6 bizarre (but true) facts about Super Mario Odyssey
24th August 2019
Super Mario Odyssey came out nearly two years ago on the Switch and was much-beloved by gamers around the world (well, most gamers around the world).
As the first full 3D Mario platformer since 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2, Odyssey was eagerly snapped up by ‘Tendo-loving gamers looking for more Mario action. After a four-year development cycle, the game was finally ready - and players were ready to get stuck in.
However you feel about the game itself, its development and release context was rich with interesting factoids - let’s take a look at some of them now…
1. There was already a fan game called Super Mario Odyssey
Made in 2004 by the winningly-named BMF54123, the first - some would say real - Mario Odyssey was a Super Mario World ROM hack sending the titular plumber on “a journey through time and space.”
Even Super Mario Galaxy didn’t see the light of day until 2007 - meaning that not only did BMF54123 beat Nintendo to the Odyssey name, he also pipped them to the Mario-in-space game idea. I suppose it was too bad for him that he didn’t think to register and sit on www.supermarioodyssey.com as well, but you can’t have everything.
By the way, the ROMhack is still online.
2. Pauline was going to be a princess
You probably already knew that New Donk City’s Mayor Pauline was a direct reference to Mario’s origins as Jumpman in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong, but did you know that in an earlier incarnation of Odyssey she was planned to be a princess?
“In the past we used to have the game taking place in a city, and Mario also appeared in it, which pointed towards Pauline,” said Odyssey’s producer, Yoshiaki Koizumi, in an interview. “At first they wanted to make her the princess of New Donk City, but the world setting of that city doesn’t have princesses. That’s why she became the mayor instead.”
That seems like a bit of a downgrade for poor Pauline, doesn’t it? I hope she wasn’t disappointed.
3. Odyssey was the first Mario game to not be rated ‘E for Everyone’
Super Mario Odyssey was given a 10+ age rating by the ESRB in North America, making it the first-ever Mario title to receive anything stronger than an ‘E for everyone’ title.
Presumably, the rating was awarded due to the controversial segment in which Mario stumbles drunkenly around a nightclub, urinating on patrons and - wait a second, I’m thinking of Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
In reality, the ESRB cited the ‘cartoony tank’ segments, the Bowser-punching boss battles, explosions and the Cookatiel fight in the Luncheon Kingdom (during which the bird boss vomits luminous pink soup at you) among their reasons for the slightly elevated age barrier.
Fortunately, the game’s overall theme of forcibly taking mind control of various innocent creatures and making them do things against their will seems to have been deemed 100% appropriate for children and not sinister in any way.
4. Sound effects change pitch to match the musicFor many players, this will be a detail that’s easy to miss - but have you noticed how so many of the sound effects in Super Mario Odyssey dynamically change pitch to match the chords of the background music?
This video by JalopesTL on YouTube demonstrates the feature well:
It’s hard not to admire Nintendo’s dedication to the little details, even the ones that most players will never notice. I can only imagine a designer noticing that some of the sound effects were slightly distracting in their normal, off-key state and wondering if it was worth the enormous effort it would take to fix them throughout the entire game - and actually deciding that it was.
5. There are more than 2,000 Moons to collect
Well, sort of.
There are 880 Moons available as rewards for completing missions and tasks across all of Super Mario Odyssey’s many levels - but this doesn’t include those which are available to buy from the in-game shops.
After beating the game, you’re able to buy up to 99 additional Moons from each of the game’s thirteen shops. This essentially means that you could theoretically collect 2,154 Moons if you had a mind to do it (and believe it or not, people have) - but the catch is that the number displayed on the face of the Odyssey itself only counts up to 999, and there is no reward for getting more than that.
Of course, much like Breath of the Wild’s Korok seeds, you’re probably not supposed to actually get them all - they’re just designed to be so numerous that you’re constantly coming across them.
6. There’s a fan theory that Mario spends the whole game dead
No, really - and it actually makes a kind of sense.
When you think about it, Super Mario Odyssey’s intro cinematic depicts Mario falling to his doom from an airship - only to wake up face-down in the mysterious black-and-white world of Bonneton.
The theory goes on to postulate that the entire game may be Mario’s dying dream, somewhat explaining the weird and wonderful things he experiences. Are the constant nostalgic references actually Mario’s life flashing before his eyes? Is this why he doesn’t have extra lives in this game? Is Cappy a manifestation of Mario’s own subconscious?
In fact, you can make a case for Mario not having a true physical presence in the game at all - because where does his body go when he transfers his consciousness to another being via the Capture mechanic? Perhaps he’s just a spirit, eternally wandering the afterlife.
The jury's still out on that one...