One of the things that many fans noticed immediately when shown in-game footage of Super Mario Odyssey was that the life counter, a staple in every Mario game till now, was missing. Should the plumber meet his demise, the game merely subtracts some coins from your total and then restarts you at a checkpoint. It’s divided opinion somewhat, but this is something that’s become more and more of a trend in modern platformers, as lives are really just a holdover from the glory days of arcades.
Speaking more on this issue in this month’s Game Informer, Kenta Motokura—the director of Super Mario Odyssey—explained that the concept was canned because it wouldn’t gel well with the general design of the game. Here’s what he said:
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.
It makes a lot of sense, but the question is whether this will become a standard for all Mario games, or if it’s just for Odyssey.
What do you think? Does a life counter still have a place in modern game design? Do you think they’re going to drop it from Mario games for good? Share your thoughts in the comments below.