Review by horror_spooky

Reviewed: 06/16/10

And this is why we're gamers

The Nintendo Wii has been through a lot. When it first was announced, it had the industry buzzing. Motion controls? The next step was virtual reality. It was the biggest leap forward for the gaming industry since Nintendo created the analog stick and had Mario running around a three-dimensional Mushroom Kingdom. However, since its release, the Wii, despite being the top selling system of this generation, has come under a lot of scrutiny. Many gamers complain that it doesn't have any games for the hardcore and others whine that its graphics aren't as good as those that the Xbox 360 or Sony's PlayStation 3 bring to the table. And if I were debating with someone over the quality of the Wii, I would simply point to one game: Super Mario Galaxy. That game is one of the greatest games of all time, and it's exclusively for the Wii. Hell, the price of the Wii alone is justified once you get your hands on Mario Galaxy. Since I'm so high on the original game, it's not surprising that I was absolutely ecstatic when the sequel was announced. And I was not disappointed.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is very similar to the first game. This is one of its flaws, though, as it is so similar to the original that it doesn't necessarily feel like a full-fledged sequel all the time. That's not to say that it doesn't feel like an oustanding game and an accomplishment beyond comprehension for Nintendo. The foundation is there, and it's still just as crazy entertaining as it was the first time around.

There have been changes made to make the game more convenient, however. Instead of walking around on a spaceship that serves as the hub world like in the original, you now move across the map in a way akin to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This is how you reach galaxies, and it makes the process of getting to levels less of a headache and far simpler. There is no more storybook tales to listen to, which is a plus, and there have obviously been a few other gameplay mechanics introduced to the Galaxy series.

One of the major new features is the ability to ride Yoshi. The little green dinosaur was absent in the first game, but he makes an appearance this time around, and is very entertaining to ride. While mounted on a Yoshi, the reticule on the screen turns into a red ball. You can use that ball to kill enemies, or to use floating flowers to complete platforming segments. Yoshi can also consume fruits to give him added powers. If you eat a blue fruit, Yoshi becomes fat and starts blowing air of his mouth, and you use this ability to float up to new places. By eating a red fruit, Yoshi becomes extremely fast for a short period of time and zooms through levels at speeds that allow him to even scale walls.

New power-ups have been thrown into the mix as well. The old ones like the bee suit and the fire flower return, but there are new ones like a rock mushroom that turns you into a boulder and a cloud mushroom that allows you to create clouds. I especially liked the cloud mushroom because it made some of the platforming segments more open and free-form. It allowed room for creativity. Mario can also use a drill to drill through planets and end up on the completely opposite side of them. All these power-ups work fine and add a lot of freshness and originality to a game that's almost exactly like its prequel.

There is a larger focus on side-scrolling levels this time around. While the first Mario Galaxy tested the waters with the occasional side-scrolling segment thrown into your traditional three-dimensional levels, Mario Galaxy 2 incorporates side-scrolling segments far more often. These segments are often more fast-paced and require you to pull off some sweet wall bounces, long jumps, and stuff of that nature to test your skills. I greatly enjoyed these parts of the game, and I feel as though if Nintendo wants to make another New Super Mario Bros. Wii, they should try to recreate the excitement that Mario Galaxy 2 provides in its side-scrolling levels.

In the first game, comets would appear by galaxies and you would have to complete a special task in order to earn another Power Star. The sequel retains this comet mechanic, but now to make the comets appear you have to collect Comet Coins hidden in each level. This does add a bit more replayability to the game, but combing the levels for these coins can be a chore, especially when a few of them are hidden in dastardly areas. Damn you, Nintendo!

The difficulty has been ramped up significantly in the sequel. The first Mario Galaxy was no walk in the park. There were some Power Stars that were nearly impossible to obtain, and Mario Galaxy 2 takes that to the next level. There are Power Stars that will make you weep because they are so damn difficult. For the truly hardcore, this is awesome. And since you'll never feel like when you die that you died a cheap death, the challenge never becomes too frustrating.

The balance board. MotionPlus. You'd think that with all these add-ons that Nintendo would incorporate this hardware into more of their games, but they haven't. So while it doesn't take full advantage of all the Wii's unique features, Mario Galaxy 2 does indeed include some motion control. You still use your spin attack by shaking the Wii remote, and you control the cursor on the screen by pointing at the screen. The levels from the first game where you have to balance on a ball and complete a Super Monkey Ball-like course return in this game, and of course, that utilizes motion control. There is also a bird whose talons you can grab onto and fly around using motion controls as well.

The first game in the series promised co-op. It kind of provided co-op, in the form of a second player collecting star bits for the first player and making the game a bit easier. If anything, this feature was made for someone who is being forced to play to not have to be too involved in the proceedings. Mario Galaxy 2 retains this co-op mode, except the second player is now represented by a red star that follows Mario around. I'm a tad disappointed that Nintendo didn't try to incorporate true co-op into Mario Galaxy 2, as that would have been sweet, but I digress. Playing in co-op makes the game significantly easier, just like last time, so keep that in mind if you are having particular trouble with a certain star.

Speaking of co-op, Mario's brother Luigi does indeed make an appearance in Galaxy 2. In fact, after a certain point in the game, you can choose to take control of Luigi at the beginning of every level. Luigi doesn't really provide any gameplay differences, but if you prefere to play as the other Mario brother, then the choice is yours.

One of the biggest reasons that I liked the first Super Mario Galaxy so much is that for the first time in the series, Nintendo really tried to tell a story. And they managed to do so. I really enjoyed the plot of the first game and found it to add another layer of quality to the already outstanding title. Mario Galaxy 2 seems to abandon the focus on plot until late in the game, when it will, guaranteed, make you smile. It all comes around, and there's a lot more depth to the game than just trying to eat cake with Princess Peach and rescuing her from the evil Bowser again.

Mario Galaxy 2 is just as beautiful as the first game. The environments are gorgeous, the water effects are amazing, and the bosses are sick as hell. The character models are perfect, there are no glitches, and there are no technical issues to be found at all. The level design is some of the best stuff you can find in a game, to top it all off. Mario Galaxy 2 uses the Wii to its full potential, and the result is very impressive.

Basically all of the tunes that made the first game feel so epic return in the sequel. There is a little bit of new music, but most of it is recycled. Is that bad? Not at all. You'll still love the musical score and you'll still be pumped to stomp on a Goomba's head immediately when the music starts playing.

And now for the other flaw that does hold Mario Galaxy 2 back a little bit. You can complete the game in under ten hours. The first game tested my abilities for nearly 30 hours, but I was able to reach the final boss in roughly ten hours. Granted, there are plenty of secrets to discover and new galaxies to adventure through, plus collecting all the Power Stars does take quite a long time, but the fact of the matter is Super Mario Galaxy 2 is shorter than the first game, and that means less ridiculously awesome Mario platforming goodness.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an excellent game. It's one of those games that reminds everyone why we picked up the controller in the first place. I challenge anyone to play through this sucker and not crack a smile, because Super Mario Galaxy 2 will wow even the most hardcore of Mario fans and break new boundaries while keeping a big nostalgia factor in play. The gameplay is essentially perfect, the visuals are amazing, and the sound is top of the line Nintendo quality. Some issues arise in the lack of a real co-op mode, less attention being paid to the storyline, the game being too similar to the title that came before it, and the game's shorter length in comparison to the original, but it's still amazing. No one does video games like Nintendo, and Mario Galaxy 2 is proof. If you don't own this game, go buy it now. If you don't own a Wii, go buy one and then pick up Mario Galaxy and Mario Galaxy 2: two of the greatest games not only of this generation, but of all time.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (US, 05/23/10)

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