LEIPZIG, Germany--Nintendo's mascot has been making regular appearances at the world's video game shows for well over a year now, but it's still difficult to resist one more play on the Italian plumber's intergalactic platformer. As it turns out, our addiction actually paid off this time because the Nintendo representatives informed us that this was the first time the Beam Star Trail level has been shown to the press. We spent a good few minutes checking it out, and while it was certainly a tricky level to navigate, we definitely had a lot of fun with it.
The level begins with Mario having to hook himself into a series of blue gravity stars that can be used to move between planets. Using the Wii Remote to aim the onscreen hand, we began to gingerly pull Mario along this chain for fear of sending him flying into the expanse of space around him. However, as we became more adept at quickly grabbing and swinging, we were able to gain momentum, which sent Mario flying so fast that he could miss certain hooks altogether but still survive. It's an addictive mechanic once you get the hang of it, reminding us a little of the advanced webslinging moves of the recent Spider-Man games.
Once we were past the blue star bridge and on the (relatively) safe ground of a nearby planet, we had to use Mario's spinning move to smash up some crystals. The spinning move is performed by shaking the motion-sensitive Wii Remote and can be used to smash things, as well as stun enemies. In fact, it's just one of many ways to deal with enemies in Super Mario Galaxy. It wouldn't be a Mario game if you couldn't jump on their heads, but you can also fire stars at them by aiming the Wii Remote onscreen and pressing the B button. Once we'd destroyed the crystals and collected pieces of a star, it was onto a rocket to fly to another planet.
Many people will have seen the videos of Mario flying from planet to planet, and even though the majority of them are quite small, it's a joy to explore them. Moving upside down and in all directions is somehow never confusing. It's also a credit to Nintendo's control system that you never have to think too much about moving around. At one point during our demo, we went down a tube and inside the planet itself, running around the interior to help free a blue star trapped at the centre. Another part of the level moved from planets and onto a platform that broke into parts then rebuilt itself as you walked along it.
Super Mario Galaxy is looking as promising as ever, and after another drop-in visit, we were again left wanting more. One thing's for certain: Wherever the wee man rears his head next, GameSpot will be there.