Review by Josh_3691

"Super Mario Galaxy 2 is as close to perfection as any game will come."

How do you improve upon perfection? This was the challenge that faced Nintendo with the sequel to the brilliant Super Mario Galaxy. The answer apparently is more of the same, but bigger. So with more power-ups, familiar companions and more galaxies than you can shake a stick at, it's time for Mario's second inter-galactic journey to ensue. Let's jump aboard!

For Galaxy 2 Nintendo have come up with an original, epic story. No, not really Bowser has kidnapped Peach and it's up to you, with the help of the Luma's, to save her. Is it particularly interesting? No. Does it scream laziness? Most definitely, but what it does do is get you into the action quickly, and gives some form of structure to Mario's quest. Gone is the hub world from the original, and in its place is a world map similar to that found in the New Super Mario Bros. games. While some may bemoan that the hub exploration has been taken away from them, I believe that it allows you to get to where you want to go faster and helps with the accessibility of the game. Besides you still get to explore a Mario-shaped spaceship, which although not as grand as Peaches' castle from Super Mario 64, is still fun to wander around to take a break from the action.

Mario controls as well as he did from the original, with the same momentum based jump mechanic, which has been in place since Mario 64. Triple jumps, long jumps, wall jumps they are all here and all control perfectly. Mario attacks with a waggle of the Wii Remote and uses his power-ups the same way. While this is usually a flawless control method, there are times when the Wii doesn't pick up the waggle and this can make for an unfair death. This is particularly prominent on the Flip-Spin galaxy, which relies on the jump/spin to change floor panels and when using the fire flower power-up, when you need to unleash fireballs in quick succession. Apart from these niggles though controlling Mario is a dream.

Of course, you're not just controlling Mario this time around. The introduction of Yoshi adds a new element to the action, in his first appearance in a 3D Mario platformer. Similarities to New Super Mario Bros. Wii continue here, as Yoshi is used as more of a power-up in levels and you must leave him behind once you've finished a galaxy. Controlling Yoshi is simple and fun, you can use his tongue to eat enemies, swing from flowers and spit projectiles at enemies. His main use though is in the special power-ups made available to him. These include a Bulb Berry, which makes Yoshi illuminate a path through darkness. The Dash Pepper, which makes Yoshi run at high enough speeds to run up walls and walk on water and the Blimp Fruit, which makes Yoshi inflate like a balloon to reach higher platforms. All of these power-ups work well especially the Blimp Fruit and Bulb Berry; it may take a few turns to get used to the sudden speed increase of the Dash Pepper but once you do it becomes the best of the three Yoshi power-ups. Overall Yoshi was a great addition to the game and means that no Galaxy is ever really the same.

It's not just Yoshi that has some new power-ups at his disposal; Mario has been given three new abilities also. The best of these is the Drill, which allows you to bore through the ground and come up the other side. This mechanic works exceptionally well with the Planetoid worlds, can't reach a high platform? Well drill underneath it, position yourself and drill to the top. Same principle with enemies with hard armours protecting them, drill through the ground and hit their squidgy underbellies. It's a very clever tool and certainly my favourite of the lot. The cloud flower is also very good, jump in the air, give a quick shake of the Wii Remote and a cloud platform appears beneath you. Use this to reach higher areas and bridge large gaps. The only problem I have with this is that you only have three clouds before you run out, meaning you need to find a new flower to continue. This is a minor niggle though as cloud flowers are readily available, and it does mean that the difficulty is higher as you need to economise. Finally there is Rock Mario, which turns Mario into a boulder to smash obstacles in his path. A quick shake of the remote starts him rolling, and then you aim him where you want him to go. I was worried that this would be awkward to control, but you are given a few seconds to fix Mario's direction before he rolls away, so controlling him is very simple.

These new additions would be irrelevant if the new galaxies weren't fresh and exciting. Well fear not, as Galaxy 2 is just as innovative as its predecessor, if not better. While I won't spoil the galaxies for you, as discovering them is the main focus of the game, what I will say is that the level of variety on offer is stunning. From the beginning of World 1, to the final galaxy you face, a new gameplay mechanic is introduced every time. Utilising power-ups, gravity manipulation, 2D side-scrolling and flying exotic birds, there is something new in every world and this level of innovation and variation is something not seen in many platformers nowadays.

As well as all these new additions, Galaxy 2 plays homage to the original by bringing back old galaxies and power-ups. While the returning galaxies all take place in new areas, it's nice to see references to previous missions and remixed scores for each galaxy, which further enforces that this isn't some quick cash-in. It is also great to see the return of the Bee flower, as that was the best power-up in the original game. Other returning power-ups include the Fire Flower (still on a timer annoyingly but ultimately required to maintain balance), Boo Mario and annoyingly enough Spring Mario, which is still very awkward to control. All are welcome re-additions (except Spring Mario I hate that power-up) and add to the sheer size and scope of Galaxy 2.

One of the main criticisms of Super Mario Galaxy was that it wasn't very difficult, and this detracted from the fun for some people. Well those people will be glad to hear that Galaxy 2 is much harder. Although getting to the final boss fight is fairly simple, those looking to collect 120 stars will have their work cut out, and those going for the big 242 will struggle even more. Let me emphasise that Galaxy 2 is not cheap; if you die it will be because of your failings, not the games. This means that Galaxy 2 is not frustrating, you will always come back to nail that tricky jump or defeat that awkward boss, but be prepared for the comet medal (One to be collected in each galaxy) challenges which can throw time limits, purple coins and cosmic clones at you in the same mission! This can lead to some tense gameplay when you're closing in the star with only a few seconds left!

Mario Galaxy 2 is best described as a feast of colour for the eyes. Once again Nintendo have delivered one of the best looking games on the Wii and with such a wide variety of locales, the game never ceases to amaze. The soundtrack to Super Mario Galaxy was stunning and you'll be glad to hear that the orchestrated scores are back again. Including remixes of old scores and classic Mario themes. The new scores are all up to the high standard that was set before, particular highlights been the bouncy Puzzle Plank theme and the magical World 3 Map theme. Those two in particular are magnificent, but in general the new score is better than the original, which was not an easy task.

I could go on talking about all the magical moments that are contained within Galaxy 2, but these are moments that are best left to be discovered on your own. All you ultimately need to know is that somehow Nintendo have managed to top their own masterpiece, Galaxy 2 is a game so full of magic, charm and moments of smile-till-it-hurts brilliance that it makes you remember why you play games in the first place. Buy it now.

Pros

+ Controls almost perfectly
+ New additions are fresh and exciting
+ Innovative new Galaxies
+ More challenging
+ Stunning visuals and a mesmerising soundtrack

Cons

- Minor control niggles

Overall

10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/28/10

Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (EU, 06/11/10)


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