Review by Wolfvie
"Mario at his best"
It's been awhile since a certain plumbers graced our consoles in another epic platforming adventure. I must admit like many others, when Super Mario Galaxy was announced I wasn't so excited with the design choices Nintendo had decided to make. For a start I didn't like the level design and camera angles Nintendo had opted to give the game. In short, I was worried it just wouldn't feel' like Mario. So how exactly did it turn out? Read more and find out.
Fairly standard for a Mario game. The game follows Mario being invited to the mushroom kingdom star festival to celebrate the comet that passes overhead every centaury. As usual though Bowser arrives to crash the party, and inevitably kidnapped Princess Peach (for what has seemed like the umpteenth time) and when Mario unsuccessfully attempts to save her he is carried across the galaxy and awakens on a small planet. Mario is greeted by a women named Rosalina (who bares a striking resemblance to Peach) who is accompanied by Lumas' a mysterious star race she cares and looks after. Rosalina explains to Mario she is a watcher of the stars, travelling across the Galaxy in her flying observatory. She offers to help Mario rescue Peach, but unfortunately though the Power Stars the fuel her observatory have been stolen by Bowser.
Mario then decides to venture off on an intergalactic adventure across the universe reclaiming Power Stars that Bowser has hidden throughout the many galaxies of the universe, to eventually restore power to Rosalina's observatory, so that he can travel to the centre of the universe, face off against Bowser and rescue Princess Peach. The game's backstory can also be accessed via a few storybook sequences told by Rosalina in the library (a small section of the game's hub).
Graphically the game is among one of the best looking games on the Wii to date. The environments are visually amazing when considering the constraint of systems rather limited limitations and all are wonderfully bright and vibrant; very eye catching and the textures, while a few jaggies are still visible, are still exceptionally well detailed. The character models all look superb and are brilliantly animated; never has Mario ever looked this good. The visual effects, the water effects in particular, are visually astonishing and I've seen worse on both the 360 and the PS3.
Music-wise the game has arguably one of the best orchestrally composed soundtracks I've heard to date. From the moment that you boot up the game you are literally smacked right in the face with a soundtrack of truly epic proportion. The voice acting or what little of it there is, is indeed fantastic, Charles Martinet once again reprising his role as Mario and various other characters. The sound effects are classic and haven't changed much from the previous game, but that's the way we like it right?
Gameplay is follows a very simular formula to that of 64/Sunshine in terms of it's basic structure. Players explore the hub (or in this case the Comet Observatory) select one of the game's 42 different themed galaxies and set off on an epic intergalactic journey through the cosmos collecting stars to slowly and eventually restore power to the observatory.
The platforming is near flawless, it is an absolute joy to manoeuvre Mario around the games levels, leaping around effortlessly; it's just so smooth. As you'd expect as with the previous games combat is kept simple but that's why it's so great. A quick waggle the Wiimote and Mario spin around, stunning enemies, knocking them on their heads. Mario can then simply run up to them to kick them away. Mario can also do the classic jump on enemies attack as well as a ranged attack; Mario is able to fire star bits at enemies, stunning them.
The aforementioned star bits can be collected throughout the many planets and galaxies youll explore. Of course what would a Mario game be without it's fair share of powerups/suits. Bee Mario allowing him to glide through the air for a limited amount of time. Boo Mario will transform Mario into a ghost allowing him to float up into the air and move through certain objects. As I mentioned before Mario collects Power Stars which can be collected by completing levels. The more Power Stars you have, the better, because you'll be able to visit more galaxies as you make progression through the game. Grand Stars are collected are the completion of a boss, which speaking of bosses, they are extremely well designed and a blast to fight against learning their attack patterns.
The overall design is magnificent. The levels are unlike anything you've seen before in a game, let alone a Mario game. The way gravity influences your every move is incredible, each level uses it differently making for many of different gameplay styles. There are even classic 2D sidescrolling styled levels reminiscent of SMB3/SMW. Every single moment comes off as a totally different experience, you can clearly see the amount of time and devotion that has gone into it. The game even cleverly hides it's loading sequences via the flying from planet to planet cutscenes.
The replay value is astonishing you can complete the game in around 8-14 hours with only around 50% of the game done (60 of the 120 stars collected). Add another 8-10 hours to collect the remaining 60 stars and you've got a 16-24 hour long experience depending on your skill level. There's also a special surprise for those that go out of their way to collect all 120 stars and it comes in the form of a new playable character. Brilliant.
All the waggling and point & click style shooting mechanics when firing star bits are implemented perfectly; never did I find the game reading my motions incorrectly or unresponsively. The controls are excellent lets just leave it at that.
Now for a quick revision
+ Mario platforming at it's absolute best.
+ Ingenious design and mechanics; level design is some of the best in the business.
+ Breathtaking visuals and excellent presentation.
+ Grand orchestral score.
+ Magnificent sound design.
+ High replay value.
- Next to nothing.
To answer the question before, Super Mario Galaxy exceeded my expectations to no end. After around give or take, about five or so minutes of playtime, all my nitpicks that I had previously had with the game were cured as I discovered that without a doubt, Super Mario Galaxy was and still is the best game on the console. That first five minutes was undeniably better than all the games I had experienced in the Wii's somewhat lacklustre library combined. The next eight or so hours that followed I stayed glued to my TV, stopping only to pause the game and take in/admire the game's beautiful surroundings and visual presentation and when the credits had finally rolled, I wanted even more. Overall, an absolute must buy and quite possibly one of the best games from the past decade.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 01/03/08, Updated 04/26/10
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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