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Super Mario Odyssey review: Why can't everything in life be as much fun as Super Mario Odyssey?

Odyssey leans into the Nintendo fan service with throwbacks, references and Easter eggs throughout, but it's the 2D 8-bit NES elements that are really special. They're also a major component of the game, showing up often and usually implemented ingeniously. There's a remarkable meshing of dimensions that Odyssey pulls off so wisely -- it's a novelty that strays far from ever feeling stale.

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Throwback NES gameplay is a major component in Odyssey.

Nintendo/Screenshot by Jeff Bakalar/CNET

So while the introduction of the cap-throwing ability is evidence of an evolution to the series, it's also exemplified in a handful of first-evers to the franchise. Each kingdom has a map that Mario can consult, along with warpable checkpoints scattered throughout. These are a huge asset when chasing down leftover Power Moons after you've completed the main quests in a world.

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There's even details about the kingdom in each map.

Nintendo/Screenshot by Jeff Bakalar/CNET

Then there's photo mode, a welcome excursion to the experience that lets you pause gameplay and cycle through tons of options, angles and filters to get that screenshot just right. I mean, look at the art I made for you:

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This is art.

Nintendo/Screenshot by Jeff Bakalar/CNET

There's so much hidden in Super Mario Odyssey that it's tough to judge how long you'll actually spend with the game. Even after you complete the regular campaign, there's much more to do that's back-loaded after the credits roll. And that's actually the best part of the game: discovering secret areas and exploring. Finishing a boss is one thing, but timing a cavalcade of jumps and maneuvers just right to reach a hidden spot that holds a Power Moon is priceless.

There's isn't much Odyssey stumbles with, save for maybe the motion controls that are pushed upon you. Most actions can be accomplished with button presses and combinations, but a few are motion-only and that stinks. Plus, performing motion gestures in handheld mode is just, well, wrong. It doesn't feel right.

Perhaps an update could come along that would bind certain actions to buttons, but it's definitely something Nintendo needs to revisit -- especially considering its inconvenience when handheld. The majority of my time playing has been with the Pro Controller or in handheld mode, though using the Joy-Con grip is just fine as well.

Super Mario Odyssey marks a major milestone in Mario's legacy. This will likely be the game his future endeavors get measured against. It's an absolute no-brainer to buy for anyone with a Switch. And if you've been waiting on Odyssey as a validation for a console purchase, I'm here to tell you the time is now.

Check out GameSpot's Super Mario Odyssey review and additional coverage

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