Anyone who loves a gaming franchise/series will agree that change is a risk. In some cases, change is dangerous. Whilst the new Super Mario Odyssey shares the typical conventions of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, it’s set in the real world. The real world. Just let that sink in. What other game do we know that has tried to reinvent itself by merging with reality? Oh that’s right, Sonic the Hedgehog. Possibly the most tarnished gaming gem in existence.
Now some may feel sympathetic to Sonic, who is repeatedly getting the boot off screen to run through death defying feats at astonishing speeds. Not me. Sonic may have endured hardships, such as Sonic the Hedgehog on the Xbox 360 and Sonic Unleashed, but surely the same can’t happen to our beloved Mario?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock with very poor internet connection, you’ve most likely heard the announcement of the Nintendo Switch. With this comes all of Nintendo’s delicious exclusives. Mario Kart 8 makes its return to the Switch, as well as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is set to be the franchise’s most ambitious title yet.
Accompanying these titles will be Super Mario Odyssey, whose trailer left me with mixed feelings. Whilst it’s great to see Mario back in all his plumbing glory, why exactly did Nintendo choose to incorporate him into the real world? Whilst Nintendo is predictably unpredictable, this just seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Sonic the Hedgehog on the Xbox 360 is widely rated as one of the worst games in the franchise, but also marks the rapid decline of the franchise, oddly falling into Nintendo’s care. Did they buy Sonic just to murder the franchise so that Mario can prosper? Very unlikely. After the appalling reception received by the apocalyptic hedgehog diaries, it’s strange that Nintendo would seemingly fall into the same trap.
Let’s talk about the trailer. We see a familiar plumber jumping out of some New York man hole cover, to be greeted by (normal sized) people. Not goombas or koopa troopers, actual people. The man-hole cover wasn’t even green for goodness sake. Despite the cute Donkey Kong reference, everything seemed pretty dull. Except people who skipped with Mario. People do that in New York apparently.
The only accurate representation of New York is the dull colour scheme, which is basically all grey. The odd tree or billboard occasionally breaks up the almost dystopian feel, besides our chubby plumber’s bright red and blue slacks of course. There was a certain lack of coins, which may sound idiotic in the grand scheme of things, but having the format of the game changed is a big deal. Will Mario may now have a health bar similar to many of his Nintendo cohorts?
There were distinctively purple diamonds that Mario was picking up, but again it seems the franchise may be taking a different angle with this one, almost reminiscent to Super Mario Galaxy. Mario can now throw his hat and use it as a platform as well, an ability never seen before in the games. Undoubtedly this feature will be necessary to progress through levels, and find not-so-secret areas.
Now onto the story. It seems that pimp Bowser has kidnapped Peach after realising the real world values of an attractive blonde with an obscure name. The numerous villains that follow all look new, except for the ship filled with Italian mafia rats that seems to have replaced the Koopa Troop.
It looks as though Mario will have to travel the world completing some sort of objectives to save his beloved, but it seems to fit the linear level based adventure we know and love. This is where history is repeating itself. The game has come to a new platform, and shows a new vision for the game, which to be frank nobody asked for. It’s set to be incorporated into the real world, which kind of destroys the whole escapism aspect to playing video games. But hey, what do we know right?
Whilst the game looks pretty and all that, but it just seems like it’s every Unreal Engine fanboy’s wet dream. The game looks gorgeous, but just resembles every Sonic fan’s nightmare. If the game succeeds and is nothing like Sonic the Hedgehog, then all is good. On the other hand, if this game flops with fans and Nintendo fails to recognise it, then the Mario franchise may well be doomed.