Super Mario Odyssey's big gameplay debut at E3 got just about everybody excited for Mario's next big adventure. It also introduced an image problem for the jolly plumber. Jumping on evil mushroom folk and turtle soldiers is one thing, but taking control of their bodies via paranormal headwear? It's beyond the pale. And it's sent a lot of people re-evaluating what they thought they knew about Mario.
Nintendo has picked up on that vibe and is trying to head things off before they become too metaphysically horrifying.
Mario's just capturing his enemies (and occasionally the innocent human inhabitants of New Donk City), Nintendo reassures, us. He's not possessing them. But are the terms even all that semantically distinct? Let's turn to our old friends Merriam and Webster for clarity. Here are the most relevant definitions of the two terms.
- Capture: "an act or instance of capturing: such as an act of catching, winning, or gaining control by force, stratagem, or guile".
- Possess: "to seize and take control of: take into one's possession"; "to enter into and control firmly: dominate"; "to bring or cause to fall under the influence, domination, or control of some emotional or intellectual response or reaction".
Broadly speaking, they mean similar things, and both imply some degree of martial superiority or trickery over the other party resulting in dominance. "Possess" definitely has more sinister implications with that talk of emotional and intellectual subjugation. Honestly, though? The act of throwing your hat at somebody to override their free will has some pretty sinister implications too, so "possess" still fits. It does not, however, have the nice "cap" pun that "capture" does. So points to Nintendo for that one.
The ethics of Mario's new capture move may be questionable, but what we've seen of the game isn't. Read our GamesRadar+ E3 2017 awards and see why Super Mario Odyssey took home the gold, then watch more than an hour of Super Mario Odyssey gameplay.