Changing the game, again.
Mario has long been at the top of the platformer genre, with each game introducing something that makes it a unique experience. Oftentimes it’s just one mechanic that completely redefines how Mario plays, like the F.L.U.D.D. from Mario Sunshine, or the gravity warping mechanics from Mario Galaxy. After getting some hands-on time with Super Mario Odyssey at E3 2017, it looks like Nintendo’s done the very same thing again, this time with a brand new hat throwing mechanic.
We took Mario Odyssey for a spin on the New Donk City level, and after running around for just a few minutes things felt just as smooth as you’d expect from a Mario game. By tapping the Y button, Mario can now throw his hat straight ahead of him, and it has quite a few different uses.
First off, throwing your hat is the best and fastest way of attacking enemies, as it immediately dispatches most of them. Of course, you can still jump on enemies to defeat them, but the hat is the most reliable way of dispatching them. On top of that, throwing Mario’s hat while in the air alters the path of his jump. This can help you extend the jump the tiny bit you need to reach the edge of a platform, or just to get a little farther. At the same time, you can jump on top of the hat to make an even further jump, or as a double jump. Later on in the desert world we got a look at, the hat could be used to open up a flower that lets you jump up to high locations.
This all seems like something small, but with how precise Mario Odyssey’s platforming is, it’s an integral change. Just in the few minutes we had with the game it was clear that Odyssey has some challenging platforming sections, like having to precisely time your jumps and land on icy platforms, or swing between a series of rotating poles. Having the option to alter your jump to mid-jump is huge, and really gives you a satisfying amount of control over Mario.
These few details already changed the way I controlled Mario, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. Mario can also throw his hat onto a number of items, transforming himself into them, and with unique gameplay to boot. As you might expect, this feels revolutionary, and allows for really fascinating puzzles within the game.
In our demo time, we threw it onto a traffic cone which would then fling you up into the air, a spark that propels you down a line to reach new areas, a telescope that lets you look across the city, and a rocket ship that blasts you to a new area. The most interesting transformation though, happened when we hung our hat on a Bullet Bill. This puts you right in control of the Bullet Bill, blasting around the screen with the ability to speed up and ram into areas. Even in just the short look we had at the desert areas, multiple places could be reached either by turning into a Bullet Bill and flying over, or by jumping across a few platforms. At the same time, various points or items in the world could be smashed into, breaking to reveal items and collectibles inside.
Each of the transformations in the game did very different things that still felt conducive to the exploration and platforming elements Super Mario Odyssey is built on. The variety of uses for Mario’s hat was already impressive in just a few minutes, leaving us optimistic for how varied the rest of the game might be. In the latest trailer we’ve already seen him use the hat on humans, enemies like Hammer Bros, a tank, and even a T-Rex among other things. So who knows what else could be in store, and just how different they’ll feel from the rest of the game.
Despite being one of the longest running video games series around, Mario always manages to feel fresh, and the hat mechanic in Super Mario Odyssey is an example of just how it does it. After our hands-on time with the game, we’re definitely hopeful for the wealth of opportunities that Mario’s new friend will provide.