Review by mf29
"The third 3D Mario platformer does much justice for the Wii."
The latest Super Mario platformer is called Mario Galaxy. Judging by the title, you would think the game would have something to do with space travel, that assumption is correct in this case. The Nintendo Wii might not have a large and hefty arsenal full of splendid exclusives, but the few good games it contains, are all licensed by Nintendo. Nintendo always makes sure that games developed and published by them get an average score of 8.5 or higher. They set the bar for exclusive titles. While completely disbanding the system from Mario Sunshine, Mario 64 is involved in it with a vivid re-awakening. Mario Galaxy's gravity mentality of mini planets and alternative worlds can really get the heart pumping rapidly. Since every piece of land, and/or individual planet has its own gravitational pull, it makes the platforming elements fully innovative, bringing a new Mario experience. There have been some sorry attempts at gravity manipulation in other platformers, but no other has done it better than this Mario installment.
Coming from a player who has completed the game, the game's storyline is unvaryingly the same typical Mario story. Princess Toadstool's entire castle gets taken by Bowser's ship, and then they are warped somehow to another galaxy. Along with this sudden occurrence, you are subsequently knocked off the planet and is transported to some unknown observatory. In this observatory, the overseer named Rosalina, a lady that resembles Princess Peach strongly, chooses you to gather lost stars, and restore all of the observatories within that pacific observatory. From there, is where your magical adventure begins. You alone, will travel the various universes filled with friends and foes alike. As soon as the game starts, you will be able to walk on individual planets that have their own gravitational pull. On each planet, there will always be a large orange star, which will warp you to another planet.
Surprisingly, Mario only has one attack in this game; none of your abilities really evolve throughout the game. You only have the spin attack, which is the attack that works against every enemy, and it also triggers an orange star to warp you to places. The Wii-Mote is a great control scheme here. You can use the Wii-Mote to collect Star Bits just by moving the cursor over them. Wiggling the Mote will initiate the spin attack, A jumps, and the nunchuck controls the movements. In Mario Galaxy, there will be objects called Star Bits; these "Bits" can win you an extra man if you collect 50 of them. They also serve as ammunition for the on-screen Wii cursor that can shoot Star Bits at enemies to startle them. You will be required to balance out shooting your Star Bits or collecting them, to gain extra men. Just like in 64, a galaxy will have around 5-6 different stars you can collect. Each star requires it's own individual mission. In every different galaxy, there will be different incoming comets. These comets' purposes are to bring in different missions like races, speed runs, etc. The speed runs involve you, racing against your own ghost clone. These are fairly easy, your ghost host will conveniently lead you to the star, if you can figure out what direction the clone is going, you can out do it and surpass it in the race. There will also be stages where you will collect a certain amount of one item, to get a star.
Let's get down to the gameplay overall, the gameplay mainly consists of getting stars, and jumping. Stages are fairly diverse, ranging from water type levels, stages with lava, ice, and whatnot. Your every day powerups are scattered throughout stages, the classics are back, including the Star. Retaining the star will grant you invisibility evidently; it will also increase your running speed, the longer you run. There is a Bee powerup, which transforms you into a Bee insect. The Bee's flexibility only arises from the fact that it can fly for short durations of time, and can clime walls, only walls that have honey combs on them. The Bee can stick to honey and honey only. With your Bee suit on, touching water will deactivate it. Another classic is the fire ball suit, with the same abilities from the 2D installments. The Ghost powerup transforms you into a ghost, with this; you are able to fly through some boundaries. If exposed to light, your power will be eliminated. The Ice Mario powerup, transforms Mario into an ice being. He has the ability to turn any land or underlying surface into an Ice platform. This comes in handy when you need to get somewhere, but there's ice water or water in the destined path. Swimming in Ice Water will hurt you.
The long jump is still here, the triple jump, and the back flip. Not much has changed, like I said earlier. The health system is a bit limited. You only have three hits until death, but the overwhelming amount of extra lives laying around defeats that nuisance. The same extra life mushrooms return in the same spot, even after you've gotten it, and died, and returned back to the same area. This could be a glitch, glitch or not, it's still very helpful. The red SHROOM will give you three more hits, granting you a total of 6 hits. But once you have been hit three times, that bonus disappears until you get another mushroom. So, getting stars will unlock a new observatory. Each observatory is aimed at a certain galaxy; each galaxy has a Bowser boss fight. The hits required to kill Bowser increase as you progress through the game. You will not always be facing Bowser, though. At times, his pathetic son tries to eschew your justice by creating sorry excuses for bosses. He sucks, but Bowser can become difficult at times. One thing that makes this game somewhat annoying is the limited health capacity, in combination with the gravitational forces. It's just too limited, it's too easy to get hit more than two times, and the spin attack misses by a centimeter. So while you're trying to attack an enemy, and you spin attack and miss by just once inch, that enemy you were trying to attack will merely touch you barely, and will knock one huge piece of your health away.
It seems like something should have been done about this. Stages further throughout the game have massively arduous platforming sequences. With the combination of you walking upside down sideways, jumping on and off inch wide platforms, becomes staggeringly difficult. Especially with lava in the middle of platforms, hitting it once will set you off into a hell bound pounce after pounce, of Mario screaming for his life. The game is still fun though. The water traverses are wondrous and both subtle, the boss battles are keenly creative and life warming. Once a strategy is developed life gets easy, but the gravitational pull and platform set up can halt your boss murdering demeanor. One wouldn't be able to reconcile such an emotion that emerges from the musical composition in this game. The music is nothing short of monumental, and is unsurprisingly brilliant. Even the chimes that run through the Wii-Mote don't sound too bad.
I need to comment on the graphics. The Wii might not be completely designed for HDTV usage, but when played on a LCD flat screen, the colors and lighting come to life. The graphics are still good on a standard television, but on an HDTV, the game displays the Wii's full potential. With the motion-blur effects, juicy coloring, stellar space like atmospheres, it can become quite a handful. The models look tasty, and the fire effects, smoke, water, etc. look bubbly and polished. A game like this can register about 40 hours or more. Only for the die hard gamers who don't want to finish the game with stars left behind. The awestruck amount of stars in these games ranges from 120-240. This includes the stars gained by Luigi, Playing with him isn't much of a difference, but it leaves something to do after the game is completed. This game is one that should be bought; it is one that must be cherished, and experienced.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/12/09
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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