15 hidden mechanics Super Mario Odyssey never tells you about

A large portion of actually playing Super Mario Odyssey is about discovering things. Moons, coins, secret lady Goombas, portraits and… most of the mechanics? Yes that’s right, Odyssey is crammed with secret gameplay tricks that it never tells you about. And here are all of the most useful ones:

The health in the flowers

There’s a certain type of flower in Super Mario Odyssey that will give you health. Look out for an arrangement of little green shoots and then use your spin throw to open all the petals at once. They’re usually arranged in a circle or at least a shape that means the flowers can be activated all in one sweep.

The health hidden in the walls 

Some of the stone walls that you’ll find in the various Kingdoms of Super Mario Odyssey are adorned with graffiti. Whether they’re little Bullet Bills, Aztec-style Goombas or something else entirely, the one you really have to look out for is Cat Mario. He’s always wearing a pink cat costume, so should be fairly easy to spot. When you do, make sure to fling Cappy at it because it’s also a health provider. And trust me, when you’ve only got three hearts, every single extra one counts.

The secrets of motion controls

You may well be tempted to use your trusty Pro pad or continue to go full portable in tablet mode, but it’s absolutely essential that you play Super Mario Odyssey with the motion controls. That means one Joy-Con in each hands, using those silly straps if you absolutely have to. Use anything else and you’re going to find that the majority of Mario and Cappy’s best moves are totally unusable. A lot of Cappy’s advanced controls are only accessible using motion controls. No motion controls, no advanced Cappy moves. Full stop.

Upward and downward spin throws - among others - can only be pulled off using very specific motions: flicking both Joy-Cons up and down respectively. 

The homing cap throw

Our personal favourite new Mario move is the homing cap throw. You can pull it off by flicking one Joy-Con after you’ve thrown Cappy to make him target the closest enemy. It’s super useful if your aim is ever a bit off - which ours regularly is - or when you’re trying to hit a specific creature to capture.

The protective spin throw

There’s a seriously useful spin throw that Mario and Cappy can pull off when you flick both Joy-Cons to the side. Doing so will make Mario spin, forcing Cappy to do a kind of spiral attack around him that grows slowly bigger, attacking anything in the way. This spin can get you out of a jam, especially when you’re getting surrounded by pesky - and surprisingly speedy - little yellow Goombas. 

The roll 

Mario’s dinky little legs can get a little annoying, especially when you’re trekking across the desert in the Sand Kingdom. But thankfully, there’s a little Samus-esque roll up Mario’s sleeve that he can whip out to pick up some speed - especially downhill.  To do it simply hold down ZL and Y when your feet are on the ground. You can even shake the Joy-Cons to go faster if you’ve got the need for speed.

The long cap throw

If you hold down Y when you throw Cappy, you’ll actually trigger the long cap throw. Not only is it useful for breaking boxes, but you can also use it to give yourself a little lift if you then run into the little spinning hat.

The dive

Equally useful - even if initially for showing off your best photo mode snaps in Lake Kingdom - is the dive. It’s tricky to perfect, as you’ll have to hit ZL and Y mid-air, which nearly always makes me do a ground pound. But when you do, it’s great for getting you across a chasm when you’ve not got quite enough jump in you. 

The cap throw combos

The real Super Mario Odyssey pros will be getting everywhere by chaining together Mario and Cappy’s abilities. The long cap throw when combined with the dive can create quite the formidable combo. Not only can you reach previously inaccessible areas but you’ll also find you’re able to save yourself in those occasions where you’re just about to fall to your death. If you can pull it off, that is.

The little white hat 

Sometimes the game won’t give you too many clues as to what to do next, how to reach the next platform or generally what you can or can’t capture. But if you stand still for a minute, you’ll regularly notice a little white hat pop up above items or creatures. It’s just letting you know what you can interact with and is very useful in those “What now?” moments.

The escape

When you start diving into all the various things you can capture in Super Mario Odyssey, you might be wondering how the heck you get back to being good old Mario. Well, if you hit ZL you’ll automatically pop out of your temporary form.

The environmental effects 

Okay, so it’s not a mechanic per se, but it’s kind of adorable. You can subject Mario to certain things in each Kingdom that change him physically. Run through smoke in the Cap Kingdom and he’ll get all grubby, or bump into a cactus in the Sand Kingdom and he’ll have prickles in his nose. There’s plenty of little things like this to discover. 

The unlocked worlds

On your first pass through a Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey, you may find that there isn’t as much stuff as you think there should be. Missing Moons, hidden coins, areas you just can’t access? Well, you’ll find that each Kingdom completely unlocks when you’ve battled the Kingdom boss. Cap Kingdom is a great example of this. Initially it’s a tiny monochrome wasteland, but if you head back after you’ve beaten the boss in the next Kingdom, Bonneton has a lot more to offer.

The idle Mario

This might be the most adorable Mario has ever been in his lifetime and part of that is down to the little idle animations he has. Depending on the world you’re in, there are slightly different versions to discover. Leave Mario alone and most of the time he’ll just go to sleep, but sometimes a bird will come and land on his nose. Which is seriously adorable. In hot Kingdom’s he’ll fan himself, and in cold ones he’ll shiver. 

In Metro City though, get the band going and Mario’s idle animation is this weirdly adorable Dad dance. Just look at those moves. 

What’s great though is that you can use these idling animations to your advantage for photo mode. Nap on a T-Rex anyone?

The photo mode 

You might not know it, but Super Mario Odyssey has a photo mode hidden away that you can access from the very first moments of the game. Just hit down on the D-Pad and up it pops, freezing Mario in whatever precarious or hilarious moment he’s found himself in. 

Tweak your angles, add a filter, or even some branding - very official - and create your very own Odyssey artwork. 

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.