Update: Since ESRB ratings were introduced all the way back in 1994, no Super Mario game has ever been rated higher than E for Everyone. Even before this standard, the games received the equally wide ranging 'Kids to Adults' rating.
That's all about to change with Super Mario Odyssey, which has received the highest rating in the series' history – R. Nah, we're just kidding. The game has had its barrier for player entry bumped up to E10+, which means it's suitable for everyone aged 10 and above.
Why is that? Apparently it's the “cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes" that it'll contain. This doesn't sound any racier than a Mario Kart game to us but it's interesting that it's a series first nonetheless.
Original article continues below…
Super Mario Odyssey is going to take us all over the world, and all throughout time. From underwater worlds to the age of the dinosaurs, the new 3D Mario game will have an incredibly diverse range of environments.
The release of a new Super Mario game is always a momentous event, and the famous mascot's Nintendo Switch debut will surely be no exception.
After playing it firsthand at E3 2017, we can say with absolute assuredness that Super Mario Odyssey will be the most ambitious adventure the character has ever been involved with, offering more freedom and scope than ever before.
Need to get up to speed on this Switch exclusive? You've come to the right place.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next 3D Super Mario game following Super Mario 3D World
- When it is out? October 27, 2017
- What system will it be on? Nintendo Switch, exclusively
- How much will it cost? TBA, but Switch games usually retail for around $ 49.99 / £49.99 / AU$ 79.95
Super Mario Odyssey trailers and screenshots
Odyssey's latest trailer was unveiled at E3 207 and it showed Mario really putting some stamps in his passport. In it, we saw a new dinosaur level and one of Mario's new tricks: using his hat to take control of enemies and NPCs.
Check it out for yourself below:
While that gameplay trailer is the latest one to come from Nintendo, the big N showed off the first footage of Super Mario Odyssey during the initial Switch reveal in October 2016, and followed this with a more detailed video before the console launched in March of this year. You can check out of those both below.
Super Mario Odyssey release date
E3 2017 also provided us a solid release date for Mario's next outing to rescue the princess – October 27, 2017.
Nintendo has yet to mention any special editions of the game, but it has announced three new amiibo figures to commemorate the launch: Tuxedo Mario, Tuxedo Bowser and Wedding Dress Princess Peach.
Super Mario Odyssey confirmed features
Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a direct sequel to the Galaxy franchise despite having a suspiciously similar premise. In both games, Mario transverses a number of unrelated worlds, called Kingdoms in Odyssey, in the search of missing cosmic planetoids. That’s not even mentioning gameplay which feels more like a speedier Mario 64 than it does 3D World.
Here's what we know about the game based off the trailers, and two 10-minute hands on sessions with the game.
A more open world
Following the self-contained, level-by-level approach taken by Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Odyssey will opt for a more open-ended setup, similar to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine with several large, interconnected worlds called Kingdoms.
That means the scope for exploration has the potential to be massively increased; perhaps Super Mario Odyssey will offer even more replayability than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which has been praised for its sandbox setup and massive game world.
You'll travel from world to world in your rocket ship, and each world will have its own form of currency, unique purple coins.
Mario's previous adventures have taken him to many familiar locations in the Mushroom Kingdom, but this new outing marks something of a departure for the series as it will include semi-realistic environments. One stage – New Donk City – is based on New York and boasts pedestrians, vehicles and tall skyscrapers. We've also seen a desert landscape similar to Kalimari Desert from Mario Kart 64, and a lush jungle landscape filled with dinosaurs.
Exploring this sandbox world will allow players to make use of Mario's incredible repertoire of moves, which has evolved considerably over the past few decades.
As well as hopping onto the heads of enemies, grabbing onto ledges and jumping off walls, the portly plumber will also be able to make use of his sentient cap (appropriately named Cappy), which can be thrown to create temporary platforms, fight off foes and even possess enemies entirely.
Mario isn't a stranger to teaming up with the local wildlife to overcome issues – the dinosaur-like Yoshi was introduced in Super Mario World and has since become a major hero in his own right – and Super Mario Odyssey looks set to continue this trend. During the game's trailer Mario is seen leaping onto the back of a what appears to be a lion statue, which then magically springs to life and dashes across the desert level. In our hands on time with the game, we've seen Mario use his cap to control a stone effigy to cross some quicksand, and assume the form of a Bullet Bill to soar over cavernous ravines.
A more challenging experience
Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has already confirmed that Super Mario Odyssey will return to the roots of the character, and that it would appeal to veteran players who have perhaps drifted away from the series due to its casual-friendly approach in recent years. We wouldn't go expecting a Dark Souls-like slog, but it would be wise to anticipate a game which will put your reflexes to the test.
Spare some change
Coins have been part of the Super Mario series since day one, offering the player something to collect and (eventually) earn additional lives. As the series has progressed coins have become less about extending your playtime and more about collectability, but in Super Mario Odyssey it would seem that Nintendo has some fresh ideas. In the trailer, we see several different coin types to grab, including the new purple coins that can be exchanged for new costumes and aesthetic upgrades for your ship.
This wouldn't be the first time different types of coins have been present in a Super Mario game (the Mario Wiki has an exhaustive list if you want to see what's come before), but its good to see Nintendo experimenting with different collectables.
During the Super Mario Odyssey trailer, Mario is shown interacting with several other characters – in New Donk City, for example, he enjoys some skipping rope action with two ladies, and in another location dances with locals to music playing from a sound system. Could this hint at a deeper level of interaction within the game world, almost like an RPG, or are these sequences merely cut-scenes taken from the game?
Bowser has been the cause of Mario's problems since day one, and as you'd expect he's going to be the main antagonist in Super Mario Odyssey – during the trailer, he kidnaps Princess Peach (again) and is intent on marrying her.
However, Bowser won't be the only foe Mario has to face in this new outing; as well as a wide selection of new grunts to tackle, we're shown a group of rather malevolent-looking bunny rabbits riding on an airship not entirely dissimilar to the ones first witnessed in Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES.
At the conclusion of the trailer, Mario is thrown from a tall building by a robotic caterpillar. Are these new creatures merely underlings of Bowser, or could they be even more sinister than that?
Hands on impressions
We’ve gotten a chance to go hands on with the game at Nintendo’s booth during E3 2017 for two 10-minute sessions and have walked away feeling excited not only about the Mushroom Kingdom’s leading man, but also about the future of the Nintendo Switch as a whole.
Super Mario Odyssey is packed to the point of bursting with collectibles and interactive objects.
In no particular order there are Power Moons and purple coins scattered all about the map, and the latter can be used to purchase pieces of clothing and decorative objects that unlock even more hidden areas.
Power Moons and purple coins are often so close together, that you’ll stumble from one to the next to the next before you even have time to look around and enjoy the scenery. Odyssey is a game that constantly rewards you, often for just looking around the corner and makes it a point to do so every time you do something extraordinary.
But all the collectibles in the world wouldn’t mean a thing if getting from Point A to Point B was a chore. Thankfully, it’s anything but – and it’s all thanks to Mario’s iconic red cap: Cappy, as it’s lovingly referred to in the game, is the transformative hat that gives Mario most of his powers in his latest adventure.
He shoots from Mario’s hand like a frisbee when you shake your wrist (a particularly nice use of the Switch’s motion controls) and can be used as a projectile to stun or stomp out enemies from afar.
Cappy’s greatest power, however, is the ability to turn Mario into his enemies and his environment. Flick your wrist at certain enemies – Bullet Bills, for example – and you can use their abilities to progress deeper into each map.
Cappy not only helps you inhabit baddies, but also helps you possess neutral NPCs like New Donk City residents, stone effigies, random tanks and even dinosaurs – yes, Mario can now become a dinosaur.
These various forms you can maneuver around the map in new ways, unlocking previously blocked paths and unveiling previously unreachable Power Moons.
In New Donk City, you can also use the ability to turn Mario into a spark that travels along electrical wire up and down skyscrapers and all around the city. This gives Odyssey a level of verticality we haven't seen before in previous Mario games. Mario 64 might have offered us three dimensions for the first time, but Odyssey is the first game in the franchise to use height to its fullest extent.
Super Mario Odyssey is the second game from Nintendo in 2017 that has mass appeal. Add to that list a new Pokemon game and Metroid Prime 4 sometime in the next year and I finally feel like Switch is no longer a novelty, but a necessity for the modern gamer.
- Check out our pick of the best Nintendo Switch games available right now.