Within only a few months since the Nintendo Switch released, Nintendo has shown it’s been willing — perhaps more than ever — to shake things up a bit with its most beloved properties. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild redefined the conventions of what we expect from the series with an epic journey, and other titles like ARMS have taken unique approaches in familiar genres. With Mario set to make his debut on the system later this year, Super Mario Odyssey might just follow this trend and provide one of the iconic mascot’s most memorable adventures yet.
During a preview event with Nintendo, DualShockers had the opportunity to check out a demo of Super Mario Odyssey for a closer look at what to expect from Mario’s big adventure. Harking back to some of the classic 3D entries in the Mario series like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, Odyssey retains the classic look and feel of Mario’s past adventures thanks to its vibrant visuals and excellent platforming gameplay.
However, more than that Super Mario Odyssey just captures a certain kind of goofy charm and humor to it that put a huge smile on my face as I was playing it. As a result, I can guarantee it’s an adventure I’ll be looking forward to carrying with me everywhere I go this fall.
As seen during the game’s reveal earlier this year, Super Mario Odyssey takes Mario out of the Mushroom Kingdom and has him traveling on an epic journey through various locations around the world. Traveling alongside him is his trusty hat Cappy, who has the ability to “capture” various objects, people, and more to take control of him.
Aside from giving them a stylish Mario hat and mustache (such as the Mario-ified T-Rex I’ve fallen in love with), the player can then utilize the captured objects/people/creatures to solve puzzles and explore the environments, which makes Super Mario Odyssey just as much about experimentation as much as it is about platforming and Mario’s colorful romps through these worlds.
Even during the brief time that we had with the game during our demo, it’s already clear that Cappy will play a large role in Super Mario Odyssey in the same way that FLUDD did in Super Mario Sunshine, or the Star Cursor in the Super Mario Galaxy titles. As we played using the Joy-Con detached from the system (which should feel familiar to fans of Mario Galaxy), the right Joy-Con acted as the main way to control Cappy and feels natural (and fun) to fling him around and capture objects. I’m sure it will take me some getting used to to get the feel down exactly — aiming Cappy sometimes felt a bit imprecise — but I’m more than willing to give the motion controls a try when the full game releases.
Swinging the Joy-Con allows players to fling Cappy at objects that can either take them down or let Mario capture them, with the action then instantaneously switch to the captured character/object. Aside from that, Cappy also functions as a makeshift platform that players can hop on to access hard-to-reach areas, can be used offensively with a move that spins around Mario, can retrieve distant items, and more. Cappy is already pretty versatile as our demo showed, and I’m sure in the main game we’ll get to see him used in even more surprising ways throughout the adventure.
While Cappy makes for a unique spin on the traditional Mario gameplay, Super Mario Odyssey has already shown it’s bursting with new ideas and features to make for an unconventional adventure for Mario. The most notable of these for me personally were the environments, as we had the chance to explore two of the game’s worlds – the hustle and bustle of Metro Kingdom (aka “New Donk City”), and the desert-inspired Sand Kingdom.
Starting off in the Sand Kingdom, it felt in a lot of ways like a suped-up level that might have been found in Super Mario 64, but with tons of possibility thanks to the capabilities of Cappy. Most of all, the level also contained one of the new “2D” puzzles that has Mario warp onto flat surfaces that instantly transforms him into his old 8-bit styled, Super Mario Bros. self to solve puzzles. It’s a mechanic that should be very, very familiar to those that played The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, but here it’s a fun change up from the 3D exploration and gameplay that I’m excited to see utilized in the rest of the game.
The New York City-inspired Metro Kingdom, however, was the highlight of the demo for me and really was where I felt Super Mario Odyssey had the chance to shine. Surrounded by bustling taxis and people (who definitely stand out compared to the cartoonish Mario), Metro Kingdom was filled with secrets and places to explore. Where Breath of the Wild had huge, expansive environments that encouraged players explore every inch of it, Mario Odyssey feels more densely packed with large, tall buildings to scale and ways to zip around the city.
In my first mission in New Donk City from Mayor Pauline, where Mario had to gather a collection of jazz musicians for an upcoming concert, I could feel Super Mario Odyssey working its cheerful magic on me. Having to run around the map to find the musicians, I was able to use Cappy to take control of a nearby pole and fling Mario onto the top of a city skyscraper, while then taking control of an electric zipline to have Mario whizz through the city. Once I had all four musicians gathered at the concert, the Nintendo representatives at the event even pointed out that Mario can dance in his idle animation. I of course had to see it for myself, and seeing him bust a move to a blaring jazz soundtrack might have been one of the highlights of the demo.
From taking over a frog and a T-Rex to jamming out with a mariachi band as seen in the trailers, Super Mario Odyssey had me excited — more so than usual — for Mario’s latest adventure purely because of its wacky energy and premise. After having some hands-on time with the game, I’m even more excited now for the game’s October release and the surprises that I’m sure it will have in store for me and other players.
Given the years that we’ve spent inside the Mushroom Kingdom and other locations throughout Mario’s previous games, I’m looking forward to the change of scenery that Super Mario Odyssey will offer and joining Mario alongside his big adventure this fall.
Super Mario Odyssey will release for the Nintendo Switch on October 27th, 2017. For more on the title, you can check out Azario’s feature on why using the Joy-Cons detached from the Switch might just be the best way to play the title when it arrives this fall.