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How Super Mario Odyssey hits 60fps on portable hardware, and how it could improve in the 4 months to release

Super Mario Odyssey is slick, beautiful, and technically impressive.

Super Mario Odyssey previews out of E3 2017 have been positively gushing (Alex loved it), but don't go thinking it's just Nintendo fan bias at play.

The analysis hounds at Eurogamer's Digital Foundry have been going over their Super Mario Odyssey footage with the usual fine-toothed comb and have plenty to say about the impressive performance of Mario's latest outing.

For starters, Super Mario Odyssey holds a rock solid 60fps in the Frozen Desert environment on show, and only dips occasionally in the more demanding New Donk City region.

This is a really impressive achievement, because Super Mario Odyssey presents complicated and beautiful visuals on a comparatively low-powered bit of hardware. As the video details, both New Donk City and Frozen Desert are full of complex and prolific geometry; fancy lighting, shadows and reflections; and very sharp textures. The result is a "huge step up" from previous Mario games in "terms of scale and quality", with much more variety than past games.

So how has Nintendo pulled it off? You can see some of the tricks Super Mario Odyssey uses in the video: NPCs are rendered as 2D objects in the distance before loading in as 3D models when Mario approaches, and animated at 30fps.

Nintendo could maybe skip these solutions if Super Mario Odyssey dropped to 30fps, but as the first Mario game to go 60fps, it proves it's worthwhile pursuing. Character animation is wonderful, and the controls are extremely responsive; the report says running around just "feels absolutely excellent".

The only real downside is that Super Mario Odyssey displays at 720p, but this may improve; we still have four months before Super Mario Odyssey releases.

At this stage, the video argues that Nintendo has made right choice to prioritise frame rate over image quality, and describes Super Mario Odyssey as a major achievement on portable hardware - and looking amazingly good for a game so far from release day.

Super Mario Odyssey was announced in January but the E3 2017 showcase was our first proper look at the whole "Mario can possess people with his hat now" thing. It's gone down pretty well, to wildly understate the matter.

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Brenna Hillier


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