Review by nintendosega
"Destined to be remembered as one of the greatest platformers of all time"
It's here. Mario's first 3-D adventure in over 5 years is finally here, and it delivers in a way bigger than I could have imagined. Not only does Mario Galaxy actually make huge changes to the 3-D Mario formula (something Nintendo seems unfortunately afraid to try with many of their other franchises) but it single-handedly not only revived the dying platformer genre but also restored Nintendo back to their former glory; this is the first game they've made since the N64 era (with the exception of the Sega-developed F-Zero GX on the Gamecube) that's been so outstanding and so memorable and that's offered a truly superior gameplay experience to anything else out there....this is an incredible game and I don't think any platformers this generation will touch it.
Graphics: One thing that's immediately noticeable about Super Mario Galaxy is the graphics, which are some of the best I've ever seen....and let me remind you that this is a Wii game. But by setting the game in outer space, the developers didn't have to worry much about the background graphics and instead devote the console's power to the environments and characters in the foreground pretty much exclusively, and what we have here is a really breathtaking game that had my jaw dropping almost constantly. Not only is the artistic look very imaginative, colorful, and perfectly crisp, but almost every object radiates with a sense of polish and everything, from the lighting effects to the camera angles, brings the world to life. Basically every graphical trick here is pulled off amazingly; whenever there's an animal with fur, you can expect top-of-the-line fur effects and detail. Any time there's water, you can expect excellent water effects. Smoke effects, fire effects, subtle bloom lighting, framerate.....they're all nearly perfect. And I can't stress enough how amazing it is to grab a star and fly through the galaxy, and the camera is always sure to catch it from the best angle possible. Character polygons are at their best, with the likes of Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Peach looking better than they ever have. And this is all done with almost non-existent load times. I have no idea how they've managed to pull it off, but this game looks unbelievable and the visuals have a whimsical and very colorful touch to them...and unlike 2002's Mario Sunshine, Mario Galaxy does not overdo it; the game has a look to it that's both very colorful yet still very natural. It's a fantastic-looking game.
Gameplay: Super Mario Galaxy makes some huge changes from the traditional 3-D Mario formula, and it turned out to be for the better. All Nintendo sequels should re-invent the wheel like this....after playing the disappointingly dated Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, I was worried that Nintendo was just afraid to touch any of their franchises, instead being content to rehash them over and over again. Thankfully that's turned out not to be the case here. Super Mario 64 was truly revolutionary at the time of its release, and being one of the first fully 3-D games, many people were willing to overlook certain flaws, such as plenty of frustrating missions, collect-a-thons, and having to do the same level multiple times for uninspired tasks. Super Mario Sunshine on the Gamecube, unfortunately, left all these issues intact, while saddling the game with a very childish feel without any of the sometimes dark and very "magical" worlds that were featured in Super Mario 64.
Super Mario Galaxy, though, started 3-D Mario from square one. Yes, you're still beating each mission by grabbing a star, but everything else is completely different. There are only 3 missions per level, there are no blue or red coins to collect, levels are very linear, and the game's levels are designed NOT to slow you down, but rather for you to rapidly fly through them with very little sense of a drop in the action or momentum. Things like Mario's spin attack (done by shaking the Wii Remote) and using the pointer to collect star bits (which can be used to gain 1ups, and can also be fed to certain Lumas in the hub world for access to hidden galaxies, as well as thrown at enemies) add a much needed freshness to the overall proceedings, and things like riding shells underwater, as well as a huge amount of brand new powers go a long way in ensuring that this feels like a new game. And then there's the setting, which offers some truly imaginative levels, many of which are unlike anything seen in a Mario game before. The gravity settings also add multiple new dimensions to gameplay, as you not only use the gravity for platforming, but for circling every planet freely, including going upside-down. And the way you complete the missions by blasting off from planet to planet is nothing short of exhilarating. The focus on shorter, quicker, and (in many cases) easier levels gives the game a big boost in its pacing and this is an adventure that's as great for quick bursts of play as spending hours in the cosmos.
There are a couple irritating missions in here, (any mission involving you chasing something around the planets gets old fast) but those instances are very few and far in between. The camera's occasionally not perfect, and I also think they could have gone a little bigger and more epic with some of the bosses, but Mario Galaxy DOES feature the return of the Bowser fights, complete with the levels where you make your way to him (all of them excellent,) as well as a return of that excellent music. The story's typical Mario, although with a bit of a new twist in the form of a new princess, who helps you in rescuing Peach. As you progress through the game, you can visit her in the library on the Observatory (This game's equivalent of the castle from 64 and Isle Delfino from Sunshine) and, when the game prompts you, she will read you passages from a story about a girl who searched the galaxy for her mother. You can read as much (or as little) of this story as you'd like, but its inclusion provides the game with an added bit of story which is much appreciated. (My only complaint; why didn't they make voiced cutscenes out of this story rather than tell it through a book reading? It was a pretty big missed opportunity.) After Mario Sunshine's large amount of voice acting (much of it to mixed results due to the babyish cutscenes,) Mario Galaxy returns to fewer cutscenes with mostly text, but when they're here, they're extremely nice to look at, and the game's ending (at 60 stars....but you're free to continue to 120 to unlock something extra,) is actually pretty epic for a Mario game. Usually I like a bit more story in my video games, but Mario Galaxy pulls it off extremely well, offering just enough of a story to keep it interesting, and I can't stress this enough; the gameplay here is so amazing that I could have even been okay with NO STORY whatsoever....the fact that it's here is just the icing on the cake.
Although the game doesn't quite manage to capture the magic and imagination of the atmosphere of some of Super Mario 64's levels (especially some of its darker ones,) Mario Galaxy comes VERY close, and it ends up creating an atmosphere all its own. And it's the first 3-D Mario game to really feel like the 2-D ones, rather than the slow collect-a-thons that Sunshine and 64 were. The great, simple, and subtle use of the Wii Remote nevertheless adds to the game in a big way and while I occasionally longed for maybe a couple bigger levels, (especially when I unlocked the flight power-up) the gameplay diversity here and the imaginative levels and quick pace made what was given to us an almost perfect experience.
Sound: Voice acting would be nice, Nintendo, it's 2007. That aside, though, the music is excellent, again, it's what Twilight Princess' should have been. A fully (or close to it, anyway) orchestrated soundtrack with some new themes that fit perfectly with the game's outer space atmosphere does a great job, and mixes with remixed classic Mario themes. My complaint; too much classic remixes, not enough new stuff. But still, the entire soundtrack shines and like the rest of the game, it's memorable and incredible.
Replay Value: The game will last you quite a while. It's definitely shorter than Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64, but I was 100% satisfied at where I'm at (just beat the game at 61 stars, and planning to go for the 120) but knowing there's 59 more stars to collect if I want to go after them just makes the game seem like an even better value.
Overall: Super Mario Galaxy is an amazing game..... nearly flawless in execution and fun to play almost CONSTANTLY, Nintendo's finally once again made a game that shows why they've been in the business so long. Their games used to be better than the competition, they used to offer top-of-the-line experiences nobody else did, they used to take you to "different worlds" with their games, and they used to lead in almost every genre. Fast forward to present time, their stubbornly outdated nature and focus on quick and simple games means that their efforts are almost always inferior in some way to what's seen on the other consoles. Luckily, Mario Galaxy's a huge exception, and it's already become the fastest-selling 3-D Mario game of all time, and it's a sign that gamers STILL do crave the classic platformer, and it would be great to see Nintendo start producing new franchises once again that aim for the same sense of magic shown in this game. It's an amazing game, and one that every Wii owner needs to play. Any doubts I've had that games like this could be done on the Wii have been erased by Super Mario Galaxy, easily the best game Nintendo's created in over a decade and what's going to be remembered as one of the best games this console generation.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/29/07, Updated 06/03/10
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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