Written by Colin Burns // Edited by Andrew Busch // Images courtesy of Nintendo
As we begin to gear up for the holiday season of video game releases, all eyes are on Nintendo and the upcoming release of Super Mario Odyssey. The first mainline game in the Mario franchise since 2013’s Super Mario 3D World, Odyssey will release for the Nintendo Switch on October 27th and it may be the charming plumber’s most critical launch yet. Despite consistent acclaim and top quality, it’s no secret that even the most stalwart Nintendo fans have been feeling a little miffed with the most recent Mario games. The Nintendo Switch has begun to right the ship and now it’s up to “Mr. Video Game” to provide the wind in the sails and steer Nintendo to a profitable future. It may be too early to tell but my brief time with the game at E3 left me feeling overwhelmingly confident in Super Mario Odyssey’s ability to not only keep up momentum and recapture the imaginations of lapsed fans but also introduce Mario to a whole new generation.
The Wii U was a flop; Nintendo followed it up with the Switch which has been an impressive critical and commercial success. The Legend of Zelda series wasn’t in the best place after fans’ mixed opinions of Skyward Sword and flops like Triforce Heroes; The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was the right game at the right time and felt like another monumental shift in game design that most people probably didn’t even imagine possible. Metroid Prime: Federation Force was a thing; Nintendo is apologizing by giving us Metroid Prime 4 and throwing in Samus Returns as a bonus. Nintendo has been on this recent trend of righting their wrongs so it is hard not to get excited about Super Mario Odyssey.
As with Breath of the Wild, Odyssey looks like it’s aiming to hit a careful balance between old and new, which will mean the game has something for everyone. The core of the gameplay is built around unique, expansive and disparate worlds all full of challenges to undertake and collectables to seek out. This kind of Mario 64 / Super Mario Sunshine game design has been out of the spotlight for awhile now but who better to bring it back with a new coat of paint than the folks who created the genre in the first place?
Don’t think Nintendo is just rehashing their old ideas though, the new “capture” mechanic that allows Mario to possess enemies and objects in the world seems expansive enough to keep players infinitely occupied. Also hidden within these worlds are glimpses of other Mario games. During my brief trek through New Donk City, I entered a large building and was presented with a fixed camera 3D platforming challenge akin to Super Mario 3D World. In the footage shared throughout E3, Mario can be seen flattening himself out onto walls and all of a sudden, you’re playing a classic 2D Mario platformer.
Moving forward while still looking to their storied past has been essential to Nintendo’s recent successes and Super Mario Odyssey seems to be following suit. When it releases in October, we will all begin our journeys through its many worlds and experience flashes of Mario’s past present and future all rolled up into one game. Super Mario Odyssey has the makings of a monumental release that only a few series have enough clout to garner and video games as a medium may be in a very different place after the odyssey begins in October.
Check out a few photos from Colin’s E3 experience with Super Mario Odyssey below: