Review by GamerJM
The best Mario since World, but not the best game this genneration
It had almost been a year since I bought my Wii. I went to GameStop, surprised that they had gotten my copy of "Super Mario Galaxy" a day early. I had already played the game's demo days before, and it was a lot more enjoyable than I had expected. After all, while I had enjoyed "Super Mario 64," and "Super Mario Sunshine," I didn't think they were the amazing games many said they were. But, as I went home and started the game up in my Wii, I was at first treated to a game that I knew I was going to have more fun with than any of the recent Mario platformers.
"Super Mario Galaxy" is a Mario platformer. Your goal is to get anywhere from 60-120 starts and eventually defeat Bowser. Obviously, it takes place in space. This is the game's primary gimmick, and it allows a lot of different tricks with gravity that defies the physics of a normal platformer. Due to this, so levels have completely different platforming physics than other levels. That's Super Mario Galaxy in a nutshell.
To start out with, the game goes back to a very linear style of gameplay. With almost every star you try to earn, there is a clearly defined end to the level. While many may oppose this, I personally found this new change of pace great. I actually never finished "64" or "Sunshine", mainly because often times, the game would point me in several different directions but I couldn't figure out which to go in. While this may be good for a game like "Grand Theft Auto IV," I just didn't think it belonged in Mario. Not to mention that nonlinear gameplay is never my play style of choice. To put it in simple words, "Super Mario Galaxy" fixes this. It goes back to the 2D style of games like "Super Mario Bros. 3," and "Super Mario World," where there is a clearly defined goal at the end of each level. I appreciate this.
Since it's a Mario game, the level design is brilliant. But in this particular game, the level design is even more brilliant than usual. I won't use too many examples since I don't want to spoil the game, but examples are really the only way to do the game justice. In one level, you have to platform across several sweet candies, all moving in challenging patterns. In a completely different level, you'll have to travel across a beautiful grassy land in a bee costume. In a different level, you'll have to win a surfing race. This is just the tip of the iceberg here. Nearly every level and goal in "Super Mario Galaxy," is amazingly varied. By the end of the game you will have been pulled through dozens of different landscapes and will have used many different power-ups.
"Super Mario Galaxy" is also a very beautiful game visually. It uses a solid art style akin to that of the other Mario games. It's a very colorful game; you won't see tons of grey here. Instead, expect there to be a rainbow of colors everywhere. But everything about the game is definitely pushing the hardware of the Wii; "Super Mario Galaxy" looks better than nearly every game on the console. Obviously, since it's a Wii game, it's not going to look as good as the best looking games on the Xbox 360 or PS3. However, I will say that if "Super Mario Galaxy" were somehow on the Xbox 360, it would probably blend in with the other games well (in terms of graphics). That being said, I still prefer the looks of "Blue Dragon," for the Xbox 360 if you're looking for a cartoony and colorful game.
In terms of music, it's Mario. Most of the songs are classic songs that you'd come to expect from the Mario legacy. However, what is surprising is that a lot of the songs are actually orchestrated pieces of music. This breathes new life into Mario's history of music, but it also manages to still seem like Mario. Other than that, there's not much to say. The soundtrack is varied and catchy, but it's also expected.
As I sit here and write this review, I have to admit something; I haven't played this game for a really long time. And yet, "Super Mario Galaxy" is still perfectly clear in my head (partially thanks to playing its sequel quite a bit recently). This should also tell anyone reading this review that, yes; "Super Mario Galaxy" is a very memorable game. All the levels, music, and design are very memorable. The game just has something that makes it stand out from most other modern platformers. In fact, I can almost promise that you'll remember playing this game in 10 years.
Now, unlike some reviewers claim, "Super Mario Galaxy" has its fair share of problems. For one, in a lot of different levels, the game puts a focus on collecting 1-ups. For example, often times, there will be an optional jump you can make in order to gain an extra life. Often times, I just ask myself "what's the point?" In the game's main hub world, they literally give you extra lives. Not only this, but when you turn off your Wii and start the game back up, all of your lives that you gained are gone; you go back to the standard number of lives. What's the point? If they're going to reward you with lives so much, then they should at least keep the number of lives after you're dead.
Another one of my issues with the game is that, at times, the difficulty feels a bit uneven. One level can be pretty hard, and then the next level can be easy, and then the next level can be of standard difficulty. While this isn't a huge issue since it's actually worse in a lot of other games, it still bothers me quite a bit. I just wish they could have made the progression a bit more streamlined to prevent something like this.
And finally, the multiplayer feels much tacked on. All another player can do is help you jump higher and stun enemies. It's really nothing important, and even worse, if you actually DO play with the multiplayer mode, the second player will usually be bored out of his mind. It feels like Nintendo just went ahead and said "how can we add multiplayer to the game to get nongamers involved?" at the last minute. A shame to, because the game would have been very enjoyable with a mode similar to that of "New Super Mario Bros." for the DS (not the Wii), with a bunch of fun minigames that you can compete with, or specifically designed areas where you compete for coins.
In the end, I thought "Super Mario Galaxy," was a fantastic game and a great return to form for Mario's console outings. However, I still don't think it's the amazing game a lot of the critics claim it is. It has its fair share of problems, just like many other games. However, it's still an incredibly fun and unique game. But it's not the best game of this generation, or even of the year 2007.
True Final Score: 9.0/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)
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