When it comes to video game graphics, Nintendo is a company more well-known for its brilliant creative direction than for its technical achievements. But with Super Mario Odyssey, likely the company’s most important holiday 2017 release, Nintendo is apparently targeting a framerate it has never previously hit in an open-world Mario game.
Digital Foundry reports that Super Mario Odyssey often runs at a constant 60 fps in its Frozen Desert level while also hitting 60 fps as standard in its New Donk City hub level, albeit with “a few drops in the otherwise buttery-smooth 60 fps framerate.” Although it’s been nearly 15 years since Nintendo’s last open-world Mario game (Super Mario Sunshine), both it and predecessor Super Mario 64 ran at just 30 fps.
To pull off 60 fps, Super Mario Odyssey currently runs at a resolution of just 720p while employing some resource-saving visual trickery. For instance, NPC models in the distance are rendered in 2D and only turn to 3D as players close in on them. Apparently, this can look a bit odd at times, as the 2D sprites sometimes disappear before being replaced by their 3D brethren. Additionally, some 3D models are animated at just 30 fps while the game itself continues to run at 60 fps. As Digital Foundry mentions, this latter trick has been used in many other games, including Halo 5.
On the plus side, Super Mario Odyssey is said to boast huge environments and detailed textures. And with its release set for October 27, Nintendo still has some time to try and figure out how to upgrade the game’s resolution and smooth out the 2D to 3D model transitions without compromising the framerate. While Nintendo has not commented on its resolution plans for Super Mario Odyssey, the company’s Splatoon 2 was still running at 720p as recently as March but has since been confirmed to have been bumped up to 1080p.