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SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY is a Gloriously Weird Delight (E3 Preview)

SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY is a Gloriously Weird Delight (E3 Preview)

There’s something different about Super Mario Odyssey. Is it the 3D environments? No, we’ve seen that before. Mario himself is looking as gleeful and mustachioed as ever. Oh, I know–maybe it’s the trailer footage of the distinctly not Mushroom Kingdom-esque metropolis known as New Donk City, the streets of which are clogged with traffic and full of regular folk with actually proportionate human bodies.

At first glance, Super Mario Odyssey may not look like a traditional game in Nintendo’s flagship series, but after playing it, it’s safe to say that this feels very much like another memorable 3D Mario game. The levels are open, as in Super Mario 64 and Sunshine, with each locale offering tons of optional objectives to complement the campaign.

Naturally, we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit New Donk City, so that was our first choice when getting our hands on Odyssey. We’re not going to lie, it’s a weird place; instead of Goombas and piranha plants, we were surrounded by kids jumping rope, musicians blaring their instruments, and the mayor of the city begging for Mario’s help. That mayor, by the way, is Mario’s first love Pauline—younger generations would be forgiven for not recognizing the damsel in distress from Donkey Kong, who more recently appeared as a trophy in Super Smash Bros.

To up the weirdness factor, Mario can now possess objects both inanimate and living using his recognizable red cap. This was shown off in the most recent Odyssey trailer unveiled at Nintendo’s June 13 E3 briefing; unfortunately, we didn’t get to possess a T-Rex during our preview. Instead, we used circuits to travel along power lines as a bolt of electricity, used remote-control cars to grab some extra coins, and took control of an unsuspecting businessman just for the fun of it. You can do this with a button press, but it’s more fun to flick your wrist, at least when you’re using the standalone Joy-Cons while the Switch itself is docked. It’s surprisingly responsive and your aim doesn’t need to be 100% to work, so it doesn’t require you to stop the action and refocus the camera.

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In addition to the usual yellow coins, Odyssey has purple coins that can only be used in the level in which they’re collected. Both types of currency can be used to buy new outfits and hats at Crazy Cap. Maybe you need a disguise for a specific part of the level, or maybe you’re just in the mood to dress up; just save up those coins, because Mario’s wardrobe goes beyond his trademark red overalls this time around.

The desert setting in the second playable Odyssey level was much more traditionally Super Mario, if you were worried that the entire game was set in the Donk. The vast openness really gave us a Super Mario 64 vibe, and it was almost overwhelming how much there is to do in any given stage. In fact, we didn’t even finish a level before the timed demo came to an automatic close—not because we’re terrible at video games, but because we kept wandering far from the beaten path.

Super Mario Odyssey is weird, but what’s most important is that it’s fun as heck. And despite the venture outside of the Magic Kingdom’s usual well-worn territory, it still feels very much like it belongs in the series. It’s been a while since we were able to let Mario roam free in an open world, and we’re ready to revisit New Donk City in October when Super Mario Odyssey launches for the Switch.

Are you into Odyssey’s weird vibes, or would you prefer a more traditional title as the Switch’s first Mario? Go ahead and tell us!

Images: Nintendo

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