Review by majinboris

"Super Mario Galaxy is a platforming game of, literally, cosmic proportions; a true successor to Super Mario 64."

How long has it been since a true Mario game has been released that one could call it Super Mario 64s successor? Too long. Those who've grown up playing Super Mario 64 and played Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube will understand what I mean. While Super Mario Sunshine wasn't a bad game - certainly not! - it wasn't groundbreaking or revolutionary like Super Mario 64 was. As a result, gamers turned their backs to it. There were no real flaws with the game: colorful, vivid, detailed worlds, great platforming action, and the undeniable charm you would expect to fnd in a Mario game. The problem was, that although it was a decent game, it just wasn't groundbreaking like Mario titles before it, such as Super Mario Bros. on the NES and Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. If Super Mario Bros. defined the platforming genre and Super Mario 64 set the bar for 3-D platforming games, Super Mario Galaxy both redefines and raises the bar even higher. In short, Super Mario Galaxy is a platforming game of, literally, cosmic proportions; a true successor to Super Mario 64.

As you would expect, the core gameplay hasn't evolved much over the last few years. You're still running around hunting for stars in some world or another to unlock more worlds and, eventually, the final boss. Regardless, this formula has worked very well over the last few generations which began with Super Mario 64. Because of this basic, simple, pick-up-and-play formula it set the bar for 3-D platformers; suffice to say, it more rather spawned many uninspired variations [perhaps most notably the Jak & Daxter series (not that I have anything against the series, mind you.)]. The platforming elements of Super Mario Galaxy remain pretty much unchanged. You'll still be scaling massive structures, climbing to insane heights, jumping across pools of lava and sand and God-knows-what-else, stomping on enemies, and collecting stars. It's the appealing, recognizable gameplay that diehard Mario fans have loved since Mario's 1996 debut on the Nintendo 64.

With so many platforming elements and stars to collect (121 in all, 242 total in a different, hidden mode) you might be thinking, "Oh, well this game is game has awesome gameplay. There must be some awesome levels too, right?" Cast all fears aside! The worlds of Super Mario Galaxy are, without a doubt, right up there with Super Mario 64 on just about every level. Each 3-D Mario game has had some sort of method for reaching your next destined world. With Super Mario 64 it was jumping into various painting throughout Princess Peach's castle. It was nearly the same for Super Mario Sunshine, although they weren't "paintings", per se; more like graffiti art. In the case of Super Mario Galaxy, there's a "hub" area where you can access one of 7 different observatories. Each observatory overlooks a galaxy and each planet in that galaxy holds a number of stars. The more stars you collect, the farther out the observatory can see. Naturally, the boss stage would be at the very edge of the galaxy and some of the stars can be a pain to collect, though not tiring and frustrating, so you won't be duking it out with Bowser until you collect a healthy amount. Also, it should be noted that even though you may only see three stars at the beginning of a planet, those will later be accompanied by certain events, such has receiving aid from Luigi in your star hunt or by traveling to a planet while a comet is in orbit. If you're looking to collect every star, these things will ensure that your task is not a bore.

The worlds of Super Mario Galaxy are vast and greatly varied. Throughout your journey you'll cover many expansive, elaborate, and sometimes intimidating landscapes such as deserts, bee hives, spaceships, a haunted mansion, and even a world that's half frozen over and have molten to the core. Several of these worlds present themselves in entirely different ways from one another. No one world is the same as another so you won't feel like you're covering the same ground just with a new coat of paint. You will literally feel the difference between each world and that's probably the most appealing part about Super Mario Galaxy. It's always a new adventure, you're never doing the same thing twice aside from traveling to new planet and collecting more stars.

Speaking of the planets, there may be some confusion when you first play the game. The planets that you're traveling to from the observatories are actually "galaxies" that host small, various planets. It should be noted that they can hardly be called planet. As GameSpot editor Alex Navarro put it, "They're not really planets, so much as these vague, abstract objects floating through space." Some may be as big as a battle station or a honeycomb hive to as small as a garden or a planet filled to the brim with water, hosting a vicious hungry skeletal shark. One thing about this game is that - while this holds true for many games - Super Mario Galaxy literally defies the laws of gravity. Literally. Each planet has its own gravitational pull and while hopping from one to the next you might be wondering how something as simple as a moving platform can have the mass necessary to create such a pull or if each planet has its own pull, why aren't they colliding with each other? These are trivial when it comes to actual gameplay are only there for poke-and-fun. In fact, they kind of make the game even more fun - or nauseating - than it should be. How many games are there where you get to run upside on the ceiling or scale a sinking island surrounded by molten rock?

The controls in Super Mario Galaxy are air-tight to say the least. They respond to your every action perfectly and never once falter and with the exception of a few advanced moves like the sideways flip, you'll rarely have any trouble controlling Mario's movements; that is, to say, unless you have unsteady hands. The introduction of the Wii Remote allows for a few new mechanics that may seem intimidating at first but quickly grow on you after a short time. There's no double-jumping in mid-air, per se, rather to get an extra boost you can quickly jiggle the Wii Remote back and forth to have Mario do a sort of "spin jump". He won't necessarily jump but rather he'll just get a few more seconds of air. This pertains to Mario's actions on the ground as well. One of the most common techniques in the game is Mario's ability to do a spin attack by simple shaking the Wii Remote or the Nunchuk back and forth quickly. You can use this technique to stun enemies, break crystal objects that hold mysterious, colored, celestial pieces, and most importantly defeat bosses. The colored items I'm referring to are the 'Star Bits' as the game calls them. You can collect these Star Bits by simply pointing your Wii Remote at the screen and no matter where the Star Bits are, if the remote crosses over them, they'll come to you. You can also fire the Star Bits at enemies to briefly stun them or feed them at these little creatures called Lumas, which are one of the more important characters in the game. The Lumas will assist you in all sorts of different ways, such as if you feed a Luma a certain number of Star Bits they'll transform into something else entirely. Other than that, the control scheme is basically unchanged from Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, except now you're using the Wii Remote.

The graphics and music are spectacular to say the least. You'll hear a lot of classic soundtracks from past Mario games except this time they've been remixed to add a different flavor to the game, so it's not a full rehash which is a good thing. Super Mario Galaxy is definitely hands-down the best looking game on the Wii. Each world is jam-packed with vivid colors and you'll be wowed every time you see a volcano exploding or any time Mario blasts off into orbit. Speaking of which, the way you reach each planet is kind of unique. Instead of everything being linked to one another directly, you'll a lot of the time come across these orbital slings shaped like stars, aptly named "Slingstars". The way you operate them is by shaking the Wii Remote remote the same way you would perform a spin attack and simply watch Mario take off soaring through the cosmos from one planet to the next. Sometimes you'll have to collect pieces of these slingstars to create one on a planet that is absent of one. Also, there are blue stars called "Pullstars" which you can "grab" by moving the cursor over them and pressing and holding the A button. It's all part of the game so neither of these, along with the Star Bit collecting mentioned earlier, feel especially tacked on. In fact, it makes the game al the more enjoyable and unique. Watching Mario take flight across pools of molten rock - you sometimes wonder how he never gets burned from flying so low! - or soaring across vast expanses of desert never gets tiring to see.

Strangely, Super Mario Galaxy while a first-person adventure is capable of supporting two-players. If one of your friends or someone has another Wii Remote they can point it at the screen and assist you in various ways such as holding down enemies while you take a shot at them or collecting Star Bits for you if you're too busy trying to whack coconuts at a giant, lava-spawning, fire-breathing octopus or shaking your Wii Remote to blast through baddies. It doesn't add much to the single-player play but it's fun to finally be able to play an actual Mario game with a friend or family member at your side instead of just shooing them away every time they say, "Can I play?" This time you can just say, "Sure!" and toss them a remote.

Overall, Super Mario Galaxy is definitely the Wii game to have if not for Christmas then some other time. If you own a Wii you would simply be doing yourself and Nintendo a disservice by not playing this game, especially if you were let down with previous Wii titles. Super Mario Galaxy looks, sounds, feels, and just is flat-out great. The visuals are excellent, the soundtrack feels epic, the level design is just fantastic and definitely one of the most if not the most creative layouts of all time. While it may not compare graphical-wise to the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, Super Mario Galaxy looks nothing short of aesthetically presentable and is an absolute joy; there's a certain charm to the Mario games that just makes them seem all the more appealing. It's all good, light-hearted, easy-going fun and if you're waiting out for a price drop go out and buy this game now. If you're looking for a game to hold you off until Super Smash Bros. Brawl comes out, I can guarantee that this game will keep you entertained for weeks on end.

In fact, it's so addicting you'd do well not to let it take over much of your life. ~_^

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/26/07

Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)

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