Great but with serious issues

I won't go too much into gameplay (read the Gamespot review) but want to highlight some issues that definitely take this game from a 10 down to an 8.

1) Lives are handled in the dumbest way possible

Nintendo either needs to do away with the concept of "lives" or fix the system. Basically, the system will save say the number of star bits acquired but starts you off with the same number lives every time you start the game.

What this means is that people who play in shorts spurts are at a huge disadvantage because they always start with a big handicap. It's also disheartening to have 40 or 50 extra lives built up over a long session (using none of the silly tricks) and then turn off your system only to start with 4 lives again the next time you play.

The effect of this is that on hard levels (see #2) you may have to spend time on old levels building up new lives just to play a tough level (which is boring) or face having to start the level from scratch when you "die".

You do get a number of repetitive options to gain lives on your spaceship but doing the same sequence over and over is, again, boring.

2) Difficulty is wildly inconsistent

I am not a novice gamer but neither do I have the reflexes of a 12 year old. I've finished levels without a death and others are painful 20-30 death slogs of unpleasantness.

It would have been nice to either be able to tailor things to skill level or have the "help" option come up sooner.

There are those of us who don't find dying 30 times to be a fun diversion. I want to play a level and move on and if I, an experienced gamer, get frustrated, I am not sure how casual gamers would ever get through this game with their sanity intact.

3) Banktoad

It's a minor issue but a) I don't want to have to go through the intro speech every time I start a new game and use the banktoad and b) what's the point of this? I'd like to see the number or pointless interactions reduced.

All in all, it's a very solid game. It's certainly not perfect but worth buying.