“We thought about how a lives system would work in this kind of broad, exploration-focused game.”
Lives have become increasingly trivialized and meaningless in recent Super Mario games- the titles hand them out like free candy, and it is not uncommon to see even less skilled players have a stock of lives going into the triple digits. At this point, lives as a mechanic seem to be outdated, a relic of the series’ arcade roots, way back in the day.
So, unlike many others, I had no objections to the removal of the lives system in the upcoming Mario Odyssey– however, it seems like some others thought this would end up adversely affecting the game. Speaking in an interview with Game Informer, director Kenta Motokura has attempted to allay those concerns a little.
“We thought about how a lives system would work in this kind of broad, exploration-focused game. In this sort of game, there would be a lot of different restart points. We decided not to use the lives system because it was not an element that was absolutely necessary. We also thought that it would affect some users’ desire to play because, while users who are good at the game would rarely see the (game over) screen that comes up when Mario runs out of lives, inexperienced users would probably end up seeing it frequently,” he said.
It makes sense, too- if the idea of the game is to encourage players to explore and experiment, threatening them with a limited cache of lives that they could lose if they were too adventurous would be counter intuitive. It sounds like Nintendo has attempted to reach the best compromise this way. Super Mario Odyssey is due out on October 27, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.