E3 2017 Preview: Super Mario Odyssey
At E3 2017, I had the privilege to go hands-on with Nintendo Switch’s big holiday 2017 hit, Super Mario Odyssey. Without a doubt, Super Mario Odyssey is incredible in every way. During my time with Super Mario Odyssey, I had the opportunity to play two different areas, New Donk City and Sand Kingdom. New Donk City looks like a Mario version of New York City with many Donkey Kong references (all the street names are the names of Donkey Kong’s rideable animals from the Donkey Kong Country franchise). The city’s occupants look like actual humans, including the city’s mayor, Pauline (who you might remember from the original Donkey Kong). The Sand Kingdom looks like a more traditional Super Mario level, and it’s filled with friendly, skull-faced occupants wearing Mexican-style clothing (ponchos and sombreros). Both worlds have enemies, such as Goombas, Piranha Plants and Bullet Bills and a ton of platforming – all standard Super Mario fare.
The most noticeable distinction in Super Mario Odyssey is the inclusion of Mario’s newest friend, Cappy. Cappy replaces Mario’s traditional red hat and will be used extensively throughout the game for offense and platforming. Throw Cappy at a Bullet Bill, and you become the Bullet Bill. Throw Cappy at an electrical wire, and you’re turned into a sparky Mario that can ride along the wire. Throw Cappy at a human holding a remote control, and you’ll be able to drive his remote control car. You’ll have objectives in each level to complete, and each time you finish one, you’ll earn a shiny crescent moon (think Shines from Super Mario Sunshine or Stars from Super Mario 64). You’ll also find coins, much like past Mario games, but this time you can redeem your coins for new outfits and hats! One objective in Sand Kingdom required you to purchase a new outfit for Mario that fit the dress code for a club. Once you buy and equip a poncho and sombrero, you’ll be able to enter the club (but I’m not spoiling what happens next, because it’s pretty damn cute).
On the show floor, Nintendo had us using both Joy Cons split apart, as doing so allows us to throw Cappy with a quick flick of the wrist (in addition to a couple other minor motion-controlled moves). BUT, don’t fret, the entire game can be played, without motion control, using the Pro Controller (they allowed us to try it in the media area). The controls feel perfect. Nintendo really does have Mario controls perfected at this point. I was pulling off all the same moves I did back when I was playing Super Mario 64, with the exact same motions on the controller. Beginners to the franchise may take a little time adjusting to the vast assortment of Mario moves, but like the rest of us, they’ll catch on soon enough!
The amount of detail in Super Mario Odyssey is nothing short of amazing. Visuals from the original Super Mario Bros. pop up from time to time (including brief playable portions!). The music is exactly what you’d expect from a Mario game, catchy and fun. Charles Martinet returns once again to voice Mario – and he still delivers that iconic voice we all recognize and love. Oh, and there’s even a cameo from Captain Toad (just don’t ask what he brings to the game, our game ended just as we began talking to him!). As much as we’re still loving Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, we’ll undoubtedly be still loving Super Mario Odyssey for many years to come. We’ll all get a chance to enjoy Super Mario Odyssey when it launches, exclusively for Nintendo Switch, on October 27, 2017.