New sidekick Cappy could have been just another annoying sidekick, but its inclusion only adds to the playfulness of Nintendo Switch’s first Mario adventure

In life, a few things are inevitable: death, taxes and the continual kidnapping of Princess Peach. But after more than 30 years of at least one new Mario adventure per Nintendo console, it helps to have a feature that differentiates the latest from the last. For Super Mario Odyssey, the first proper Mario adventure on the Nintendo Switch, it’s a new sentient hat.

A brief introductory cutscene explains: Bowser – already optimistically dressed for his wedding – incapacitates Mario for long enough to make off with Peach, but not without stomping on his signature red cap. As luck would have it, a hat-shaped ghost-like figure called Cappy is floating nearby and offers to help Mario pursue Bowser and rescue both Peach and Cappy’s sister Tiara. Cappy shapeshifts into a replacement hat, and soon demonstrates that he offers more than a warm head; Mario can throw him to “capture” (Nintendo’s approved verb for “temporarily play as”) other creatures.

Throw Cappy at a frog and Mario will disappear leaving the frog sporting both a red cap and a moustache. Mario appears to get sucked into the hat, though where that leaves the essences of both Cappy and the frog is an unanswered but philosophically fascinating question.

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