Special Super Mario Odyssey under the microscope: the game world

After analyzing the trailer far and wide last Wednesday, let's close the circle on what we've seen of Super Mario Odyssey during the different gameplay videos of Treehouse 2017.
New Donk, New Donk

New Donk City is perhaps the strangest world Mario has ever visited. This metropolis, a true symbol of the game, so much so that it also appears on the boxart, is part of the "Metro Kingdom". As Odyssey producer Yoshiaki Koizumi said, the denomination "kingdom" that appears in every level of the game does not necessarily imply the presence of a monarchy: in this case it is a community led by its mayor, Pauline , which is also featured on the one hundred purple coins scattered around the kingdom. More generally, the level is full of references to Donkey Kong: they include Dixie Street, Rambi Street, K. Rool Avenue, Diddy's Mart, and Squawks Park in terms of topography, but the red scaffolding characteristic of the classic arcade also appears. of which the taxi plates show the release date "NDC 1981".

The jingle of the "25m" level is audible in "I'll Be Your 1-Up Girl" after the chorus, and again speaking of the song, it is performed at the "New Donk City Festival", an event organized thanks to the help Mario's: in a mission present at the show floor, Pauline will ask him to find four musicians willing to play (in exchange for a Moon each).


The secrets of New Donk are not limited to quotes from old arcades though: the city is overflowing with secrets and peculiarities, of which I will make a list:


  • The city features the largest Crazy Cap store in the game (the original CC store, says one NPC), where you can buy some themed souvenirs, an elegant outfit and none other than the Super Mario Maker suit!
  • The streets are filled with secret levels with a "3D World" flavor, accessible via doors or by capturing a rocket, and which will grant a Power Moon if completed.
  • The city contains a slot room managed by a Tostareno (who are the Tostareni? We find out in the next paragraph): by paying in coins it will be possible to try to win a Moon.
  • A scooter is available to ride (and jump!)
  • Captain Toad hides behind the Empire State Building, if found he will give a Power Moon.
  • Near the starting point you can take possession of a "Newdonkese" who is driving a remote controlled car: in this way you have access to the car itself, which can be used to catch a Power Moon.
  • In Squawks park there are two women who will challenge Mario to jump a rope: they jump without errors thirty times and they will get a Power Moon.
  • Some buildings have a rooftop pool, the only "pools of water" in which our plumber was able to wallow in the demo, confirming the return of the air meter (generous, as in Galaxy).
  • Almost every building has electrical networks that can be captured and used to teleport.
  • Other typical transformations of the city are: Mario taxi and Mario traffic post.
  • A palace contains a minigame, in which Mario will have to enter the wall (converting to his 2D counterpart) and collect some musical notes to get a Power Moon. This mechanic is mainly explored in the next section.

A beautiful boss fight with "Mecha Wiggler" is also set in New Donk City. This decidedly creepy twister perched on the Empire State Building was the latest surprise in the January trailer, but we got to see it in action in the E3 demo, on a rainy-weather night mission. Reached by Mario, he will throw him off the palace, giving rise to an intense “electric shock” themed battle in which it will be necessary to capture a miniature tank to smash its metal body. That said, we know that Mecha Wiggler is not the only threat presented in New Donk: the playable mission in demo, "A fresh start for the city", refers to another threat, most likely the attack by the Broodal. .


Mario makes use of the electrical networks.

The Super Mario Maker suit.

Off-Screen Footage of New Donk's Crazy Cap.


Cap-ture of a poor Newdonkese.

The Mecha Wiggler!


Tostarena and the other beauties of Sand Kingdom


The so-called Sand Kingdom probably holds two primates: that of the largest kingdom and that of a kingdom that is inspired by a greater number of cultures, namely the Egyptian, Mexican, Aztec and Easter Island. To orient us in this boundless desert, Odyssey introduces another semi-novelty (already appeared in Super Mario 64 DS): the map. But, in 64 DS this function is limited to painting the layout, in Odyssey it contains all the details you can expect from a map: descriptions of places, curiosities, legends, and a list of Checkpoints that if activated will become points for the Fast Travel (yes, in a Mario game!). Obviously the map will be available for each Kingdom.

So let's begin to discover this area, which soon turns out to be the victim of a curse: it is in fact partially covered by ice, which makes the climate freezing (we see Mario tremble in several screenshots!). This, even without reading the map, is immediately told by the NPCs who populate the opening area, Tostarena Town, a colorful Mexican-style citadel (more precisely "day of the dead"). These colorful skeletons, the Tostareni, immediately tell Mario about the situation. But who is the origin of this paradoxical climate? It turns out that it is almost certainly a deity occupying a frozen cave: we see him facing Mario in the trailer. Mario will have to capture his own stone fists and send them back in his snout. Although for Mario it may also be a battle within reach, it seems that this deity is feared by the inhabitants of the kingdom. A mission for a secret moon consists in buying sombrero and poncho from the local CC shop to have access to an exclusive Mariachi club ... (super mari-achi): inside the room, a bas-relief of the divinity hangs across the wall. question.


Off-screen image of the map.

The local bouncer Tostareno.

The mariachi club, and in the background the bas-relief with the divinity.

The god of ice.


Speaking of Tostarena, it contains some explorable buildings (including the Mariachi club), various purple coins (which here are inverted pyramids), and a Crazy Cap shop: inside it will be possible to buy the Mexican outfit, a Moon and various souvenirs. . It can be translated from Spanish as "Hard Sand". The citadel also contains Jaxi's first stop, the “Sphinx Taxi” visible in the trailers, which Mario can ride to travel freely into the deep desert. However, it seems that it will not be immediately available (but it will be necessary to pay a sum of 30 coins in another point of the map).


Proceeding north, Cappy will observe that the footprints in the sand, left by Bowser on the run, lead to the Tostarena Ruins, a complex of ruins inspired by pre-Columbian civilizations. After passing the large access arch, you will first collide with some small golden Goombas (which cannot be captured), and then with some Bullet Bills, essential for completing the levels. By capturing one, you will have access to a floating Moon. Other elements of this section are the Sand Geysers, which act as timed platforms, the quicksand that will swallow Mario, some flowers that act like springs, and the intriguing “2D” portions. While they are not limited to this realm (as we said there is one at NDC), they are primarily developed right here. The first “atop the highest tower” task requires you to dive into a suspicious 8-bit design tube, which transfers the action into the circular wall of the tower, scalable in this way.


The symbol of Sand Kingdom, however, is the inverted pyramid with a hexagonal shape, floating in some missions, also portrayed in one of the souvenirs and in the purple coins. In the mission "Inverted Pyramid Showdown", Mario will once again have to use the 8-bit portions, this time with the tasty twist of inert gravity, inspired by Galaxy (or perhaps even further back, by the old Mega Man for Nes). The inner walls of the pyramid are divided into different colors which indicate different gravitational fields. Mario will reach the top of the pyramid (the point where the base is greatest, being upside down) where he can collect a Power Moon hidden by a wall (New Super Mario Bros. Wii style) or engage in a fight with one of the Broodals, Harriet. This bunny girl will attack Mario with some bombs thrown using her braid which she can control like an arm (Arms, anyone?). By knocking her hat off with her own bombs, and jumping the canonicals on her head three times, she will be defeated and will release a Full Moon (which I remember, worth three moons).


Hariett and his mobile braid!

Mario reaches Bowser's vessel.

Cappy notices the footprints.

One of the 8-bit sections. In particular, the one on the circular tower.

Mario is about to venture into the 8-bit section.


Sand Kingdom has a lot more to offer, of course - the things we've seen are:

  • A hidden mission that requires you to plant three fruits scattered around the area in three pots located in Tostarena.
  • An area inhabited by some moai-like creatures with sunglasses. By catching them and wearing their glasses, some invisible floors can be spotted on the surface of a poisonous lake. 5 Moon fragments are scattered around the area, which if collected will make up a Moon.
  • An icy oasis that can be reached aboard Jaxi.
  • Some missions set at night, in which the desert is populated by mummies very similar to Tostareni that can only be defeated if hit by Jaxi.
  • There are green cap-able binoculars that allow a panoramic view: this feature is not exclusive to Sand Kingdom.


Where could we plant the fruit?

The moai and a fragment of the moon


The Steam Gardens and the Deep Woods, the two faces of Wooded Kingdom


The third world in order of presentation is the Wooded Kingdom. As the name suggests, it is a kingdom immersed in the forest but not everything is as it seems: it seems that the whole place is contained in a huge greenhouse surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Inside the complex, however, it is not cold, and Mario does not tremble like in Tostarena; indeed the climate is very favorable to the growth of fir trees and flowers, especially in the first area to which you have access, the "Steam Gardens". Inhabited by some little robots watering cans called Steam Gardeners, the territory abounds with centuries-old fir trees that hide several purple coins and a stereo (to whose music Mario can not help but dance). Mysterious is the presence of a sphinx inside the gardens, which clearly recalls the aesthetics of Sand Kingdom: this statue will pose a riddle, which if solved will allow access to the next area.


Proceeding in the level you reach a mechanized portion of the forest, where there are old scaffolding and red steel buildings, which over the years have been embraced by ivy: the so-called "Iron Road", which promises to be one of the most intriguing areas of the game. It contains a variety of enemies as yet unnamed, however a sort of plant with legs that can be extended at will. Capturing one opens up many gameplay possibilities based on the extension of the legs: tilting platforms in mid-air, reaching higher points, colliding with other plants, etc. Iron Road is primarily known for its main tower, which vaguely resembles Seattle's Space Needle in design. To get there you will have to deal with the Piranha Plants that secrete poison; once at the top you will collide with the blue Broodal, also unnamed for now, in a battle that takes advantage of the poison mechanics previously introduced by the historic Nintendo plants. Another type of confirmed enemy is the Goomba which has retained the ability to form towers with other Goombesque units. Mario, by capturing the one at the top of the tower, will control the whole tower, opening up a lot of possibilities here too.

With great surprise we discover that all this "ambaradam" of stuff is only half the level: in fact, taking an irrational leap of faith out of the map co-workers will land in the Deep Woods, the "deep woods", a dark and sinister place where Mario is visibly uncomfortable. The music itself slows down to accompany the change of setting. We don't know much about the Deep Woods other than that they contain some out of order Steam Gardeners, a creek (visible in the January trailer), a capable tree, a beanstalk (the magic beans that bring back to the surface) and a T-Rex, perhaps. it too can be understood. Even if in the Treeshouse footage the leap of faith was accomplished by already knowing what was waiting at the bottom, it is almost assumed that there will be visual or textual indications of its existence (the unlikely absence of which would be a rather ugly game design error).


The cap-tured tree.

A Goomba tower.

The Crazy Cap store in Steam Gardens.

The stereo.

The lost woods T-Rex.


The other kingdoms: Luncheon Kingdom, Cap Kingdom and Cascade Kingdom


Of the remaining three realms whose existence we join we know less. Luncheon had already been unveiled in January, and is inhabited by fork creatures busy cooking polygonal food. It probably represents the “lava” level of the game, as the viscous fluid on which the level stands seems to have a very high temperature (the reaction to which Mario's instinctive leap upwards, while complaining of a burned backside). We know that Super Mario USA turnips (or Bros. 2 if you prefer) will be back, that the Crazy Cap will have an exclusive chef's uniform (available for purchase with the special purple currency, which appear to be polygonal apples), and that a boss will be a giant Wingo-like bird (Captain Toad Treasure Tracker's main boss).

From Cascade Kingdom we know that it is a kingdom left to prehistoric times, as some realistic dinosaurs are visible, including the skeleton of a triceratops that crowns the waterfall, and the iconic T-Rex cap-turable. A new species of enemy is shown, a sort of colored and thorny Goomba that necessitates elimination via the hat. The Crazy Cap of the area (which I can only hope to be managed by a huge T-Rex with the classic multi-hat of the salesmen) presumably sells the explorer suit of the early 900s. At least I need a compliment to EAD Tokyo for the breathtaking aesthetic of the level, reminding us that it runs at 1080p 60fps on a console the size of a chocolate bar. Last thing, the song we heard in the January trailer, is audible playing the Cascade Kingdom.


Finally, Cap Kingdom is the kingdom we know the least about. It is a mysterious night world shrouded in fog, almost dreamlike, in which the demon Cappy lives. My personal speculation sees the level as an introduction to gameplay and perhaps not as a realm of the same extent as New Donk. In support of this thesis, I provide a list of evidence:


  • The scenes set in this world are largely cutscenes:
  • In one of these, Mario meets Cappy for the first time.
  • Another shows Cappy repairing Mario's hat, which was destroyed early in the story (in the fight with Bowser, remember?)
  • Instead in a last one, we presumably witness the first "capture" of the game, carried out on a frog. It would make sense to place a cutscene (complete with Mario being sucked into a psychic vortex inside the little amphibian) only if the mechanic were to be introduced for the first time.
  • The background is minimal in taste, you can see some buildings sketched (I exclude it is the New Donk skyline). Avoiding too much visual noise is essential for focusing and learning the basic mechanics.
  • There are some wrecks of spaceships very similar to the Odyssey but of a different color: it is likely that the boat comes from here, also because its interiors have the same chromatic choice as Cap Kingdom.


The wonderful Cascade Kingdom.

The interior of the Odyssey.

The Cap Kingdom.

Cascade Kingdom's new enemies.


So Let's Do The Odyssey!

That's all I was able to extract from the June footage, with hints of the January trailer. I could have continued with useless little things, such as the "suspicious stone" (as the Nintendo Treehouse promoter calls it) located in Wooded Kingdom, which will probably only hide a dime, or at most a Moon; but doing so would have made a long and useless slop. In light of these details I hope you are even more excited for this immense game!

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