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Super Mario Odyssey’s motion controls are recommended, but not required

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You can definitely play without ... but there’s something nice about playing with

Super Mario Odyssey - safari Mario tossing Cappy Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

Super Mario Odyssey’s motion controls may be polarizing — co-reviewer Phil Kollar certainly isn’t a fan. I don’t mind them quite as much, but in case you’re in the same position as Phil and would rather play without, good news. The motion controls can be ignored, and even turned on or off when it comes to the gyroscopic camera, although playing the game sans motion comes with some finagling.

How to turn off motion controls

Pause the game to open up the main menu. There’s a submenu for options, and within that you’ll find a dedicated controls section.

the controls menu in super mario odyssey Nintendo via Polygon

From there, you can simply ... toggle motion controls on or off. There’s no restarting the system or anything like that required, and you can reverse your choice whenever you want.

Notice, though, that this applies to the camera controls section. For the game itself, Nintendo is really pushing players to use the motion controls more than it has with any of its other Switch games to date. A splash screen that shows up whenever you load up the game reminds you that, hey, there are plenty of ways to play Super Mario Odyssey ... but really, you should play it with a Joy-Con in each hand and motion controls activated.

the opening splash screen from mario odyssey
You see this every. Single. Time.
Nintendo via Polygon

Say you don’t want to do that, or even if you do, you don’t want to spend a ton of time shaking your controllers around. (This is especially true if you’re playing in handheld mode, as I often tend to.) Go ahead; turn them off. But there are some more complex moves that won’t be possible if you turn off the motion controls. The game’s Action Guide, also found in the main menu, details all possible basic and capture abilities, and many of them require shaking those controllers by default.

Moves that only work with motion

Here are all the moves listed in the Action Guide that only offer motion controls; each one involves throwing Cappy:

The Downward Throw Nintendo via Polygon
upward throw Nintendo via Polygon
spin throw
Note that you can also do this one by spinning the joystick around after tossing out Cappy, should you not have motion on.
Nintendo via Polygon
homing cap throw Nintendo via Polygon

There are also lighter benefits to using motion, like shaking the Joy-Con or Pro Controller to extend the height of Mario’s jump or speed him up when he captures certain enemies.

If you’re playing your Switch like a handheld, you most likely won’t want to use motion, since you’ll be shaking the whole system vigorously. And maybe you just don’t want to do that no matter how you play. But the fact of the matter is that Nintendo put a lot of work in designing these motion controls, and it’s not surprising that the studio expects us to use them. More importantly than that, there are indeed some Moons that can only be collected using motion, so if you’re a completionist, yeah, you’re going to want to use it.

For reference, here are all of the default controls listed in the game’s menu. The vast majority don’t require any motion at all, but take a look at the full list to decide whether or not playing without it is worth it.

Update: The post above has been updated to reflect the nature of the motion controls that can be turned off, as they apply to the camera settings; we’ve also noted that there are indeed some Moons that will require you to use motion controls.