Prepare to enter worlds so imaginative you'll be likely to not want to leave.
Like many other games (or rather all of the other games) in the series, the game starts off with Princess Peach getting kidnapped.... again. This time though, prepare to leave your safety zone of the mushroom kingdom for, no, not that craptacular tropical paradise Isle Delfino, but the boundless area of outer space. You'll quickly become familiar with a princess-like character, Rosalina (commonly referred to as simply "mama"). Your hub world is set on her starship, the observatory. Like in Super Mario 64's castle and Super Mario Sunshine's Isle Delfino, the observatory serves as the connection to all of the many galaxies set in the game.
What are galaxies, you ask? Essentially, they are the equivalent of the worlds in past games. Each galaxy has its own theme, some fire themed, some ice themed, some with frightening themes, some with dark themes, and even some with toy themes and pastry themes. Without a doubt, the thing that stands out the most in this game is the varied galaxies you'll discover. Not one is at all repetitive, and these worlds are undoubtedly the single most creative and imaginative you'll ever find in a video game. The clever design of each is astounding, and you'll constantly be scratching your head thinking "Wow, that was absolutely brilliant!"
Along with the fresh new design of the worlds, with innovative spherical designs to be found throughout most of the game, comes the classic Mario gameplay we've come to know and love in Super Mario 64. Just like the previous two Mario games, you'll be collecting 120 power stars (or shines, in Sunshine's case) to save the universe. While only sixty are required to complete the game, collecting all 120 stars will present you with a reward you're bound to find worthwhile. The refreshing platforming in Galaxy is perhaps what makes this game truly stand out from the rest. The simple fact that they managed to perfect the Mario gameplay and create a fresh, innovative experience at the same time is what makes Super Mario Galaxy excel. Tricky puzzles and intense nostalgic platforming combined make this the best 3D Mario game yet.
As for Wii Remote usage, you'll quickly find that motion control is not forced upon you by any means. But, at the same time, the way that the game does use motion control is fitting and works very well. To do your nifty spin attack, you'll slightly shake the remote... which worked 100% of the time in my playthrough. In addition to this, you'll notice a tiny star cursor on your screen that you can move around using the IR control in the Wii Remote. The cursor actually adds a lot to the experience, you can collect star bits (the currency in Super Mario Galaxy, which is found more frequently than coins interestingly enough) which can either be used to shoot your enemies, pay to lumas to unlock new galaxies, or can give you 1UPs with every fifty you collect. It actually adds an interesting shooting element to the game... but at the same time you could most likely go the entire game without ever shooting any of the star bits. Of course, chances are it will be beneficial to do so.
In reality, the only real complaints to have with Super Mario Galaxy would be its occassionally frustrating camera. Because it uses an automatic camera rather than a manual one, the camera will sometimes switch to a position rather confusing for the particular situation. Specifically, the camera underwater will most likely confuse you, since the amount of manual control you have over the camera is so minimal. For the most part, however, the camera is right on top of everything it should be focused on. For an automatic camera, it more than suits the purpose, but excels beyond what your expectations would usually be for an automatic camera in the platforming genre. Along with this, the game may be a bit easy for more experienced players.... that isn't to say that there won't be some very tricky and challenging moments throughout the game though. If you want to collect all 120 stars, prepare for some serious work. Thankfully, while some levels may be relatively easy to play through, they are never dull, which stays true to Shigeru Miyamoto's philosophy of gameplay.
Visually, Mario is not only looking better on Wii than he ever has before, but his new game is easily the best looking game on Wii.... or better yet, the best looking platformer this generation. The art style used fits the Mario theme extremely well, but at the same time creates a certain galactic flair you are bound to pick up on. The colorful visuals and technically advanced graphics for the Wii are simply amazing. At times, you'll begin to question if your eyes are perhaps even playing tricks on you! Indeed, this could easily fit in with some of the many games on the other two platforms. The colorful pop and cheerful sugar coated graphics definitely set the standard extremely high for future Wii titles.
Concerning the audio, Super Mario Galaxy stands out as having one of the most beautiful soundtracks of any game. The development team has truly evolved the sound of Mario's tunes by giving it orchestrated music, rather than the usual MIDI music. Is it a success? I encourage you to listen to the music for yourself to understand just how truly successful the music is. You'll find yourself revisiting galaxies just to listen to the music of that particular galaxy again. There are definitely a ton of great remixes of old Mario music (which are extremely well done), and many new pieces as well that are equally as good, and sometimes better. This great blend of music combined with some small but good voice overs (Charles Martinet of course never disappoints with Mario's small voice overs) and great sound effects make this game's audio one of the best of all time.
While once you beat the game and collect all 120 of the game's power stars, you'll probably find that there isn't a ton of replay value, the simple fact that you'll probably spend roughly fifteen hours beating the game and a whopping thirty hours doing every single thing in the game is more than enough to satisfy you for quite awhile. Not only this, but you're bound to enjoy just replaying some of your favorite scenarios in your favorite galaxies. Everything in the game is so polished and perfected, that it would be hard not to want to replay some of these galaxies. Plus, there is an included "Co-Star" mode as well, which adds an extra cursor to the screen for the second player to point at Mario and make him jump, collect star bits, or help out in other helpful or sometimes hindersome ways. It may not be a fully fleshed out co-op mode, but it's definitely a nice touch to the overall experience if you have someone else that is willing to play. The intuitive design of Co-Star mode can appeal to everyone, which is a good thing if you can't find a true "gamer" to play with.
Overall, this is the game that proves what Wii is about. Innovation. Quality. Intuitive design. I could easily go on and on, but ultimately I need not describe to you what this game offers. Once you play it for yourself, you'll quickly learn that this is an experience that can not be matched on any other console, new or old. Super Mario Galaxy's sugar coated fun and fresh new take on the platforming genre creates the first true Wii game that is not only a must-have for any and everyone, but the game that will give you reason to buy a Wii. This is Mario like he's never been before, and he's better than ever.