A JRPG Overworld in 3D Super Mario games

John Bros.

Goomba
I was thinking about Zelda Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy 7 recently, and the thought came to my mind: what if 3D Super Mario games had a full JRPG-style overworld ?


By JRPG overworld, I mean an overworld that feels very large, like a small planet, with continents and oceans on it, through which you first travel on foot, then with an unlockable way of transportation (airship, boat, animal). The game's levels (caves, dungeons) and other locations (villages) are spread all across the map, distant from each other, appearing on the map as miniaturized versions.

The closest we had to a JRPG overworld was the Sprixie Kingdom in SM3DW (a missed opportunity to me, it could have been so much more if they merged all the worlds into one) but I think of all the 3D Mario games, only Lake Lapcat in Bowser's Fury finally managed to give us that same feeling (even if it was more like an open world). You could finally travel and freely explore a larger world between levels, giving it a sense of greater adventure, with Plessie's theme acting as an overworld theme (in a very similar way with the overworld of Zelda the Wind Waker).

SM64, SMS and SMG had an explorable 3D hub-world but not as large as a JRPG overworld, and SMG2, SM3DL and SMO had a level-select world map only (I feel SMG2 and SMO especially would have been even better if they had an overworld).


Would you like a 3D Super Mario game to have a JRPG-style overworld ?

Do you think some of the previous 3D Super Mario games would have been better if they had a real overworld to travel in between levels ?

If you could remake one of these games with an overworld:
- What environment would you choose for the overworld of each game (ex: field, lake, ocean, island, sky, space or a full planet)
- Which music track would you choose for the overworld of each game ?
 

a referee

DON'T STOP THE COUNT!
I guess Shadow of Colossus had a similar idea; you run/ride a horse on a really big world, albeit a bit sparse given that the only collectible are fruit and certain lizards, and you have to traverse pretty large distances later in the game to match against the colossi there.

I'm pretty sure the hub in Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy 1 are essentially small versions of the overworld you're talking about, even with their own secrets and roadblocks (though in Ocarina of Time, the roadblocks are less explicit). I don't think the large design of the overworld jives with the faster-paced platforming focus that the Mario games have. Some people knocked on Galaxy 1's hub for people taking a while to reach the destination (on top of the confusing design). I figure the kingdoms themselves in Odyssey are already fairly expansive and do link a lot of platforming segments and other Power Moons together. I don't see much point in adding a big overworld for the sake of it, as enticing the story-telling part is, if it doesn't add to the gameplay and can even detract if you don't have warp points.
 

Ray Trace

SUMMER FUN IN APRIL!
Wiki Patroller
I think Paper Mario: The Origami King did have ideas like that in points, such as the desert and the purple streamer with the ocean.



To see it expanded further on a larger scale would be a great and interesting new idea for the franchise, I feel. Maybe put that in Mario RPGs too, if we're going to do JRPG styled.
 

supermariofan

Dry Bowser
I think this would be an interesting change of pace for Mario RPGs. The question is who would be making the game? Square? When it comes to Nintendo, they just make games reminiscent of the days when they made games for the SNES. Other than porting Final Fantasy 7-10 on the Switch, I’ve never seen them make games on a grander scale for Nintendo.
 

John Bros.

Goomba
I guess Shadow of Colossus had a similar idea; you run/ride a horse on a really big world, albeit a bit sparse given that the only collectible are fruit and certain lizards, and you have to traverse pretty large distances later in the game to match against the colossi there.

I'm pretty sure the hub in Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy 1 are essentially small versions of the overworld you're talking about, even with their own secrets and roadblocks (though in Ocarina of Time, the roadblocks are less explicit). I don't think the large design of the overworld jives with the faster-paced platforming focus that the Mario games have. Some people knocked on Galaxy 1's hub for people taking a while to reach the destination (on top of the confusing design). I figure the kingdoms themselves in Odyssey are already fairly expansive and do link a lot of platforming segments and other Power Moons together. I don't see much point in adding a big overworld for the sake of it, as enticing the story-telling part is, if it doesn't add to the gameplay and can even detract if you don't have warp points.
I think Paper Mario: The Origami King did have ideas like that in points, such as the desert and the purple streamer with the ocean.



To see it expanded further on a larger scale would be a great and interesting new idea for the franchise, I feel. Maybe put that in Mario RPGs too, if we're going to do JRPG styled.

I feel like Nintendo is now using the Paper Mario series as a place to experiment new concepts before eventually integrate them into a mainline Mario game. The way the Overworld works in Worlds 3 and 4 of the Origami King is quite similar to what I am describing indeed.

Regarding the point of adding a big overworld to a Super Mario game, I think it depends on the way you move through it, from one level to another. If Mario is just walking toward his next course, like Link in Breath of The Wild, I think it would indeed slow the gameplay and not fit Mario at all… but if Mario can ride a fast and fun vehicle on his way, I believe it could make the whole experience even better. Bowser's Fury has just done it, and riding Plessie with the catchy music on my way to another plaforming challenge was one of my greatest pleasures in that game. So I think Nintendo can go even further with this concept, by getting some inspiration from fast travelling vehicles in the best JRPG's overworlds.

At this moment, I'm thinking of something like Skies of Arcadia (with the flying ship) or Dragon Quest VIII when you unlock the bird, only with faster speed, à la Bowser's Fury (by the way, a remake of Galaxy with an overworld like in Skies of Arcadia would be one of my dreams).

Here's a look at how flying in Dragon Quest VIII works (the flying sequence starts at 07:00) :

 
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