Review by choobiator
"There’s a Starman waiting in the sky"
In 1981, a Japanese game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto pioneered a brand new genre of videogame known as the platformer. Its concept was uncomplicated but effective: main character has to reach the end of a level, there are traps in the way, main character must jump over the traps. It was simple but it caught on in a huge way, and the first platformer, Donkey Kong, became a worldwide success. Its main character, Mario, then went on to star in his very own series of videogames and is now recognised worldwide as a gaming icon. Since his first game though, there have been many contenders to his platforming crown. Too many to possibly count, in fact. Some were good and helped move the genre along, but most were cheap rip-offs of Mario's games. Recently, original Mario platformers have grown more and more scarce, and six years have passed since the last one. In that time, the market has been filled with pretenders. But now, the king is back. Is he better than ever?
He just might be
As far as gameplay is concerned, Super Mario Galaxy is a lot like the other two 3D Mario games. There's still a hub area from which you access all the levels and you still have to revisit areas to collect Stars. These elements have been refined however, and they're now much less tedious (they weren't really very tedious to begin with, but whatever). For instance, you don't have to return to levels again and again to reach new goals, as the amount of Stars in each area has been reduced from eight to three. This means that the game doesn't have any afterthought objectives like Red Coin hunts. The hub is also much smaller and easier to navigate, which is probably for the best seeing as how you'll need to access forty-one different galaxies from it. That's right, forty-one. That's a huge step up from the nine or so areas in Super Mario Sunshine. Of course, they're mostly smaller in this game, but they're all unique. Well, apart from one thing: they're all set in space.
And that's what sets this game apart from every other Mario title so far, the space setting is really original and very well done.
As everyone who's heard of this game probably knows, Super Mario Galaxy is set on planetoids high above the Mushroom Kingdom. Almost all of them have their own gravity, and so Mario can run all the way around them, even upside down and along walls. At first, this can be confusing, especially since the camera only goes to where it can get the best view. It's easy to get used to though once you stop wanting to centre it behind you and learn to adapt to the frequent changes. In fact, the constant camera angle switches sort of match the erratic nature of the game.
As you blast across space with the help of cannons, you never know where you're going to end up. Will the next area be a platforming challenge? A puzzle area? A maze? A boss battle, perhaps? It's all very random, and it's all very fun.
The graphics in this game are bright, colourful, and very Mario. Gone are the semi-realistic locations of Super Mario Sunshine; everything in this new title resembles Mario games of old, but it's in 3D. It's never all that detailed, but it always looks nice, with lighting effects and fur textures almost making up for the lack of polygons.
The music is undeniably fantastic. It's fully orchestrated (I think it's the first Nintendo game to do that) and for once the remixes aren't the best songs in the score. You can probably find some samples of the music on the internet. Look it up if you want to hear how great it is.
Super Mario Galaxy also uses voice-acting, but not as much as Super Mario Sunshine did for some reason. I think it's because people complained about the voices in Sunshine, and to be honest they really weren't very good, but surely Nintendo could have just hired better ones this time around.
Charles Martinet still does a fantastic Mario though. His voice is even HIGHER now, would you believe it?
Well, it's Mario in space. It doesn't sound too imaginative on paper but in practice it feels totally original.
The Wii remote controls aren't that inventive though, and almost everything in this game could probably be done on a regular controller. The only exception is picking star bits out of the sky.
That's just a minor fault though and there's always awesomeness to balance it out with. For instance, powerups. Mario can turn into a bee now, y'know? And a Boo too. And a spring. And some other secret, spoileriffic things.
It's really hard to stop playing this, so it probably won't last you very long (if you keep at it for as long as I did then the main quest will only take about a day). However, if you want to collect everything (there's 120 Stars to obtain in total), it will definitely take quite a bit longer. Something great happens when you collect all the Stars by the way. And if you collect them all twice, another something great happens. You might already know what these things are but I'm not going to spoil them for you. I haven't got them yet anyway.
This is the best Mario game ever made. Even after all these years, the king of videogames keeps his throne. Lesser heroes are his maids. He has many, many maids.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/07
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (JP, 11/01/07)
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