Review by Kimari

"'Mario Galaxy' is platform perfection"

Nintendo had somewhat of a bumpy ride in the first few years of the new millennium. Their hugely successful Nintendo 64 was slowly starting to lose steam as the new generation of consoles were introduced, which included Playstation 2, one of the best gaming systems of all time. Meanwhile, Nintendo released the Gamecube, which didn't advance the Nintendo technology quite as much as Sony did with their Playstation systems.

Nintendo countered in the current generation by aiming not for hardcore players, but the casual. Like many, I was Nintendo have anything else on its first-party plate besides sports-related games? Luckily, the answer is no. In November of 2007, Nintendo released ‘Super Mario Galaxy', which is just as addicting, if not more so, than Super Mario 64 and, in my opinion, is a much better game all around.

The Look and Feel

Nintendo really went for something unique in Galaxy, placing the entire game in outer space amongst dozens of galaxies, which are translated as “levels” in true platformer fashion. In these galaxies there are multiple planets to work your way through, most of them being pretty small and having one main gameplay mechanic to get around, such as boulders rolling along paths or crossing moving platforms to avoid lava.

Some galaxies have large planets that will surely remind you of Super Mario 64. These tend to be the galaxies that hold several regular stars, plus ones which are hidden and comet stars (more on that later). On the smaller planets and some of the bigger ones, you can run full-circle around them due to the strong gravity. This gave a lot of room for Nintendo to work with.

The graphics are what you'd expect from a new Mario game. Still cartoony, still bright, and still very colorful. I noticed more shadow effects here though, and the game really shines when looking out beyond where Mario is standing. You can see planets, heck, even enemies, that are far away in the background. The planets aren't close together either, and you'll see that the first time you start flying around the first galaxy.

Gameplay's Perfection

That's right, I said it- the gameplay is absolutely perfect. Sure, you may have some problems with controls here and there or something, but with the variety of gameplay in this title, it's hard to argue that they really couldn't have done anything more to make it better.

Let's go over the basics really quickly. Like Mario 64, there are stars to collect in the game, and with these stars you advance through the galaxies/levels of the game. Throughout you fight a number of major boss battles, some of which unlock a new set of galaxies. In the end, you head to the final level with a major and epic showdown.

Now we cut to the levels themselves, which are beautifully designed. As mentioned earlier, each individual planet provides a unique challenge for you to move on, whether it's collecting blue star pieces or rescuing a star that can launch you to the next planet.

There's the costumes too which grant Mario different powers for a certain amount of time (plus a cool new tune to listen to). The more common ones you'll use are the bee costume, which gives you the ability to fly, and the ghost costume, which transforms Mario into a ghost to pass through solid objects. Among the others are ones that let you jump really high, skate on otherwise dangerous waters, and shoot fireballs. And, of course, the red cap makes a return in the form of a red star.

Those costumes provide enough challenges, but there's more. In certain galaxies you'll get a new mode of transportation to make your way through the levels. In one, you ride on top of a stingray along a water course. In another, Mario balances on a ball to roll along a somewhat difficult galaxy. In each, you use the Wii Remote in a different way to control these creatures of objects. The one negative thing I can say in this area is that they weren't utilized quite enough. I expected to ride a stingray or roll on a ball a lot more than in just one galaxy. I expect them both at least one or two more times later on in the game, and with all but hidden and coin stars retrieved, I haven't run into anything like that.

A Perfect Challenge

Sometimes it's hard to judge a game's difficulty. Often, especially with recent Nintendo titles, they are too easy. Other times they are too cheap to actually be called “difficult” or “challenging”. The best games have a difficulty level that not only increases as the game goes on, but isn't cheap to make you get a Game Over or restart a level.

Mario Galaxy, thankfully, has the perfect difficulty level, and I do mean perfect. I honestly can't think of another game that has its challenge so perfectly adjusted. Early on, it's pretty simple and easy, but as it goes on you will be tested in many ways to make your way through the galaxies.

Helping this even more is the fact that the galaxies are actually fun to play. When I got Mario fried, frozen, or sucked into a black hole, I usually didn't mind starting over. The variety of gameplay kept it fresh.

Speaking of difficulty- sure, the regular stars are simple yet often challenging tasks, but wait until the comet stars. Oh boy. These appear fairly early on in the game, and these are essentially set challenges to get additional stars. Examples of comet stars are beating bosses without taking a hit, racing a Mario clone through a level, or completing a galaxy where the enemies move at a much faster speed.

None of them are too hard or too easy- the difficulty level is just right. Then there are the purple coin stars, where you have to recover the 100 purple coins scattered around a major galaxy. You die, and you have to start all over with 0 purple coins. This can become a bit aggravating, but remember that this is for challenge purposes only and is definitely NOT required to beat the main story mode of the game.

Odds and Ends

The gameplay is fantastic, the galaxies are beautiful, and the difficulty level is perfect, but there's much more to this title than those features alone.

Consider the music, which is a nearly brilliant score. There are some levels (Good Egg Galaxy and Gusty Gardens Galaxy come to mind) that have tracks which you'll be humming long after you've turned off your Wii. Galaxy has some of the best adventure music in the industry, and that's saying something.

Also found here are great boss battles, and there are a good number of them too. Generally, you'll fight at least one on most of the major galaxies, and there are a few others as well. The Bowser battles in particular are pretty darn epic, especially the final encounter. The music there only intensifies the fight even more.

If you own a Wii, buy this game. I'm sure, if you've read other reviews, you've heard it before, but I can't stress it enough. Both young and old will absolutely love this game. Everyone, even platformer experts, will be challenged here. The charm of Mario can't push you away forever, trust me, because as of July 2008, this is not only the best game on the Nintendo Wii, but one of the best platforming games ever.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/21/08

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

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