Nerd Confessions Podcast: Prepare to be mind invaded by Cappy! This week we are talking about Nintendo’s latest open world adventure game, Super Mario Odyssey. We are also discussing the first Assassin’s Creed game to have a 2 year gap since Assassin’s Creed 2. By Ubisoft, we’re talking about Assassin’s Creed Origins. Was the wait worth it for both these games? Listen or follow along to find out! Listener Confession art shared by @manuel_hernandez_animations via Instagram.

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Show Notes

Nerd News

Super Mario Odyssey

What is Super Mario Odyssey?

Super Mario Odyssey returns to the explorative sandbox gameplay seen in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, where Mario explores various areas in order to collect Power Moons to power the Odyssey airship to fly from kingdom to kingdom. There is no central hub world, as the Odyssey is rather used to move from one location to the others. Mario maintains his moveset from previous 3D titles, including the Triple Jump, Long Jump, Side Somersault, Back Flip, Roll, Ground Pound, Ground Pound Jump, Spin Jump, and the returning Dive.

In addition, a new character called Cappy allies with Mario, and takes possession of his cap. Mario can throw Cappy as if he were a boomerang for a long range attack, he can use Cappy as an extra platform to bypass obstacles, use Cappy in conjunction with his dive move to cross large distances, and can also “capture” certain objects and enemies to take control of them, replacing the traditional power-up system seen in the previous Super Mario games since Super Mario Galaxy. There are 52 capturable targets in total. In co-op mode, one player can control Mario and another controls Cappy.

Development:

Development for Super Mario Odyssey began right after Super Mario 3D World was released in late 2013.Miyamoto sought more senior developers and staff teams who had been involved in past 3D Mario titles, in order to really “go back to the roots” of Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64. As a result, Yoshiaki Koizumi was made the game’s producer, and Super Mario 3D World director Kenta Motokura again took on the role of director. Miyamoto remained with a consultative role throughout development, and although he contributed a lot of feedback, he was also very accepting of the development team’s ideas. Motokura revealed that early stages of development involved creating a “huge” amount of gameplay prototypes with numerous ideas, and the capture ability was one of them.

[The capture ability] was just one of the ideas that came up, but we worked on it for two or three days, and it just instantly turned into something that was really fun, and we decided [that it should be] the center of this game.
Many of the other different prototype ideas were still included, providing for the diversity in game mechanics throughout the game’s stages, known as “kingdoms”. These “fully realized worlds” were said to have been inspired by the Japanese hakoniwa box gardens, that bring rich landscapes to life in a miniaturized form. The size of these worlds were often adjusted to ensure that the player can regularly discover an engaging action to perform. This was also intended to allow handheld players to still accomplish a Power Moon mission, even if they have only a few minutes to play.

What do you guys think about the capture ability? What is your favorite capture?

Design decisions

Super Mario Odyssey’s theme is highly focused on “surprises” and “travel”, and the developers incorporated many of their travel experiences around the world. For instance, elements of the Sand Kingdom was derived from Kenta Motokura’s experiences during a trip to Mexico, and the Luncheon Kingdom’s food aesthetics was inspired by Italy and other European countries.

The developers recognized that when traveling to foreign countries, something that really has an impact is the different currencies. Therefore, they wanted to have Mario collect and use different Regional Coins in each kingdom. Since the player travels outside of the Mushroom Kingdom, the diverse art-style between all the different kingdoms aimed to recreate the feelings of surprise and discovery when visiting foreign lands. It was also noted that a lot of time was spent in getting the right balance between familiar Mario concepts, and completely new ones.

An example was the realistic T-Rex that is able to be captured by Mario. The developers looked back for inspiration from familiar Super Mario World elements in Dinosaur Land, although they wanted to use a design that was “unseen” in a Mario game. Familiar gameplay elements include the “8-bit” side-scrolling areas of the kingdoms, reminiscent to Super Mario Bros. in which progress is more “confined” and “precise”. This was intended to be an engaging contrast to the 3D sandbox environments.

The developers knew that they wanted to have a city environment in the game that would resonate with players. As Donkey Kong-inspired elements in the city came about, Pauline’s presence in the series inspired the team to have her be the mayor of New Donk City. Some character development for Pauline was required in her transition from a damsel in distress to a major character, and it was decided that she would have an interest in jazz. This led to the composition of the game’s theme song shown in the E3 2017 trailer, titled “Jump Up, Super Star!”, which was made to give the game energy and help get the audience excited.

To develop the game’s camera system, the team looked at previous 3D Mario games. Miyamoto discussed how the 3D camera in Super Mario 64 worked very well, as it had the joystick as well as the C buttons to adjust the automatic camera. Super Mario Sunshine had the C stick in order to control the camera freely, although they received feedback that the camera control was “a little bit difficult”. With later 3D titles such as Super Mario Galaxy, the minimal control of the camera also attracted some negative feedback. Miyamoto added that it’s “very difficult to find the right balance”.

With Super Mario Odyssey, we made sure that the camera controls are really really smooth and easy to use, and the Switch controllers can really serve to that. [We] really made a sandbox-style game that’s really easy and feels good to control.

What Amiibo work with the game?

The following Amiibo give costumes themed from the Amiibo:

  • Doctor Mario
  • Luigi
  • Silver or Gold Mario Party Mario
  • Anniversary Pixel Mario
  • Diddy Kong
  • Wario
  • Waluigi
  • Wedding Bowser
  • Wedding Peach
  • Wedding Mario

All other Amiibo just help you find additional moons.

Trivia:

Super Mario Odyssey is the first ever Mario series title to receive a B rating by the CERO in Japan. All other titles released prior have been rated at A. Similarly, Super Mario Odyssey is the first Super Mario series title to receive “Everyone 10+” by ESRB in North America. All other titles released prior have been rated E.

This is the first 3D Mario game where Luigi doesn’t make a physical appearance since Super Mario Sunshine.

Overall thoughts? What do we rate it? 9.9 out of 10.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

What is Assassin’s Creed Origins?

Assassin’s Creed Origins is the fourth major Assassin’s Creed game release in a row since Assassin’s Creed Unity/Rogue to not be numbered and the 10th traditional game release. Unlike the last release, Syndicate, the game does not feature territory or unit building, but it does feature the largest map to date with tons of locations to explore. This is also the first game to be released with more than a year gap from the last major Assassin’s Creed title.

Assassin’s Creed Origins almost feels like Watch Dogs 2 turned into Assassin’s Creed as it features a completely reworked combat system and does away with traditional eagle vision. Instead you use an actual eagle to scout for you much as you would use your drone in Watch Dogs 2. Just as in Watch Dogs 2 you can also upgrade your eagle to stun enemies for you.

Origins primarily features the character, Bayek as the main protagonist who seeks revenge from the risen leadership of Egypt for murdering his son. Without spoiling anything there are some pleasant surprises and changes to what you would expect to play in the normal free roam portion of the game.

Development

Development started in early 2014, after the completion of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. After the launch of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in 2015, Ubisoft chose to delay the release of Origins until 2017.Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot cited a desire to focus on the quality of the individual titles, the opportunity to develop future games with new engines.

During production of Assassin’s Creed III in November 2011 Ubisoft conducted a fan survey exploring potential settings for future titles. Ancient Egypt was one of the most popular choices, but Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed III, dismissed the results as he considered Ancient Egypt—as with the other two chosen settings, feudal Japan and World War II—as being “the worst choices” for a setting. The development team hired Egyptologists to assist in making the open world more accurate to the time period.

What are these microtransactions people speak of?

This is the first Assassin’s Creed to feature what is basically a pay-to-win microtransaction system. You can pay real money for legendary gear or skip the grind entirely and pay for experience to level up your character.

While this is not needed to progress through the game, it does require that you do the majority of side missions and side activities in order to gain enough experience to continue with the main story missions.

When does Assassin’s Creed Origins take place?

The setting for the game is 49 BCE, around the time of Cleopatra who rose to power in 41-12 BCE. While this may be initially disappointing because it is not during the Golden Age of Pharaoh’s it is the time most well documented due to the occupation of the Roman Empire in Egypt. This also results in unit variety in the game with heavily roman inspired buildings and units in addition to the traditionally Egyptian ones.

The first Assassin’s Creed game took place during the Third Crusade, 1191 AD.

Overall thoughts and opinions?

What do we rate it? 8 out of 10

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