Diehard Nintendo fans may have noticed a familiar face in some of the Super Mario Odyssey gameplay shown off this week at E3 — Pauline, Mario’s first true love from Donkey Kong.
In Odyssey, Pauline is the mayor of New Donk City. There are posters of her on the walls, commemorative parks named after her and stickers featuring the mayor that can be purchased. While seeing Pauline was exciting, it did seem a little strange. Pauline hasn’t been a prominent character in a Mario video game since Mario vs. Donkey Kong 3: Minis March Again! in 2009. When asked by a fan about her inclusion in Odyssey during a Reddit AMA, producer Yoshiaki Koizumi said they wanted to give players something familiar to focus on while in a strange place.
“When we were deciding which Kingdoms to have in the game, we knew we wanted the city environment, and we wanted something that would have resonance with players,” Koizumi said. “We knew that players know Pauline so we of course wanted to make her the mayor of New Donk City. It's important to note that thought they are called Kingdoms, they do not necessarily have royalty, and that's why she's the mayor.”
Pauline is a prominent part of Super Mario Odyssey, and that extends beyond New Donk City. Koizumi confirmed that it was through developing Pauline as a character that they came up with a reason for Odyssey’s main theme, "Let's Do the Odyssey" / "I'll Be Your 1-Up Girl.” It’s the first to feature vocals in a Super Mario game, according to the producer, and the voice heard singing in the song actually belongs to Pauline!
“As we were developing Pauline more as a character, we know that she was going to be interested in jazz,” Koizumi said. “It was interesting for us to have the first song in a Mario game with vocals.”
Players will be able to go hands on with Pauline — and the rest of the Super Mario cast — in Super Mario Odyssey when it launches on Oct. 27 for the Switch.