Super Mario Odyssey is the next installment in the widely popular Super Mario lineup of games from Nintendo. The game is directed by Kenta Motokura, who has worked on previous Nintendo games such as Pokemon Stadium 2, Pikmin and Super Mario Galaxy. Production for Super Mario Odyssey began in late 2013 under the direction of Motokura. The game was first hinted at by producer Yoshiaki Koizumi in 2014 and was first teased in late 2016 inside of the Nintendo Switch announcement trailer. Super Mario Odyssey was not formally announced until the January 2017 presentation of the Nintendo Switch. Sampled at E3 this year, we are able to take a look at some of the new mechanics and environments we can expect upon the games release in October of this year.
Super Mario Odyssey follows Mario as he must travel through different worlds in order to save Princess Peach from the clutches of the nefarious Bowser, who has orchestrated a plan for her to become his bride. Along your journey, you will board the hat shaped ship named “Odyssey” as you travel through a diverse array of lands such as the Sand Kingdom and New Donk City. Around these kingdoms, you will be required to find items known as power moons that can be acquired in a range of ways. These power moons can be acquired by solving puzzles and completing objectives, in addition to finding them in random places scattered throughout the terrain much like how stars worked in Super Mario 64.
Super Mario Odyssey returns to open-world exploratory levels we were greeted with in Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64. By using these power moons you can charge up the Odyssey to take you to your next adventure, unlocking a new world to explore and find more moons. Without enough power moons, you aren’t able to power the Odyssey and thus cannot leave your currently unlocked worlds. Encouraging the player to traverse the landscape to find more moons, leading to them discovering more about the world and allowing them to take their time with the game. This is foreign to some of the original titles which would send you back to start if you failed to complete a level.
Mario still retains some of his signature moves such as the ability to triple jump, wall jump, long jump, spin jump, ground pound and dive (last seen in Super Mario Sunshine). While his classic abilities are what allowed us to complete the previous Mario titles, they aren’t enough for the player to sail with the Odyssey. Mario now possesses the ability to use his hat, which has become a character of its own, and is able to be used by the player. The cap (who goes by the name of Cappy) is now able to be used as a platform for which the player can jump off of to reach a higher or lower platform, this talent is vital for puzzle solving as the game wants you to find your own path and think when solving puzzles. Cappy can also be used as a weapon, thrown at enemies to neutralize them, much like turtle shells from the previous Mario titles. The most notable ability seen thus far is the ability to use Cappy to take over objects and enemies to reach a certain area or complete an objective. Cappy can be used to control Bullet Bills to destroy object such as wall and barriers to complete puzzles, which we were able to test in the E3 demo of Super Mario Odyssey. Cappy is able to take control of a bolt of lighting to allow Mario to travel up electric wires and possess tanks to allow for more diverse combat. As we’ve seen in the announcement trailer we will even be able to take over objects as large as a T-Rex.
Silly enough, modders have even taken to creating a Super Mario 64 mod that implements the Cappy feature to take over almost anything in the world, even the moving platforms. Although it does have some major bugs to be worked out, it just goes to show how inspiration can go both ways in the gaming timeline.
Mario is also able to change his outfit with the accumulation of classic coins you can find in the world. Some outfits are necessary to complete objectives throughout the game. Travel to shops and buy new hats and outfits as well as use unique world-specific purple coins to unlock area themed outfits for Mario. Co-op play is back with a second player being able to control Cappy independently of Mario to attack enemies and take control of objects in the world. Co-operative play is something the Mario franchise has always been fond of and it has no absence here.
The environment of Super Mario Odyssey is something to be excited for, the vast open areas, the colorful backgrounds, and the intricately designed puzzles all send you back to playing some of the original Mario games in anticipation. The level designs are better than ever with much more area to cover than before. These new puzzles require more thought and patience than ever before. With classic characters returning to give you objectives, and while exploring you’ll eventually find items that will grant a reward. The game feels like a mashup of Super Mario 3D world with the awesome graphics and Super Mario 64 with the true open world aspects that the Mario games are famous for. Don’t worry, the game does have a story, and it has classic Mario written all over it. With every Mario game we think Nintendo is responding to fan feedback and they’re using that feedback as the foundation for their next Mario game. The game has received boundless acclaim at E3 2017 this year. Taking the best parts of previous titles and using them in the next iteration with new additions that are sure to become fan favorites.
In an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, he stated that he drew inspiration from Super Mario 64. Obviously a staple for its time with free roam exploration and discovery, Super Mario Odyssey follows the same formula that made 64 such a popular title. Both games let the player work at their own pace and see what the game has to offer. Camera movement is very similar as it moves with you through the environment and adjusting for optimal viewing when you change areas. The diverse landscape is also something both titles share, changing destinations from a snowy mountain to an arid desert. Objects are hidden in places that require you to use the environment and the objects within them to acquire them. Such as using a Goomba in Super Mario Odyssey, or a penguin in Super Mario 64. Interesting characters giving you tasks to fulfill in exchange for stars, or in Super Mario Odyssey’s case, Power Moons.
During our time playing the demo at this year’s E3 expo we were treated to the Sand Kingdom level. Where we were able to jump through Sand Pits, solve puzzles and explore the vast open area of the desert with Mario. Running through the small ruined town, we decided to explore this large mound in the background of the area. It required a lot of scaling, which had a degree of challenge to it. We were greeted with puzzles, moving floors and a lot, and we mean a lot of jumps that we would come to expect from a Mario game. Once we got to the top of the mound we were able to spot a moon, which we need to power the Odyssey. The only problem is that between the moon and us is a giant trench! Nearby are a group of Bullet Bills, which gave us an idea. We threw Cappy and sure enough we were able to take control of the Bullet Bill. Using the hovering ability we were able to cross the trench and retrieve our moon. Situations like this are something to look forward to. Being presented with a challenge and using our own theory on how to solve it makes the player feel in control. Shigeru Miyamoto has stated that the game is driven towards veteran players of Mario who were accustomed to the challenging nature of the original titles as opposed to the family friendly version of recent years.
The Mario franchise has been a staple of platform gaming for generations now. Each game finding new ways to reinvent itself. From the days of Jumpman in Donkey Kong to flying in the Tanooki suit, Mario games have always been about the player. Having fun and exploring the world, meeting new friends and battling classic enemies. Mario games are as popular as they are for a reason, they’re fun. They’re not a hardcore pro only type of game that requires you to have 25 perks in your skills tree, or take down 5 bases to unlock a new area, they’re games that let you pick up your controller and go. Sure sometimes you get stressed when you can’t clear the stage in time or when you don’t make the wall gap for the 25th time. It’s that classic video game feeling we all know. Mario is such a cultural/historical significance in the gaming industry and it doesn’t seem like it’s leaving our consoles and portables anytime soon. It was one of the first platformers to “get it right”. The weight of character, the feeling of accomplishment and time it requires to fulfill the ultimate goal. The consistency with every title is something to be amazed at. Every Mario game released draws inspiration from all previous games before it. Ensuring that the best traits from those games won’t disappear, it’s as if Nintendo has found a formula for making a series that can never lose its ancestry. Never lose sight of what it came from, because it is always present with every iteration of the game. A series that can draw in young gamers as well as the veterans from the old days of Super Mario.
Super Mario World has already shown us great potential with what we’ve seen so far. The jumps, the puzzles and the worlds all remind us of classic Mario which is a great thing. When a franchise returns to its roots it’s sure to attract the fans that have been there from the very start. A game for those who have supported them days outset. Once we’re done exploring the large open world of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we can jump into the multiple worlds that Super Mario Odyssey has to offer with our trusty cap and the fabled Italian-American plumber hero of the Mushroom Kingdom. Also, be sure to check out our analysis of the the Super Mario Odyssey announcement trailer here. Super Mario Odyssey, as well as the Super Mario Odyssey themed amiibos are set to be released October 27th, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch.