Both young players and old, new fans of Mario and those who’ve been around since the beginning, welcome to his grandest adventure ever. Super Mario Odyssey dwarfs every other Mario game, and is even comparable in scope to the sprawling Breath of the Wild, if you can believe it.  For a comprehensive companion, check out Prima’s official Super Mario Odyssey guide, which covers every location and secret in all the kingdoms of the world. In the meantime, these general tips will help get you up to speed on the most important things here, and the biggest departures from other Mario games.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - a new adventure begins

We’re all over the moon for a new Mario game.

Recommended Scheme

Any major Switch control configuration will work here. Handheld, split Joy-Cons, Joy-Cons connected in the grip, a Pro Controller, a third-party pad, whatever. And in any configuration, Mario has access to most of his huge arsenal of moves, plenty to complete the game and any challenge thrown his way. Be advised that the recommended scheme for the game is Wii nunchuck style, with a Joy-Con in each hand, unconnected. Mario’s buzzsaw-like downward cap throw can only be done anytime by using split-grip Joy-Cons with motion controls enabled. The Pro Controller matches all other split-grip functions. A sideways Joy-Con (SNES style) gives up instant access to a few controller functions, but is still more than enough to fully enjoy the odyssey, especially when playing with two sideways Joy-Cons and a friend in 2-Player Mode.

Super Mario Odyssey controller configurations

The official guide contains a full breakdown of different controls in all configurations.

Don’t Overlook Assist Mode or 2-Player Mode

In 2-Player Mode, one player controls Mario and the other controls Cappy. Mario and Cappy can move around separately, each ground-pounding any enemies flat and collecting coins and items, or they can work together, performing dive jumps in tandem, and using Cappy to haul Mario upward with a double-jump only available playing cooperatively.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - 2 player mode

Every Switch console is ready for 2-Player Mode.

Super Mario Odyssey already takes a departure from prior Mario games with the removal of 1-Up Mushrooms and Lives. Here, falling into a pit or losing all Hearts will just result in Mario regaining consciousness at a nearby checkpoint, with his wallet lighter by ten gold coins. This penalty can be reduced further with Assist Mode. Assist Mode places a general objective arrow onscreen, making it easier to tell where to go next to keep the story moving forward. Fatal falls in Assist Mode will result in Mario being saved by a bubble and carried back to safe ground. Instead of losing ten coins and reloading somewhere nearby, he’ll just lose one Heart. Max Hearts are also higher in Assist Mode, and standing still to rest for a few seconds will quickly restore Hearts, if any are missing.

Assist Mode is not a watered-down experience of the game; it just softens the penalty for slips and removes the need to look for Life-Up Hearts when hurt. Assist Mode can reduce frustration for players during challenging sections, and can simply save time for experienced players who don’t want to get set back too much for a rare slip-up. When Assist Mode is enabled, it says “Assist Mode” onscreen, but there’s no other penalty.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - Assist Mode

Is this Mario or Bayonetta?

Mario’s tried-and-true standard jump can and will carry him through the whole game. It’s possible to play in a basic style, running and jumping Super Mario Bros. style. But you’ll have to master all the jump types and learn when to use them to fully explore each kingdom, complete all the timer challenges and races, and collect every Power Moon and Regional Coin.

There’s Mario’s standard jump as mentioned. Jump again immediately upon landing for a continuous jump, slightly higher-reaching than the first one. Jump again upon landing from a forward-moving continuous jump for Mario’s triple jump, inch-for-inch his best leap for both height and distance. Then there’s his shallow but far-reaching running long jump, and his high-hurdling somersaults and ground pound jump. This is not to mention wall jumps, jumping off poles, and bouncing off enemies and objects. And that’s before getting into the real game-changer, Cappy. On the ground, step onto spinning Cappy to cap jump (almost as good as a triple jump). In midair, tackle into spinning Cappy for a dive jump (takes some getting used to, but it’s the most powerful move in the game, in terms of opening up Mario’s acrobat-like synergy with Cappy).

For a complete breakdown of all Mario’s moves and jumps, from their relative arcs to all the ways they can be strung together, check out the official guide.

The Cap is the Key

Mario’s trusty old cap is quickly replaced by Cappy, a ghostly creature from Bonneton who can shift form into any kind of headgear. Mario and Cappy’s fast friendship gives Mario more options than he’s ever had, right from the get-go. Cappy is a projectile weapon, an item vacuum, a bounce platform, and a tool of possession all in one. Mario has almost as many ways to throw Cappy as he has different jumps, from hurling the hat straight upward or downward, to altering its trajectory midflight with a homing throw flick, to laying down 360 degrees of cover with the mighty spin throw. And in Super Mario Odyssey, rather than acquiring Power-Ups like Fire Flowers for new abilities, Mario gets them by using Cappy to capture certain creatures and objects. In each form, Mario’s controls and abilities change completely! There are dozens and dozens of things to capture throughout the world, so there’s no harm in pegging everything with Cappy to check.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - Mario and Cappy

Hint Toad, Uncle amiibo, and Talkatoo

Mario and Cappy visit many different kingdoms chasing down Bowser, and they’re each in a varying state of turmoil upon initial arrival. After attending to whatever emergency is most pressing, things will usually calm down enough locally for Hint Toad and Uncle amiibo to show up. They’ll hang around near the Odyssey airship itself, ready to dispense tips to Mario whenever needed.

Hint Toad will sell the general location of most missing Power Moons for 50 gold coins a pop. (He won’t sell every location, though.) While X may mark the spot on the Travel Map, you’ll still have to figure out how to uncover Power Moons that aren’t just in plain sight.

For a different kind of hint, look for Talkatoo, too. (He’s hidden somewhere in most regions.) This colorful talking bird will squawk out the names of up to three unrecovered Power Moons at a time. That might not sound like much help, but for many Power Moons just knowing the name is a huge giveaway. Plus, since birds don’t understand currency, Talkatoo coughs these tips up for free! He just won’t spit out any new ones till you’ve found the moons he’s already named.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - Hint Toad

Put a bird on it.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - amiibo

New wedding-themed amiibo figures are extremely useful, but any amiibo can also be used to get a tip from Uncle amiibo.

Use Photo Mode

Because it’s awesome.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - Photo Mode Pencil Sketch

Pencil sketch. Mario’s shading is impeccable.

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - Photo Mode Line Drawing

Line drawing. Make your own coloring book!

Super Mario Odyssey screenshot - Photo Mode Painterly

Painterly. Mario’s even got a painter outfit for getting into character.