E3 06: Super Mario Galaxy Hands-On

Fly away with Mario as he blasts from planet to planet in his new platforming adventure.

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LOS ANGELES--While it wasn't shown in detail at Nintendo's press conference, there is a pretty cool playable demo of the tentatively titled Super Mario Galaxy here at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. We were able to quickly get a feel for the controls and bounce from planet to planet, butt-stomping goombas and swinging our arms at everything in our path.

The Mario control scheme uses both the Wii's remote and the nunchaku attachment. You use the A button on the remote to jump, and you can also point it at the screen, which causes a star-shaped reticule to appear. You can hit the B trigger on the bottom of the remote while pointing at objects to interact with them. At the start, you can use this to ring a bell and cause collectible music notes to appear, and you also use this method to collect star shards. In your left hand, the nunchaku's analog stick is used to move Mario. The two trigger buttons on it are used to center the camera and to duck or butt-stomp. Finally, shaking either controller will cause Mario to spin around with his arms outstretched. This Crash Bandicoot-like move serves as an attack, and if you use it in midair, you'll get a little extra lift from a jump.

The gameplay consists of getting from the start of the level to the finish. But along the way, you'll have to blast off from one tiny sphere to the next. These miniplanets would only take you a few seconds to run a complete circle around, and some of them have tasks that you must complete before you can move on, like eliminating a specific enemy or knocking all of the coconuts off of the surface. You aren't given any indication about what you need to do, but in this demo, the whole thing seemed quite intuitive. Completing a task causes a star icon to appear, which you can then jump into as you shake the controller to charge up and blast off to the next location.

The demo ends with a boss fight against a giant fiery squidlike creature that relaxes in a large pool of lava. You can run around the outer ring of this pool. The squid fires flaming balls at you that you can swat back at your enemy by pulling off the spin move. He'll bat it back, but after a few volleys, he gets hit. After a couple of hits, he's bested and a star appears. Collecting that star ends the level and the demo.

Visually, this is probably one of the more impressive-looking Wii games on display. Mario looks great, and the environment seems expansive, even though you're basically blasting from rock to rock along a set path. The camera got a little disorienting in some spots, showing the action from a sideways or upside-down perspective, depending on which way you run on some of the smaller planets.

With its intuitive control, sharp visuals, and, of course, the Mario name, Super Mario Galaxy is definitely going to be a game to watch for.

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