Here’s where to find all of the Stone Circles in Assassin’s Creed Origins

Assassin's Creed Origins

Our guide to the mysterious puzzles in Origins

Still combing through (virtual) Egypt in Assassin’s Creed Origins? Chances are, then, there are still a couple of things that need polishing off before you can say you’re done and dusted in Giza and beyond. Chief among them is where to find all of the Assassin’s Creed Origins Stone Circles. It’s not an easy task, to say the least – but we’re on hand every step of the way when it comes to completing the Stone Circle locations, especially as they offer up some of the series’ most touching scenes (no spoilers here, don’t worry!)

All 12 Assassin’s Creed Origins Stone Circle locations are found down below. So, if you’re having trouble, simply go through this page to help keep track of the dozen areas you need to complete the challenge. Just make sure you have started the level five quest Bayek’s Promise in Siwa before even beginning to attempt this challenge, as it’ll handily show you the first Stone Circle location and task you with finding the other 11.

Assassin’s Creed Origins Stone Circle locations 

Assassin's Creed Origins

1. Amun – Siwa (can’t miss as part of Bayek’s Promise Quest)
2. Apis  – Isolated Desert
3. Goat Fish – Isolated Desert
4. The Divine Lion – Iment Nome
5. The Great Twins – White Desert Oasis
6. Hathor – Ka-Khem Nome
7. Horus – Uab Nome
8. Osiris – Quattara Depression
9. Pisces – Faiyum
10. The Scales – Uab Nome
11. Serqet –  Iment Nome
12. Taweret – Faiyum 

Once you’ve found them all, head back to the same place as the first stone circle back in Siwa to complete your quest and earn your XP. And, I’m not spoiling anything, but you might want to go and check under the Great Sphinx in Giza. Just, y’know, to make sure nothing has changed…

Splatoon 2

It feels as if the paint had just begun to dry on Splatoon after its release on the Wii U in 2015 when Nintendo applied a fresh coat and relaunched it with Splatoon 2 on the Switch. That may be why this sequel feels less like a whole new game than a new version of the first one that rolls up the best post-launch updates to the colorful and adorably non-violent team-based shooter and adds some new toys. Of course, considering the first game is a lot of fun, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you missed it for lack of a Wii U. And despite some questionable choices that can leave you trapped in matchmaking purgatory, the addition of a standout and clever take on a co-op horde mode provides some seriously addicting fun that has me coming back for more.

Like its predecessor, Splatoon 2‘s emphasis on using vibrant, ink-based weapons to splatter both enemies and the ground alike in your team color to control territory makes it a distinctive kind of visually rewarding fun. Controlling the ground is more than just a way of keeping score, though – you’re far more mobile in your own territory, creating lots of opportunity for strategies around creating a highway to an objective and cutting off your opponents, and also setting up areas to submerge into the ink and replenish your ammo. The key to victory on the eight distinct and symmetrical maps currently in rotation often lies in being aware of terrain, ink management, and the opposition’s plans.

Between the original arsenal, the guns added in post-launch updates, and the new ones introduced in Splatoon 2, there’s plenty of ink-based weaponry to choose from, and yet each type has distinct uses. There’s the fast and furious Inkbrush that covers ground quickly, contrasted with the Slosher that manages to turn a literal bucket of ink into a deadly close-range weapon. One of my favorites of the new batch is the Dualies, dual-pistol style weapons that have a great rate of fire and also let you quickly dodge-roll when firing to strafe enemies and release a concentrated burst of ink. There’s also a brand-new array of special weapon powerups, many of which work well with proper coordination to break stalemates. The protective Ink Armor shields your entire team from harm, while the Tenta Missiles can lock onto and fire a salvo of ink strikes on multiple enemies.Obtaining new gear is a smoother process than in the first game.

Going hand in hand with Splatoon 2’s wealth of weapons is a set of gear that provides both style and bonuses in combat, with the added twist of over 20 random secondary abilities that unlock after you’ve battled with them equipped enough times. These range from practical effects, like increasing ink recovery rates, to highly specialized abilities that can track the enemy who last splatted you or players you’ve recently hit. Obtaining new gear is a smoother process than in the first game, too – you can now order any gear you’ve seen on other people in-game using currency earned from battle, though the abilities attached to yours might not be the same due to random generation. Paying to scrub unwanted extra traits to make room for new ones leaves chunks of those abilities behind to apply to other gear, letting you mix and match from your inventory, or you can try your luck at unlocking different bonuses to replace the old ones that better align with your playstyle. This is a good way get value out of gear you earned but don’t plan to wear: by scrubbing enough ammo-conserving bonuses from gear I wasn’t using, I was then able to apply that trait to my favorite jersey (for a hefty price). Offering the chance to craft the perfect gear for your playstyle to give you a better edge in the more competitive Ranked Battles has kept me more invested than I was in the first Splatoon.

With a world this colorful and fun, it’s great to see how much better people and places look on the Switch. Characters like the weapons dealer Sheldon and clothing merchant Jelfonzo look better than ever with more detailed models and textures, and the various forms of street art and graffiti scattered around the maps pop. The ink itself shimmers and glints with shiny flecks. Despite it all, Splatoon 2 never failed to maintain a smooth 60 frames per second in battle even with ink flying in all directions in a fully populated eight-player match. In handheld mode, things look great, and the option to set sensitivity for both modes of play helped immensely when switching between handheld and docked mode. I actually ended up swapping between motion and non-motion controls with surprising ease (though not being able to use the control stick to look up and down with motion and controls does take getting used to every time).

Like its predecessor, Splatoon 2‘s emphasis on using vibrant, ink-based weapons to splatter both enemies and the ground alike in your team color to control territory makes it a distinctive kind of visually rewarding fun. Controlling the ground is more than just a way of keeping score, though – you’re far more mobile in your own territory, creating lots of opportunity for strategies around creating a highway to an objective and cutting off your opponents, and also setting up areas to submerge into the ink and replenish your ammo. The key to victory on the eight distinct and symmetrical maps currently in rotation often lies in being aware of terrain, ink management, and the opposition’s plans.

Splatoon 2 brings back a very familiar and simple 32-mission single-player campaign that, with some exceptions, follows the style of its predecessor almost to the letter. There’s a fair amount of hand-holding and will only take six or so hours to run through and find most collectibles, but missions provide some pretty fun ideas to play around with. There are places to stylishly grind on ink-rails like a squid version of Tony Hawk, and elsewhere you can lure giant, ink-vacuuming Squee-G robots into your enemies’ path. Spraying ink to activate expanding sponges or moving platforms gives it a light Super Mario Sunshine feel, but it rarely challenges you the way co-op and multiplayer do. The most significant improvement over Splatoon is that the sequel’s campaign lets you try out each of the weapon types, which is a great way to learn about their potential and how they can be used in multiplayer before jumping online. This focus on weapon research greatly extends replay value, as you can head back into levels you’ve already conquered to discover new challenges based on the weapons’ strengths and limitations.

Heading into Splatoon 2’s main lobby lets you queue up for an engaging variety of online modes. Each mode automatically drops you in one of two maps that change up every two hours, which keeps things feeling fresh and doesn’t let a map wear out its welcome as quickly as in other games, where the community often picks a favorite and plays it to death. The standard Turf War mode, which carries over from the original, is welcoming for beginners and veterans alike with the simple yet entertaining concept of competing to ink the most territory in three minutes. No two matches ever feel the same because the battlefield hotspots – dictated by the competing colors of ink – are constantly changing, and several times being at the right place at the right time was what narrowly pushed our team to victory. This is one case where I actually miss the Wii U gamepad – without the second-screen map or an always-on-screen minimap, you have to hold a button to overlay a map to see how things are going or jump to a teammate’s location. This means you’ll need to be that much more alert to the status of your team and the terrain, and finding a safe spot to check the map overlay took some getting used to.

Besides Turf Wars, Ranked and League Battles are where more precise and objective-based modes await. There’s a king-of-the-hill-inspired Splat Zone, a tug-of-war style payload mode called Tower Control, and a spin on capture the flag where you carry a powerful but movement-impeding weapon to the enemy base called Rainmaker. Splat Zone is the most basic of the trio, and I prefer the modes where teams fight over a moving target like the mobile tower in Tower Control, and the Rainmaker weapon that was constantly changing hands. Even when both teams are working well together and locked in a tug-of-war for control, matches move at a quick pace, which prevents drawn-out stalemates. Even though Ranked Battles rotate between modes every few hours, I’m glad each mode has their own ranking system so I can see which modes I’m best at and where I need to improve.

The only real problems I’ve encountered so far are the lobby’s matchmaking system and the lack of a between-match loadout screen. Like in most games, once you’ve picked your mode of choice you’ll be sent to a room awaiting seven more players to begin. The catch is that nobody can cancel out or do anything else (such as the minigame the first Splatoon gave us to kill the time here) until either the match fills up or the timer runs out a couple of minutes later. Even if your group does fill up fast (which we can assume will be more likely after launch) and you get to play a round, you’re still left with the problem of being unable to swap out weapons and gear between matches. I don’t mind not being able to switch during a match because that makes you carefully consider your choices and commit to the role your weapon fills, and the matches aren’t that long to begin with. But after playing with a great group and leveling up, the last thing I want to do is ditch them just so I can put on a new pair of shoes.

Where Splatoon 2’s single-player campaign gently guides you through Octoling enemies, the new Salmon Run mode is an excellent cooperative foil. As hilarious as it is addicting, this mode puts you and up to three other players up against three timed waves of relentless enemies while collecting a quota of golden eggs from boss creatures and depositing them in a basket. Unlike other horde modes, Salmon Run deftly uses Splatoon’s ink and territory mechanics to ensure you’re not only splatting fish but also struggling to maintain control of the ground as enemies try to stifle your movement. The Boss Salmonids you face are some of the most memorable enemies I’ve seen in a horde mode since Left 4 Dead, wielding trash as makeshift weapons and armor and shooting beams of ink from atop a tower of pots and pans. Their distinct looks help you assess threats quickly, which is essential because your team must neutralize them before being overwhelmed.

When playing online, you’ll be given one of four random weapons to use for every wave, and I love how it challenged me to adapt and fill new roles on my team: In one wave I was sniping bosses with the Splat Charger, but in the next wave I had to clear a path to the egg basket with the Roller instead. Difficulty can be set when playing locally, and steadily grows when online thanks to the randomized nature of enemy waves and weapon loadouts, boss configurations, and special events like rising water levels or egg-stealing mothership invasions. Those shifting conditions kept me coming back to see what would happen next.The Boss Salmonids you face are some of the most memorable enemies I’ve seen in a horde mode since Left 4 Dead.

Playing locally with friends is a blast – my teammates and I frantically screamed out boss names and locations of golden eggs to direct each other to counter problems and capitalize on opportunities. But this also highlights how key communication is to survival, something that doesn’t currently translate well in random online matchups, where you can only give basic callouts. Fortunately, with Nintendo’s new companion app you can create voice chat groups with friends on your phone – but there are some significant problems. While you can check out nifty details about matches and order more gear from your app, the voice chat system feels woefully lacking. You can only chat with friends in certain modes, and while chatting your phone cannot be used for anything else (even turning off the screen will mute all conversation). Given that the app won’t let you talk to friends outside of specific lobbies, and that I’m not a fan of having my phone battery drained by a screen that can’t be turned off, I’m much more inclined to use Skype or Discord to talk with friends.

And speaking of bizarre catches: for some reason, the excellent co-op mode can only be played online on certain days for specific amounts of time – for instance, 5:00AM to 5:00PM – which is truly frustrating considering just how fun it is. After a fun weekend playing with friends, finding out I can’t play again for two days can get annoying, especially when I can’t discern any rhyme or reason to the Salmon Run schedule. Not being able to easily remember the next available slot time forces me to constantly check in-game for the next five openings. I get that Nintendo wants to ensure full rooms on the days Salmon Run is active, but this seems like a poor way to do it. I’d rather have the option to queue up with friends online or have a way to easily back out if nobody is around to play with (going it alone is pretty much a death sentence). On the days the mode is active, you can earn quick rewards not found anywhere else which is a nice bonus; if you choose to play locally you can play as much as you want, but it takes much longer to earn bonuses.

There’s a lot to love in Nintendo’s second iteration of its quirky shooter, especially the way Splatoon 2 emphasizes splatting the ground just as much as it does inking your opponents. The new additions to its single-player campaign and multiplayer modes are a step in the right direction, but it still has some work to do to make joining online games and voice chat less of a hassle. Still, with an addicting new Salmon Run co-op mode and the promise of free updates like the ones that helped the original Splatoon come into its own, I expect Splatoon 2 to keep me hooked.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild

The Legend of Zelda

While running through the picturesque green fields of Hyrule, a massive storm unexpectedly rolled in. As heavy rain began to pour, a strong wind rustled the tall grass, and in the distance I could hear the crack of lightning. The sharp sound rapidly came closer and closer until zap! I was electrocuted to death by a bolt. Every time I restarted, the same thing would happen. I couldn’t understand why the lightning was targeting me, the helpless hero, until I realized that both the spear and shield on my back were made of metal. With the steel unequipped, I was able to safely make my through the storm.

Breath of the Wild has something that’s been missing from the series for years: surprise. Most recent Zelda adventures have become formulaic, abiding by a rigid and proven structure that offers nostalgia and familiarity, but little room for revelations, either big or small. Breath of the Wild is more open and natural than its predecessors, letting you discover things — like how lightning works — through experimentation. It isn’t always as curated and cinematic as other Zelda games, but the unpredictability makes it feel like a true adventure, where you’re uncovering your own path, instead of hitting your marks and following the script.

Zelda games have always been large, but Breath of the Wild feels uniquely grand, a massive open world filled with so much to do that I suspect most players — even those who complete the main story — will miss large swaths of the map. The scale could have been daunting, but the joy of discovery and the satisfaction that comes from finding your own way make it inviting instead. I want to go the places I’ve yet to discover. I want to uncover new secrets and abilities. I want more.

At 50 hours into the game, I still haven’t reached the end of Breath of the Wild. In some ways it feels like I’ve only scratched the surface. But even still, these bold changes have profoundly altered my expectations of what a Zelda adventure can be. And I’m entirely convinced that this is the best Zelda game I’ve ever played.

Breath of the Wild opens with series hero Link awakening in a dark cavern. A mysterious disembodied voice guides him to a tablet that has a passing resemblance to both the Switch and Nintendo’s maligned Wii U controller. The tablet helps to navigate this version of Hyrule — the fantasy realm that has long been the heart of Zelda adventures. As you learn in the very early parts of the game, a century ago, powerful evil destroyed much of the world, allowing nature to reclaim castles, and littering the land with abandoned machines of war. People still exist, in small towns and stables, but much of Hyrule is beset by hordes of monsters who have bivouacked into the hills. This is a dangerous place. Naturally, your job is to set things right.

One of the game’s greatest strengths is how it goes about explaining how you will do that — or just as often, not explaining it. Breath of the Wild rarely gives you explicit directions as to what to do. Instead, it tells (or shows) you what needs to happen, and lets you fill in the rest. One line of quests tasks you with uncovering shrines (more on those later) using only lines from a poem or a riddle as guidance. Another presents a series of images of scenic Hyrule locations from before the calamity, and asks you to find them as they are now. In order to defeat Ganon you’ll need to first uncover four “divine beasts” scattered throughout the world. Of course, the game doesn’t even tell you what a divine beast is.

This lack of direction can be disorienting at first. I played Breath of the Wild immediately after finishing another huge role-playing game, Horizon Zero Dawn, and it was a jarring transition. After spending 40 hours playing a game that literally pointed me in the right direction at all times, now I was forced to fend for myself. But it very quickly turned into a liberating sensation. Instead of worrying if I was following the correct path, for the first dozen hours or so, I largely ignored the story altogether. Instead, I trekked across Hyrule activating the specific towers found in each region, which not only help fill in the details of the map but also provide crucial fast-travel points.

Even the act of filling out Breath of the Wild’s map instils a deep sense of adventure. In most open-world games, particularly Ubisoft titles like Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed, your map is overburdened with icons from the very beginning. You can spot where everything from a city to a treasure chest is located before you even start exploring. It can feel overwhelming. Breath of the Wild, meanwhile, does the opposite. When you first start out, the map is almost completely empty. You can see the dividing lines between the various regions that make up Hyrule, but none of their details. It’s only once you start exploring that it fills out. A town won’t appear on your map until you actually go there, which you can only do by finding it on your own. Discovering a new place or thing truly feels like an act of discovery.

Breath of the Wild features two significant additions that completely changed how I viewed the world around me. In addition to the usual methods of traversal — foot, horse, and fast travel — Link now also has the ability to climb nearly every surface you come across. If you spot a mountain, a castle, or virtually anything else, you can climb it. The only restriction is Link’s stamina — which expands over time and can be augmented with things like potions — but even then there are ways around it if you’re clever. This marks a fundamental shift for the series. Instead of an impediment, walls and mountains are now just another potential pathway. Often I would bypass monster-plagued roads altogether and simply climb the comparatively safe mountain instead.

Link’s climbing ability is made all the more useful and important by a seemingly innocuous paraglider, which lets Link temporarily soar through the air. In short order, it became a pivotal part of the game, and my main method of transportation. Instead of walking or riding to a new location, I would climb the nearest high point — a mountain, or maybe a tower — and then glide in the direction of where I wished to be. The act of getting somewhere became exciting in and of itself. There’s a certain pleasure that comes from just having enough energy to reach the top of a tower before losing your grip, or sailing peacefully above enemy camps as the monsters sleep below, unaware.

Not only is Breath of the Wild’s map large; it’s also dense. I was constantly discovering new places and puzzles, both elaborate and diminutive. One of my favorite additions to the game is the shrines — glowing caverns scattered liberally across the map. Each one is like a miniature, self-contained Zelda dungeon. Early on these shrines serve as tutorials, showing necessary details about Link’s powers — like his ability to temporarily halt time or use bombs — but later they essentially become puzzle boxes, which approach Portal-levels of cleverness. The shrines also simplify the Zelda dungeon formula in an almost mobile game-like manner, resulting in satisfyingly quick puzzles that can usually be completed in less than 15 minutes or so. Even better, unlike typical Zelda puzzles, those in Breath of the Wild’s shrines often have multiple solutions.

Many other additions help bring Breath of the Wild in line with contemporary open-world games like The Witcher or Skyrim, while also contributing to its overwhelming focus on adventure and discovery. Link can now cook, for instance, gathering ingredients in the wild, using them to make food that replenishes health or buffs abilities. I found myself especially taken with this feature, scouring the world for new vegetables and meats, and seeing what I could make of them. Again, cooking isn’t really explained, making it all the more compelling. Whipping up a tasty mushroom rice ball or meat-stuffed pumpkin using guesswork instead of a recipe is satisfying. I especially love the way ingredients dance and jump in the pot as you prepare a meal.

There are also survival elements, forcing you to protect Link from extreme heat and cold. You’ll often find him shivering or sweating because of the weather, his health depleting. Weapons, too, give way. For the first time in a Zelda game your swords and shields degrade as you use them. But weapons are everywhere. You can even pick up a downed skeleton’s arm to bludgeon beasts, its fingers still twitching as you swing it about. Using your best equipment becomes a risky choice, not an assumption.

Even though Breath of the Wild introduces RPG-like elements such as crafting and a greater focus on gear, it’s missing a very distinct kernel of the genre: experience. In most RPGs, numbers determine almost everything you can do. If you’re a level 5 character in a typical RPG, you definitely don’t want to head into a dungeon filled with level 10 enemies, and there’s a whole range of items and abilities you can’t use until you grind long enough to meet the appropriate level. This effectively walls off large portions of the world until you’ve achieved a numerical level of success.

Breath of the Wild scraps this logic. Link gets more health and stamina as you progress, and you can acquire stronger weapons and armor, but he never gets stronger himself. He doesn’t learn to swing a sword or shoot a bow any better. But you do. Breath of the Wild offers a more open and expansive world to explore, but it also demands more of its players than other Zeldas, forcing you to get better and smarter to survive. It’s the most challenging Zelda I’ve played in many years, but also the most satisfying. (Though it never approaches the daunting difficulty of games like Bloodborne or Dark Souls.)

All of these many changes fundamentally alter the Zelda formula. But what’s perhaps most remarkable about Breath of the Wild is that it still feels like a Zelda adventure — and it’s more than just the familiar setting and characters, or the stirring rendition of the Zelda theme that plays in the background. Breath of the Wild may be the biggest Zelda game to date, but it’s also an experience that distills the essence of the series into something more pure. More recent Zelda games have become bogged down with needless hand holding, an overabundance of tutorials, and overly complicated narratives. Breath of the Wild gets away from that. It changes the Zelda formula in dramatic ways, yet paradoxically it feels more Zelda than almost any game in the series before. By going big and open, Breath of the Wild gets at the heart at what a Zelda game should be.

This new direction, and shaking up of the age-old formula that has come to define the series, helps Breath of the Wild return to what made Zelda so beloved in the first place. More so than just about any game series, Zelda’s heart lies in exploration, that moment of seeing a towering mountain in the distance and realizing that eventually you’ll be able to reach the top. Breath of the Wild takes this idea, cuts out the fluff, and expands upon it. It pulls ideas from other games, like crafting or survival, yet makes them feel perfectly at home in its beloved universe. It’s exactly the Zelda game I’ve been waiting for.

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey

Odyssey looks like a straight successor to the Mario 64 and Sunshine line of sandbox 3D Marios, but it is much more than that. Naturally, it evokes, honors, and is sometimes directly inspired by the games that came before it in its characters, music, and mechanics. But it also has new things to say as well, like fusing classic-style 2D gameplay with the 3D world and using a completely new possession mechanic to add constant variety to Mario’s abilities and exploits.

That possession power, embodied by Mario’s new sidekick/headwear Cappy, is Odyssey’s big new idea. In keeping with Nintendo’s decades-long tradition of charmingly nonsensical storylines, he’s a hat with a soul, and he’s teamed up with Mario in order to rescue his sister Tiara who… wait for it… has been kidnapped by Bowser along with Princess Peach. (I said it was charming, not original.) Cappy’s power allows you to possess many other characters by throwing Mario’s hat at them, which bizarrely slurps Mario’s physical body inside of the enemy and gives you full control over their powers. Cappy’s also used as a jumping pad and a weapon, sparing Mario’s tuchus from an untold number of butt-stomps this time around (though you can still do that, if you wish).

Many of the cleverest and most smile-inducing possessions are best left to be discovered for yourself, but whether it was thrashing about as a huge, realistic-looking T-rex in the prehistoric-themed Cascade Kingdom or becoming a lowly Goomba but then making a stack of Goombas 10-tall to win over a hard-to-impress Lady Goomba, Odyssey mixes up the gameplay in surprising ways in each of its 16-plus worlds. Throughout the entire campaign, you’re using new creatures in new, game-changing ways on a regular basis.

mario city

Odyssey’s inspired integration of 2D gameplay – complete with Super Mario Bros.-era 8-bit art – deserves special mention. Entering into a pixelated pipe in the 3D space transports you to a side-scrolling 2D challenge that takes place on the surface of an object in the world, almost like Link’s 2D transformation in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Most of these sequences aren’t too long – I wished they were longer, in fact – but each blends pure, weapons-grade retro gameplay with numerous other callbacks while still mixing things up in ways they never appeared in those original games, such as flipping gravity or wrapping the 2D scene around the corner of a 3D object. They bend the rules so far they go beyond even the most ambitious creations we saw in Super Mario Maker.

It’s also super fun seeing Mario’s new costumes get translated into the old 8-bit art style. My favorites include the aviator suit and the retro-colored builder outfit, for no other reason than them being fun looks for the veteran plumber, but you can also mix and match hats and outfits to your heart’s content.

Of all the disparate lands Mario visits in his Odyssey, the urban-themed Metro Kingdom is my favorite. We’ve never seen anything like its semi-realistic look of New Donk City in a Mario game before. Not only do its urban obstacles allow for some kinetic platforming – bouncing off of the hoods of cars and flinging yourself off of city poles, for instance – but tucked-away minigames like an RC car race and a jump-rope challenge are great diversions. All the while, the sheer artistic contrast between the city and Mario’s consistently cartoony look and proportions have already generated interesting discussions about who – or more specifically what – Mario actually is. (Was “plumber” just a euphemism for some kind of goblin all along?) The end of the New Donk City portion might, in fact, be the very peak of the pleasure that Odyssey delivers on a consistent basis. Its conclusion is a literal celebration that doubles as a figurative one; Odyssey is pure joy that seems to understand and relish that about itself.

On that note, I strongly recommend playing on a TV whenever possible. It’s not that it plays poorly in handheld mode – it runs perfectly smoothly at 60 frames per second in either mode, although there are no touchscreen controls even in minigames where they’d have made sense. The drawback to playing on the go is that the tiny screen doesn’t do nearly as good a job of showing off the scope and detail of the characters and worlds, such as the funny faces Mario makes when performing certain actions and the tiny 8-bit icons hidden on some walls. (Toss Cappy at them to get a quick gold-coin reward!). Of course, it’s every bit as good a game in handheld mode.

mario colecting moon

I expected to be able to continue playing even after the plot had been resolved, given Odyssey’s 3D sandbox structure, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much there is to do after it’s “over.” In fact, some of its finest moments follow the credits, from new unlockables that nod lovingly toward the past, to a clever new implementation of an old friend, to entire new worlds. I’m still not ready to put Odyssey down, nor do I expect to be for quite some time.

That said, like internal Nintendo studio EAD’s other top-shelf Mario games – and unlike the “adapt and survive, or die trying” philosophy of Nintendo’s other 2017 masterpiece, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Odyssey isn’t particularly difficult. Most boss fights are over a bit quicker and easier than their gorgeous designs would suggest, and when you do fail, deaths tax you an almost meaningless 10 gold coins to try again from liberally distributed checkpoints. As such, you rarely lose much progress.

Instead, its challenge lies in exploration. There are hundreds and hundreds of Power Moon collectibles to discover, and you’ll want to gather them because they are the keys that unlock new worlds – including the aforementioned post-credits locales! Many Moons are quite difficult to track down, and even once you’ve located them, it’s enjoyably challenging to try and suss out how to get your white-gloved mitts on them. Some are behind classic invisible walls, others are tucked away in linear areas that try to fool you into thinking there’s only one Moon inside of. Each is a fun mini-puzzle to solve – particularly the ones that newly dot the landscape after the story mode ends. I did my best to search thoroughly on my first pass through the campaign, but only ended up with a little more than 200, or less than a quarter of the total complement of collectible celestials.

While Odyssey does a great job of thinking outside of the 3D platformer box, it doesn’t invent a way to slay all of the genre’s demons. The camera, for instance still causes trouble sometimes, leading you to whiff on a jump or get the wrong angle to see a boss attack coming.

On a logistical note: despite the fact that Nintendo recommends playing with separated Joy-Con controllers when you first start Odyssey up, you can play with whatever you like and not miss a beat in the gameplay. In fact, I felt much more comfortable with the fantastic Pro Controller, which lets you do most of the same motion-based gestures by waving the gamepad. It also supplies all of the same HD Rumble feedback the Joy-Con do.

mario running


Mario’s games have been around for almost as long as game consoles have been a thing, but thankfully, he’s always evolving. We rarely get the same Mario twice. Super Mario Odyssey delivers on that ongoing promise of originality and innovation: It distills the venerable series’ joyful, irreverent world and characters and best-in-class platforming action, and introduces a steady stream of new and unexpected mechanics. It’s all spun together into a generational masterpiece.