17 essential Super Mario Odyssey tips to know before you play

Easily the biggest Super Mario game, like, ever, Super Mario Odyssey gives you an actual world of stuff to do, fight, possess, collect and discover. Mario’s first globe-trotting adventure is a international playground of potential, where you can easily lose a whole day just playing one single Kingdom - and you still won’t have found all the Power Moons. 

Just thinking about all the discoveries to make and things to find might make Odyssey sound like a bit of a, well… odyssey. But fear not. These aren’t undiscovered territories, we’ve been there first and scoped things out a bit for you. And here are the things we wish we knew before taking those first steps. 

1. Motion controls give you special moves

Although the game tells you that there are a variety of control styles available, in reality the best way to play is with the motion controls. Restrict yourself by using the Pro controller or only using the Switch in handheld mode and you’re going to find Odyssey a whole lot harder. 

You’ll only really get access to all of Mario and Cappy’s moves if you’re willing to use motion controls. The upward, downward and 360-degree spin throws can only be pulled off using motion controls by flicking both Joy-Cons up, down and to the side respectively. There’s also a super useful homing cap throw that you can do by flicking one Joy-Con after you’ve thrown Cappy to make him attack the nearest enemy if your aim is a little off. 

2. You can chain together Cappy and Mario’s moves

It’s important to remember that Cappy’s skillset isn’t restricted to capturing as many critters as you possibly can. Moves like that assisted jump and the swirling spin attack will come in insanely useful if you remember you’ve got them in your arsenal. 

Some places will only be accessible by perfecting some special hat combos, whereby you throw Cappy, jump on him, throw him again and then dive onto him. Chain together a few of these and the highest points on the map suddenly become a lot more accessible - if you can manage to pull it off. 

3. There are more Moons that the story suggests

For every area you visit on your travels, you’ll have to collect a certain number of Power Moons in order to power up your ship, the Odyssey, so it can fly to the next Kingdom. For example, when you first find the Odyssey in Cascade Kingdom you’ll need to find five Power Moons in order to get it up and running. 

However, in reality each Kingdom has way, way more Moons that the story suggests, all hidden away in various nooks and crannies, or locked behind minigames and puzzles. So get searching.

4. There’s a hidden list of all the Moons for each Kingdom

Moons in Super Mario Odyssey are more than plentiful. In fact, some might say that there are too many. The game is home to over 800 of the beasties and if you want to see how close (or ridiculously far away) you are to finding all the Moons in each section there’s a hidden menu that tells you just that. 

Press minus to go to the map screen and then hit Y to bring up what the game calls the “Lists” menu. It’s in here that you’ll find the Power Moon list for each Kingdom, which will show where and when you collected each one you’ve got so far, and irritating blank spaces for all those you haven’t yet found. 

5. You get three Moons for defeating a boss

When you’re working your way through the story, it’s important to note that defeating a boss will earn you a Multi-Moon, which is the equivalent of three individual moon discoveries. It’s super helpful to know that when you’re trying to reach your quota to get the Odyssey moving again. 

But, unfortunately for completionists, that Multi-Moon still only counts for one discovery in the overall list of Power Moons in the game. You’ll just notice that there’s a big three next to the name of those discoveries that earned you a Multi-Moon in the list.

6. There are hidden Toads in each Kingdom

In each Kingdom you’ll find that an adventure Toad has had quite the misadventure. He’ll have fallen down a hole, got trapped behind a wall of snow or found some other way to get himself trapped. It’s up to you to find him and for your efforts you’ll be gifted with a Moon. Thankfully, you don’t have to help him find his way out again. He’s happy enough that someone knows he’s there. 

7. There are Lady Goombas looking for love 

If you see a load of Goombas in one area, the likelihood is that there’s a lady Goomba lurking nearby, looking for some Goomba smooches. You’ll need to reach her disguised as a stack of Goombas in order to woo her and that’ll earn you another Moon.

8. Each world has its own, limited, currency 

Each Kingdom has its very own - and adorably themed - currency. There are 50 or 100 of these purple coins to find in each Kingdom, which you can use to buy stuff from the individual Kingdom shops.

9. You can buy stuff to decorate your ship

The themed shops offer themed outfits, decals to decorate your Odyssey with and even themed souvenirs that if you buy, will appear on the shelves inside your ship. The more you buy, the better your Odyssey will look. You’ve just got to find enough coins to get them all. 

10. There are three different ways to help you find Moons

When you start wanting to pull your hair out over trying to find every single Moon ever, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are three different ways that the game tries to help you. 

Firstly, there’s the most cryptic: the Talkatoo. This little parrot will appear in the world after you’ve beaten the Kingdom’s boss and will give you a clue as to where a Moon is hidden. It’ll merely give you the name of the Moon and highlight it in your ultimate Moon list. There’s usually a clue in the name, but it’s definitely cryptic. 

Then there’s the Amiibo help. If you tap any non-Super Mario Odyssey amiibo by holding left on the D-Pad and tapping the figure on the right joystick, it’ll send off your chosen character into the world to help you find a Moon. It takes five minutes to complete. 

But if you want the easiest route, find the little blue toad that pops up after you’ve beaten the Kingdom boss, give him 50 gold coins and he’ll mark a Moon on the map. Bingo. 

11. Costumes are linked to secret Moons

If you make the right choice when you first start out in a Kingdom when you’re buying outfits you will unlock secret areas or associated Moons more quickly. 

For example, don’t do what we did and pick the cowboy costume in the Sand Kingdom because there’s a Moon for kitting out Mario in a sombrero and poncho instead. Other Kingdoms might lock you out of certain areas for wearing the wrong attire, so make sure to check our guides first before you go spending that special currency.

12. Don’t worry about location choices

Quite early on in the game, Cappy will give you a choice of location to visit next. But, wait. Don’t panic like we did over the choices, because once you’ve finished the story missions in the one you’ve chosen, you’ll fly to the other one next. You’re basically only choosing which one you play first, rather than it being a case of either/or. 

13. There’s a hidden photo mode 

Super Mario Odyssey is following the trend of most AAA titles and has got itself a photo mode. But you might not know that straight away because no-one tells you about it until you randomly chat to one particular NPC in Metro Kingdom. However, it’s actually available from the very first moments of the game, and you can access it by hitting down on the D-Pad.

It’s equipped with filters, stickers and some other control options that you can use to make your very own Super Mario Odyssey artwork. It’s limited compared to the likes of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, but brilliant nonetheless. Just look at some of the shots we’ve taken so far:

14. The game will let you know what you can capture

If you’re ever wondering what to do or where to go next, it’s useful to know that the game will prompt you for anything or anyone that you can capture. Stand still for long enough and a little white hat icon will pop up, letting you know you can interact with that item. It’s gotten me out of a head-scratcher moment more than once.

15. You can stop capturing a thing by pressing a button

Once you’ve embodied whatever you’ve captured, whether it’s a Bullet Bill or this adorable caterpillar thingie called a Tropical Wiggler, you might be wondering how the heck you get out of it without having to drop it off a cliff. Well, if you hit ZL, you’ll automatically eject yourself from your temporary body and return to your true Mario-shaped form.

16. There are hint photos scattered throughout the game that get you more Moons

You will come across strange images on the walls of the various Kingdoms you come across that tell you to screengrab said image and not a lot else. Well, if you find the real location of these images in the game and have a poke around, there’s another Moon to be found.

17. More Moons and coins unlock in each Kingdom after you’ve defeated the boss

Every time you defeat a boss, it’s tempting to just jump in the Odyssey and head for the next Kingdom. But wait! Stop. Every time you beat a final boss in a Kingdom and are ready to hot foot it out of there, you will miss out on all the goodies that just unlocked. More Moons, more coins, more stuff, is all just waiting there for the grabbing. Cap Kingdom is a great example of this. Head back there after you’ve defeated the bunnies in Cascade Kingdom and discover all it has to offer. 

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.