Oh no, that Bowser's up to no good again. Who would have thought? After kidnapping Princess Peach for the two-hundred-and-eleventh time (we counted), he's escaped the Mushroom Kingdom and plans to marry her on the other side of the world. So start packing, because the world's most famous plumber is bringing us all along on a trip around the world to rescue her royal highness. Super Mario Odyssey will be all about the journey, then, and the game will return to the open-ended gameplay of Super Mario 64, with many different kingdoms to explore along the way.
Six of these have been revealed thus far, including the colourful and cosy Luncheon Kingdom, and the prehistoric Cascade Kingdom, and they'll all be filled with unique characters, enemies, side quests and fun minigames to partake in. During our time with the game, we got to explore Tostarena, a small desert town inhabited by skull creatures. While the map pointed us in the direction of the main objective, we couldn't stop ourselves from exploring on our own. We ran, jumped and rolled all around Tostarena on a hunt for hidden collectables. There were people to talk to, shops to visit and beautiful vistas to behold, and the exploration felt really solid thanks to intriguing environments and great platforming.
We also got to walk the streets of New Donk City, a world filled with humans akin to the people of our real world. It was pretty weird to see Mario interacting with these people since they were twice his size, but just like the desert town, the sprawling metropolis was a great place to explore. Taxi cabs roam the roads and can be bounced on, there were vespas for Mario to drive, and street lights he could jump into as if they were coin blocks. There were also countless references to previous Nintendo titles. With streets such as "Cranky Avenue" and "Dixie Street", and with stores such as "Diddy's Mart", one could speculate that New Donk City is supposed to be the setting for the original Donkey Kong arcade game.
We even spotted some of the red girders that Mario had to climb in order to rescue his love interest Pauline from the clutches of Nintendo's big bad gorilla back in the '80s. And speaking of Pauline, video gaming's original damsel in distress is now the mayor of New Donk City. Good for her! Luckily, things weren't that awkward between her and Mario despite him having moved on. Pauline even asked our hero for help gathering a jazz band for a city festival, which was the main objective of the demo that we got to play. Finding all of the musicians led to the performance of a great musical number starring Pauline as the singer, but that wasn't the only thing New Donk City had to offer.