Review by Broken_Promise

"An uninspired rehash of a great but poorly aged game."

1950s American entertainer Peter Marshall famously once said “When we long for life without difficulties, let us remember that oaks grow strong under contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”

The above quote is particularly salient as it relates to Super Mario Galaxy, a game that is triumphant in many respects (its visuals are outstanding for a Nintendo Wii game, and its soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful), but falls far short of the quality I've come to expect from Nintendo titles in other ways (stale game play, at times laughably easy difficulty and a tacked on multi-player are its most troubling issues). The Nintendo team fell well short of the bar SMG 1 set for the sequel here, and from the time I started the game to the time I completed it I felt as if I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 1.5 instead of a fleshed out, fully fledged sequel. Under immense pressure to churn out a masterpiece that might live up to the greatness of the 1st game, the development team did not produce a beautiful gem that might stand the test of time, but instead came up with something substantially… less to say the least.

Anyway, onto the meat of the review:
I really felt as if I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 1.5 here, as this iteration in the franchise doesn't really take any great strides in the way that Mario interacts with the game world. The old saying “If it ain't broke, don't fix it” can make a lot of sense when applied in some situations, but in this case the games creators took it too far. The only noteworthy change in this titles games play when compared to SMG1 is the presence of Yoshi, and with the way he can be found multiple times across levels as if he's a mushroom, he never really felt like a real character and instead was a mere temporary power up for Mario.

The stars also felt really tacked on. The entire process of acquiring them was tedious, to say the least… which would be fine if the game was difficult, however, in point of fact SMG2 is one of the easiest Nintendo games I've ever played. Towards the end the challenge does admittedly ramp itself up a notch, but I seldom felt as if I were really being pushed at any point during my 1st play through. I feel that if this was another developer I'd have still been disappointed (but more accepting) of the lackluster difficulty, but for Nintendo to put out a game this easy is an aberration that I'd hope to not soon see repeated.
As a final addendum to my comment on the game play, I was also very unhappy with the multi-player. The title was obviously not developed with the feature in mind, and as a result playing through the game with my brothers for the second play through was an exercise in frustration.

On that note, the visuals are good considering the hardware they're being run on, and the music is some of the best I've ever heard. It breathes life into what is at times a dull experience, and if the soundtrack is available for purchase I intend to get it. This is truly amazing stuff here.

Super Mario Galaxy is a title that would have been considered top shelf three years ago, but now its game play seems a generation old, and the innovation that the Nintendo brand is known for is strangely absent here. For all of the hype about how good this game would be, once I popped it in I found that it more or less played like SMG 1 – a game that was transcendent when it was released a few years back but doesn't stand the test of time when compared against newer heavyweight titles like Final Fantasy 13, Tekken 6 and Modern Warfare 2.

I'll end with another famous quote from Mary Anne Radmacher that I'd like to offer to what might be a discouraged development team:

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice in the back of your head that says at the end of the day: I will try again tomorrow.”

If we get a SMG3 (and I hope we do), by taking the above quote to heart hopefully the games creators can make something that measures up the original in its ability to capture my heart and imagination as a gamer.

Scores:
Game play – 2/10: Revolutionary stuff when the first SMG came out a few years back, but antiquated and uninspired when ported over to the sequel all these years later.

Graphics – 7/10: Some of the best I've seen on the Wii, and easily it's second best feature

Soundtrack – 9/10: One of the only reasons I played this through a second time. I can't really do justice to what I listened to when I played this title, and so I'll just say that you have to hear it for yourself.

Controls – 3/10: They would have been transcendent a few years back, but the controls feel clunky at times in this newest SMG title.

Story – 2/10: It's the same shallow stuff that's always in Mario titles (Bowser kidnaps the princess, cue Mario), but I don't think that this really hurts the game at all. We (or at least I) don't play Mario games for the story. Still, it would have been nice to have something to keep me engaged given the games linear nature and uninspired game play.

Fun Factor/Intangibles – 2/10: I really wish I could give the game a higher scorer here, but there isn't really a whole lot being offered. If you've played the 1st one, I don't really think there is anything new here to keep one engaged unless you want to play an expansion pack of the first SMG.

Overall (Not an average) – 3/10: Stay away from this one if you've already played SMG1. If you haven't it may be worth a rental, however.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/10

Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (US, 05/23/10)


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