Lives have been an homage type of thing for a while in this series
After seeing several gameplay demonstrations for Super Mario Odyssey without a life counter, the charade was over. The game’s director explained that there would indeed not be a traditional life counter in Odyssey, something the series has been toying with for many years with easy game over forgiveness. Expanding a bit on the idea in an interview with Game Informer, Kenta Motokura had this to say:
We thought about how a lives system would work in this kind of broad, exploration-focused game. In this sort of game, there would be a lot of different restart points. We decided not to use the lives system because it was not an element that was absolutely necessary. We also thought that it would affect some users’ desire to play because, while users who are good at the game would rarely see the (game over) screen that comes up when Mario runs out of lives, inexperienced users would probably end up seeing it frequently.
I mean, it makes perfect sense. People complain about the homogenization of difficulty curves and streamlining, but accessibility is what Nintendo has always been about, to greataplomb. This is especially true for a game that rewards exploration — I can think of many retro titles where I had one life left in a particularly hectic area, and didn’t feel like going down a dark path to locate a secret. It works in some cases, but for a free-wheeling series like Mario, it’s okay if traditional lives sit this one out.
Game Informer Magazine [Game Informer via Nintendo Everything]