So, arguably the biggest game announcement coming from Nintendo’s Switch event on Thursday was Super Mario Odyssey. Not only is this game coming soon-this year-but it is looking insanely good too. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whopping 15 years since the last true exploration-based Mario game, Super Mario Sunshine. Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel definitely had exploration-focused levels, but in hindsight, those games definitely began delving into the more linear gameplay philosophy that would later culminate with Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U. Odyssey has some big, big shoes to fill.
We got a glimpse at about four levels in the fantastic trailer for Odyssey. One has Mario running around a realistic city called New Donk City, a reference to Donkey Kong. Another puts Mario in a Day of the Dead-inspired desert town with what seems to be ancient ruins in the background. Another takes place in an overgrown, forested location with mechanical components, kind of like a long abandoned factory. Finally, there is a trippy polygon-filled, food-focused level.
Here are a few things I noticed in the trailer:
- By now, most people have head this one. New Donk City is obviously a reference to Donkey, but there are also many references to the Donkey Kong Country games littered throughout the level. Could we finally see Donkey Kong returning to the Mario canon in one of the mainline games?
- Much has been said about the presence of real-proportioned humans in the city, which seem very weird when juxtaposed to Mario’s cartoony aesthetic. My theory is that the game might be about dimension-hopping, given that it seems to be the next logical step after Mario’s star-studded adventure in Galaxy.
- The Hat Ship that Mario rides on looks to serve a similar function to Spaceship Mario from Galaxy 2, that is, it might be your mode of transportation from one level to another.
- Speaking of hats, hats seem to be a large recurring theme here. Not only is Mario’s ship shaped like a hat, but many enemies have hats, including Bowser. Both Bowser and Mario now have the ability to use their hats as weapons, as well. Additionally, almost every level has a “Crazy Cap” store in it. Could Super Mario 64‘s mechanic of hat-based abilities be returning? One crazy theory I have is this: Could these Crazy Cap stores work like Mumbo Jumbo from Banjo-Kazooie? That is, in that they are a central location where you can go and swap out your abilities, in this case, hats?
- It looks like the “desert” location is actually quite cold. There is ice everywhere, and there are even icicles on the buildings. Later on, Mario is seen shivering. He looks totally miserable!
- It looks like Mario’s collectibles will change depending on what level he’s in! In Day of the Dead-world, he’s collecting these triangle symbols, while in the overgrown factory he’s collecting purple nuts.
- Despite seeming like a totally tradition-breaking entry in the series, there are plenty of recognizable Mario staples in this trailer! You will find what is unmistakably a checkpoint flag on the Hat Ship, P-Switches in the overgrown factory, as well as turnips and familiar enemies in the food level.
- At one point, Mario is riding what looks to be a Gao from Super Mario Land! Talk about digging deep into Mario’s past catalog!
- It looks like these new rabbit enemies will be taking the place of the Koopalings as Bowser’s minions this time around. Thank goodness.
Expect to hear my thoughts on this game as soon as more information on it is available!