Review by justsumdude899
"Pure joy on a disc: Mario's latest adventure is out of this world"
By Jeff Derrickson
(This is an unedited version of a review that will appear in Northeastern Illinois University's newspaper The Independent.)
For gamers who grew up in the same era as me, a plumber named Mario is synonymous with video games. Way back in 1985, Nintendo released its Nintendo Entertainment System, and with it came the classic side-scroller, Super Mario Bros. The title single-handedly saved the video game industry, bringing it back from the brink of collapse. I still remember playing the game for the first time, after my dad got the system hooked up. One of my favorite childhood memories, period, was getting Super Mario Bros. 3 for my 8th birthday, having a sleepover with my friends, and playing the game all night. In 1996, Super Mario 64 released with the Nintendo 64, and it introduced gamers to 3D platforming and analog controls; I was a freshman in high school, and I was as addicted as ever.
Now that I'm finally about to finish college, Mario is back and better than ever on the Nintendo Wii. Super Mario Galaxy never fails to live up to the legacy of the most-loved games in the series. Platformers had stagnated and all but died on the current generation consoles, but Super Mario Galaxy completely revitalizes the classic genre it created.
As the title suggests, Super Mario Galaxy is Mario gameplay in space. You'll run around small planets in which there is no up or down, just a center of gravity. Do a triple jump or a long jump and get some air, and you'll spin around the entire planet a couple times before landing. Find a blasting-off point, and you'll shoot across space to another planet. The gravity element inspires some truly insane level designs. You'll be walking across walls, and jumping around ceilings regularly. There are also switches that when flipped change the direction of gravity, essentially turning a level on its side. The shifts in perspective can be a little disorienting at first but it quickly becomes second nature and quite exhilarating. It makes jumping around feel fresh and new.
Those of you who have only seen promo footage of the game may be worried that Galaxy only takes place on small satellites and ditches the traditional, larger worlds to explore. There is nothing to fear. All the staples returnlarge ice worlds, lava levels, underwater levels, desert worlds, and of course, the sprawling green meadows. Instead, the space setting seems to have freed the developers' creative vision to do anything. You could be blasting from one piece of space junk to the next one minute, and then platforming your way to the top of a huge mountain the next. In one early level, you'll pilot a manta ray and race across a tube of water suspended in space. The developers basically had no restrictions and followed no rules, so every level in the game feels inspired.
On the technical side of things, the controls, graphics, and music are even more perfect than the nearly flawless gameplay. The Wiimote's unique motion and pointer controls are only used in places where they make sense. The graphics in Galaxy mark the first time I've played a Wii game and haven't thought, I wonder how this game would look on 360? The music you'll be humming for days. Songs from every game in the series are represented, and the new compositions will become just as much a part of your humming library. Some of these fully-orchestrated new themes sound like music from a Disney movie, and there are others that would be a perfect fit for the waiting line at Space Mountain.
This is also a game that will last you awhile. You can reach the final boss (spoiler: It's Bowser!) in about 12 hours by collecting only 60 stars, but there are a total of 120 stars. It's a game that people of all skill levels can enjoy. If casual gamers practice enough they can beat the main game, and for experienced gamers there are another 60 stars in which the difficulty ramps up significantly. Whichever category you fall into, Galaxy is so much fun, you'll want to get the other 60 stars.
And that's what it boils down tofun. Mario games have been known for one thing above all else, and that's the fun factor. This is the most pure fun I've had with a video game in a long time. It's a game that I'll come back to play again and again, even years down the road. Super Mario Galaxy is the best game of the year and arguably the best Mario game ever made.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/19/07
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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