Review by EgHeadFool
"An all-around incredible game"
Super Mario Galaxy is the latest 3D adventure for our favorite Italian plumber. The game has gotten an immense amount of hype, and the inevitable bashing and controversy that surrounds most well-known franchise games. I will try to present a review that is as objective as possible; one that evaluates the game itself as a stand-alone title, but also in the context of earlier Mario games. With that, let's get started!
Let's take care of the worst part first. The story in Mario Galaxy is not much different from the story of every standard Mario game. The princess gets kidnapped and you have to go save her. Add just a couple of minor twists and tweaks, and that's what you have. It's not the most captivating thing in the world, but it's also what you'd expect. A complicated story would perhaps even seem forced for a game that relies so heavily on the gameplay aspect, and pulls you in through its amazing universe rather than plot. There are some nice touches, however, such as a storybook that you unlock chapters for as you go along, and whose story is very reminiscent of The Little Prince.
This is where the game really shines. The game keeps extremely simple controls with no gimmicks and yet maintains an incredibly new and varied style of play. The controls are almost exactly like those of Mario 64, except that the punch button has been replaced with a spin attack performed by shaking the Wiimote. The controls are easy to pick up, and intuitive. What makes the gameplay so exciting, however, is the worlds we are presented with. Mario Galaxy tosses conventional platforming aside and immerses the player in a game that is 3D in every sense of the word. You navigate planets of all shapes and sizes, all with their unique gravity allowing you to explore every inch of their surface area, whether they be shaped like a giant question mark, a Yoshi's head, or a battlestation. In addition to this, there are often areas where gravity can be reversed by toggling a switch, or where its direction is governed by arrows on the wall. That's not to say you don't ever get normal flat environments; they do come up often. Black holes are also often placed strategically to ensure that you can still fall to your death. Add to that several power-ups that give Mario unique abilities, and you get some very fresh and limitless gameplay.
I would like to say that the gameplay is perfect, but this is not exactly true. There are a couple of downsides, even though they are very minor. One of these is that it is pretty hard to get the hang of steering Mario when you are on the bottom of a planet, and the camera shows you as being upside down. It doesn't usually lead to frustration, but it is a little annoying. The other is that the levels are quite linear this time around. When playing the same level for different stars, you might visit completely different areas that are only accessible for the mission you are on. In other words, even though it is the same level, you do not and cannot explore the same areas. This makes the overall exploration factor much smaller, and makes the game feel linear and perhaps a bit easy. There are hidden stars, but they are often easily located. Still, these things are insignificant in the grand scheme of things
The game excels in these areas as well. While the story may not be very deep, there is a reasonably high number of cinematics compared to previous games, and they look beautiful. The orchestrated music that goes along with it is just as breathtaking. Tunes range from catchy to inspirational, from retro (you will hear lots of music from past games) to almost epic, especially for some of the boss battles. All the environments are vivid and full of life. They definitely got this aspect right this time around.
The game is actually somewhat short to complete at bare minimum, but if you really go for all the optional levels and every star, it lasts much longer. As a platformer, it definitely provides the kind of length that would be expected. It also has a fair amount of replayability. Aside from the plain joy of going back and playing your favorite stages, there are unlockables and modes that provide solid replay enjoyment. There is even a little co-op mode that is amusing for a little while, though it was probably just tacked on for the heck of it.
As everyone should keep in mind, no game is perfect. Mario Galaxy's levels are not all flawlessly created to be incredibly fun, nor is the game 100% original. However, the conception of the different worlds is very well done and very unique. It definitely represents what a platformer should strive for in terms of innovation and balance. When this is pulled off with great controls, the visuals and music to support it, and a fair amount of content to plow through, you end up with nothing less than a great game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/07/07
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (JP, 11/01/07)
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