Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch is the plumber’s return to the open-ended 3D exploration genre that fans remember from Super Mario 64. This time, Mario is joined by a hat spirit named Cappy as they journey through various kingdoms to stop Bowser’s latest nefarious designs for Princess Peach. Siliconera went to Nintendo NYC Store to play the hands-on E3 demo and see how Mario’s newest 3D adventure is shaping up for Nintendo’s newest flagship system.
My first stop for Mario was the Metro Kingdom, where the game dropped me off on a rooftop heliport near New Donk City, a wide-open space for series newcomers and veterans to check out the Joy-Con controls. As a 3D Mario veteran, I was relieved to find that all of the controls for this plumber’s moves, from his timed triple-jumps to his backflip and especially his long jump, have naturally translated over onto the Switch’s Joy-Cons. In lieu of a punch or kick, however, Mario got one heck of a new hat trick.
Cappy, the newcomer to Super Mario Odyssey, fits just right into the game. A simple right Joy-Con flick or Y-button press is all it takes to fling the sentient hat out, and holding down the button keeps Cappy there in front of you to jump on and cross wider gaps or reach higher heights. Throwing Cappy is the basic mode of attack, and adding a circular roll of the analog stick makes it a spin-attack to strike surrounding targets.
The biggest buzz around Cappy is his ability to help Mario possess objects and beings in the world. You start doing this right off the bat, using Cappy to turn into a spark of electricity and glide through a power cable from the heliport to the main part of New Donk City. The city is rife with objects for Cappy to help Mario possess, like traffic posts that elastically bend to propel Mario out wherever you want, and binoculars that Mario could occupy to get a bird’s-eye-view of the whole map.
While in past 3D Mario games you collect Power Stars or Shines, in Super Mario Odyssey you collect Power Moons. In this demo, I lost count of how many there were in Metro Kingdom alone, because you aren’t directed towards the Moons with blatantly-stated goals from a level-select screen anymore. They’re scattered throughout the world, and it’s all up to you how and when you find them. Power Moons can be tucked away in the environment, hidden behind complex challenges, or even sometimes both. Gliding through a power line, I found a rocket ship at the center of a rooftop. Hopping into that rocket ship blasted me off to a secret bonus area with TWO obstacle courses that tested my reflexes and timing, and the end of each course had a Power Moon!
Players need not worry about the entire game being like Metro Kingdom. The other playable zone in the demo, the Day of the Dead-themed Sand Kingdom, harkens back to classic Super Mario 64 course structure. You have your enemy goombas and Bullet Bills, carefully-designed obstacle course, all enhanced with Super Mario Odyssey’s new mechanics. Bullet Bills can be possessed to fly farther than Mario could possibly jump and break the obstacles in your way.
Perhaps one of the most creative new challenges of the demo was the NES-themed moving mural mini-courses. Jumping into a 3D voxel pipe sticking out of the wall, Mario would then get transported into that mural to dodge Bullet Bills, collect coins, and bust blocks to come out the other side back into the 3D space. It’s a great example of Nintendo pulling from the rich history of the Mario series to make something new and interesting to play.
Super Mario Odyssey is slated to come out on October 27 for the Nintendo Switch.