Review by _Spin_Cycle_
"The most amazing game experience I've had in the last 10 years."
Super Mario Galaxy doesn't support 1080p, it doesn't have online support, and it didn't get a 10-million dollar advertising campaign.
But Galaxy is still better than games that do have these luxuries. It's the best and most memorable 3D platformer I've played since Banjo Kazooie, and the single greatest gaming experience I've had since. Once again, Nintendo proves that technological specs and impressive hardware don't make a game what it should be. Instead, it takes a combination of a great developing team, excellent gameplay, tried-and-true controls, and a touch of nostalgia. And trust me, the final result is truly spectral in nature.
I feel wonderful about giving this segment a perfect score. You don't need a huge plot twist or incredibly well-developed characters to make a great game. While other recent Mario games, namely Super Paper Mario, managed to blow me out of the water with surprisingly-well written storylines, Super Mario Galaxy doesn't exactly need that element. It's just perfect for what it is: a platformer.
The main story revolves (pardon the pun) around the usual premise: Bowser captures the Princess...but this time he takes her to space?! Mario is a very dedicated plumber indeed, as he is willing to go to outer space for his Princess! While I won't spoil any of the game's main storyline points, I can tell you that it'll make you feel young again. The whole game gives you flashbacks of Super Mario 64, and the storyline is no exception.
In a word: breathtaking. While I do enjoy a game that looks nice, I still believe that graphics don't make a game. However, in Galaxy's case, the graphics are just perfect. If every Wii game from now until the Wii's death looked like this, I'd be a happy man. Nintendo truly outdid themselves showing what the Wii is really capable of producing.
Notably, textures and environments look absolutely delicious. Smooth is the word that comes to mind. There are no jagged pixelations, no distortions, and no odd discolorations. Everything looks as it should. Add to this equation beautiful controls and a soundtrack to die for, and you've got a formula for fun that will last you a long time. Well done, Nintendo. Keep it up.
I'd give this a higher score if I could. This is, without a doubt, some of Koji Kondo's best work. As a music major, I was very pleased to learn that all the music here was orchestrated...not just MIDI orchestration, but actually recorded with a live orchestra. From the title screen to the ending theme, you'll be moved by a combination of live orchestral tracks and some MIDI tracks as well.
Plus, you've got nostalgia around every turn. From the main theme from Super Mario Bros. 3 to the path to Bowser theme from Super Mario 64, you'll be enticed with memories of childhood goodness from the minute you enter your first galaxy. Koji Kondo has emptied years of experience and learning into this soundtrack. To not purchase this soundtrack when it is released would be something of a missed opportunity.
Flawless! If you've played Mario 64 or Sunshine, you'll know what you're doing...for the most part. It's roughly the same control method as in the Nintendo 64 version...but with a twist!
You control the game using the Wii Remote/Nunchuck control scheme. You control Mario using the analog stick on the Nunchuck, and your basic actions are performed with the Remote's buttons. The usual abilities are in place: jumping with A, performing double or triple jumps while running, long jumps (which have made a welcomed return after being absent from Sunshine), side flips, and back flips. There is no punch button this time around. Instead, you shake the Wii Remote lightly to perform a spinning attack. This will quickly become the most useful ability in the game next to jumping. You can also jump then spin to perform a higher jump than usual. Finally, using the Wii Remote, you can point at the screen to collect new items called Star Bits, which act as the game's currency as well as an ammunition system. That's right. You can launch Star Bits that you've collected using the trigger button on the Wii Remote and the pointer function.
I estimate a 10-minute learning curve if you've played 3D Mario before, and a 20-30 minute curve if you haven't. Best of all, FLUUD isn't holding you back anymore!
Nintendo's favorite thing to do is slap conventional gaming in the face...and be successful at it. Mario Galaxy is the perfect example of this.
Super Mario 64's claim to fame was its 3D aspects, Sunshine's was the use of the FLUUD device, and Galaxy's is the use of different gravities to walk upside down, sideways, and any possiblity you can imagine to make gameplay more revolutionary than ever. Of course, the main idea is almost identical to Super Mario 64's, but anyone who complains about that is missing the point, or hasn't experienced the game themselves. You'll be experiencing several Wii Remote gimmicks, such as pulling yourself from Pull Star to Pull Star, and manuvering your way through obstacles on top of a ball in a Super Monkey Ball-esque way. You'll also get the chance to experience a 3D Mario first after unlocking a great little secret! I won't spoil it for you...but chances are, you've already heard about it. Plus, you have great new powerups, such as Bee Mario, Boo Mario, and Fire Mario! I should note that this is the first Fire Flower appearance and usage in a 3D Mario game.
The game truly shines in the gameplay aspect, and that's what makes is so memorable. You'll spend less time going from point A to point B, and more time exploring, or just gawking at the incredible visuals. The idea that you can jump off a ledge and let gravity pull you to the underside still blows my mind. This is possibly Nintendo's finest work with a Mario game, with Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3 in a close second.
I'll be honest: I haven't beaten this game yet. I have enough stars to face Bowser, but I don't want the game to end just yet. I'll get as many stars as I possibly can before I finish the game. That's how great it is. You'll get flashbacks of Super Mario 64 left and right. As one reviewer put it: "It's everything you loved about Super Mario 64 and nothing you hated about Sunshine."
Please give this game your full attention. Don't miss a second of this platforming revolution. "Game of the Year?!" Try "Game of the Generation!"
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 11/15/07
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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