Review by BloodGod65

"Lost in Space"

Oh Mario, where would the video game industry be without you? Nonexistent, most likely. And I, as your humble reviewer, would most likely be doing something else with my time instead of playing games and giving you my brutally honest opinions about them. It was the Super Nintendo masterpiece Super Mario World that turned me on to gaming and forever sealed my fate as a gamer. After years away from Mario, I was eager to see just how time had changed the legendary icon. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I know it wasn't this.

Like most Mario games, there's nothing special about the story. Once again, Bowser is up to no good and at the start of the game he and his merry band of goons steal all the power stars in the galaxy. Without the stars, the cosmos will cease to function. Naturally, Mario has to get them back. For the most part the story just feels tacked on to explain why everyone's favorite mustachioed plumber is soaring through the airless void of space instead of kicking the crap out of goombas back in the Mushroom Kingdom. The only reason I mention it at all is because of how the game insists on beating you over the head with its inane and overly childish dialog.

But that hardly matters as long as the gameplay stacks up to the towering standards set by the series over the years. So, we're good right? Afraid not. As much as I hate to level such a dire criticism against the very series that transformed me into a lifelong gamer so many years ago, Galaxy is by far the worst dedicated Mario platformer I have ever encountered.

So what's so wrong with Galaxy? Well it really comes down to two issues; design and perspective. When it comes to the platformer genre, games live or die by their level design. Unfortunately, the level design in Galaxy is usually bland and often downright baffling. Most levels play out on small spherical planetoids, so you'll be running around in circles stomping on enemies. You'll also be moving between these little areas by launching yourself through space using certain star markers.

This leads me to the second issue; perspective. As you might imagine, given the spherical nature of most levels, the camera gets forced into an odd position that makes it impossible to see very far. Furthermore, it totally screws up your ability to make precise jumps onto platforms and enemies. And that's another fatal misstep for a genre that revolves around those very things.

When the level design reverts to a more traditional form, the game becomes significantly better. With the perspective issues cleared up, Galaxy almost feels like it should, and Nintendo even manages to inject some fresh ideas into the game. One of my favorite levels toys with gravity, allowing Mario to run on the ceilings and walls. Unfortunately, these types of levels make up a miniscule portion of the total game.

If there's anything good about Galaxy, it's the graphics. Like all Mario games, Galaxy uses lots of bright colors and cutesy character models. While it isn't the most graphically detailed, the visuals pop off the screen. Normally, I'd say this game looks good – for the Wii; but in this case, it would look pretty good on any console.

In the game industry, things continually change to stay relevant. The constant change and evolution of a series is the only way it will remain successful. Of course, there comes a time when even the greatest franchise falters as developers struggle to innovate. Galaxy represents that point for the Super Mario series. Here's hoping for a better future. Now let's go back to the Mushroom Kingdom; it's cold out here in space.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 01/11/12

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

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