gamers of all ages will fall in complete and utter love with it."
"The game's only other issue — and it's a slight one — is the camera. In general, it's pretty good, and you can use a shoulder button to home in on Mario, but I found myself occasionally being pushed too close to the hero, getting pulled too far away, or having to view him as a silhouette through trees or landscapes."
"while the Joy-Cons are generally accurate, they are anathema to the way the Switch works. When the game loads, it recommends playing with the Joy-Cons separated. It's really the only way you can play the game if you want to perform all of the gestures, like spinning Cappy in a circle, rolling the hat on the ground or tossing it high in the air. But my preferences are to play in handheld mode, cuddled up on the couch, or with the grip so it feels more like a traditional console. And good luck if you have a Pro controller."
IGN's Ryan McCaffrey awarded Super Mario Odyssey a perfect 10 out of 10, and wrote about the experience as a kind of nirvana, affixing "a giant grin" to his face. Going further, McCaffrey also notes that Odyssey continues to push the platforming genre — which Mario popularized — further into the future with innovative gameplay.
"Whether thrashing about as a huge, realistic-looking T-rex in the prehistoric-themed Cascade Kingdom or becoming a lowly Goomba but then making a stack of Goombas 10-tall to win over a hard-to-impress Lady Goomba, Odyssey mixes up the gameplay in surprising ways in each of its 16-plus worlds. Throughout the entire campaign, you’re using new creatures in new, game-changing ways on a regular basis."
"Odyssey’s inspired integration of 2D gameplay – complete with Super Mario Bros.-era 8-bit art – deserves special mention. ... each blends pure, weapons-grade retro gameplay with numerous other callbacks while still mixing things up in ways they never appeared in those original games, such as flipping gravity or wrapping the 2D scene around the corner of a 3D object. They bend the rules so far they go beyond even the most ambitious creations we saw in Super Mario Maker."
"The end of the New Donk City portion might, in fact, be the very peak of the pleasure that Odyssey delivers on a consistent basis. Its conclusion is a literal celebration that doubles as a figurative one; Odyssey is pure joy that seems to understand and relish that about itself."
"The drawback to playing on the go is that the tiny screen doesn’t do nearly as good a job of showing off the scope and detail of the characters and worlds, such as the funny faces Mario makes when performing certain actions and the tiny 8-bit icons hidden on some walls. (Toss Cappy at them to get a quick gold-coin reward!). Of course, it’s every bit as good a game in handheld mode."
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In their review for Polygon's Philip Kollar and Allegra Frank rated Super Mario Odyssey a nearly-perfect 9.5 out of 10. And while Kollar disagrees with IGN's review, saying the Switch's screen is great for this title, these co-reviewers disagreed about the fun of the boss battles.
"Super Mario Odyssey is utterly gorgeous. For whatever people might think about the Switch’s relatively underpowered hardware, it doesn’t show for a second here. Whether playing on my 4K-capable 65-inch TV or enjoying the game in handheld mode on the Switch’s screen, I am constantly impressed by how crisp and colorful its worlds are." — Philip Kollar, Polygon
"The thing I love about Mario bosses in general, and these bosses in particular, is that Nintendo is so good at signposting what you need to do to succeed." — Philip Kollar, Polygon
"Cappy may once again give Mario a new hat to wear, but the core difference here is that with those hats comes a rediscovery of how both the game and Mario himself work — he’s still punching blocks and ground-pounding, but he's not physically the Mario we’re used to. Rediscovering how Mario works is a major part of what makes Odyssey a pleasure, as well as something special." — Allegra Frank, Polygon
"The battles do sometimes interrupt the more free-flowing nature of the game's collectible-hunting segments. While it’s novel to see Mario’s new powers tested on a grand scale, challenging a boss usually feels less satisfying than finding all of those many, many moons — like a necessary evil that’s getting in the way of the greater good." — Allegra Frank, Polygon
"If you’re playing with the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers, the motion control moves are pretty easy. But as someone who still regularly experiences desyncing problems with the Joy-Cons, I preferred using the Pro Controller or playing in handheld mode. While motion controls still work with both of those setups, they’re awkward as hell to pull off." — Philip Kollar, Polygon
In Peter Brown's review for Gamespot, he rates Odyssey with a flawless 10 out of 10 score, and unlike the IGN review, he finds not a nit to pick about the latest chapter of Mario's career.
"There are also plenty of exceptional set-piece possessions to look forward to, like a T-Rex or the tank you control in New Donk City. These emphasize just how impressive Cappy's ability is in the context of a Mario game, and how Odyssey doesn't want you to just work for your moons, but enjoy the process from the get-go."
"By and large Cappy's tricks are easy to use yet difficult to master in conjunction with Mario's various flips, bounds, and hops. When used in harmony, Mario's innate athleticism and Cappy's support allow for intricate and efficient traversal. Combined with the game's typically unusual tasks, and all the capturable enemies and objects, Odyssey very quickly becomes a game that's easy to admire."
"One of the most interesting facets of Odyssey is its seamless incorporation of 8-bit Super Mario Bros. gameplay. And because these sections are 2D, it stands to reason--in a game filled with loopy logic--that these occur on the surface of locations like lake bottoms and on the side of skyscrapers. Despite the stark difference in presentation, retro challenges fit smartly not only into the spaces you're exploring, but within the general flow of gameplay. It's also the basis for one of the game's most elaborate and heartwarming scenes, especially if you're a fan of Mario."
"Odyssey is sustained beyond its major milestones not only through colorful worlds and hidden challenges, but through the sheer joy of controlling Mario, who's never felt more responsive or dynamic in action."
In his review for Kotaku, Chris Kohler lavishes praise upon Super Mario Odyssey for its level design and overall polish. His major quibble, though, is one we've seen in other reviews: this game doesn't quite fit well in the Switch's portable Handheld mode.
"Odyssey’s levels are, down to the last little patch of terrain, breathtakingly gorgeous, intricately designed, and wildly varied. Whether you’re swimming along a cliffside beach and the reefs underneath it, crawling through the dark underbrush of a forest where a realistically rendered Tyrannosaurus rex is skulking around through the trees, or leaping through an expansive desert of rust-red sand, the levels are alluring. Come over here, they say. See what’s around this corner. Don’t go to bed. It’s not 2 AM."
"the actual endgame sequence itself, everything from the discovery of Bowser’s hidden keep to the final fight to what comes after, was astonishingly good—including the extraordinary music, which is a major highlight of the whole game."
"Handheld mode is probably the most annoying: do you really want to be shaking the crap out of your whole entire Switch? The game is still quite playable in any situation, but there’s a clear hierarchy of convenience. (I’d still like to see Nintendo patch the game to let you turn them off, though.)"
In his review for The Verge, Andrew Webster argues that Super Mario Odyssey's inventive and surprising gameplay is its true star (no offense, Mario).
"At their best, Super Mario games constantly confront you with new ideas, whether it’s a new place to explore or a new ability that changes the way you interact with the world around you. And Odyssey exemplifies this more than any game in the series before. It’s simply bursting with wild creativity."
"What Odyssey does, though, is make those familiar spaces feel like part of a larger whole, and then adds new elements on top. This world structure also makes the game a great fit for the Nintendo Switch, as you can explore huge parts of the world while lazing on the couch, or get in a quick challenge while on the go."
"Like pretty much every Super Mario before it, the impetus of Odyssey is a tired damsel in distress narrative: Princess Peach has been captured by Bowser, and Mario needs to rescue her."