.A WHOLE NEW WORLD
I watched this game eagerly after being so disappointed with Mario Sunshine, and honestly, I wasn’t actually that impressed with what I'd seen prior to release. It didn’t seem to offer anything that interesting or original, and sadly, the whole Mario name has been sullied by a slew of non first-party (Nintendo) games in recent years that really just haven’t hit the mark.
So, with some amount of joy and a sigh of relief, I’m here to tell you that the good Mario name is still intact and has quite possibly been given the biggest and brightest rebirth of his starry career in recent years. I’ll get it out of the way now; the game is quite simply, fantastic. That’s probably all you need to know to be honest, but, carry on reading if you so wish!
I truly can’t even begin to explain how incredibly awesome and easy it feels to move Mario around. The controls are slick and simple and well integrated for the Wii. It feels responsive and well tuned.
The sheer number of gameplay mechanics that they have managed to get into the game is astounding and, even more astounding, is the fact that all of them have been polished and well rounded to the point of near flawlessness. You have Bee-Mario who can fly and stick to certain walls, you have Ice Mario who can skate across freezing waters in a speedy but easily controllable way, you fly on dandelion like flowers using the Wiimote to gain height, you have gravity... which has been used in some spectacular ways. For example, take a simple platforming section from a classic Mario style game, and then, in certain sections, allow your jump to land you on the ceiling instead of the floor, completely changing your perspective on how to complete that section. It is also used to good effect when jumping and moving around the various planetoids in the galaxy. Just being able to run completely around and beneath an object feels both wrong but brilliant.
On top of that there is a number of mini-games that also feel well implemented, like Ray-Surfing where Mario rides on top of a giant Manta Ray to complete a race course, or Mario rolling on top of a giant ball in true Monkey Ball style. None feel unfinished or forced. And finally, they implemented wall jumping in a simple easy to use way… it’s so fun to do now!
The only real mechanic I had problems with? Wait for it… can you guess? Bam! You got it, that's right, it’s swimming. It seems that swimming is destined to always be horrible in games! However, it’s not entirely frustrating, it’s just difficult to be accurate, so, it is only a minor gripe!
.A HUGE GALAXY WITH SHORTCUTS
The sheer size of this game is incredible. Initially I was looking at it and I thought, wow… this is going to be a really short game. In hindsight, this was clearly done on purpose to help you get a feel for the game and not overwhelm you with options too quickly. You have to, in some way or another complete one galaxy to open the next. Sadly though, herein lies a problem.
It’s possible to never visit some of the worlds in each galaxy because you can earn enough stars at two of the worlds to open up the final world in that galaxy, thus beating that boss, which in turn, opens up a new galaxy. I assume this was intentional so that certain players could just play through to the end nice and quickly and be done. It just seems such a shame when there is such a wealth of different worlds and gameplay modes to be explored and exploited. It feels like it would have been better to ensure a certain number of stars were gathered from each world instead. That being said, the universe is huge, with multiple extra stars to be found on each world and a number of smaller galaxies that are essentially side quests that can be opened up along the way. It genuinely does feel galactic in scale.
.I NEED STARS
It has been a while since I’ve played a game like Super Mario Galaxy; turning me into a rabid completionist. I simply cannot stop playing, and every time I see there is a special star to be had somewhere or a challenge to be taken, I have to do it. I’m enjoying it that much. I just love to collect all those star bits and stars. I am now even going back to redo all the levels with the highest level of coins I can. It’s made me slightly deranged I think... well, more deranged.
.A WII OVERSIGHT
The biggest disappoint of all for me was that they really didn’t use the Wiimote as well as they could have done. That’s not to say there aren’t moments where it comes into use, there is, but they just feel like things that could have just as easily been done on a regular controller. The only time the Wiimote and the game as a Wii title felt like it really came into play was in coop play which, I have to say, was a lot of fun. It definitely adds a little bit extra to the game for you and a friend or, more so, a partner who doesn’t really play games, to do together. But overall, it just felt like the whole game could still have been made for the GameCube which is a shame.
.On the Whole
Need I say more on the subject of Super Mario Galaxy? It’s phenomenal. One of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of playing in a long, long time. It has slick presentation, a cute story (obviously saving Princess Peach is involved), classic enemies and platforming, but taken to whole new levels. It’s pure brilliance and that’s all I can say on the matter. Play it. Go, do it... and do it now!