Hands-on: Super Mario Odyssey review

2017 is proving to be a great year for gaming, both for consoles and the games themselves, and some of the best things are yet to come. Nintendo's main man is coming back in a new flagship game for the Switch and here's our Super Mario Odyssey hands-on review.

We weren't able to make it across the pond for E3 2017 but thanks to Nintendo we've been able to get some hands-on time with the new Mario game, and some others like Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. We headed out to Nintendo's new showroom in Windsor for its post-E3 show.

Super Mario Odyssey will be out on 27 October, the same day as Assassin's Creed: Origins, and Wolfenstein II, and we can't wait. Before we dive in, there are many out there wondering 'will Super Mario Odyssey be on Wii U?' and the answer is no, it's exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. Find out where to pre-order the game.

To fill the gap, you might be interested in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Also, Nintendo might be working on an N64 Classic Mini.

Super Mario Odyssey story

Although there have been a number of new Mario games in recent year, Odyssey is the first sandbox-style for quite some time. See also: Best and upcoming Nintendo Switch games.

In this open-world game, you'll control Mario (of course) as he travels around different kingdoms searching for moons (not stars) so you can power up your airship called The Odyssey. You need to go and rescue, you've guessed it, Princess Peach from Bowser who this time is trying to marry the damsel in distress.

Super Mario Odyssey story

Super Mario Odyssey gameplay and features

It's not exactly hard to get stuck into a new Mario game like Odyssey, whether or not been playing them for decades or this is your, or perhaps your child's, first one. It plays as you would expect a Mario game to.

As mentioned Super Mario Odyssey is a sandbox game which means you can roam around freely rather than following a set linear path. It can get a bit confusing as a game like Super Mario 3D World is 3D but not open-world.

Odyssey is much more like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine, so there are individual levels but you can go wherever you like within the limits – there's even a map should you need it.

In the demo version we were able to play through New Donk City which is a bit like being Mario in a Grand Theft Auto (without all the stealing and violence etc) and a desert level that's plagued by ice which has a Mexican Day of the Dead theme.

Exploring is the name of the game here and we can tell just from playing two demo levels that there is many hours' worth of gameplay in Odyssey.

Super Mario Odyssey review

Cappy

In Odyssey there's an important new character. Somehow Mario's hat has sprouted eyes and come to life and Cappy can do a whole bunch of stuff in the game – we're talking essential things rather than a fun add-on.

Mario can throw Cappy out in front of him to hit enemies or even jump on as a sort of spring board. Nintendo has made good use of the motion sensors in the Joy-Con controllers so you can make Cappy move to the sides or even above Mario with gestures.

You can even throw Cappy in a circle around Mario which is great if you find yourself surrounded. Mario can still jump on enemies in the usual fashion but Cappy will help new and younger players as you don't need to get close.

Cappy can also interact with items so you can hit question mark boxes, break items and more importantly take control of things or people. We found it fun using a man in the city to control an RC car and a walking rock wearing sunglasses in the desert, among other things like controlling a Bullet Bill.

Although Super Mario Odyssey is really a single player game, a second player can take control of Cappy adding a sort of co-op element. We haven't tried this but it seems a lot better in theory than collecting stars in Mario Galaxy.

Super Mario Odyssey New Donk City

Moons

You're probably used to collecting stars in Super Mario games but it's all about moons in Odyssey and there are couple of things to note.

There's more than just one moon to collect in each level so you'll find them dotted around and you'll get them in a variety of different ways. The other thing is that you won't get kicked out once you grab the main one as there's so much more to each level.

Coins

Another staple of the Mario universe that's been tweaked is coins. No longer are you aiming to collect 100 to get another life for Mario or even a star (or moon in this case). In fact, there aren't even lives in Odyssey so if you die you just get some gold coins taken away from your stash. There isn't even the classic 'Game Over' screen.

In this game there are both gold and purple coins, the latter is uses as actual currency and the ones you collect will only be usable in each kingdom. You'll need the purple coins to buy things like moons or outfits which we'll look at next.

Super Mario Odyssey

Outfits and dress-up

In many games, being able to buy different outfits for your character is a purely aesthetic element – a bit of fun or even a way to make you buy in-game currency. In Super Mario Odyssey it's not only fun but essential.

Not only does it give Mario enough different looks to rival London Fashion Week – we particularly like the suit that makes him look like a New York gangster – but you'll need to have the right outfit to access secret and hidden parts of levels. For example, you'll need to dress as a workman in New Donk City.

It's also a nice touch that many of the costumes reference older games from Nintendo's history.

2D sections

There's a part of Odyssey which has seemingly been lifted from Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and that's no bad thing. In the game Mario can turn into a 2D version of himself that looks like it's painted onto a wall, so a small section of level plays like an old-school platformer.

It's just another element that makes it fun and Mario even retains whatever costume he's wearing – Nintendo is always thinking about the details.

Super Mario Odyssey amiibo

Amiibo

We haven't tried them and they will be sold separately, but there will be new amiibo for Super Mario Odyssey. Mario, Peach and Bowser will all be available in white wedding outfits.

Nintendo has also said 'some' previously release amiibo will work with the game. Tapping one will give you gameplay assistance and some will unlock outfits for Mario to wear.

OUR VERDICT

After playing the demo, we can't wait for Super Mario Odyssey to arrive. It will no doubt be a must have game for the Nintendo Switch and our initial impression is that it's one of the best Mario games to launch in years.