6.5

In the PC gaming world, we call this "An Expansion pack", and it isn't a very good one at that.

Nintendo is a very unique company. Unique in the way that while they do things that are very unpopular, most of the hobby tends to not only copycat them in secret but also eventually herald their risky decisions as a new revolution in game design. What makes Nintendo unique is that while their hardware designs (Virtual Boy, Wii, DS, etc.) have always been very "off the beaten path" and risky, they tend to contradict themselves in that regard when it comes to first party games. Unlike their hardware, they tend to recycle the same exact thing time and time again and act sly when the accolades start pouring in.

When any other company rehashes their old titles they get raked along the coals for it, yet Nintendo can re-release Mario 64 for the DS (Or repackage the Metroid Prime Trilogy, or re-release Ocarina of Time, etc etc) with a very wacky and ineffectual control scheme at a system's launch and have it sell a few million copies. It's basically money in the bank to "The Big N".

Which brings us to Super Mario Galaxy 2, a game that has been heralded as not only game of the year material, but apparently an early runner for game of this newly born decade as well.

As a PC gamer, I'm aware of the term "Expansion pack". In the era before constant streams of DLC and micro-transactions, games were updated and added to by way of post release expansion packs that were sold in brick & mortar stores. Nowadays however, a game is either dribbled to us in tiny yet rather expensive amounts over the course of a year or the company that published it simply adds in a few more maps and sells the recycled and almost unchanged game again as a full fledged title.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 falls into the latter of the two aforementioned categories.

To put it simply, Super Mario Galaxy is nothing more than an expansion pack, and a relatively sparse one at that. Other than the addition of Yoshi and a few new powers there is nothing here that you haven't seen before. Most of the exact same strategies used to defeat bosses in the first galaxy are recycled again during the boss fights in the sequel. Even the level "gimmicks" are recycled as well, creating a really sad feeling of deja vu when you approach a new planet and realize that you "already did this before". It makes what little challenge the game DOES have feel a bit less substantial as a result.

Which brings me to Galaxy 2's biggest sin, the difficulty.

Though I did enjoy the first Galaxy title, it was embarrassingly easy and far too "soft" for me to get into. After only four days of play I had not only beaten the game, but grabbed 92 of the stars before finally growing bored with it and moving on. While enjoyable, it was far too easy to truly appreciate. Early reviews said that Galaxy 2 was significantly harder than the first, so my hopes were high upon pre-ordering it that Mario would once again challenge me with some hardcore platforming fun the way he had in the past.

Sadly, it didn't work out that way. While Galaxy 2 is a bit harder than the first title in the series, it's like saying a sponge is harder than a ball of cotton. The difference is not only so minuscule it's not worth comparing, but the amount of difficulty present is still far below what the series was once known for. The backwards slide into casual-gaming that Mario has been doing ever since the beginning of the last decade has been a hard pill to swallow, and this latest adventure isn't helping me to wash it down either.

You know something is wrong when you've beaten the game in a week and can't remember ever having less than 20 extra lives at any point in the entire game. While I have nothing against the extremely commonplace 1-up mushrooms, I wish they would have at least given me worlds that gleefully took them away. While some "Extra" challenge levels such as the flipside galaxy (Purple Coin levels, the one part I DO love about the game) did force me to retry a few times, it was nothing an average gamer couldn't conquer in a half an hour. Even less for younger gamers than me who still have their lightning fast reflexes.

One last downside to Galaxy 2 would be the overall feeling of childishness that permeates the game. From the signs that constantly reiterate gameplay mechanics you've learned 10 to 20 levels ago (Or even 2 years ago when playing the first game) to the in-game mechanism that will take control of your character and do the playing for you, it's as if Galaxy 2 has been made for people one third my age and I'm playing a game I really had no business buying. I could make the argument that Mario isn't meant for me anymore, but no other character from my 80's childhood (Mega Man, Samus, Solid Snake, The Belmont Clan) has abandoned their hardcore roots...so why Mario? Is he now meant solely for the grade school crowd?

Sadly, that seems to be the case.

With a depressingly low difficulty level, hardly any new gameplay mechanics, a very limited number of new additions and no real difference between this and the previous game, Super Mario Galaxy 2 feels like a half-finished and hacked-together expansion pack that was cobbled together from cut ideas left over from the first game. Nothing feels fresh, nothing feels exciting, and nothing feels new. It's the same game we played a couple years back and paying full price for it seems a bit unfair.

Of course, the public's reception and the hype surrounding it would lead you to believe otherwise. Perhaps fortunately for Nintendo, a lot of gamers who have grown tired of ultra-violent shooters have latched onto Galaxy 2 and made it the base of their rallying cry for change in the industry. Casual observation of the Super Mario Galaxy 2 "phenomenon" seem to indicate that some fans see this game as "The Anti Call of Duty" and presumably believe that anyone who does not like the game is therefore a dyed-in-the-wool shooter fan that simply cannot appreciate the beauty and simplicity of Nintendo's colorful platformer.

While I respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I have trouble seeing the beauty in a game that not only has no real challenge, but has 90% of its content copy-and-pasted from the previous title in the series.

I think the fact that Mario doesn't say "two" when speaking the title of the game at the intro screen is a good indicator that Nintendo is aware of their own trickery. It's as if even he knows that the game is merely a B-grade expansion pack.

I can only recommend the game to people who loved the first game or parents who have young children that game, though even still I'd ask that you wait until you can find it on sale for less than its intended retail price.

At best, Galaxy 2 is rushed to market expansion pack.

At worst, it's proof that Nintendo is no longer concerned with making quality games.


Discussion

1 comments
al_duraibi
al_duraibi

Finally something that I can agree with, every word you said, COULDN'T SAY IT BETTER.
I was about to go crazy, talking to the people who love this game, i felt like I didn't play it at all! calling me crazy for seeing it as a dlc, copy pasted etc. don't get me wrong, its decent, that's it.