Mario Odyssey Creators Say 3D Platformers Aren’t Hard to Make – Unsure Why So Few Exist

Super Mario Odyssey is looking to be a tent-pole game in the Mario series and likely competing with Breath of the Wild (and other titles) for Game of the Year awards. It’s doing that as a true to form 3D platformer, a genre that once was essentially king of the video game kingdom. These days, 3D platformers are far and few between – and even less so if you want to talk about high quality ones.

In many ways, the genre itself has fallen by the wayside. A recent attempt to bring it back in Yooka-Laylee was considered decent by most pundits, but far from the greatness the genre once enjoyed. Super Mario Odyssey, meanwhile, is changing the game. Here is what the producer of the game had to say when asked about the state of the genre:

Game Informer: I’m curious, 3D platformers used to be a really big genre, but not a lot of companies are making games like this anymore. Why do you think that is? Do you think this is a particularly hard type of game to make?

Koizumi: It’s not, I don’t think, that they’re necessarily hard to make. Honestly, I’d love to hear the answer to that question if anyone has a really thought-out version, because I’m not sure I know myself.

Like Koizumi, I too wonder what really lead the great fall of 3D platformers and why they can’t seem to make a huge comeback. Mario has been able to avoid the fall off with excellent titles like Mario Galaxy and now Odyssey, but the rest of the industry hasn’t been able to keep up. Oh, I mentioned Breath of the Wild earlier. It turns out, the game is pushing Odyssey to be the best version of itself:

Game Informer: Are there any specific lessons from Breath of the Wild’s success that have come forward for Super Mario Odyssey?

Koizumi: Well, certainly as the overall software producer, I had a role in the Breath of the Wild development, and so there are a lot of things bouncing around that we take away as interesting ideas from one game project that could be used on another. Perhaps, just a coincidence of really good timing, both of these games ended up with a really high degree of player freedom. Ever since the Famicom (NES) era, Zelda and Mario have been growing up side-by-side. They share a lot of the same roots and as such, the way that they encounter and express their themes is quite similar. If there’s any influence of one on the other, I think it’s fundamental, it’s almost on the DNA level.

Motokura: In a good way, Breath of the Wild is sort of an action game rival to Super Mario Odyssey. I guess you could say that they push each other to new heights.

You can check out the rest of this interview at Game Informer. It includes a few other interesting tidbits, like drawing inspiration (and including references) from the series past.

Nathanial Rumphol-Janc

A veteran in the video game media sphere, Nathanial co-founded Gamnesia, founded MetroidWiki.org, ran the news the segment on the Zelda Universe Podcast, found and ran Zelda Domain from 1998 to 2006, and built Zelda Informer as the Editor-in-Chief from 2008 to 2017. He now owns and operates Nintendo Prime. You can follow him on twitter @NateJanc, otherwise just stay tuned at Nintendo Prime for more of his work.

  • Hylian Vengeance

    So i just read that little paragragh about the author. My dear veteran, “ran the news the segment on the Zelda Universe Podcast”… Am I misreading this or is this a typo, perhaps some grammatical folley? If Ive misinterpretted what you are saying then please disregard my comment, otherwise, you’re welcome for my free proof read lol.

    • Zelda Universe use to have a Zelda podcast many years back, and on that podcast I ran the news segment (they use to do “sections”)

      • Hylian Vengeance

        I didn’t know this, I’ve followed ZI and read many of your articles since 2010. I seen something about you leaving ZI? Curious why lol.

  • Hylian Vengeance

    Also, my dear veteran, when you say found and ran Zelda Domain.. Do you mean you literally found it about the web. Or are you the founder of Zelda Domain. Please clarify.

  • MinishDude

    Eh, I think the shortage today was probably due to everybody jumping on-board with the 3D platformer genre at the same time, when 3D games first became a thing.

    Then the market became over-saturated with them, with games like:
    -Super Mario 64
    -Donkey Kong 64
    -Banjo-Kazooie & Banjo-Tooie
    -Conker’s Bad Fur Day
    -Chameleon Twist
    -Bomberman 64 & Bomberman Hero
    -Rayman
    -Glover
    -Spyro
    -Crash Bandicoot
    -Mega Man 64 (sorta…. it had platforming aspects)
    And that’s just to name a few early on.

    Then we get the older generation of gamers that demanded 2D/top-down games (the ones that insist LttP is the far better than OoT) because those genres were dying after the jump to 3D, and other people wanted shooters, racing games, action games and sports games (really, I can only think of a few side-scrolling platformers on N64; namely Kirby 64 and Yoshi’s Story)…. So, developers of older franchises started returning to their earlier roots to appeal to the nostalgic folks (New Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Country Returns & Tropical Freeze, top-down Bomberman) or dropped those franchises (Mega Man Legends) to focus on other things that were more popular. And some companies (like the one’s behind Chameleon Twist) just died out entirely >_>