Although a lot of the focus around Super Mario Odyssey coming out of E3 2017 is centered on the hat mechanic, which lets players control various creatures and characters by throwing Mario’s hat on them, fans should rest assured that this is still a true Mario experience. After playing the game on Nintendo Switch it became clear that everything fans love about Mario are well represented in the upcoming game.
For our E3 2017 demo of Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo unlocked timed access to the Sand Kingdom and the Metro Kingdom. Most should be familiar with the Metro Kingdom, as it plays home to the New Donk City branding and features a small section of an urban downtown area complete with skyscrapers, vehicles, and human residents.
In the level, Mario’s main goal for the demo was to help the Mayor find four musicians for an event she is holding. These musicians are scattered about the Metro Kingdom level, some in plain sight and others that require a bit of searching. Along the way, though, players can also collect coins or even find moons, which are Super Mario Odyssey’s version of stars. They also happen to fuel the Odyssey ship and presumably unlock access to new kingdoms in the final game.
Coins, as well as each level’s unique currency, are pretty useful this time around since they serve as a currency for Mario to buy new outfits. These costumes will have Mario looking like anything from a safari guide to a football player, and they are not just cosmetic either. Some offer Mario stat bonuses like increased health, while others make certain tasks easier.
The Metro Kingdom may stand out because it’s the level that players will be able to control real humans, but it is also a fun new twist for a Mario world. Venturing around skyscrapers and exploring an urban setting is extremely fun and Nintendo finds clever ways to imbue the design with its signature style.
The Sand Kingdom is a bit more traditional in the sense it feels like perfect 3D Mario fodder. Players can explore the individual subsections of the level to collect moons and they will eventually reach a boss that is classic Mario. The traversal is also made more interesting by the hat-throwing mechanic, which allows Mario to control Bullet Bills and cross larger gaps. Keep in mind, though, that Mario can’t control anything for too long, so it’s important to use the hat mechanic wisely.
The Sand Kingdom also stands out because it introduces sections where Mario enters the side of walls and the area becomes a 2D platformer a la the early games. The best way to describe it that Mario enters a 2D world similar to what was in Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, but there is actual platforming to be done.
The world also has a fun platforming twist that is outside of the 2D platforming but we won’t spoil it for you here. All we will say is that if Nintendo has small one-off twists to gameplay throughout Super Mario Odyssey then fans shouldn’t worry about the game becoming rote.
For an E3 demo, Super Mario Odyssey’s hands-on preview did everything it set out to do. It showed off new mechanics, highlighted some of the visual diversity in the worlds, and left this writer with a smile on his face. It has been a long time since a proper 3D Mario has released and by and large Odyssey feels like a return to form for Nintendo.
Super Mario Odyssey releases October 27, 2017, for Nintendo Switch.