Mario's latest adventure revolutionizes the genre once again with new gameplay, wonderful design and presentation.
marioknight wrote this review on .
Enter the Nintendo Wii, with it's motion sensing technology allowing for interaction never before possible. But with a few notable exceptions, most games for the Wii have been gimmicky and have had the feel of tech demo mini-games rather than trying to use this new technology to set a new standard. Whether it be developers either not trying hard or still getting a feel for it (I tend to believe the latter), there hasn't been a serious attempt at an actual Wii title (re, a game that didn't start as a GameCube game) to make use of the new interaction in an adventure-type game. Super Mario Galaxy is the first game to attempt this, and like the Mario games of generations past, shines brightly and will easily become a timeless classic for the ages.
Like its predecessors, the story is the basic princess gets kidnapped and must be saved. The twist this time around is that Bowser has learned how to use Power Stars to travel all across the universe. Mario is aided by star creatures called lumas, who are cared for by a woman named Rosalina. You spend time on her comet observatory to use the power of the stars you collect to power the observatory back up to fully operational status. The more stars you collect, the increased power of the ship can allow you to travel to more distant galaxies until the ship allows you to travel to the center of the universe for the final showdown with Bowser. 60 stars are required to accomplish this, with a maximum of 120 to collect.
It may seem like a rehash of Super Mario 64, especially when you can find yourself pulling off many of Mario's moves the same way as you would in his 64-but adventure. However unlike SM64, the levels, called galaxies, take a whole new meaning of the term level design. These galaxies have multiple small planets that you travel between using launch stars. Sometimes planets are so close together that a high jump will gravitate Mario to the other planet. The traveling around the more circular can take some getting used to, however it doesn't take that long and is quite enjoyable. You won't always be on such planets as you will find yourself on platforms floating through space debris, or even gigantic toys. Parts of stages even revert to the classic 2D type sections, adding twists of the direction of gravity being changed, making things real interesting.
Like other games, Mario has multiple suits that give him different abilities. He can now turn into a bee to fly short distances, into a boo to scare his enemies, classic fire Mario to shoot fireballs, and even a spring to jump to unbelievable heights. Some if these suits can be tricky to use, but they all provide a lot of fun and entertainment. Coins restore Mario's life as in previous games, however there isn't much focus in collecting them as in the past. In SMG, the focus is more on Star-bits, which are used for various things. From currency to food for the luma, to even as weapons. They can be collected by touching them, or the more fun way of highlighting them by pointing the cursor with the Wii-mote over them. The same method can be used to shoot them by the point and click.
The soundtrack is also quite impressive. It reuses some scores from previous games with touch-ups, and includes a lot of new tracks that sound wonderful. It's hard to get a good listen to the music while playing, but from what I can hear as I play and listen for when others play, I love it. However until I get a hold of and fully listen to the soundtrack, I really can't comment much on it. I also cannot really comment on the two-player cooperative play since I haven't been able to play it yet. However I've read that it can be as simple as just having the second player collect and shoot star-bits, to fully helping out with control of Mario and his surroundings. I am really looking forward to playing this full-force with my friends when the opportunity presents itself.
I really have no quibbles with the game. The story is simple though adds a new degree with aiding Rosalina and the lumas with their problems. However while I haven't finished this myself yet, it would appear that everyone who has completed the game has said that the ending doesn't really tie up any loose ends, which is disappointing if that is the case. Also disappointing to me is the exclusion of the Koopalings from a Mario game once again. They haven't been used in a decade and a half or so, and would easily add many degrees to the game in both story and gameplay. Honestly, I could go on for a while about my displeasure of cutting them from the Mario universe, so I will tackle the subject elsewhere. However, what was great to see that hasn't really been used since Super Mario Bros. 3 is the usage of the Doomship. It's a nice thing to see, and hopefully foreshadows other things coming down the line.
Overall, Super Mario Galaxy is an amazing game. The 3D platformer genre has been in need of something new and fresh while remaining elements of the old, and SMG does an excellent job of doing that. It introduces new elements of play and executes them almost flawlessly. This is the game that will set the bar for the genre for this generation of systems and the groundwork for future generations. History has repeated once again with Mario setting the standard, allowing for the evolution of the genre and industry to keep moving forward. If you own a Wii, you must get this game, and if you don't own a Wii yet, this is the game that should convince you to get one.