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E3 2017: Super Mario Odyssey Hands-on Impressions: What if This is Simulation?

E3 2017 attendees have the pleasure of getting their hands on the next great Mario 3D platformer for Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey. I sprinted from the Shacknews E3 booth as the show began and was able to experience a 10-minute demo of what can only be described as the most innovative Mario game I have ever played.

I was second in line at my demo station so I proceeded to watch someone play through the Desert level. This level was definitely showing some Super Mario 64 influences. Having watched the Desert level, I decided to try out New Donk City when I finally got my hands on the Joycons. I played the game with the wrist straps and Joycons separated. Players can throw their hat, Cappy, by waggling or by pressing a button. Cappy truly is the ultimate power-up. Players can take over control of all sorts of things from lightbulbs, to Goombas, and even a dinosaur. Players can even throw Cappy and use him as a temporary platform. Truly a fantastic hat. Quite possibly the cap of the show.

The demo begins with a nice view of New Donk City. I jumped into action and began talking to several NPCs around town. I was alerted that the mayor wanted to speak with me. At this point a waypoint appeared and I hightailed it to the mayor. Apparently Mayor Pauline (isn't that an interesting name) was putting on a concert and she needed four musicians to fill up her stage in New Donk City Hall. Being the affable plumber that he is, Mario sprang into action. 

I tracked down my first musician rather easily. He was a drummer playing around the corner from where I met Mayor Pauline. I was rewarded a moon, seemingly one of the game's collectibles, for finding the drummer and sent back out to find the rest of the band. I was able to track down a guitarist in the park on the other side of town, and was rewarded one more time with a moon. These definitely feel similar to the shine sprites in Super Mario Sunshine. There were also purple coins that players could collect. 

Knowing that my demo time was running out, I wanted to explore the city more before I had to leave this wonderful world. I saw a couple of buildings that were perfect for wall jumping and noticed a series of platforms on top of the buildings. After running and jumping across several breakaway platforms, I had navigated my way to a few purple coins and another moon. These tangential ad hoc missions are what has made The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild one of my favorite games in recent years and it is great to see a Mario spin on that gameplay element.

There was something else I noticed in the game that really made me wonder. A lot of gamers complained about how Breath of the Wild handles draw distance issues and Super Mario Odyssey handles the pop in and out of characters and objects a bit differently. I saw several NPCs spawn out of what seemed to be some kind of pixelated distortion field. Then it hit me: what if Super Mario Odyssey is a simulation? Everything about this game is so off the wall, from the levels to Cappy. Something is up, but I will need to get more time with this wonderful game to truly test my hypothesis. 

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