Review by Archmonk Iga
"Mario has reached outer space. How can Nintendo possibly go further?"
When you think about it, how much has the Mario franchise changed? I'm talking about the tried and true, exclusively "Super Mario" games. He's always jumped on goombas, hit blocks, entered pipes, and eaten mushrooms.
But as Super Mario 64 taught us, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. 3-D Mario games have gotten one of the warmest welcomes in gaming history, but where can you go from there? Well as we saw with Sunshine, you just gotta give him a little toy to play with. There can be more though, can't there? And now we've got Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii, which almost guarantees new quirks in gameplay styles and a whole new way to look at our favorite fictional plumber. Again, I say, "Where can they possibly go from here?"
It's a celebration in the kingdom, and Mario is on his way there. But guess who shows up to ruin everything--yeah, you know who. Well, the darn reptile once again steals away our beloved Princess Peach (why is he so obsessed with her, anyway? I don't think I want to know). So Mario, as usual, needs to come to the rescue. He chases after them and ends up on a mysterious little planet full of fwuffy bunnies! Upon arriving, he soon finds out that Peach's kidnapping isn't the only trouble going on in the universe. He meets another princess, Rosalina, and she requests that Mario travel to various galaxies and recover all the lost stars to power up their aircraft so they can travel to the center of the universe. But what's in it for Mario? Well, at the center of the universe he will find his "Special One," waiting for her knight in a red shirt to come rescue her.
It's a little silly, but it's got heart for a simple platformer. When you play a game like Mario, you never really care about the story. Of course, for the lack of a groundbreaking story, there's no denying that the game's three stars, - Mario, Bowser and Peach - along with dozens of other Mario necessities, really help bring up the game's personality. And those little stars are so darn cute!
Mario games' graphics are always just what we need--never too much or too little. In Galaxy, the visuals are flawless, to say the least. Amazing character designs, level designs, and monster designs. Beautiful colors. Spot-on frame-rate. What more can you ask for? Galaxy looks fantastic.
Again, the sounds in Galaxy are all that you would expect from a Mario game. First of all, the voices sure, go ahead and complain that every line isn't fully voice acted. As for me, all I need from Mario are wahoo! and yippee! and the like. If Mario and the gang ever became fully voice acted, then there's no denying that the series would lose some of its charm. It's just the way it is.
The sound effects are excellent as well. It's great hearing the pops of the goombas, the budump-budump-budump of the pipes, and so many other familiar sounds we've grown to love updated for the Wii.
Finally, what would a Mario game be without great music? The oldies are back, of course, only they're updated in the most perfect way possible. And then we have the new music most notably the tune we hear at our spaceship. It sounds fully orchestrated (though I'm not sure if it actually is), and every time you reach a certain point in the story, its sound changes. You don't notice it right away, but as you run around you may think hey, that sounds different than last time I was here. Oh, and during the rolling-ball levels, where the music matches how fast you're going? Genius.
As I said before, at its core, Mario's gameplay hasn't changed that much. He jumps, he runs, he ducks, he spins, he shoots fireballs, etc. But how could Galaxy take this concept and make it damn near perfect? Well I guess you'll have to read on to find out (actually you probably already know, but read on anyway).
First of all, you can't ignore the mastermind level design. Going from galaxy to galaxy, you'll have to expect the unexpected at every new level. In the land of the honeybees, you must become one of them to reach the level's star. Stick to the honey-walls, avoid the water fountains, look around every corner, and you'll eventually get what you want. When you find out you have to revisit that galaxy, you may be a little bummed at first. But trust me, despite the fact that you visit the same galaxies multiple times, every galaxy's level is much different than the others. The only thing they all have in common is that they're extremely fun. Jump, run, fight the baddies, just don't get used to anything. Shrinking platforms, reversed gravity, moving cameras, freezing water Every level is unique. I can't stress that enough.
Then you've got Mario's new powers. Sure, he can shoot the fireballs, but then there's the ice Mario, bee Mario (touched upon above), and spring Mario. Fire Mario can not only defeat baddies but can also light torches in certain levels. Ice Mario can glide on the water by freezing it from under his feet. Bee Mario buzzes around to reach higher platforms and to search in areas regular Mario can't. Then there's the crazy spring Mario, who simply bounces around like crazy, almost uncontrollably. All of them take some getting used to, even fire, but they're a blast.
And Mario just isn't Mario without the boss fights. Let me tell you, these are some of the most enjoyable and clever boss fights I've ever seen in a platformer. Hitting a rambunctious baby piranha plant in the tail to make it get this knock itself in the head? Hilarious and challenging. The most fun boss fights are against Bowser, however, who spins and jumps around like crazy. If there's any disappointment in the bosses, it's that there isn't much variety in them. You see, the same ones are use a couple times throughout the game. Still, they're never dull.
But you still don't sound convinced, and I completely understand. This is for the Wii, after all, so there's got to be some sort of gameplay style that utilizes the system's unique capabilities, right? Right! Since Mario is a collector of sorts, you'll frequently be looking for coins. But in addition, you'll also find thousands of star bits scattered throughout the entire game. Of course you can walk up to them to gather them like the coins, but wouldn't life be a whole lot easier if you could just, say, point to the stars and have the come to you? Well guess what! You can! Take the Wii remote and point it at any star bits you see scattered around to have them fly towards you. Often times you'll find them whilst flying in between planets, seeing how many you can get before Mario lands. Sometimes you'll see a bunch of bits forming an M for Mario, or the shapes of giant hearts, or spirals, or something else like that. But there's more than simply pointing at stars with the remote.
Mario spins, right? Well, let's give the spin a little twist, says Nintendo. Instead of pressing a button or rotating the joystick to make him spin, you quickly flick the remote. It's a really basic concept, but it will take some time getting used to. It's loads of fun. What really makes this exciting is that you'll reach stars that transport Mario from one point to another. He'll float up into the star's center, where you'll flick the remote and he'll fly through space until he lands. In the meantime, you'll be looking for star bits to collect. Flicking the remote is also used for throwing objects, like shells and Bob-ombs. Just thought I'd let you know.
And then there are the levels made exclusively for the remote. Whether it's Mario balancing on a giant ball to get to the level's star (think Super Monkey Ball), blowing a bubble around that carries Mario, or surfing on a beautifully animated stingray, these levels are never easy, yet never frustrating. Plus, they're great for friends who are visiting and want to try out the Wii's features for the first time. So much fun.
One more quality about Galaxy, that doesn't even necessarily involve the Wii remote, engages gravity. Since you'll be running around small planets, you'll always have to get used to Mario running upside down or sideways, or even in a method similar to the old 2-d Mario days. What I'm saying here doesn't quite match how the game actually plays you'll have to try it for yourself but it's definitely a unique twist on the platforming genre, especially since you'll be dealing with it throughout the whole game. And with such a distinctive concept, you'd expect some camera problems. Thankfully, there are none. At first you'll be a little frustrated to this foreign viewpoint, but you'll learn to accept it, and even love it.
But are there any problems with Galaxy? Honestly, not really. Sure, there's the library, where Rosalina reads from her story book. Its purpose is to tell us how she came to live with the stars, and is actually kind of quaint. But it ultimately proves to be a big obstacle that kind of ruins the pacing of the game. Thankfully it's completely optional, so you can avoid the library the entire game and not miss out on anything other than a little story.
Mario Galaxy's gameplay takes everything a platformer should do right and only adds more into it, making it THE ultimate platform game to own at the time of my writing this review. I honestly do not know how Nintendo could possibly improve the Mario legacy after this one.
It's a very long adventure, with 121 levels to complete to get a mastered game. Not to mention that every level has its own charm, demanding revisits over and over again. Oh, and not to give anything away, but once you beat it with Mario, you may be able to play through it again with a certain other plumber in green But you'll just have to play to find out. It's also two-player, so if you and a friend want to play a game together, give this a go. Hell, even if it were one-player, I'd still recommend you play with a friend. Buy this game the next time you see itno matter how much you pay for it, you'll have a blast every time you put it in.
LASTING APPEAL: 10/10
Mario is the legend of video gaming. There's no denying that. But with every legend there has to be some sort of fault, big or small, right? Thankfully, Super Mario Galaxy is not it. It's a game of color and beauty, not just in looks, but in everything else. You'll never tire of its charm, its humor, and its overall entertainment value. Good luck topping this, Nintendo.
Thanks for reading =)
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/10/08
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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