Review by GavLuvsGA

"I had mixed feelings, but most of them good - has the potential to be a classic"

Introduction

I'll admit it – I never played the original Super Mario Galaxy, but was interested for a while in purchasing its sequel nevertheless. I got into Super Mario Games properly by playing Super Mario 64 all those years ago, although watching other kids playing Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World, did pique my interest, and have become a keen follower of the franchise. So, what did I make of this one?

Gameplay – 8/10

I was reasonably impressed with the gameplay. I am going to explain it in detail for anyone who, like me, has not yet played this game's predecessor; it plays sort of like a mixture of a classic Mario side-scrolling game and a Super Mario 64 style collectathon; since this is set in space, there is the extra gimmick of visiting individual planets and moons with their own gravity – kind of like the Mad Space level of Sonic Adventure 2.

So, here we have a number of worlds, each with individual galaxies that each have their own gimmick; for example, you might find a galaxy resembling a classic ghost house, or one that is set within a desert. All spherical “moons” in the game have laws of gravity that apply to them, so you can run all the way around them without actually falling off, though don't get too excited because you still CAN fall to your death in many places, usually heading straight for one of the menacing-looking black holes. In each galaxy, you will be able to collect a number of stars, in order to progress and unlock further levels, and most of the stars will be obtained by simply getting through the level, although other worlds are less linear and simply resemble an open area where Mario has to solve various puzzles, much like Super Mario 64 (and for fans of that game, watch out for an obvious homage to it with one of the later galaxies). Most of the time, you will travel from place to place, using “launch stars” that catapult you across space.

There are boss battles too, all of them challenging in some way, with each world culminating in a fight with Bowser Jr or Bowser himself; in this respect, only the Bowser battles disappointed me, since you seem to be constantly using the same technique of jumping onto a special moon and using your ground pound attack to send it flying into Bowser before it falls apart, all the while avoiding attacks – the only real difference is that he gets more aggressive each time.

You will need to get the hang of pointing the Wii remote at the screen accurately, as it is required to accomplish various tasks; as someone who has never exactly paid much attention to where I was pointing it, this took some getting used to, but it is useful for picking up “star bits” in the levels, and needed later in the game to help Mario grab hold of “pull stars”.

Yoshi makes an appearance too, and he has much more to do than his fleeting appearances in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. On certain levels, you can find Yoshi eggs and use him to complete the level; the only caveat is that eating enemies takes a bit of practise at first, as it requires accurately pointing the Wii remote at the screen, and this technique needs to be perfected for certain sections when you need Yoshi to grab onto special “flowers” to drag you through the air, and in any boss battle that requires his use. Yoshi is given some cool powerups too, that allow him to run at speeds that would make Super Sonic green with envy, float like a balloon and walk on invisible paths.

Another character who appears is Luigi, who will sometimes show up in a level, giving you the option to play as him instead. It's of little use, other than to say: “Look at me – I'm playing as Luigi!”, although collecting a star with Luigi will unlock a course ghost. I rather suspect that Nintendo are still trying to make up for his absence from Super Mario 64 and all the ridiculous rumours that showed up on the internet about “Luigi is in this game, and here is how you get him!”

In addition, this game does feature a new character, the Fluzzard, who looks strangely like Kazooie from the Banjo Kazooie franchise; maybe she got fed up because that dried up and decided to reinvent herself! The Fluzzard is used in flying levels, where you have to use the Wii remote carefully to glide to the goal, by tilting it properly; these levels are quite rare, and resemble the gliding levels of Pilotwings 64, except transplanted to a Mario environment.

The game has a good mixture of enemies, many of which are traditional ones, although goombas and koopa troopas seem to be quite scarce. The most intriguing, however, are probably the “cosmic clones”, who look something like Shadow Mario from Super Mario Sunshine and chase you around relentlessly until you complete a certain task. I was however, convinced that I previously saw the spitting octopus enemies inside Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's Great Deku Tree.

Mario gets some neat power ups too, including a suit that allows you to create clouds by shaking the remote and the ability to roll along like a boulder, and the only disappointments for me were the fire flower and boo mushroom. The former is rarely used, despite being a popular item in previous games, and – frustratingly – you can only use it for a limited time period. The latter seems pretty neat at first, as it turns Mario into a boo (ghost), with the ability to float; when I finally used it, I started to wonder, “so what?” – sure, Mario gets the ability to float through walls, but in the level where it appears, all you are doing it going through a side scrolling section, and it ended up feeling little different to a swimming level, except that Mario can't drown; I was hoping that the ability to go through walls would allow me to access some amazing secret areas like the vanish cap of (sorry, I'm mentioning it again) Super Mario 64, but this certainly did not happen.

You will also find characters called “Lumas” around the game; personally I wasn't too fond of them, due to their childish appearance, which is kind of like a cross between a bird, Jigglypuff and Kirby, plus the fact that some of them like to shout “LUMALEE! LUMABOP!” The purpose of some of them is to sell you items, but some will transform into secret planets or even whole galaxies if you feed them coins and star bits (both of which you collect in the levels). Frankly, it reminded me of a story I wrote when I was about six – the main character saved a magic cloud, which responded: “Thank you – I will turn into a diamond ring”. Unlocking the extra planets/galaxies allows you to access further stars.

In addition to all of this, you should keep on the lookout for “comet medals”, one of which is hidden in each galaxy; the purpose of this is to (eventually) cause “Prankster Comets” to show up at random galaxies, creating a new star challenge, although usually this will either be a simple “grab 100 purple coins” game, or will involve evading cosmic clones, doing a speed run or beating a level without taking a single hit.

Overall, the gameplay is mostly enjoyable, and has some good – almost seamless – transitions from 3D to traditional side-scrolling action.

Story – 5/10

Not surprisingly, it isn't original; someone please give Princess Peach self-defense lessons, or give her a personal alarm. In this game, Bowser decides to kidnap Peach – but wait, he's done that many times before; oh, well…

Mario is aided by his quest by a character called Lubba and his Lumas; they build Mario his own spaceship, and they chase after Bowser; Mario is also named as captain of the ship, though the way that Lubba goes on, it seems that he thinks he's the one in charge at times.

Sound – 10/10

The sound is pretty good, with decent sound effects, with a lot of detail, including the checkpoint flags making a nice “boing” sound when you run into them. Some of it sounded like it had been recorded off an express train, giving a slightly bizarre feel (just listen to the sound of Starship Mario entering a wormhole, or one of the red angry wigglers). The music is top-notch, with lots of classic Mario themes, though I was rather confused when the game seemed to be playing Indian-style music during a level set on board an airship. I loved the fact that they included classic Bowser and slide music from Super Mario 64.

Graphics – 9/10

The only reason that the graphics did not get a perfect 10 was the somewhat childish appearance of characters like Captain Lubba and the Lumas, but otherwise they are top notch; colourful and crisp, and they give the Bowser battles a truly epic appearance. Many of the levels include a vast amount of detail, and you get treated to views of other planets you will have to visit in the background even when you are a long way off; shoals of fish swim around in underwater levels, and Mario leaves footprints when he runs across snow and sand. Each level is given its own separate identity and stands out from the others.

Lastability – 7/10

I had mixed feelings with this aspect, as sometimes I have found myself absolutely hooked, but on the other hand, the game can get frustrating at any point when you are stuck on specific tasks. It seems like a game that is worth sticking with, and there are some decent secrets worth obtaining – secret galaxies and extra missions after you get all the 120 regular stars.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a decent game, and worth getting, for any Mario fan, or even Mario newbies (where have you been all these years?) The game should not take particularly long to beat, although you may find the occasional point where you get stuck for a while – particularly since this game does not have any short cuts. I recommend buying.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/26/12

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


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