Super Mario Odyssey is another stellar game in the franchise — but it’s anything but a classic one. For Mario’s first big Switch outing, Nintendo made a surprisingly large number of changes to the series formula. Follow along for some of the biggest ways that Odyssey shakes things up.
A hub ship, not a hub world
Other sandbox-y Mario games give our hero a nice, familiar place to return to after finishing a level. Super Mario Galaxy has Rosalina’s home planet; Super Mario 64 has Peach’s Castle. Those felt homey in a way that, frankly, Super Mario Odyssey’s version doesn’t. Instead of an area to run around between his travels, Mario and his magical pal Cappy hang out in their hat-shaped ship, the Odyssey. It’s really quaint ... maybe too quaint. But at least it has a fun costume closet to play with.
No more lives to worry about ...
Instead of collecting and protecting lives, Mario has a stack of coins to rely on. Every time he dies, he loses 10 coins. It’s actually an appreciated change, as the game instead prioritizes giving players time to explore without any of the stress of limited lives.
But what happens when he ends up with 10 coins or less? Well ...
... and no more “Game Overs,” either
If Mario ends up completely out of coins and then kicks the bucket, there’s no “Game Over” screen that boots you back to the main menu. Instead, he’ll just end up back at whatever location he last exited from. As we wrote back in July when Nintendo first revealed this change, this is bittersweet. It’s not like we ever enjoyed losing our progress and starting over, but it’s an iconic feature nonetheless.
Mushrooms are missing
So there are no lives, which also means there are no 1-Up Mushrooms to collect. But there actually aren’t any Mushrooms of any kind, so don’t bother looking for them. One of the most basic things in Mario is hitting a Question Block and grabbing the Mushroom that pops out, but that’s not something that ever happens in Super Mario Odyssey. If you want to make Mario all giant-sized, well, have Cappy take over a big enemy for him to transform into.
Mario plays dress-up for fun, not power-ups
Mario’s actually always had a fashion sense, even if he doesn’t always show it off. Super Mario Odyssey encourages him to embrace his style, making it an important part of the game. There’s a bunch of hats and outfits to wear; he can even run around (mostly) in the buff. But while Mario’s familiar cat suits and tanuki suits and white-and-red overall ensembles would grant him both a new look and new powers, that’s generally not the case here. Dressing Mario in a sombrero and poncho won’t make give him a maraca weapon, just as dressing him up as Waluigi won’t make him Waluigi.
Fewer levels, but more to see of them
Super Mario Odyssey isn’t small in any sense, but if you’re accustomed to a Mario game having tons and tons of levels to try out, well, Super Mario Odyssey doesn’t quite work that way. Instead, the game is centered around a number of kingdoms that he spends a ton of time in. Think of this game not as big, but dense; there are a ton of secret pathways and collectibles to dig up, and even if a kingdom doesn’t take you long to “complete” at first, take heart that you definitely didn’t actually complete it in any sense.
There’s actual human beings
You all know New Donk City. You all love New Donk City. But you know what? Those New Donkers are honestly kind of freaky. We thought we’d be used to seeing them by now, but nah, man — seeing actual humans with realistic proportions is still extremely jarring. It’s especially weird when you consider that Mayor Pauline still has a Super Mario-style body, as does Mario. This is one change we’d be happy to see left behind with Odyssey.