Nintendo has come a long way in catching up with the modern digital world. DLC now runs rampant through most of its biggest hits, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and with Super Mario Odyssey flying off the shelves, you just know The Big N is waiting to capitalize on its record-setting momentum.
When you’re dealing with the best video game of the year, generation, decade, or possibly all-time, a follow-up is going to have quite a few expectations piled on top of it.
How does Nintendo capitalize on the success? Does it add DLC, new levels, and a new character into the fray, or does it take the winning formula and just make an entirely new game out of it?
Case for a sequel
Super Mario sequels always have to be approached with a certain level of caution. This is because each Mario release is generally seen as a cornerstone of video game history, and any signs of Mario succumbing to Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed style releases tend to panic fans.
Anybody remember those New Super Mario Bros. games? Nintendo fans were quick to point out that such treatment of Mario was unprecedented, and more importantly, unpopular with the Nintendo faithful. They sold head over heels above their peers, the Super Mario 3D games and the Super Mario Galaxy games, with the general public, but the goodwill and novelty of 2D Mario wore off with those who grew up with the series, those who watched the series set the world on fire with each release.
However, not all Super Mario sequels have been met with such reception. When it was announced, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was met with a bit of the same derision, most people saying that Mario was succumbing to the new AAA model of video game success and that the sequel was a bit too early to follow such a universally praised game.
And then it came out, and everybody saw how much Nintendo expanded the formula. If Super Mario Galaxy was a concept, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was the full experience. However, because of the state of video game sequels at the time, many cynically tossed this game aside, myself sadly included.
I wouldn’t make that kind of mistake again, especially since I’m enjoying Super Mario Odyssey worlds better than I ever enjoyed Super Mario Galaxy. If the stale New Super Mario Bros. games were a fluke of Nintendo’s seque-making capabilities and if the company was able to tap into that Super Mario Galaxy 2 creativity to make an even better Super Mario Odyssey experience, then by all means. Have at it!
The case for DLC
But, in all honesty, this is likely how Super Mario Odyssey is going to play out. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is nearing a decade old, and the world of video games has changed greatly since the days of the Wii. Season passes, DLC packs, loot crates (PLEASE NINTENDO! NEVER SUCCUMB!) have changed how companies capitalize on their software, and Nintendo has already shown it is willing to tap into some of these trends.
Of course, the quality of DLC all depends on how Nintendo approaches it. Already, the aesthetic DLC options are pretty clear, and it’s similar to Overwatch. Mario has a huge wardrobe in Super Mario Odyssey, and I only want to see it expand!
In terms of gameplay, Nintendo has to be sure that it doesn’t mess with the core gameplay too much. Most modern video games are built around characters with nearly unlimited capabilities, including weapons, RPG stats, combat techniques, and an absurd amount of customization. In other words, all video game characters are Link these days. Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids Battle Kingdom easily falls into this category, and indeed, it has already started piling on more weapons than the team would ever need to use.
Core Mario games are different in that the character of Mario is actually very limited in how he can expand upon his moveset. He controls more fluidly than ever in Super Mario Odyssey, but as with all Mario games, the true genius lies in the game’s level design. Mario’s limited capabilities mean Nintendo can easily create captivating levels without having to worry about whether or not he’s unlocked the hook shot or has reached Jump Level 7.
Because of the theory behind his games, ideal Super Mario Odyssey DLC would include more levels, more Power Moons, and more enemies to possess. Basically, more of what you already love. Sounds perfect to me!
Now, the elephant in the room… poor Luigi is nowhere to be found in Super Mario Odyssey. Too often has Mario’s brother been left behind in his more recent outings, being relegated to only the multiplayer games and RPGs. At least he’s included in some games as an unlockable character, like in Galaxy and 3D Land, but those games are not built around his unique jumping mechanic, and he feels sort of tacked on.
However, New Super Luigi U proved to be a pretty popular DLC expansion on New Super Mario Bros. U, allowing Nintendo to create new levels and obstacles that were designed to account for his floating jumping physics.
I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to make “Luigi-exclusive” levels in Super Mario Odyssey because Mario being unable reach certain Power Moons would put him at a disadvantage in a game that is, ultimately, supposed to be his. However, without Luigi and only a reference to him in the costumes, the game doesn’t quite feel complete. It dances too close to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine levels of neglect for me.
And what about Yoshi?
I love Yoshi. Seeing him for the first time in my childhood and jumping on him with Mario was magical. This was back in the Super Nintendo days, before things like “vehicles” were included as a way to expand upon gameplay. He was a revolution at the time.
In Super Mario Odyssey, I’m not sure how he would work out. He makes a brief appearance at the end, and Mario can take over his body with Cappy, but it’s nothing special. Mario already has the ability to leap into a whole host of characters, including a giant, realistic Tyrannosaurus, so the cartoon dinosaur is just another in the bunch and wouldn’t be that special. Yoshi needs to feel important in order to properly thrive in a game.
I don’t think jamming Yoshi into a Mario game just for the sake of him being there would be the right move. Nintendo obviously feels this way too since he’s been given his own line of games recently, capitalizing on the lasting legacy of Yoshi’s Island from the Super Nintendo.
One way to approach Yoshi in Super Mario Odyssey is to create a DLC, Yoshi Kingdom. Such an idea reminds me of Super Mario RPG, where Square was somewhat obligated to include the character but had no practical way of applying him to the main game.
In Yoshi Kingdom, Mario is restricted to using Yoshi’s mechanics, which have naturally been expanded since his cameo appearance in The Mushroom Kingdom, opening up a new move set exclusive to this land and creating fun, unique obstacles.
What say you? Do you want a sequel or DLC? Let us know in the comments below!