Review by BoyLover X
"Not quite perfect, but close enough"
It's been so long since Super Mario 64. That was the game that proved platformers could work in 3D, and the game that brought Mario into the third dimension. After a few years, we got Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube, which was a good game but featured some very repetitive missions and the annoying F.L.U.D.D. contraption. Now we finally get a game being dubbed "the true successor to Super Mario 64" (Reggie Fils-Aimes' words), so read on to find out if it lived up to the hype.
Story: Are you kidding?/10
Who needs story in a Mario game? Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach, and during the opening struggle Mario drifts off into space. He is found by the Lumas, star creatures, who explain that Bowser had taken the Power Stars and ruining the universe. Mario must travel through various galaxies to recover the Power Stars and defeat Bowser. There's also this Rosalina girl who watches over the stars. Her backstory is revealed throughout the course of the game, but it really doesn't make sense. But then again, a plumber who battles mushrooms doesn't make sense either.
There is quite a bit to like about the graphics in this game. Animation is great, the game runs at 60 frames per second without any slowdown, environments have plenty of variety (since you are traveling to different "galaxies"), and you get to see a lot of classic enemies brought back and looking better than ever. The lighting is also very good, with realistic shine on the edges of things. This is also the first Wii game to have bump-mapping, so now we know for sure that the Wii is more than a GameCube on the inside.
On the downside, there are actually quite a few textures that are either very plain (solid colors) or just bad looking (supposed to have detail, but are blurry). The graphics overall are a step in the right direction for the Wii, looking more like an Xbox game than a GameCube game, and Galaxy is one of the best looking Wii games released so far. But I know we still haven't seen the best the Wii can do.
Voice acting is kept to a minimum: varying grunts and screams comprise most of it, which is a good thing because I'd have to blow my brains out if I had to hear more of the kind of voice acting that Sunshine had.
The reason why the Audio gets a 10 is because of the soundtrack. It's simply great, and it's fully orchestrated so all the people who complained about the soundtracks in Zelda: TP and Metroid Prime 3 being MIDI-based and whining about Nintendo having never reached last-gen can finally shut up. Music is catchy, in high quality, and always fits the mood. In other words, it does everything right. You've never heard Bowser boss fight music this epic before.
So close to perfection. Mario must once again travel through a variety of worlds, collecting Power Stars by completing certain "missions" or otherwise finding secret ones off the beaten path. The more stars you collect, the more worlds become available. Traveling to other galaxies is similar to how Super Mario 64 had paintings that you jumped into, and you would find wildly different places inside them. This allows the developers to make plenty of interesting worlds for you to explore. However, there isn't as much exploration here as there was in SM64. Most of the game focuses on platforming, and rather than running around one large area, you usually cross levels by flying across to many small planets or jumping across platforms.
The level design is top notch, with well-placed enemies, great platforming segments, and a few clever puzzles and boss fights. Mario will also transform into several different forms, such as a Bee, a spring, a ghost, Fire Flower Mario (from the classic games), and others. Each transformation gives Mario different powers that are implemented into the level design and keep things interesting.
In terms of Wii controls, there's nothing to complain about. You point at the screen to collect "Star Bits", and they are useful to shoot certain enemies (point at the screen and press B). Mario's has a spin attack that is performed by shaking either the nunchuk or remote. A few small sections use the tilt sensing to roll Mario around by balancing on a giant ball, or to steer a mantis while racing on water. Basically, the controls make sense, and never feel unnecessary or distracting and that makes Galaxy one of the best cases for motion controls so far.
Sadly, some flaws from previous 3D Mario games return. The camera, while better than SM64 and Sunshine, can be annoying at times. While some areas allow you to swivel the camera around and look from Mario's viewpoint, other places limit the camera movement, which just doesn't feel fair. The camera also can get into positions where your vision is obscured by walls or objects. There were three different parts of the game where I died because the camera refused to show me where I was, and it couldn't be turned, causing Mario to plunge to his death since I couldn't see where I was running. The other flaw with the game is the repetition. While is there is a good amount of variety in the gameplay, there are some repetitive missions and boss fights (most boss fights are used more than once, with only slight variations). The difficulty level could have used some balancing too: some higher level galaxies feel easier than lower level ones, and the final fight isn't even the hardest one in the game.
Another minor complaint: extra lives are unnecessary, and we should just have unlimited continues. The developers seemed to realize this, since right after checkpoints at difficult areas, they will conveniently place 1-Up Mushrooms there so that you can essentially continue infinitely. Why bother making us run over and pick them up? Also, going through a secret area only to be rewarded with a useless extra life, rather than finding a secret Power Star or something, just feels pointless.
Final Score: 9.5/10
There are a few minor flaws like the camera and repetition of some missions, but these don't often hinder the amount of enjoyment this game contains. So enjoy the game as much as you can, because at the rate Nintendo releases these games, we won't get another proper 3D Mario adventure until another 5 years.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/07/07
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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