Mario takes his princess saving gig to the far reaches of space.

User Rating: 8.5 | Super Mario Galaxy WII
Pros:
Casual and hardcore gamers will find enjoyment
Tried and true formula

Cons:
Grabbing all 120 stars twice will test your sanity
No true reward for grabbing every star
Camera angles can prove to be a determinant

"Super Mario Galaxy" for the Nintendo Wii is another installment of the never ending battle between the titular character and the princess kidnapping Bowser. This time around Bowser's plan literally takes Mario from galaxy to galaxy. Mario will fight his way through the many planets in order to find each Power Star so that he can travel to the center of the universe and bring the battle to Bowser's doorstep. Along the way Mario will be aided by Lumas, star-like creatures who can become new planets or even galaxies for him to explore, The Toad Brigade, Luigi, and Rosalina, who acts as the "mama" to all of the Lumas.

Mario will spend his time in-between galaxies at the Comet Observatory. There, it's his duty to restore power to different parts of the Observatory by collecting the "Grand Stars"; by powering up different parts of the Observatory Mario will unlock other galaxies to explore and ultimately more Power Stars to collect. In nearly every room of the Observatory will be a "boss" galaxy, where Mario will either take on Bowser Jr. or Bowser himself; with each successful encounter, Mario will collect the Grand Stars, the stars needed to power the Comet Observatory as mentioned before. However, there is still a minimum requirement of sixty Power Stars to fully restore the Comet Observatory and face off with Bowser at the center of the universe.

For the most part the story of nearly ever Super Mario game is that Bowser ends up kidnapping Princess Peach and it's up to Mario to save the day. While this game is no different, it's a formula that has worked for all these years and in the years to come. But it's usually the gameplay that's the selling point of the Mario series; whether it's a 2D side scroller or a 3D platformer. This time around the gameplay revolves around Mario planet hopping through each galaxy.

The number of planets varies from galaxy to galaxy, as does the theme of each galaxy. One galaxy in particular revolves around a bee colony while another is inhabited by only the Boo ghosts. Speaking of, Mario will have new power ups to aid him, such as Bee Mario and even Boo Mario, with the Bee power up enabling Mario to fly for a limited and the Boo power up enabling Mario to float, turn invisible, and pass through certain walls. However, some power ups feel more like a hindrance than actual help.

As the game progresses the difficulty of each galaxy will increase, though causal fans will be able to finish the game before getting to the steeper galaxies. Those looking for a challenge in collecting every star will have no problem in having their skills and endurance tested. Going through the first time to collect all 120 stars will be challenging enough, the only reward in doing so is doing it all over again, but this time with Luigi. This makes attempting the feat in the first place feel pretty meaningless, and even doing the challenge with Luigi doesn't have what feels like a fulfilling reward. But some might argue that it's not about the reward, but the challenge itself. It all depends on what each player believes.

This time around the iconic coins of Mario take a back seat to the newly introduced "star bits". With star bits, Mario is able to feed hungry Lumas or attack enemies with them. Feeding certain hungry Lumas will unlock new planets or even galaxies. In addition to stomping on enemies and throwing star bits at them, the main attack of Mario will be his spin move. By shaking the Wiimote back and forth Mario (with the aid of a Luma tucked away in his hat) spins around in place and knocks over enemies who dare to invade his personal zone.

There are a couple of new "game" modes that make use of the Wiimote motion sensor, that is to say that in certain galaxies Mario is able to air race against other creatures via birds, or race in the sea on the back of a sting ray. Though the game is labeled as being a two player game, the only purpose of the second player (who's only visible on screen as a cursor) is to grab the star bits that appear on screen, something that the first player is able to do on their own, even if they find themselves in a hectic situation. The second cursor on the screen could in fact distract the main player and hurt more than help.

Each planet or platform that Mario will find himself on will have its own gravity; he can use this to his advantage by being able to travel completely around the planet top to bottom and possibly discover hidden areas and even hidden Power Stars. Some galaxies even have inverse gravity, where Mario will stick to the ceilings or even to the sides of the wall. In the more challenging galaxies the gravity and shift direction at given intervals, so moves have to be planned accordingly.

The downside to being able to circle around a planet or platform in 360 degrees is that the camera angle could become distorted to an extent and inhibit the controls by swapping the directions (up is down, left is right), this makes those precision moves when trying to obtain 100 purple coins or dodging attacks all the more harder.

Super Mario Galaxy is a refreshing take on the Super Mario games that have been released in the past. There's constant enjoyment in zipping around the different galaxies Mario will find himself immersed in and literally a colorful cast of characters who Mario will meet in his space-fill adventure.

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