Review by Wiggis

"A space so nice he went there twice!"

Super Mario Galaxy did for the Wii what Super Mario Sunshine failed to do for the Gamecube: successfully bring Mario into a fun & intriguing world on a new platform. Sure, SMG had some flaws, but Nintendo saw fit to iron them out and release a sequel. Given time to work, Nintendo took a great game & made it much better.

STORY: (8 / 10)

This is kind of interesting because even though Super Mario Galaxy 2 is marketed as a sequel, it plays more like a re-telling. Both games begin with Peach inviting Mario to witness a centennial event. Both games have Bowser intervene and kidnap Peach. But that's where the similarities end. Bowser's COA and Mario's mode of transportation are different, Rosalina is a background character until late in the game and Luigi is far more hands-on than he's ever been in any 3D title. Also, for better or worse, the storybook sequences that dominated the first game's Library area are all gone. SMG2 goes back to Mario's older adventures where the beginning and end of the game are 90% of the total story. But this isn't a bad thing; the "less-is-more" approach keeps it short, sweet & simple.

GRAPHICS: (10 / 10)

The first Super Mario Galaxy was one of the best looking games on the Nintendo Wii. Super Mario Galaxy 2 surpasses the premiere title, making it the best looking Mario game to date. Characters and environments have greater detail, each world & galaxy is unique & varied, objects can be seen from great distances and colors seem brighter and more vivid. If there was to be a Super Mario Galaxy 3 on the Wii, I for one would be shocked if they were able to push the visuals any further.

But aside from being just "great", the graphics blend perfectly. There will be moments in the game where you'll behold the visual display and think "The Wii can do this!?" Not to say SMG2's graphics hold a candle to most of the 360's/PS3's library, but as far as Wii games go, you're looking at one of the best.

SOUND: (10 / 10)

Incredible. All of the music is orchestral, loaded with both original compositions and remixed classics. Every song is truly perfect for the stages they represent, from slow, haunting melodies in ghost levels to grand symphonies in outer space levels and everything in between. Songs that play during timed sequences, such as during limited-time power-ups or clocked stages, are fast paced and hurried, adding to the urgency of completing your current task. Plus, hearing the extra percussion while riding Yoshi invokes a very welcome nostalgia.

Every sound effect carries over perfectly from the first SMG. Coins, star bits, blasting off, the 1-up chime, hearing the Stars rotate, etc. are all present and accounted for. Plus, the Wiimote's speakers have a more varied range than before, only continuing the perfection in SMG2's sound effects set by the actual music itself.

Also like the first game, the voice acting is great! Characters usually only speak in "hey", exclamations and "thanks", but at least it's done great! Especially when you hear the toads go "Oh, no!". If there was an award for "Best 'Oh, no!' Ever", these toads would win, hands down.

CONTROL: (10 / 10)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 controls 99% identically to the previous title, with the remaining one percent being an improvement. The A button still jumps, B button still fires Star Bits, C still centers the camera, Z still ducks/slides, the D-pad still adjusts the camera and the pointer still aims/collects Star Bits. Only here, things seem more tuned. The camera is more manageable and all of the motion based events (rolling on balls, gliding, etc) feel like they're far better handled, which says a lot because the first game's motion controls were very good. Try as I might, I cannot recall any moment where I lost a life or missed a target and it was because of the controls. They're as smooth as smooth can be.

GAMEPLAY: (9 / 10)

Mario has literally made a career out of saving the same princess from the same lizard for 25 years. Even now, it's still as fun as it has always been.

Ditching the Super Mario 64-like hub world from the first Galaxy, SMG2 is set up more along the lines of Super Mario Bros 3 or Super Mario World. Instead of launching off of a giant space station, you travel by a much smaller Spaceship Mario, a fully explorable vessel in the shape of Mario's head. From your head ship, you may choose a world, then further choose a galaxy from within that world. This adds accessibility that was lacking from the first Galaxy. From there, SMG2 mirrors it's predecessor by allowing you to choose whichever course on which you want to embark.

Choosing a mission will have you either complete a specific task, beat a boss or overcome a challenge to be awarded a Star for your efforts. Though at first it seems like more of the same only in new worlds, Nintendo ups the ante by throwing Green Stars into the mix in a way SMG1 never did. Instead of looking for a mere few tucked away in remote spots, SMG2's Green Stars literally double the amount of "normal" Stars contained within, making the grand total of Stars 240! Plus, they're actually hidden away, turning the game from mission-based to exploratory, adding that much more to the game's depth.

Another returning feature are the Prankster Comets. These are basically slightly altered endurance stages that are usually harder than the normal stages. All of the Prankster Comets from Super Mario Galaxy have returned, which include Comets that severely limit your time, collect purple coins and complete stages flawlessly. Unfortunately, no new ones were introduced. Not that any of the returning Comets are bad, it's just unusual that a game with this kind of scope wouldn't include new endurance challenges.

After only a brief cameo in Super Mario 64 and being nearly useless in Super Mario Sunshine, Yoshi makes a triumphant return. Yoshi can swim (again), flutter kick & eat his way under, over & through obstacles in a way not seen since his Super Nintendo days. Better still, there are jumps, puzzles and even entire stages that make full use of all of Yoshi's abilities, old and new. All of his old skills are back, with new tricks including rapid eating. Yoshi's back and better than he's ever been.

Of course, no Mario game is a true Mario game without power-ups. Every SMG power-up returns, with brand new powers thrown into the mix, including a Cloud Flower (makes temporary platforms), a Rock Mushroom (for turning into a rolling death boulder), a Spin Drill (terrain transportation), a Dash Pepper (making Yoshi run at near-uncontrollability), a Blimp fruit (hot air Yoshi balloon maker) and a Bulb Berry (solidifies phantom platforms). These items are spread out pretty evenly across the whole game, never overwhelming or overburdening the player.

Two complaints I had with the first Galaxy are that it was too easy and there were too many 1-ups. SMG2 fixes one of those by being much harder. I won't say it's Ninja Gaiden hard, but it is far more difficult than Mario's first galactic trek. As before, extra lives are very easy to accumulate, only now they're far easier lose. This is due mainly to crazy jumps and insane tasks increasing in difficulty as the game goes on.

Should things get too hard, a Cosmic Guide will appear that, when activated, will beat the stage for you, a la New Super Mario Bros Wii. Though, as kind of a "shame on you", opting to finish a stage this way will stick you with a Bronze Star. Bronze Stars are a sort of "you beat it without beating it" mark.

Finally, Mario must topple many bosses to achieve victory, most of which tower over the iconic plumber. With the exception of one underwhelming disappointment, every boss is fun and makes use of the various power-ups found throughout the game. Your new rivals help add to the game's new difficulty, especially during Prankster Comets.

OVERALL: (10 / 10)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an all-around improvement it's predecessor. Long after the Wii's life cycle is over, this game will be amongst the first 3 mentioned when recalling the best games on the system at all.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/29/10, Updated 07/14/11

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

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