Super Mario Galaxy Hands-On - The Early Galaxies

The famed plumber's colorful interstellar romp is almost here, and we took the game for a spin right from the beginning.

It's been over a decade since Super Mario 64 revolutionized the platforming genre with its seamless move into 3D space, and for his next trick, Nintendo's lovable plumber will blast off into outer space on the Wii. Super Mario Galaxy is nearing completion, and Nintendo was kind enough to let us take the game's reins right from the beginning. In case you were wondering how Mario has ended up in space this time around, you probably won't be surprised to find out it has something to do with Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach. Yes, again. The nefarious koopa has done one better this time, though, spiriting not only Peach but also her entire castle to the heavens. Mario will have to join forces with a mysterious celestial keeper named Rosalina and a quirky race of starlike interstellar beings called lumas in order to bring Peach and her kingdom safely back home.

You'll start out in the comet observatory, a hub level that functions much like Mario 64's castle, from which all of Galaxy's action levels (called galaxies, natch) branch out. The catch is, most of the observatory is experiencing a blackout, and the areas that lack power are literally dark at the game's outset. As you collect stars over the course of the game, you'll gradually restore power to each section of the platform and thus gain access to new galaxies. Luckily, the small portion of the observatory that is functioning is alive with color and activity. When you start out, the first dome--that is, a small building within the observatory that will let you look at and then travel to unlocked galaxies--is already online and ready to launch you to places like the Good Egg Galaxy and the Honeybee Galaxy, which are the two earliest areas of the game and which Nintendo has shown off rather liberally in past demos. When you enter a dome, the game will show you a star-map interface depicting the orbital patterns of the various galaxies you can access from that dome. You can click and drag with the Wii Remote to rotate the map around, and then launch to a new galaxy simply by clicking on it.

Apparently they grow 'em bigger in outer space.

To power up new areas of the observatory and then get to new galaxies, you'll need stars. Lots of stars! As per Mario tradition, Galaxy will have 120 stars for you to collect, and you'll revisit most galaxies several times to find multiple stars that require you to complete different tasks to obtain. In Mario 64, for example, each level had seven stars, so it was easy to chart your overall progress through the game by seeing how many stars you'd collected per level. But Galaxy's star distribution seems less strictly regimented than past Mario games. For instance, the first couple of galaxies we played had three stars each. But then we moved on to a racing-focused minigalaxy that had only one star available, with no obvious chance to pick up more stars later. That racing level consisted of a giant water flume suspended in midair seemingly by nothing at all. We were able to race down the course by holding the A button to accelerate, and we had to steer solely by twisting the Wii Remote on its axis (that is, twist left to steer left, right to go right).

Even with only an hour to play Mario Galaxy, we were amazed by the wide range of gameplay mechanics and lush visuals on offer. In the Space Junk Galaxy, we had to traverse a series of platforms constantly being assembled and disassembled beneath our feet. This section also featured several areas where Mario escaped the tenuous gravity of the junk planetoid and drifted along in a little space bubble. Our only means of controlling him at this point was to use the pointer to click on a number of nearby stars. Each star, when clicked, would shoot out a little beam and grab onto Mario, pulling him in. So it was possible to make use of the floaty mechanics here by clicking on a number of the stars rapidly in sequence to slingshot Mario along to his next destination.

Later on, we had to tackle a boss battle against one of Bowser Jr.'s enormous robots. This thing was basically just a big head with gigantic legs coming out of it, and we had to start out at its feet and slowly inch our way up to the body as it stomped its way around a little planet. Once we approached the head, we had to maneuver between a bunch of cannons shooting bullet bills at us. These bullets actually came in handy since they would follow us around wherever we ran. We simply had to get one to fire at us, lead the bullet toward the robot's nerve center, and then duck out of the way just in time for the bullet to blow a hole in the bot brain. Defeating this boss gave us a "grand star," which we quickly discovered will restore power to a new section of the observatory, letting you explore more new galaxies.

This water race requires you to steer by twisting the Wii Remote.

Every level of the game we saw had its own unique aesthetic and graphical elements that made it wholly distinctive from the others. The game is basically a feast for the eyes--each galaxy is absolutely popping with bright, saturated colors and day-glo lighting effects. Even though Mario Galaxy only runs in 480p resolution (like all Wii games), Nintendo's artists have done a fabulous job of compensating for the relative lack of detail with lush, colorful, highly detailed artwork.

From the first hour we played, Super Mario Galaxy seems like a great mix of tried-and-true 3D Mario mechanics--butt-stomping, spin-attacking, coin collecting--with some less orthodox gameplay. The game plays fast and loose with concepts like gravity and orientation, as befits the outer-space setting, and we can't wait to see what kind of craziness the designers have added to the later areas of the game.

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262 comments
GSmashX_202
GSmashX_202

GS review is now released check it out!

T1KARMANN
T1KARMANN

Think wii will just have to see how this one goes it has a lot to live up to with mario 64 being so great

thrashunreal
thrashunreal

hitomo... polishing the game would be a great marketing strategy. They may not care about the independent feelings of their fans, but they DO like you said care about selling games. And a good, perfect game, is just the way to do that.

I'm sure the PS3 and Xbox 360 or whatever else you're plugging aren't evil money-hoarding corporate giants though.

bluesteel13
bluesteel13

I have a feeling that this game will be hitting the 9.0 to 9.5 in no time because i am going to get it and rate it so high (hopefully it will be good).

hitomo
hitomo

"I have a strong feeling they've seen how many wiis have been sold and have *really* polished this game up to near perfection." ...yes, because nintendo actually things your feelings are important to them ... and clearly, if you look back nearly every decision Nintedo made in its long history, was always made to take care of the dreams and feelings of there many little fans, with there pockets full of money :D

hitomo
hitomo

sorry.. this looks so boring, its miles away from being fresh or inovative, EVEN the music is the SAME ... man childplay...

davesalmon
davesalmon

Well it cant be anyworse than sunshine lets be honest!!!

ShuuMutou
ShuuMutou

After a long wait for Twilight Princess[ how it was delayed], Galaxy is another that is well worth waiting for.

UltimaVgamer
UltimaVgamer

i pre-ordered this game a week ago, this is going to be awesome

NandoSupes
NandoSupes

awesome ,awesome lol, man I wish I had a Wii,this game looks phenomenal .I'm 100% sure that the gameplay in this game is AAA of the first degree.

ewmgreendawg
ewmgreendawg

wow this game is beautiful. i havent been paying much attention to it until recently. im more of an old school mario man but its so damn pretty i think i'll be buying this one.

teknicz
teknicz

I'm going to have to take the word of the people who have actually tried it and said they were impressed enough to want it badly already. I've got a Wii, and I like playing games on it, but I can't even imagine how the controls work for this game? Is it going to be similar to LoZ:TP, with the nunchuk controlling Mario's running movements? Or is it all Wiimote? That just doesn't seem like it'll be as intuitive as this game's videos make it appear to be. With the speed and movement in those videos, I kinda figured there'd be a different setup than LoZ:TP.

Lafuigi
Lafuigi

I've actually tried to avoud seeing videos and images. I'm limiting my exposure to this game to really dive into it when I get it.

lord_planty45
lord_planty45

yeah i agree with you mattcake this game looks awesome and amazing i didn't think a mario game could get this good but after seeing this one i was like wow know don't get me wrong i like Mario games but i don't think any mario game can compare to this one lol not including smash bros or 64, anywho i bet every other place will give it a 9.5 or higher but gamespot wont but i guess we wont know till it comes out

mattcake
mattcake

Well, they promised it at wii launch, they promised it within 6 months, and now a year later it's almost here - I have a strong feeling they've seen how many wiis have been sold and have *really* polished this game up to near perfection. Anything less than a 9.5 would be almost disappointing considering the wait imo.

Masterx1220
Masterx1220

@ Oreille "SSBB on december..." u mean SSBB in february

oreille
oreille

Omg, Galaxy and Umbrella Chronicles in november, and SSBB on december... AND 1 MONTHS WITHOUT SCHOOL OMG IM GONNA LOOSE ALL MY FRIENDS

hitomo
hitomo

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ukillwegrill
ukillwegrill

AFWorm Finally, a Mario game to redeem the series! Pretty sweet WHAT !?! every game mario is in is pure genius and this will be no different

Zee666
Zee666

OOH, damn world, not making a universal console so i can play stuff... wahhhhhhhh!

AFWorm
AFWorm

Finally, a Mario game to redeem the series! Pretty sweet.

sonictay1997
sonictay1997

Today i went to the gamestop to pre oder it i looked at the little wii staion for demos and it had super mario galaxy my mom said we did not have time. But after i pre odered it i went over pressed a AND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!i had to go. i can not wait to till to playy galaxy. but it is hoilday on the 12th so i can play all day.

Sticboy
Sticboy

OMG!!! I WANT THIS AME NOOWWW!!!!!!

GSmashX_202
GSmashX_202

geist9049 there is replay value. You can unlock Luigi when you collect 120 stars and beat Bowser twice. So I think there would be replay value

geist9049
geist9049

hope theres alot of replay value to it. hard to believe mario doesn't launch with the new platforms as they come out anymore

KingChainz31684
KingChainz31684

unown88 the only people who actually complain are people who got passed up in the wii generation this game will be amazing and i look for it possibly to become one of the greatest platformers of all time from what i have seen of it.

P_Blease
P_Blease

Looking forward to this game

firehawk110
firehawk110

this game is going to go down as the greatest game in platforming history without a doubt.

Hellmonkey012
Hellmonkey012

I have no school on the 12th so im gonna get it first thing in the morning and play it all day until X-Play on G4 comea on at 8pm and there gonna have a special about it and review it!!!!!!! It looks awesome. Graphics look great for the Wii.

Frjam
Frjam

Edit: Maybe controls was a bad choice of words, I meant the moves, triple jump, wall slide, long jump...yeah, that kind of thing. Not literally the controls.

Frjam
Frjam

It's not a demo, it's the full game, and I work at Game Stop. Also, if you pre order it you can get a coin. I talked my friend into doing it. =P November 12th people.

vbdude006
vbdude006

Already pre-ordered this, its going to be AWESOME. Also i have to agree with rockerode, i've played this game as a demo at gamestop but frjam is wrong with the controls, they're somewhat different and it use motion sensing unlike the 64 and unlike the Mario 64 DS with touch-screen.

OReilly89
OReilly89

As of now this beat out Assassin's Creed for one of two games I'll buy in November (I limited myself to two because I could easily get carried away). The other is Mass Effect. Man I'm going to be sick of the space theme when I'm done.

benjaminjoel
benjaminjoel

GOTY 2007, baby! Come on Galaxy, bring it home for Nintendo!

rockerode
rockerode

jay and josh there are demos at gamestops now, so he isnt lying its a demo that ppl can try

Jayesler12
Jayesler12

frjam.....the game isn't even out yet...

captainwonton
captainwonton

It looks great and impressive, in graphics and details and of course gameplay too, surely one of the best releases (if not the best) before SSBB

funnycowpie
funnycowpie

I'm really looking forward to this game; Looks like a great game.

Frjam
Frjam

@ xeyz81 I played this game at work yesterday, and it's sweet! It has all the controls back from Super Mario 64, anything you remember from back then, it's back, and fun as ever.

malphycious
malphycious

I'm gonna buy this game the moment it comes out!

xeyz81
xeyz81

Move over mario 64, i think this game looks way better and fun than mario 64. galaxy is a must buy. who doesnt get this game shouldnt of gotten a WII, heh

Yoshicon8
Yoshicon8

This game looks fun and im looking fordward to it

xeyz81
xeyz81

who thinks this will be the game of the year ?