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.
The checkpoints are visible and well placed, allowing you to try fun and crazy actions that can lead to sudden death, without the frustration of having to repeat a big level form the start (if you don't lose all your lives, of course). Speaking of dying, the game still uses a system of lives and, like in the prequel, it's fairly easy to accumulate a great number of them, but it's also easy to lose many of them on certain levels, if you don't play well enough, and they reset to 4 once you exit the game. I must confess that this system is starting to feel dated, so I hope they change it a little in the next game. Super-precise and always responsive controls, which translate into joyful movements onscreen, make every action you perform in the game feel right and invigorating, whether you're leaping from wall to wall, skiing on ice, jumping across pits or simply running around. And 99% of time the camera gives you the most balanced angle, right in the middle between cinematic and practical, and is capable of capturing every one of those crazy actions.
No doubt the best graphics engine of any game for the Wii, one of the best artistic visual designs of this gaming generation, particularly how well the saturated color patterns were applied on the wonderfully different level designs, and some remarkable character animations. Now add to that an even more amazing and wide-ranging soundtrack that skilfully mixes old tunes with new compositions and always fits the action perfectly. All this helps the game to be really enjoyable to watch when some else is playing instead of you, also making it possible to have a group of people watching you play, which is always more fun than playing alone, no matter what people say. If some day Nintendo releases a high-definition version of this game I will definitely buy it!
The amount of variety in Galaxy 2 is astounding – more so than in any other action platformer that came before it. Every level has its own unique gameplay mechanics and activities, all very fun and none feels made in a hurry, so you never know what novelties come next and they never stop coming! Even the power-ups are more and better used than ever in this game, being Yoshi the most noteworthy of them all. There are many boss fights in Galaxy 2, and almost all of them are as inventive and exhilarating as the rest of the game. Bowser is bigger and more imposing than ever, but the 3 encounters with him aren't the most satisfying boss fights in the game, with the last being the less inspired one, which can feel a little anti-climatic.
There are a very small number of stars that are very easy to collect, even for less skilled players, but the "prequel" had more of those so this is an improvement. Half of the 120 stars are fairly easy to collect for platforming veterans, which makes the game a bit easier than necessary, particularly if we consider that most people that will be playing this game have already beat the first Galaxy game, but those easy stars are still extremely fun to collect, and the rest of the stars are challenging enough to satisfy even the most skilled gamers, providing some of the most gratifying moments you can have in a video-game. Also, there is one not always easy reach comet coin, hidden in each and every galaxy, that have to be collected to unlock all the 120 stars. In other words, Galaxy 2 isn't a walk in the park and will make you lose more lives than you did in the previous game, before catching the 120th star. But it's also faster and better paced, making it more exciting to play while decreasing the number of hours necessary to beat it, specially for those already familiar with the controls. If you've collected all the 120 stars of the first game in 30 hours, it will probably take you 25 hours to the same in this game. On the other hand, instead of allowing you to simply catch the same stars again with Luigi, after you collect all 120 (previous game), Galaxy 2 gives you the choice to play with Luigi in any level much before that, and gives you 120 brand new green stars to collect, cleverly hidden in different and unexpected places throughout all the levels. Grabbing all of those green stars will unlock a new and very hard level, with 2 gold stars waiting for the most astute players.
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 amazing and will keep you coming back after you've collected every star, is the expertly designed levels, with an incredible amount of variety, a brilliantly dynamic 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!
GAMEPLAY = = = = = = = = = = ( 10 )
GRAPHICS = = = = = = = = = = ( 10 )
SOUND = = = = = = = = = = ( 10 )
VALUE = = = = = = = = = = (10 )
MY GAME SCORE = ((( 10 )))
Here's one idea to change the system of lives for the next game: every time you start a level, you begin with a predetermined number of lives, specific for that level, where you can collect hidden green mushrooms to increase that number. And when you move on to another level you don't take those lives with you, because those lives only existed inside that particular level. With that in mind, fast paced levels, that don't have checkpoints, don't need to have a system of lives, since you always return to the beginning every time you die. Also, there aren't any green mushrooms to collect outside the levels or letters from peach with lives in them.
I think the best way to end this review is with some of my favorite excerpts/quotes from all the professional reviews I've read about this masterpiece.
"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." – Tom Mc Shea, GameSpot.
"You can't always adjust the camera, but it's been intelligently programmed to show you what the developers want you to see." – Gametrailers
"Every level feels like an individual painting sketched out in painstaking detail, colored over with a broad and fruitful array of hues, then cut and snipped to perfection with an X-Acto knife. There are no fillers here, no cookie-cutter design shortcuts. Every single galaxy feels like it was crafted individually, giving every star hunt a little something new to bring to the experience." – Richard Naik, GameCritics.
"There is a very thin line between being challenging and being tedious, but through the use of checkpoints, Super Mario Galaxy 2 manages to walk that line like a tightrope, making the star hunts more memorable than in the original." – Gametrailers
"You can't really complain about more of the same, when the same is the one thing it never is." – Oli Welsh, Eurogamer