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Review

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

  • Game release: May 23, 2010
  • Reviewed:
  • WII

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is even more varied, challenging, and fun than its superb predecessor, making it the new standard for platformers.

by

It may be easy to take one look at Super Mario Galaxy 2, see the same gravity-altering traps and spherical worlds from its predecessor, and dismiss this as a by-the-numbers sequel to the superb original. But by assuming you know what to expect from Mario's latest adventure, you would be doing yourself and this game a great disservice. This is not only the new standard against which every 3D platformer must now be judged, but it also seamlessly integrates so many elements from Mario's 2D roots that it stands toe-to-toe with even its genre-defining progenitors. Every aspect of this game is absolutely bursting with joy. The vibrant artistic design immediately welcomes you into this colorful world, and the catchy soundtrack deftly mixes classic tunes with new compositions to provide the perfect backdrop for your goomba-stomping, star-snatching fun. But it's the expertly designed levels that will keep you coming back, even after you've seen everything this game has to offer, just to experience it one more time. This is an instant classic that belongs alongside the best games Nintendo has ever created.

Things are once again rotten in the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser has taken Princess Peach prisoner for the umpteenth time, forcing Mario to momentarily put his plumbing gig on hold to rescue his fair lady. The best thing that can be said about the story is that it mostly stays in the background. A few lighthearted exchanges between Mario and his foes precede major battles, but there is only a brief break in the action before you get back to flinging fireballs and cracking shells. In fact, Galaxy 2 is much more streamlined than its predecessor. The elaborate hub world that has appeared in each of Mario's previous 3D adventures has been scrapped and replaced by an easy-to-navigate map that lets you hop right into the next level. Galaxy 2 has less downtime than the original, ensuring you're always engaged and entertained.

And you'll be happy to jump right into the action because Galaxy 2 is a long and often challenging adventure. There are lots of different activities to take part in, but everything comes with the same prize: a shining star. It takes 70 of these celestial bodies to make it to the end of the game, but there are many more hidden throughout the universe waiting to be discovered. No matter what you're doing in Galaxy 2, everything feels just right, thanks to the ultraprecise controls. It's a breeze leaping between walls, performing deadly butt-stomps, or jumping across lava-filled pits. There is an unabashed joy in movement that makes even running around the colorful worlds and taking in the uplifting atmosphere feel special. The camera does an admirable job of framing the action, giving you a clear view even when you're dancing on the ceiling in a reverse-gravity room or leaping between floating meteors in space. There are a few times where the angle is less than ideal, making it difficult to line up an exact jump, but for the most part, the camera performs its duty with flying colors.

Even with a belly full of pasta, Mario is still lighter than air.

The wealth of different objectives in Galaxy 2 is mind boggling. Just about every star introduces at least one new mechanic, generating a truly stunning degree of variety. Whether you're grabbing onto the talons of a powerful bird, competing in score-based challenges for a monkey that's wearing sunglasses, or slamming into enemies while ice skating, you're constantly presented with a new activity. Even though many of these situations only appear once or twice during the course of the game, they're all fully fleshed out and incredibly fun. It's really interesting how varied objectives can be even within the same level. The first time you enter a level, you may have to zip down a sand slide at breakneck speed, dodging cactuses and nabbing coins all the while. But when you enter the level again to try for a different star, you may have to navigate an underground obstacle course from a side-scrolling perspective. Because your goals are constantly changing and always at a high level, Galaxy 2 never gets stale or predictable.

If the huge variety of goals doesn't sound like a big enough change, there are also power-ups that further mix things up. One of the few weak spots in the original Galaxy was a lack of interesting power-ups to play around with, but that has been rectified here. The most notable addition is Yoshi, the lovable dinosaur with the prehensile tongue. Once on this green fellow's back, you can point at enemies or objects with the remote and swallow them whole. You can snatch up a spiny and then shoot it like a projectile, inhale a pepper to receive a massive speed boost, or chow down a bulb to light up hidden pathways. There's also a power-up that lets Mario roll around like a Goron from the Zelda series, a special suit that gives you the ability to create clouds in midair, and a drill for digging through soft dirt. All of these power-ups build on their most basic functions as you get deeper into the game, forcing you to look beyond your preconceptions to use them in unique ways.

Although most of the game is in 3D, letting you explore the environments with few restrictions, there are also 2D sections that are just as entertaining to run through. These stages are exceptionally well designed, going much further than the standard running and jumping for which Mario is known. In certain cases, gravity is your biggest opponent. Rooms will change their gravitational pull at a moment's notice, turning the walls or even the ceiling into your temporary floor. At other times, you'll be running along without a care in the world when you'll come across a pool of water floating above your head. These brief forays into swimming give you a chance to avoid cheep-cheeps and slow-moving urchins before you exit once more onto dry ground. Levels freely shift between the two perspectives. You'll be floating lazily around as bee Mario and then all of a sudden you'll be in a 2D world, swinging on vines and nabbing coins without an extra dimension to distract you. These 2D levels are a great changes of pace from the free-roaming action and are as inventive and fun as every other section of this game.

While attempting to nab every star within these stages you should also keep an eye out for hidden comet coins. These special tokens summon a comet that gives you a new challenge to experience. Sometimes, you need to sprint through a world as fast as possible, running at top speed and performing long jumps so you can shave off precious seconds. Other times, you must collect purple coins or defeat a boss without taking any damage. The comet challenges are the most difficult goals in the game, but it's a blast to sink your teeth into these levels to try to overcome their punishing traps. In one stage, you create clones of Mario with every step you take and you lose health if you touch one of the clones. Trying to coordinate your movements so you can still make it to the end without running into your clones can be difficult, but when you finally outsmart yourself and nab that star, it's extremely rewarding. Most of Galaxy 2 starts out relatively easy for platforming veterans, but there are plenty of stars that will push you to your limits, and these prove to be the most satisfying to earn.

Many of the levels end in boss fights, which are just as varied and exciting as the other aspects of the game. One of the early battles has you take on a slithering dragon that floats above a craterous moon. It flies dangerously overhead, showing off its colossal might, before it dives toward the surface and borrows underground. That's your chance to attack its glowing red pustules, but it's not easy. Dragons don't like to be punched, and it floods the screen with a wall of fire to keep you from poking its weak spot. Every boss requires a different strategy to overcome, and it's a real treat figuring out what needs to be done and then going in for the kill. The Bowser battles are particularly impressive. He is absolutely gigantic in this game, and striking him down is immensely satisfying. There is nothing quite like bringing down a treacherous foe who has been hounding you, and Galaxy 2 does a fine job of making its bosses big and imposing enough to ensure they are rewarding to conquer.

The incredible action is tied together beautifully by the visuals and music. This is a gorgeous-looking game. The levels may be home to snapping piranha plants and explosive bullet bills, but they are eminently welcoming. The attention to detail is outstanding. From the puffs of smoke billowing from the chilly rabbit's snow-covered cabin to Mario's graceful spin when performing a triple lutz, every aspect of this game looks incredible. But the music is even more impressive. Using a great combination of classics and new material, all of the music fits the action perfectly. The older songs have been remixed, and what's most interesting is how they sound even better than they did before. For instance, the haunting theme from Bowser's levels that first appeared in Super Mario 64 now has a choir singing the higher sections, and it adds an eerie note that will send shivers down your spine. Galaxy 2 is a game you do not even have to touch the controller to enjoy. The sights and sounds are so enthralling that you can just sit back, relax, and take in everything.

Even Luigi gets a chance to take part in the star-grabbing action.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is simply an outstanding game. It never rests on its laurels for a second, constantly presenting new objectives and mechanics to push you to never before seen places. Even the two-player mode offers new abilities and delights, making it even more fun to play with a friend by your side. Everything is so well designed and so entertaining that it's easy to get sucked into this world for hours. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is so phenomenal that it's difficult to imagine where Mario could possibly go in the future. But that's hardly your concern now. Mario proves that he is still the king of fun.

The Good
Levels have tons of different objectives, all of them fun
New power-ups spice up the action
Later levels offer a sizable challenge
Stunning visuals that are a marvel to look at
Catchy soundtrack that combines classic Mario songs with new material
The Bad
N/A
10
Masterpiece
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32 comments
RoachRush
RoachRush

Level designs, music, power-ups, boss fights - ALL AMAZING!!! Nintendo pulled out all the stops for this game! If you have a Wii and don't own SMG 1 or 2, you have made a terrible mistake!

carloscanalesv
carloscanalesv

you need the nunchuck to play this in addition to the Wii Mote or just the Wii Mote Plus?

Thales_aguiar
Thales_aguiar

Super Mario Galaxy - 9.5 ----- RIGHT!!!!

Super Mario Galaxy 2 - 10.0 ------ WRONG!!!!

This game deserves 8.5........ I complete these two games and the first one is way more creative!!

bruno_fmenedes
bruno_fmenedes

Outstanding review Tom!
I pretty much agree with everything you wrote about this game, particularly this line: "This is not only the new standard against which every 3D platformer must now be judged, but it also seamlessly integrates so many elements from Mario's 2D roots that it stands toe-to-toe with even its genre-defining progenitors."

Here's my shortened review of this masterpiece:

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is surprisingly even more polished and better designed than its superb predecessor. This was clearly a work of love done by people that really comprehend what makes action platformers, and Mario games in particular, so fascinating to play.

The game is fun and exciting from the beginning to the end, progressing at a breezy pacing, with some fast paced levels and none too slow paced or too difficult. It even has an easy-to-navigate map that, like in the 2D classics, lets you fly right into the next level, giving it a more addictive non-stop action feel, when compared to past 3D Mario games, by focusing on what's important: stomping goombas and going through the extremely engaging levels.

No doubt the best graphics engine of any game for the Wii, one of the best artistic visual designs of this gaming generation and an even more amazing and wide-ranging soundtrack that skilfully mixes old tunes with new compositions and always fits the action perfectly.

The concept behind the creation of Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an extension of the first Galaxy's concept, so it can't possibly have the same impact. But what makes Galaxy 2 so great and what will keep you coming back, even after you've collected every star, is the expertly designed levels, with an incredible amount of variety, a constantly changing pace due to excellent mix of 3D and 2D gameplay, and the great number of different power-ups, mechanics and activities, all smartly placed, delightful and interesting, level after level after level after level… leaving you breathless and full of joy!

MY SCORE: 10/10

yoyou225
yoyou225

Hm... if it was Gamespot in 2013, it probably would have gotten an 8.5 at best. It deserves a 10, which it got. But nowadays, Gamespot just gives anything good an 8.5 (unless they are being paid off of course...)

Nintyfan95
Nintyfan95

Not as big of a deal as people make it. Super Mario Galaxy is the real 10.

SkullsnChains77
SkullsnChains77

It's-a-me! Mari...wait...where's-a-Luigi? He makes-a-dis-a-game so much bettah! He runs-a-so much-a-fastah & jumps-a-so much-a-highah! It's about-a-time he started getting some-a-credit! Here we go!!!

vicke32
vicke32

Saying that this is too easy doesn't even begin to describe it.

Now, I'm not some guy who brags about his skills, but this game is pathetically easy, sands of time (2008) is hard compared to this, there was just no epic buildup, there was no 'grinding 99 1-ups before going against bowser'-moment like in 64. Just like the first galaxy the only "hard" levels were the ones with gimmicks, like 'tilt controller to move' or 'you need to point at the screen', I beat the final boss without dying, once.

Being good at games shouldn't make you unable to enjoy them, right?

The only enjoyable times when playing SMG1 and 2 was when I was fighting bouldergeist with daredevil, and even then I had just started to warm up when I beat him (which was about 10 or so lives) and when I did 'The Perfect Run'.

Does not deserve a 10/10, hell, no game except, no, no game deserves 10/10, this game should be a 6/10, slightly above average but not good.

TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

I would have given it a 9.5 in contrast to a perfect 10. 

ZeroAce510
ZeroAce510

AW-some game i hope Nintendo plan to Super Mario galaxy 3 soon :).

Cocotroid
Cocotroid

Jeez Mc Shea, at it again? "SMG2 HAS PERFECT CONTROLZ" when infact, they can be very jumpy, and unresponsive, but nope, Skyward Sword's controls are horrible and very unresponsive, right? You are the reason why there is no hope for the gaming world.

Voice_of_Wisdom
Voice_of_Wisdom

good, but not better than mario 64 and super mario world

Maurik03
Maurik03

the best mario game of all times e a must have game for wii onwners.

turtlethetaffer
turtlethetaffer

One of the absolute best games this gen, both the Mario Galaxy games will be remembered for a long time as games that took 3D platformers to new hieghts.

RoachRush
RoachRush

@Thales_aguiar First had the perfect soundtrack. SMG2 had perfect (and more challenging) gameplay. In the end, gameplay wins. 

The_Deepblue
The_Deepblue

Actually, I give both a 10, though the sequel is better

TheAlmightyCow
TheAlmightyCow

@Thales_aguiar Lol. An opinion cannot be wrong. He thought it was perfect but you didn't. It's like that. Some people don't like it, some do.

skayj2
skayj2

@yoyou225 What's even harder to believe is the fact that Tom McShea gave this a 10! 

:P

bruno_fmenedes
bruno_fmenedes

@vicke32 I have one honest advise for you: live more and play less videogames. If you find this game so damn easy that it's a cakewalk it's because you spend way to many hours of your time playing videogames, which ironically will cause you to enjoy less and less the games you play. But saying Sands of Time is less easy than this game is just untrue/dishonest. Maybe you were less skilled in games when you played Sands of Time or you played much more action-platformers than action-adventure games, but Sands of Time is an easier and much shorter game than SMG2. I beat Sands of Time in a 1/4 of the time, with at most 1/10 of lives lost, than SMG2, but maybe that was just me...

bruno_fmenedes
bruno_fmenedes

@Voice_of_Wisdom Super Mario World is a perfect game, so it's unfair to say that since it's impossible to be better than perfect. But for me SMG2 is better than SM64, particularly in control precision, soundtrack and visual design.

vicke32
vicke32

@bruno_fmenedes 
I also have one  honest advise for you: don't reply to comments half a year old and live more. I play games because I find human conversations and the need to "socialize" completely useless and disgusting, I only communicate. There are good and bad games, there are fun and boring games, but generally easy games are as per definition bad, hard games can be bad but that's not often the case since if a hard game is bad it's called "unfair". This game is so mediocre and bland that I haven't heard a thing about it since I wrote that comment, is that a feat a so called "10/10" game should boast about? MGS4 was GotY and was mentioned in other places, but SMG2 was completely forgotten. This game is slow paced, watered down and overall it lacks the feel of being "fresh".

Super Mario Galaxy 2 More Info

  • Released
    • Wii
    The sequel to Super Mario Galaxy features strange new worlds to explore, new challenges to overcome, and Mario's trusty sidekick, Yoshi.
    9
    Average User RatingOut of 4623 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Super Mario Galaxy 2
    Developed by:
    Nintendo EAD Tokyo
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genres:
    Action, Platformer, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms