Review by renegadeoffunk7

"Out of this world fun"

The first major Mario game for a Nintendo console always seems to become a kind of metaphor for that system's impact. The first Super Mario Bros. game for NES was catchy and accessible, like the system itself. Super Mario World upped the ante, with a massive world, a new character, and gorgeous graphics for its time. It set a tone for early 90's gaming, establishing Nintendo as "bigger and better" (remember the arguments over graphics and color capacity?) and Genesis as the lesser. Mario 64 ushered in the world of free roaming 3D environments, which Sony and others then rushed to copy as N64 expanded the audience of gamers by focusing on memorable and fun mechanics and with massive environments to explore. And then came Game Cube's Mario Sunshine, which was unimpressive and only sporadically interesting, like the system that spawned it. Mario's continued relevance in the video game world seemed to be in doubt.

Once again Mario is representing Nintendo in a new era of console wars and once again he knocks it out of the park. Super Mario Galaxy is everything Mario lovers and platform gamers could ever ask for in a Wii title. A variety of challenges with elegantly simple yet endlessly fun gameplay, beautiful graphics and music, and a big enough world to explore as long as any decent length RPG.

Gameplay

Like Mario 64, Galaxy is divided into different stages each with six or seven stars to collect by completing various tasks. The controls are similar to the 64 version with the added feature of the Wii remote, which can be used to attack enemies by waving it or shoot star pieces by aiming the cursor. Most of the stages are comprised of several small areas or platforms that Mario can explore, usually in three dimensions. Mario can travel between areas within a stage via star cannons, that send Mario flying to his next destination with style. You'll be struck early on by the variety of each of these locations; the amount of detail that has gone not just into level design on the micro and macro levels is astounding. Many areas and stages use dizzying gravity effects in 3D and even some 2D sections. There is a nice variety of new suits and powers that Mario can also utilize, and the boss battles are terrific fun if not terribly challenging.

Graphics

Mario Galaxy is the best looking game on Wii right now, period. While the game's style does not lend itself to the level of detail and realism you'll find on XBox 360 and PS3 titles like Call of Duty 4 or Bioshock, Mario Galaxy's consistently lush and smooth graphics will impress most. The game uses one engine throughout, meaning the few cutscenes and cinematic parts are seamless. There really isn't anything to complain about. Each stage is fairly large with a wide range of environments and monsters. Simply put, this is the cleanest, prettiest, most stylish Mario adventure yet, and it bodes well for upcoming Nintendo efforts, such as Smash Brothers Brawl.

Story

Strictly GEFM: Good Enough For Mario. Once again you're collecting star pieces in a massive world, only this time it's in outer space. Princess Peach, perhaps only a few spots from the world record now, has been captured yet again by Bowser. There are some new characters, including the Lumas or star children, and Princess Rosalina. You know the drill. It isn't Shakespeare or David Lynch exactly, but it's satisfying.

Sound

In a word: Fantastic and way better than I expected. Okay, that was seven words, but that is how good it is. The music is gorgeously orchestrated throughout with a marvelous blend of classic tunes and new pieces. Much of the music is in the same vein as Mario 64 or Sunshine, while other stages have a more grand Star Wars vibe, and others still are spacey and trippy. The sound effects are also delightful and crisp, and the minimal voice acting work is adequate. Mario has never been terribly loquacious and it would be an interesting change of pace to see more voice work in future titles, yet you don't really notice it as a lack with Galaxy. The gameplay, graphics, and music are all so spot on that it doesn't occur to you.

Conclusion

Mario Galaxy establishes definitively Mario's continued relevance and appeal in the gaming market. The man can do anything, and this game proves it with it's near flawless integration of solid gameplay and artistic design. The fundamentals are so strong that even if it weren't Mario but just some random character in a differently named game, it would still be a contender for game of the year 2007 in my book. Galaxy is a must-have for Wii owners and is a strong incentive for people to invest in one.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/12/08

Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (JP, 11/01/07)


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