Super Mario Odyssey will not include a hub world, a staple feature of most 3D Mario games since Super Mario 64 in 1996. Nintendo producer Yoshiaki Koizumi spoke about the upcoming platforming game during a Gamescom livestream recently, briefly discussing Mario’s in-game Odyssey ship. The Odyssey ship is how Mario will travel between worlds in Super Mario Odyssey, but the Odyssey ship isn’t explorable like the Comet Observatory. Mario will simply step into the Odyssey ship, open a map, and head to his new location.
Maps aren’t a new concept for Super Mario games, but they’re not traditionally associated with 3D Mario games like hub worlds are. Yet that’s the direction Nintendo is taking with Super Mario Odyssey, perhaps for the better. Here are Koizumi’s exact comments on the change:
“Mario flies between the kingdoms in his ship called the Odyssey. You choose a location on the globe, and you can travel there directly. So in this game, there’s actually no central hub world like for example Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64 or Delfino Plaza in Super Mario Sunshine.”
Exactly what kind of map system will be in Super Mario Odyssey is yet to be revealed, though a globe-like map has been making the rounds online. The map is unlikely to be particularly complicated or feature any gameplay on its own. Since each individual world in Super Mario Odyssey is strikingly large, Nintendo likely would rather just get players back on land. There’s won’t be a need for a huge map or hub world, but nostalgia makes it a difficult change.
The transition to map-based systems is not a new idea. Super Mario Galaxy may have featured the Comet Observatory, Rosalina’s space station, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 started a major shift. While Super Mario Galaxy 2 did feature a hub-like world, a spaceship shaped like Mario’s head full of funny characters and small tutorials, the majority of the game is hidden in simple maps and menus accessed by talking to an NPC.
Following Super Mario Galaxy 2, Nintendo decided to take another step towards maps and away from hub worlds. Super Mario 3D World built a classic 2D Mario map into a 3D space, allowing players to run off of the white line trail leading from level to level. It offered some light exploration and secrets to discover, but it was still nothing like a hub world from 3D Mario games in the past. Though to be fair Super Mario 3D World was unlike past 3D Mario games in general.
It seems that Super Mario Odyssey not including any hub world is only the natural progression for the franchise. Considering the changes from Super Mario Galaxy to its sequel, and then to its follow-up console game Super Mario 3D World, it’s clear Nintendo simply isn’t interested in the same kind of experience hub worlds provided in past games. The Odyssey ship will have to do, at least until Mario games move towards an open world like the Zelda franchise has.
Super Mario Odyssey releases on October 27 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
Source: Nintendo Everything