Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey[b] is a platform game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch on October 27, 2017. An entry in the Super Mario series, it follows Mario and Cappy, a sentient hat that allows Mario to control other characters and objects, as they journey across various worlds to save Princess Peach from his nemesis Bowser, who plans to forcibly marry her. In contrast to the linear gameplay of prior entries, the game returns to the primarily open-ended, 3D platform gameplay featured in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.[1]

Super Mario Odyssey
The icon art shows Mario, a cartoon-like mustachioed man, jumping and throwing his anthropomorphic hat Cappy towards the viewer. Behind them is a collage consisting of screenshots from different areas from the game, including a large picture of an urban location.
Super Mario Odyssey icon featuring Mario and the anthropomorphic hat Cappy
Developer(s)Nintendo EPD[a]
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Director(s)Kenta Motokura
Producer(s)
Designer(s)
  • Futoshi Shirai
  • Shinya Hiratake
Programmer(s)
  • Norihiro Aoyagi
  • Wataru Tanaka
Artist(s)
  • Rikuto Yoshida
  • Naoki Mineta
  • Sho Murata
Writer(s)Hiroaki Hishinuma
Composer(s)
SeriesSuper Mario
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch
ReleaseOctober 27, 2017
Genre(s)Platform, action-adventure
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

The game was developed by Nintendo's Entertainment Planning & Development division, and began development soon after the release of Super Mario 3D World in 2013. Various ideas were suggested during development, and to incorporate them all, the team decided to employ a sandbox-style of gameplay. Unlike previous installments such as New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 3D World, which were aimed at a casual audience, the team designed Super Mario Odyssey to appeal to the series' core fans. The game also features a vocal theme song, "Jump Up, Super Star!", a first for the series.

Super Mario Odyssey received acclaim from critics who called it one of the best games in the series, with particular praise towards its inventiveness and originality. It also won numerous awards, including for game of the year. The game sold over 18 million copies by June 2020, making it one of the best-selling Switch games.

GameplayEdit

The player navigates the Seaside Kingdom as Mario, controlling a Goomba Tower using Cappy's capture ability
A 2D zone in the Cascade Kingdom, one of many side-scrolling sections that imitate the gameplay and visuals of the original Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Odyssey is a platform game in which players control Mario as he travels across many different worlds, known as "Kingdoms" within the game, on the hat-shaped ship Odyssey, to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, who plans to forcibly marry her.[2][3] The Kingdoms in the game return to the exploration-based level design featured in Super Mario 64.[4][5][6] Each Kingdom has Mario searching for and clearing various objectives in order to obtain items known as Power Moons, which are the power sources of the Odyssey and grant access to new Kingdoms. Checkpoint flags littered throughout each Kingdom allow Mario to instantly warp to them once activated.[7][8] Certain levels feature areas called "flat" zones, where Mario is placed in a 2D side-scrolling environment similar to his appearance in the original Super Mario Bros.[9]

In addition to his existing moves, like triple-jumping and wall-jumping, Mario can throw his cap, the physical form of a hat spirit named Cappy, in multiple directions to attack enemies and use as a temporary platform.[7][10] When the cap is thrown at certain objects, enemies, or non-playable characters, Mario is able to take possession of them, referred to as "capturing", allowing him to use unique abilities. For example, Mario can possess a Bullet Bill to fly across large gaps, a Tyrannosaurus to trample things, a bolt of electricity called a Spark Pylon to climb up electric wires, and a tank called a Sherm to fire at enemies and break blocks for passage.[11][12] Some actions can be accelerated by using motion controls in the Joy-Con controllers, but the game is otherwise fully playable when the Joy-Con are attached to the Switch console.[13] Throughout the game, Mario can pick up coins, including purple ones unique to each kingdom, to spend on items such as new hats and outfits, some of which are required for completing certain objectives.[7] The game uses a health system similar to the Super Mario Galaxy games, although Mario has unlimited lives; the only penalty for dying is paying up to ten coins. The player can also collect items known as 'Life-Up Hearts' which grant three extra hit points. The game also features cooperative play, in which a second player takes control of Cappy and can attack enemies independently of Mario.[14][15]

The game requires a minimum number of Power Moons to be collected from each Kingdom to move onto the next, though these may be obtained from any source, making major objectives largely optional. Once Bowser is defeated, each kingdom is repopulated with more Power Moons.[16] Collecting enough Power Moons allows for additional outfits to be purchased and unlocks two bonus areas. One of these areas is a boss rush called Dark Side, with 250 Power Moons required to enter. The other is a level called Darker Side that combines many elements of the game, and requires 500 Power Moons to enter. In addition to this, there is also a level based on Peach's Castle from Super Mario 64 unlocked by beating the game. This level allows Mario to face harder versions of previously-defeated bosses and earn additional Power Moons by completing in-game achievements.[17]

The game features a photo mode that allows players to use a free-moving camera to take and save screenshots, with additional options such as filters and stickers.[18][19] Use of the Odyssey-themed Mario, Peach, and Bowser Amiibo figurines allow for special in-game abilities and unlocking special costumes which are otherwise unavailable until after the player completes the game and collects enough Power Moons.[20] Other Amiibo can be scanned to provide hints to finding Power Moons.[21][17]

A hide-and-seek minigame, called "Luigi's Balloon World", was released as part of an update on February 21, 2018. In it, players have 30 seconds to hide a balloon somewhere in a kingdom, which is then able to be played by others attempting to find it. A leaderboard system ranks the players who have found the most balloons.[22][23] On April 25, 2019, the game was updated to be compatible with the Nintendo Labo virtual reality kit. In this mode, Mario must complete challenges in a number of Kingdoms to recruit musicians and give them instruments by completing tasks related to musical notes.[24]

PlotEdit

Bowser and the Broodals, a family of anthropomorphic rabbits serving as his wedding planners, kidnap Princess Peach from the Mushroom Kingdom and take her aboard Bowser's airship, intent on forcibly marrying her. Mario attempts to rescue her but is thrown off the ship by Bowser's hat and falls into the neighboring Cap Kingdom. With Mario gone, Bowser stomps on Mario's cap and lets it drift into the ship's rear propellers, shredding it to pieces.

A piece of the hat is grabbed by Cappy, one of the Cap Kingdom's sentient hat-like creatures called Bonneters; he explains to Mario that Bowser also kidnapped his sister Tiara to be used as Peach's wedding tiara. Cappy joins Mario and takes the shape of Mario's cap, providing him with the ability to throw his cap and temporarily capture other creatures and objects and utilize their abilities. They travel to the nearby Cascade Kingdom, recover an airship called the Odyssey, and begin pursuing Bowser.

Mario and Cappy explore the various kingdoms to collect Power Moons to fuel the Odyssey and battle the Broodals, who steal items including a dress, a cake, and a bouquet from each kingdom to set up Bowser's wedding. Eventually, they catch up to Bowser in his own kingdom and defeat the Broodals in their Mecha-Broodal for good. However, Bowser subsequently departs for his wedding on the Moon.

Mario and Cappy fly the Odyssey to the Moon's surface and confront Bowser inside a Moon Kingdom cathedral. The two sides battle in a cavern, which Mario wins. He frees Peach and Tiara, but the cavern begins to collapse. Mario captures an unconscious Bowser and escapes to the surface with Peach and Tiara. After Peach thanks Mario for his help, Bowser regains consciousness and decides to properly propose to Peach, causing Mario to do the same in haste. Overwhelmed, Peach turns down their proposals. Peach, Cappy and Tiara board the Odyssey. The rivals are both broken until Peach tells Mario that it's time to go home. Mario boards the ship just in time, leaving Bowser stranded in the Moon Kingdom.

In the epilogue, Mario returns to the Mushroom Kingdom, where he discovers Peach has packed her bags and decided to take a vacation to all the kingdoms Mario and Cappy visited, this time out of her own free will.

DevelopmentEdit

 
Longtime Nintendo designer Yoshiaki Koizumi served as one of the producers of the game

The game's development began after Super Mario 3D World released in late 2013, and was created by the same development team with assistance from 1-Up Studio.[10][25][26] Under director Kenta Motokura, the team experimented to find fun concepts based on the series' "theme of surprise". For example, the team found that throwing a hat was the most pleasing action to perform with the Joy-Con controller, resulting in the hat "capture" game mechanic.[10] The brainstorm resulted in a large number of eccentric prototypes,[10][27] and the developers sought to incorporate them by orienting the game as a series of dense, sandbox environments.[10] This led to the game's varied Kingdom environments, each with unique game mechanics.[27] The developers prioritized the city environment when selecting which environments to represent in Odyssey. They wanted a familiar aspect from the series to anchor players in the novel setting, and so chose Pauline, a character who first appeared alongside Mario in Donkey Kong, to be the mayor of the world known as New Donk City. Some of Mario's in-game costume options reference his various prior appearances in other games of the series, such as Mario's Picross and Super Mario Maker.[28][29]

Odyssey was designed to appeal to Mario's core audience—a departure from the series' then-recent focus on casual players.[30][31][32] Unlike prior games which send Mario back to the beginning of the level after finding each main collectible, the Power Moons are designed to be found in continual exploration, with more major collectibles than previous ones in the series. The lack of required Power Moons for game progression gave players a wider liberty to explore at their leisure rather than advancing the story—a new direction for the series and a design challenge for development staff.[27] The developers wanted players to check everything that aroused their attention for secrets.[10] Shigeru Miyamoto, the series' creator, was not involved in the game's daily decision-making, but rather served as an executive producer, with the development team consulting him on the best ways to express game concepts. Miyamoto's feedback was specific, offering suggestions rather than ultimatums, but was highly supportive overall.[33]

MusicEdit

 
Koji Kondo, the series' sound director, wrote a number of musical tracks for the game.

A first for the series, Nintendo's character development of Pauline led to them writing a vocal theme song, which ended up representing the entire game.[34] The swing music-inspired song, "Jump Up, Super Star!", was composed by the game's lead composer Naoto Kubo and performed by Kate Higgins, who also did the voice acting for Pauline.[34][35][36] The lyrics were originally written in Japanese by Nobuyoshi Suzuki, which was later localized in English by Nintendo of America employee Rob Tunstall, who refined them along with Rob Heiret, the game's lead English translator.[35] Nintendo's intent with the song was to create a "fun" jazz track that could be enjoyed outside of the game, but with references to the Mario franchise that could be further appreciated by fans of the series.[35] Additionally, they wanted a chorus that was simple enough for non-English speakers to sing along to.[35] Another vocal track featured in the game, "Break Free (Lead the Way)", was written following the same process.[37] Additional music for the game was composed by Shiho Fujii and longtime series composer Koji Kondo.

Two weeks before the game's release, Nintendo uploaded a Broadway-inspired promotional music video of the song, which featured live action dancers alongside a CGI animated Mario.[38] The song was released on the digital music storefront iTunes shortly after, breaking into the top 40 best sellers on it in the United States.[39][40] A four-disc, 136 track complete soundtrack was released in Japan by Being Inc. on February 28, 2018. It includes the English, Japanese and instrumental versions of "Jump Up, Super Star!" and "Break Free (Lead The Way)", as well as commentary from staff members who worked on the game.[41][42] In addition to the full soundtrack, a 12-track digital album was released worldwide on iTunes in December 2017.[37]

ReleaseEdit

The game was teased in the 2016 announcement trailer of the Nintendo Switch,[43][44] and formally announced at Nintendo's January 2017 presentation on the new console.[30] Gameplay footage soon followed.[45] At E3 2017, a New Donk City-themed section with multiple kiosks was set up allowing attendees to demo the game.[46]

At its announcement at E3 2017, Odyssey was the show's most popular game on social media and was considered best in show among developers in attendance.[47][48][47] Early impressions from critics noted that the game was dense with secrets and more focused on exploration than progression.[10][49] The game was released worldwide on October 27, 2017.[50] White wedding-themed Mario, Bowser, and Princess Peach Amiibo figurines were released to complement the game.[51] Nintendo released a limited edition Switch console bundle, which includes the console, a pair of Cappy-red-colored Joy-Cons, a Switch carrying case, and an eShop download code for the game.[52] In addition, Nintendo partnered with food manufacturing company Kellogg's in December 2017 to release a limited circulation of a Mario-themed breakfast cereal in the United States known as "Super Mario Cereal". The back of the box contains an NFC tag to function as an Amiibo for use in the game.[53]

ReceptionEdit

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic97/100[54]
Review scores
PublicationScore
4Players90/100[55]
Destructoid9.5/10[56]
Easy Allies     [57]
Edge10/10[58]
EGM10/10[59]
EurogamerEssential[60]
Famitsu39/40[61]
Game Informer9.75/10[62]
GameRevolution     [63]
GameSpot10/10[64]
GamesRadar+     [65]
GamesTM10/10[66]
Giant Bomb     [67]
Hardcore Gamer5/5[68]
IGN10/10[69]
Nintendo Life10/10[70]
Nintendo World Report10/10[71]
Pocket Gamer     [72]
Polygon9.5/10[73]
Shacknews9/10[74]
The Guardian     [75]
USgamer     [76]
VideoGamer.com10/10[77]

Super Mario Odyssey received critical accalim upon release. Review aggregator Metacritic ranks Odyssey as the joint fifth highest-rated game of all-time.[54][c] Andrew Webster of The Verge thought that the structure of the game lent itself well to the portable nature of the Switch, which players could play for either long sessions in order to follow the missions, or in short bursts while collecting "Power Moons", which the author compared to the "shrines", or hidden mini-dungeons, which were scattered throughout Breath of the Wild.[7] Despite the praise, Webster noted that the motion controls "felt frustratingly imprecise", preferring the accuracy of standard controls.[7] The ability for Mario to turn into his 2D Super Mario Bros. form in certain constrained segments was compared to the puzzles featured in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds,[9][79] while VentureBeat made note of the game's similarities to the Sonic the Hedgehog series.[80] Edge praised the inventiveness of the game's new ideas and the risks Nintendo had taken to deviate from the established formula of Mario games, which they believed had paid off. They likened the game to Super Mario 64 and called it the spiritual successor that had previously not yet been achieved. The magazine also complimented the introduction of Cappy and the capturing mechanic, which they called the most versatile ability in the Mario series to date, and enjoyed how the ability allowed Nintendo to reinvent a number of their favorite gameplay activities.[58] Famitsu gave the game a score of 39/40, the same as Super Mario 64 and the highest score for a 3D Mario game since then.[61] Perfect 10/10 scores were also awarded by IGN and GameSpot, who both praised the game's originality.[69][64] In contrast, Ian Dallas, the creator of What Remains of Edith Finch, gave Super Mario Odyssey a lukewarm review. He explained, "My problem with Super Mario Odyssey is that it’s not actually satisfying to finish. This is not to say it isn’t worth playing; it absolutely is. I just don’t think it’s worth finishing".[81]

Entertainment Weekly and Giant Bomb both ranked the game second in their list of the "Best Games of 2017",[82][83] and GamesRadar+ ranked it fourth on their list of the 25 Best Games of 2017,[84] while Eurogamer and Polygon ranked it third on their lists of the "Top 50 Games of 2017".[85][86] Ars Technica ranked the game as their Game of the Year,[87] while The Verge named it as one of their 15 Best Games of 2017.[88] Readers and staff of Game Informer voted it as the best platforming game of the year,[89][90] while the former also voted it as Game of the Year, along with Best Nintendo Game.[91][92] EGMNow also ranked the game at #4 in their list of the 25 Best Games of 2017.[93]

The game won the award for "Best Switch Game" in Destructoid's Game of the Year Awards 2017.[94] It also won the awards for "Best Platformer" and "Best Original Music" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards,[95][96] whereas its other nominations were for "Game of the Year" and "Best Switch Game".[97][98] It was also nominated for "Switch Retail Game of the Year" and "Overall Game of the Year" by both reader and staff votes in Nintendo Life's Game of the Year Awards.[99][100] The game won the Game of the Year award at the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers award event, where it won all but one of the categories it was nominated for.[101][102] Odyssey also won the awards in IGN's Best of E3 for "Best Platformer", "Best Nintendo Switch Game", and "Game of Show";[103] and in Destructoid's Best of E3 for "Best of Show".[104]

The song "Jump Up, Super Star!" debuted at number 33 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 for the week of November 11, 2017 [105][106]. In Japan, the song reached No. 1 on the Japanese iTunes Store[107][108][109][110]. On the US iTunes Store, the song debuted at 25 in the "All Genres" category[108][111].

Kate Higgins performed the song "Jump Up, Super Star" live at the 2017 Game Awards ceremony.[112][113][114]

SalesEdit

Three days after release, more than two million copies of the game were sold worldwide, with 500,000 in Japan.[115][116] During its launch week, the game competed with Assassin's Creed Origins, which it was narrowly outsold by in the United Kingdom.[117] In the United States and Europe, it became Nintendo's fastest-selling Super Mario game ever, with 1.1 million copies sold in the US within five days.[118][119] According to the NPD Group, the game was the best-selling video game of October 2017,[120] and was listed by Amazon as the online retailer's highest-selling game of the year.[121] By December 31, 2017, Super Mario Odyssey had sold 9.07 million copies worldwide, making it the bestselling game for the Switch.[122][123] As of September 2018, Super Mario Odyssey has sold 12.17 million copies worldwide.[124] By the end of June 2020, total sales reached 18.06 million copies.[125]

AwardsEdit

List of awards and nominations
Year Awards Category Result Ref.
2017 Game Critics Awards Best Action/Adventure Game Won [126]
Best Console Game Won
Best of Show Won
Golden Joystick Awards Nintendo Game of the Year Nominated [127][128]
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2017 Game of the Year Nominated [129]
Best Game Direction Nominated
Best Score/Music Nominated
Best Audio Design Nominated
Best Action/Adventure Game Nominated
Best Family Game Won
Titanium Awards Game of the Year Nominated [130][131]
Best Game Design Won
2018 21st Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Game of the Year Nominated [132][133]
Adventure Game of the Year Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Game Design Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design Won
SXSW Gaming Awards Excellence in SFX Won [134][135]
Excellence in Musical Score Nominated
Excellence in Animation Nominated
Excellence in Gameplay Nominated
Video Game of the Year Nominated
Game Developers Choice Awards Best Design Nominated [136][137]
Game of the Year Nominated
2018 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Video Game Nominated [138][139]
14th British Academy Games Awards Best Game Nominated [140][141]
Family Won
Game Design Won
2018 Teen Choice Awards Choice Videogame Nominated [142][143]
BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards Best Game Nominated [144]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Development assistance from 1-UP Studio
  2. ^ Sūpā Mario Odessei (Japanese: スーパーマリオ オデッセイ)
  3. ^ Super Mario Odyssey shares its status as fifth-highest rated game on Metacritic with Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Perfect Dark, Metroid Prime, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto V, Halo: Combat Evolved, and NFL 2K1. The games that are rated higher than Super Mario Odyssey are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Soulcalibur, and Grand Theft Auto IV.[78]

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