Super Mario Odyssey is earning rave reviews from video game critics, ahead of its release. The game is without a doubt one of the most highly-anticipated gaming releases of the year. With Nintendo hoping that it will be one of the crowning jewels in their latest console (the Nintendo Switch), there are high levels of expectation surrounding the platformer, with plenty of hype in past months leading up to this moment.
From all of the promotional material released online ahead of the game's release, it looks as if those working on Odyssey have done their best to capture the magic of 3D sandbox-type Mario games of the past - at the same time, capitalizing on their success, building on the foundations they’ve laid out, and giving players an entirely new experience, with nods to the past.
With the critics’ embargo lifted, a number of high profile reviews have been shared online, giving hugely positive opinions and views of the latest title to hit the Switch console. Here’s a roundup of some of the most relevant, spoiler-free reviews available:
It’s not easy to go back and play Mario’s previous free-roaming adventures. Mario 64 is great fun, of course, but it’s also old enough to drink and feeling every year of it. Super Mario Sunshine, assuming you still have a GameCube, starts off strong but devolves into a frustrating Blue Coin hunt. These are brilliant games, but they were begging for a modern interpretation. Odyssey, to be released Friday on Nintendo Switch, fits the bill perfectly. It’s not a slavish recreation of the old Marios, but a fresh take that feels unlike any other game in the series.
Eurogamer – Oli Welsh
So there’s both freshness and nostalgia to be found in Odyssey, which resurfaces a dormant mutation of Mario, only previously seen in full effect in 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine and 1996’s epochal Super Mario 64. This Mario is defined by open, ‘sandbox’ levels stuffed with secrets and multiple goals that do not necessarily need to be attempted in order, but that sometimes change the context of the level when you complete them. Odyssey expands this structure without fundamentally altering it. After so long away, it feels refreshing and startlingly modern in its freedom, just like Breath of the Wild – and yet this approach was nailed by Shigeru Miyamoto, in his first attempt at designing games in 3D, over 20 years ago. If anything, Odyssey serves to underline just how radical a design Super Mario 64 was – and still is.
Gamespot – Peter Brown
Super Mario Odyssey displays a clear understanding of what makes Mario tick, and is neck and neck for top billing among its esteemed predecessors. It surprises you with not just inventive mechanics, of which there are many, but with expertly tuned level design and moments of charismatic wit. It is comfortable in its absurdity and wields this attitude to cut through the limitations of its otherwise straightforward structure and keep you smiling along the way.
Quibbles aside, Super Mario Odyssey is an absolute delight, and another Switch release that will have Nintendo fans debating which 3D Mario game is the best of them all. I still hang my hat on Super Mario Galaxy as the pinnacle of the series, but Odyssey and its wealth of gameplay styles and moons make it a close second.
Polygon – Philip Kollar and Allegra Frank
That’s the pitch, the hook to Super Mario Odyssey: that Mario can be whatever you need him to be. But that’s really just a reiteration of what Mario has always been to both Nintendo and his fans (he’s previously been a pro golfer, kart racer, time traveler and much more), and perhaps that’s why the new cap-slinging mechanic feels like such a natural fit. Super Mario Odyssey is an extended riff on the legacy of its hero, a moustachioed man who began life as a humble plumber before becoming a bona-fide expert in practically everything.
IGN – Ryan McCaffrey
I literally applauded as the end credits rolled on Super Mario Odyssey. I’d spent the 15 hours with a giant grin on my face, and somehow the climax put the perfect surprising and delightful exclamation point on the plumber’s latest adventure. This is another brilliant redefinition of the very platforming genre he helped popularize 30 years ago. And best of all, even with the story complete, Odyssey has so much more fun to offer.
There are plenty of firsts for Mario in Super Mario Odyssey. The whole concept of Odyssey itself – both in the literal sense of the word meaning a great journey and also being the name of Mario’s new ship – is an unknown quantity for Mario. He’s leaving his happy, safe confines of the Mushroom Kingdom and instead of just taking a little holiday, he’s off on the most epic quest yet to rescue Peach. Again.
The Guardian – Jordan Erica Webber
Cappy could have joined the ranks of annoying video game sidekicks, but he has some lightly funny lines, and it’s sweet to watch him read to Mario from a kind of tourist pamphlet for each new World as they approach in the Odyssey (you can even see those pamphlets for yourself, any time you open the in-game map).
Although it’s still just as fun to run around as Mario, especially as he leans his body to the sound and sticks out his arms like an uninhibited infant, Cappy is a welcome new companion; he gives you so much more to play with.
VentureBeat – Mike Minotti
Even after the credits roll, you’ll have a ton to do. You unlock more costumes and even levels by collecting more Moons. Days after I defeated the final boss, I’m still putting hours into Odyssey as I try to unlock every Moon. I’m not doing this for the sake of being a completionist. I’m doing it because I’m having a blast.
The latest Mario adventure has a lot of Nintendo DNA running through it. Perhaps that’s an obvious statement to make, so let me clarify: Odyssey is part Super Mario Sunshine, part Mario 64, and it also shares commonalities with this year’s Zelda, Breath of the Wild. For those of you scared as you read this, don’t be. This is an incredible, addictive adventure that uses history to its advantage, with nods to long-time fans oozing from every nook and cranny. Odyssey’s many locations beg to be explored, pored over, and savoured.
Whether or not players will agree with the outpouring of love for Super Mario Odyssey remains to be seen, but the critical reception is pretty much universally positive at this stage. Still, the proof is in the pudding, so expect to see plenty of headlines in the near future about sales amounts of both consoles and the game itself surrounding its release. For related reasons, Super Mario Odyssey seems destined to become a huge talking point for months to come.
Super Mario Odyssey debuts on the Nintendo Switch on Friday, October 27.
Source: Various [see the above links]