In lieu of an experiences or first impressions article, I felt it would be worthwhile instead doing this. An ideas article that draws from what I felt about Bowser’s Fury. Just as with the remakes of older Mario and Luigi titles, an additional story has been included with Super Mario 3D World, and like with those Mario and Luigi remakes, that additional story has been included as part of the title.
But the thing is, those Mario and Luigi games were remakes. 3D World is just a port with a bit of additional work to make it run better on the Switch. So why would Bowser’s Fury be here? And be given the importance of being included as part of the game’s name? It’s not like 3D World was in the hands of millions originally. It would have sold well regardless, even if it never hit the 190% sales difference from that original version.
But Bowser’s Fury has been included, offering something different from 3D World’s gameplay even if it shares the same mechanics. It could be said that such was to entice new fans from Odyssey to buy into the game, but when every new Mario game has changed things greatly from the previous one, that hardly seems necessary. What I see it as is introducing the concept of the next big thing to come to Mario. A full open world platforming adventure.
Before we get to that, though, how is Bowser’s Fury? It’s a fun adventure with a good core behind it. Bowser has ingested some form of Fury power, which has turned him into Fury Bowser - a giant, dark entity that is terrorising Lake Lapcat and its archipelago. His power has forced the land into eternal storms and most of the archipelago under the sea. Through lighting up lighthouses by collecting cat shines, Fury Bowser retreats, bringing light back to the lake.
After collecting a certain amount of shines, the Giga Bell becomes available for use. This transforms Mario into a giant cat to do battle against Fury Bowser and whittle down his health until he retreats for good. Akin to Power Rangers Megazord battles, these two giants wage war around the archipelago, giving a new perspective on it. Pushing Fury Bowser back bring forth more of the archipelago back to the surface, with more cat shines to collect.
It’s a fun gameplay loop, and while the missions do repeat themselves between areas, those areas are diverse enough that it doesn’t matter too much. The blue coins you need to collect while using a skate down an icy path offer a different challenge to the ones you need to collect while running across an invisible path. Then there’s extra challenges not tied to one of the named areas. Timed trials, enemy gauntlets, and other extras are scattered around the map, hidden and waiting for you to find.
As I say, it’s good fun. A nice does of platforming fun that offers a great sense of freedom in how you approach the end goal. And that’s the key. Freedom. In building an open world experience, there has to be freedom to do what you want. But such a thing would be a massive departure for Mario. Sure, Odyssey featured a certain amount of freedom, but nearly all of it was optional. There was a set path that you needed to complete before moving on. With Bowser’s Fury and this evolution concept of mine, no such path exists.
Just like with Bowser’s Fury, I’d start players with a small part of the map in a single named area so they can get used to the mechanics and core systems in place. Unlike with Bowser’s Fury, the challenges are able to be completed in any order. The cage that needs a key to unlock it would always be waiting for that key to be found. The roaming rival would always be running around until defeated. There would also be those challenges not a part of the named area hidden around.
All of these challenges would grant shines, stars, power coins, or whatever the collectable gets called. These collectables would be needed to… Well, there’s several things they could do. Like in Bowser’s Fury, they could be used to unlock a giga item – which will bring back the titan fights. Unlike with Bowser’s Fury, I’d feature more than one item and giant enemy. Those enemies would have their own environmental effects that would change how you approach certain areas. The rotation of these giga bosses would be random, with them being removed from that rotation once defeated.
The collectables could be used to open up a regular boss fight, which would act the same as a named area once the boss is defeated, though the platforming challenge would be harder. The more bosses defeated, the weaker the final boss becomes. Or maybe those collectables unlock special items that would be needed to open the gate to the final boss. No matter what the collectables are used for, though, the unlocks would be non-linear. By that, I mean you would go to these unlock locations and choose how many collectables you put into them.
As for the world, it would be a massive spread of land and sea, diverse and varied, split into biomes (or themes) like you would find with any regular Mario game. There’d be a desert, a snow-covered area, regular ol’ plains, forests, and even under the water would get things to do. Biomes would be blended together as naturally as possible within the confines of how a platformer world would look, with a selection of buildings also present on the map. Castles would offer the hardest of platforming challenges, but all buildings would offer a greater test of platforming than those open areas.
Talking of the last few bits, lives would not be in the game. Odyssey did away with them, and so has Bowser’s Fury. A liveless system seems to be the Mario future, falling into line with most other modern platformers. Since the game is all about freedom, there would be plenty of collectables that wouldn’t be needed for mainline completion. For those who would rather see the mainline through to the end, it offers great replayability as you’d never have the same experience twice unless you were aiming for it. For 100% completionists, it offers a lot more to run through after that mainline is complete.
Taking this approach would be a big step for Nintendo. People called Odyssey the Breath of the Wild of the Mario franchise (then again, in 2017 nearly every new Nintendo game that changed things up a bit was called the Breath of the Wild of that franchise), but should this concept be what the new Mario games turns out to be, this will be the Breath of the Wild of the Mario franchise. And it is one that I hope comes to fruition.