No game at E3 2017 had half the presence Super Mario Odyssey did, and for good reason. All arrows point to it being great.
Last year, Nintendo’s E3 booth was all about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. People thought Nintendo was crazy for doing that. It was the only game they featured. Then it came out, and it’s an odds on favorite for Game of the Year.
While it’s not the only game at Nintendo’s E3 booth this year, Super Mario Odyssey enjoyed quite the presence. The E3 lanyard is a Mario Odyssey marketing tool, and the entire Nintendo booth is a replica version of Mario Odyssey‘s New Donk City featuring hundreds of stations to play the new Mario on, both on screen and in handheld mode.
I played the game at E3 twice and even considered playing it a third time. It’s that fun. The E3 demo featured two levels that were prominently featured in the game’s latest trailer, New Donk City itself and a desert level.
I spent my first 10-minute demo in New Donk City playing in handheld mode getting myself familiar with all the controls, and it all felt familiar. The triple jump and sidestep jump are both back, and if you tap the left shoulder button before a jump, Mario performs his long jump which speedrunners should all love. But what’s new here? It’s all about Mario’s cap. Mario’s hat works as a weapon, an additional platform to jump on, and most importantly most of the objects or things Mario throws his cap at will make him transform.
If you throw your hat at a powerline, you become a bolt of electricity to make your way up and down that line. If you throw your hat at some people, you can be that person. As for the city level itself, the game plays very much like Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy in the sense that it’s a glorified fetchquest. Instead of Power Stars or Shines though, you’re looking for Moons. There are various checkpoints on the map that you can activate and set up as quick travel spots, and the game also tells you which areas to start specific quests in, and finishing these quests normally results in finding a Moon.
Of course, with 10 minutes, we couldn’t possibly find every moon in the level, but we did find some via simple exploration. At the beginning of the level for example, you’ll find two people swinging a jump rope, so if you join in on the fun, you’ll get a moon for successfully pulling off 30 straight jumps. There’s also a quest you can activate by talking to Mayor Pauline (yep, the same Pauline from original Donkey Kong), who’s looking to host a music show but has no musical performers. For every musician you find in the city, you get a moon.
The second level in the sand was also an interesting one that relies more on your savvy with puzzle solving. One such task involved turning Mario in a statue that has special glasses to see invisible platforms not unlike the Lens of Truth from Ocarina of Time. Another quest involved Mario getting to the highest point of the level where you have to do some flying by transforming into a bullet bill and entering a pipe where the game goes from 3D to 2D in order to scale the structure further.
After getting through with our sessions, the staff gave us a voucher that we could redeem for a Mario Odyssey visor that all sorts of people proudly wore throughout the expo.
Super Mario Odyssey will be out at the end of October, and it’s a game we simply can’t wait to get our hands on again.