A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Mario Odyssey is the latest platformer/open-world adventure in the long-running game franchise that's more than 30 years old. The game has simple controls, but some awkward camera angles and split-second timing may frustrate some players. While there's violence throughout the game, it's cartoonishly shown without blood or gore, and enemies disappear in a puff of smoke. Players will use fireballs, pans, fists, and even a cap to defeat their foes. The game supports amiibo, which are sold separately; players use them to search for moons and can use Super Mario Odyssey-themed amiibo to unlock specific game items, like invincibility, extra health, or coins. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.
What's it about?
In SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY, Bowser captures Princess Peach once again with plans to marry her as soon as possible. Not only does the spiky villain toss Mario off of his floating airship, he destroys Mario's favorite cap in the process as he flies off into the sky. Fortunately for Mario, he lands in the Cap Kingdom, a world populated by hat spirits. Here, he becomes friends with Cappy, a young ghost that can turn into any piece of headgear he can imagine. Cappy has his own issue with Bowser: his younger sister was captured by Bowser to serve as a wedding tiara for Peach. Teaming up, the duo take off in a hat-shaped airship (known as the Odyssey) charged by Power Moons, items found by undoing the chaos Bowser has caused across more than a dozen open worlds. But can Mario and Cappy catch up and stop the wedding before it's too late?
Is it any good?
Mario's latest adventure is a fun-filled journey from beginning to end, and its gameplay has more than enough action to intrigue old and new fans alike for hours. Sure, it may feel familiar, especially if you've played Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario Sunshine, but it's the way that Odyssey elevates the play with the Switch's responsive motion controls that stands out. In fact, much of this is tied to the addition of Cappy as your new companion, because he's unbelievably versatile. He can collect coins and trigger environmental switches. He can slingshot Mario across the map and break open objects. But Cappy can also be used to deflect projectiles and knock out enemies. Even better, Cappy can "capture" some foes, using their abilities to your advantage. That means you can swim and explore in the body of a Cheep Cheep fish, or toss fireballs and frying pans as a Hammer Bro. You'll probably spend a large amount of time tossing Cappy around each world just to see what he can do and how it changes your gameplay. Arguably, he's one of the better companions Mario's had in quite some time.
But it's not just the addition of Cappy. Odyssey has so many great touches that gaming fans will enjoy. For example, there's seamless movement from the 3D open-world adventure to the classic 2D Super Mario Bros.-style gameplay when you go down a pipe. There are huge homages to Donkey Kong, from the inclusion of New Donk City (and Mayor Pauline, aka Mario's first love interest) to its girder-inspired stages. There are even extra collectible Power Moons and Multi-Moons (like the Stars in Galaxy and the Shines in Sunshine) in each stage that encourage exploration (and can unlock extra content). It's almost perfect. The only knock here is that the camera angle can sometimes be poor, even when you try to move it around. This can get complicated when you need to make precise jumps, especially toward the end of the game. The other issue is that clothing and outfits are virtually meaningless. With Cappy effectively taking the place of suits or power-ups, outfits are simply a new visual look for Mario based on a world's theme. His clothing choices can open up a level in each kingdom, but that's about it; it would've been more impressive if Mario's fashion choices had a bigger impact on the characters or the overall gameplay from level to level. But these minor issues aside, Super Mario Odyssey is an instant classic. It's one of those games that could easily sell tons of Switches by itself, and proves that the magic is back with Nintendo's main hero once again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about consumerism. Since this is the latest installment in a massively popular franchise, do you think its release automatically promotes other games in the series? Do you feel the need to buy amiibo to unlock items in the game, or are you fine with exploring it without additional aid?
Talk about exploration. What do you enjoy about going someplace new? Discovering things? Finding out what's around the next corner? Sharing what you've found and seen with friends?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: October 27, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Princesses and Fairies, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.