Super Mario Odyssey was one of the standout games from this year’s E3, but even after getting almost an hour of hands on time with the game, we still have a lot of questions, so we sat down with director Kenta Motokura and producer Yoshiaki Koizumi to talk about Mario’s new hat Cappy, his unique new abilities, and Odyssey’s fun Easter Eggs.
Interview conducted by Kyle Hilliard and Ben Reeves.
Mr. Koizumi, we’ve been seeing a lot more of your face lately and, in some ways, it feels like you’re becoming the face for Nintendo. Are you comfortable with that?
Koizumi: I’d certainly be happy to do anything to help promote Nintendo and its games. And I was also acting as the producer for the Switch hardware project. Because of that I’m also willing to anything to help that succeed. As the producer of Super Mario Odyssey, I’ll certainly do anything also.
I was curious about the hat and the hat mechanics. Mario has always had that iconic hat, but where did you first get the idea to make that part of the gameplay?
Koizumi: Well for starters with the joy-con itself, it seems like such a natural fit to use the joy-cons to throw something. And he already has a hat.
Motokura: We believe that rather than introducing something new for him to throw, it would be more enjoyable to have something familiar. So since Mario’s cap is very familiar, it fit.
Mario’s new has is named Cappy, but where does he come from? He looks like a ghost or something, is that correct? Is he like a hat-spirit?
Koizumi: We’re not ready to reveal a lot of Cappy’s backstory or secrets about that character, but he is going to be Mario’s companion as he travels around all these different kingdoms in this title.
Playing the demo this morning, in the sand area in particular, I thought I saw a lot of references to Super Mario Land for Gameboy. Did you intentionally reference that game with the sphynxes and Easter Islands statues?
Koizumi: I guess, to say if that’s an intentional reference, sure…but more important than having some visual aspects that harkened back to a different game, we wanted them to be a part of the gameplay. We wouldn’t put it in there if it’s not part of the gameplay, so that was the more important reason, not as a reference to another game.
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We also ran across Captain Toad in New Donk City, and it was fun to see him. It seems like you guys have a fondness for him as well. Do you hope to do more with him in the future as well?
Motokura: Well I’d certainly be happy if you were looking forward to the possibility of a future Captain Toad game, but none we can mention just yet. But, Captain Toad is also an adventurer, so he will be wandering about in different kingdoms of Super Mario Odyssey.
It’s fun to see Mario in a bunch of different costumes as well. What kind of benefits do the different costumes and outfits provide Mario?
Motokura: There are areas that Mario can’t get to without wearing specific outfits.
Were there any costumes that we pitched that were like, “Nope, we cannot have Mario wearing that, that is inappropriate”?
Motokura: We have lots of creative costumes in this game, so I would just ask you to look forward to checking some of those out.
So you didn’t say no to a bikini then?
Koizumi: Hmmm I wonder if there is a bikini? I don’t think so, there’s probably not a bikini?
For Odyssey, you guys looked back at the original Mario 64 formula. Do you guys ever pull inspiration from Mario’s original 2D games as well?
Motokura: There are places in the game where you become a 2D Mario, which harkens back to that 8-bit era. Some of the 2D gameplay you’re going to be seeing is reminiscent of those games.
This is actually a question we asked Miyamoto a couple months ago, and we wanted to see what you guys thought. Does every Mario game contain the same Mario, or is it different versions of Mario? For example, there’s different versions of Link in every Zelda game.
Koizumi: I think the easiest way to say it is Mario’s Mario.
Why does Mario want to stop the wedding between Peach and Bowser. Is he interested in Peach romantically, or does he have some other motives?
Koizumi: I’ve always thought that Mario carries a bit of a torch for Peach. I think that’s true even back in the 2D Mario games. If not, he wouldn’t be wasting his time rescuing her over and over again.
Do you think Princess Peach feels the same way?
Koizumi: The heart of a woman is a mystery.
Do the levels change as you play through them? Do they evolve? There’s that desert level with like a lot of ice, so I thought, “Oh, maybe you melt the ice at some point.” How much will Mario’s actions effect the shape of a level?
Motokura: I can’t say specifically as to whether or not the ice vanishes from the sand area, but the kingdoms do change throughout the progress of the game. When you first enter into a level, you’ll get a title for that period of time you’re there, and then as you progress through the level, you will see changes in that (level) so the next time you go in you’ll get a different title.
Koizumi: Any time you enter a stage you see a main title that gives you like the main critical path objective, and when you keep doing those in order you will get the course to change.
Up Next: What happens to Mario’s body when he possesses another creature and whether or not we can expect to see Donkey Kong this time?