Super Mario Odyssey has all the makings of another modern masterpiece from Nintendo.
Super Mario is one of the most famous video game series of all time. The series has touched people all over the world — we all have a favourite Mario game. From his humble beginnings in the 1983 arcade game, Mario Bros., to today, everyone knows Super Mario.
Believe it or not, the last 3D Super Mario game was Super Mario 3D World in 2013. It has been four years since we got a new opportunity to run in a circle as the beloved blue overall-wearing gentleman. In the grand scheme of things, there haven’t been all that many traditional 3D Mario games. There was only one on the Nintendo 64, one on the GameCube, two on the Wii, and one on the Wii U. Seeing as Super Mario Odyssey was revealed so early in the Nintendo Switch’s lifecycle, it seems fair to hope that we’ll get more than just this one on the Switch.
Speaking of the Switch, this is the first Mario game of any kind announced for the brand new system. We love Mario’s sports adventures too, but knowing that we will be getting a proper entry in the series first and foremost is very exciting. Now, let’s dig into what else we know about the newest installment in the Mario saga: Super Mario Odyssey — let’s go!
15 Open World Mario Returns!
Super Mario Odyssey will have a full-blown sandbox to explore. It has been 15 years since Mario explored Delfino Plaza in Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube. Every mainline Super Mario game released since then —including Super Mario Galaxy 1/2 and Super Mario 3D Land/World— has had linear levels that are completed in sequence. Finally, Mario has a chance to breathe again, which will let players uncover the world at their own pace.
Some of our favourite memories with the world’s most famous mustachioed protagonist was exploring Princess Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64. The Nintendo 64 launch title established an entire genre unto itself, that would be home to games like Banjo-Kazooie, Jak & Daxter, and Psychonauts. We couldn’t be more excited to see how Nintendo expands the concept in 2017.
14 Humans Exist in Super Mario Odyssey
It’s hard to wrap your brain around what you are looking at when you see Super Mario standing next to a normally propositioned adult. It shouldn’t be as startling as it is. The flying turtles, the talking mushrooms, and the friendly dinosaurs all pointed to Mario being a figure of make-believe. But here we are, totally perplexed by the savior of the Mushroom Kingdom standing knee high to a plain-old human.
From its name alone, it is fair to assume Super Mario Odyssey will be an epic journey filled with surreal encounters. Seeing Mario roaming a world filled with humans is as cool as it is silly. SEGA has tried a similar stylistic approach with their laughably terrible Sonic ’06, which launched on the PlayStation 3. Something tells us Nintendo will have more luck with their foray into the real world.
13 The Realistic Metropolis is Named: New Donk City
Super Mario will not be exploring New York City in his Nintendo Switch debut. At first blush, it sure looks like Mario is about to jump into the Big Apple. Judging from the yellow taxi cabs, tall infrastructure, and general aesthetic of the city, things look a heck of a lot like New York. On closer inspection, however, none of NYC is actually reflected in street names or signage. Examining the in-game posters reveals that the city is called: New Donk City. Moreover, there are a few glaring contradictions in the town. The most striking inconsistency is that the people walking the around the metropolis are all dressed like it is 1940, but you can catch a glimpse of an inconspicuous laptop. We don’t know exactly what’s going on in New Donk, but there is more to it than meets the eye.
12 Day and Night Play a Big Role
The Super Mario Odyssey trailer is packed with nighttime scenes. It wouldn't be the first time that Mario has had to put his platforming to the test in the dark, but the footage so far makes us think levels will change dramatically at night. One juxtaposition has Mario sprinting freely in a desert full of sambaing townsfolk during the day and shivering by himself in the moonlight. In another shot we see New Donk City engulfed in a dark sheet of rain at night. There’s no evidence so far that the game will have a full-blown day/night cycle, but it stands to reason that some events only trigger when the sun is down. The last clip in the first trailer has a giant robotic bug enemy circling a tower with the moon shining on them — things certainly wouldn’t be so ominous in the daylight.
11 There is a New Collectible on Display
Since the earliest days of the Super Mario Bros. series, Mario has been picking up coins and power-ups. Along the way, he started hoarding stars, red coins, and star bits. Super Mario Odyssey introduces a new purple collectible. We aren’t sure what Mario uses the new purple items for, but they do seem to vary in shape from stage to stage. In the desert, these purple trinkets take on a triangular shape and, on another level, they appear to be circular. Super Mario purists don’t need to worry, though, Odyssey still seems to be packed with all the vintage Mario collectibles you would expect. Shiny golden coins and checkpoint flags both make an appearance in the titular trailer. We wouldn’t be surprised if these were the first of many new items to be stockpiled.
10 Bowser Wants to Marry Princess Peach
Seeing Bowser in his vest and suit, jagged purple bowtie, and a white top hat leaves one hell of an impression. He’s made it far enough that Princess Peach has a unique tiara for the occasion. It’s a tried and true trope, but it’s an expected fit for the Super Mario Bros series. Bowser has even gone on to promote the event in New Donk City, where you can see posters for their wedding lining the skyscraper walls.
Bowser never seems to waver in his devotion to marrying Princess Peach. Back when the characters were known as Princess Toadstool and King Koopa, Bowser tried to marry himself to the Princess in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. The fire-breathing villain also gets hitched to Peach in Super Paper Mario on the original Wii.
9 It Has At Least Four Massive Worlds
Mario games have always been known for their theming. If the scope of these levels is anything to go on, expect fewer stages with more missions in each one.
1. The city level. New Donk City has certainly received the most attention so far. This is the New York inspired level that has honest-to-goodness humans walking around.
2. A forest level. The foggy forest has giant foreboding trees and is the only stage we have seen so far where Mario is swimming.
3. The massive desert level. The desert town is filled with happy dancing skeleton folks. There also seem to be some evil skeleton people who can be taken care of further away from town.
4. A food-focused level. The visual design on this level is a departure for the series. The area is packed with very angular foods and a few friendly forks.
8 Mario’s Hat is Anthropomorphic
In a post-title card reveal during Super Mario Odyssey’s first trailer, Mario’s hat sprouts eyes and looks down at the iconic hero. Mario seems to be as startled by the revelation as we were. Since we’re sure Mario would have noticed if his hat had an identity before Super Mario Odyssey, it stands to reason that this is a new “M” hat.
Nintendo does seem to love its talking hats. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is another major Nintendo release that featured an anthropomorphic hat. In The Minish Cap, Link’s hat was named Ezlo, and he acted as Link’s guide (similarly to Navi in Ocarina of Time). We have no idea what role Mario’s new cap will play, but since these big pink eyes appear in the game’s logo, we expect it’s going to be a major character.
7 It is Single Player Only (For Now)
Super Mario Odyssey returns the series to its single-player roots. Until the launch of the original Wii, Super Mario games had been traditionally single-player titles (with a few exceptions). Every single Super Mario game released on the Wii featured a two-player mode, and Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U added four-player co-op to a 3D Mario game of the first time.
The official Nintendo website lists Super Mario Odyssey as a one-player game, but not all hope is lost. During the Nintendo Switch’s initial unveiling, we saw a woman (who has become a fan-favourite named Karen) playing Super Mario Odyssey on her TV, before leaving to a roof party to continue playing with her friends. It’s a long shot, but that could very well signal that Super Mario Odyssey does have some kind of two-player functionality. We will see!
6 New Donk City isn’t What you Think
Why New “Donk” City? You may have been wondering what the heck “Donk” could mean. It turns out, there’s a pretty good educated guess floating around online. If you pay attention to the street signs and posters in New Donk City, you’ll notice a common theme. A lot of the city references characters from the Donkey Kong series, such as Diddy and Dixie.
So “Donk” might be short for “Donkey.” The idea of New Donkey Kong City adds another ripple to the Super Mario Odyssey mystery. What if this is the town where Mario fought Donkey Kong in the 1981 arcade hit of the same name. Seeing as Donkey Kong owes at least some inspiration to King Kong, a New York stand-in would make perfects sense for the character. We can’t wait to see what New Donk City is all about!
5 Four New Willains are Making Their Debut in Odyssey
Flying in together on an airship, four angry (but adorable!) rabbits make an appearance in the Super Mario Odyssey trailer. Since they show up on a Super Mario Bros. 3 airship —which is typically reserved for the Koopa Kids— it’s pretty clear these rabbits are up to no good. Each of them is dressed in a different colour, which could easily correspond to their respective areas. The new characters’ outfits also seem a bit old fashioned, so they might be linked to the old-timey-fashion of New Donk City. These characters could also simply be dressed for Bowser’s wedding, but don’t have any new clothes on-hand. Either way, we’re already smitten with this rabbit foursome. In the trailer, you do catch a glimpse of Mario facing off against the blue rabbit, who seems to be spitting purple goo from his mouth. Whatever that’s all about.
4 Mario Gets Funky
How come Mario doesn’t dance anymore? One of the break-out animations in Super Mario 64 was Mario’s break-dance move. At the time, his little swirl kick was so sophisticated that players would use the wildly inefficient technique just to see Mario performing it. Well, we’re happy to report that —at least briefly— Mario will be doing some dancing in Super Mario Odyssey.
Dancing by a boombox in the big creaky forest, we caught a glimpse of Mario bobbing up and down. There are even some disco-esque light beams pouring in through the trees and onto the gyrating plumber. Mario used to squeeze in some time on the dance floor in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix and also did some butt-shaking in the Mario and Luigi games on the GameBoy Advance. Let's just say we’re happy to see some HD boogieing from the adorable plumber.
3 It’s Coming Out in 2017
Less than ten months after the launch of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo is debuting its first 3D Super Mario game. Think about that — it’s no small feat. By the end of the Switch’s first year on the market, it will have: Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and Super Mario Odyssey. Four of the prestigious company’s most important franchise will all have had a major release in less than a year. Nintendo has come out swinging and Super Mario Odyssey is the knock-out blow.
Typically, 3D Mario games are the titles Nintendo uses to show other developers the best way to use their hardware. It is a franchise the longstanding company uses to flex its technical and creative skills. There is no doubt in our mind that Super Mario Odyssey will prove once again that Nintendo knows how to put everyone else on their platform to shame.
2 Mario has a New Mount
Let’s be clear: no one is replacing Mario’s trusty steed T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas. But Mario does have a history of riding other creatures when need be. For example, he even rides another larger purple dinosaur in Super Mario 64! Mario also surfs on a squid in a race during Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube.
Well, in Super Mario Odyssey, we see Mario riding an Sphinx-like stone animal through the desert. It’s hard to say if the player has full control over the mount or if it’s a prolonged segueway between areas (like blasting through the space between planets in Super Mario Galaxy), but it definitely packs a punch. We see Mario tearing through enemy skeletons on the feline like nobody’s business.
1 Hats are Everywhere
Super Mario Odyssey is a venerable hat-o-palooza. For starters —as we mentioned— Mario’s own red cap has taken on a life of its own with big pink eyes. This is doubly important as Mario’s new hat has a new move that lets him toss it so he can use it as a makeshift platform. Secondly, Bowser, Peach, your new Rabbit foes, and all of the city slickers have hats on their heads — this cannot be a coincidence. And thirdly, viewers who are paying attention will notice a hat store called “Crazy Cap” in the desert town. Maybe this means Mario can buy and upgrade his hat? The podium outside the store does have a football helmet, top hat, and sun hat on display. We’ll find out more when Super Mario Odyssey launches Holiday 2017 on the Nintendo Switch.