E3 '07: Super Mario Galaxy Hands-On Impressions

We got starstruck by a new playable level of Super Mario Galaxy at E3 07.

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The virtual stars always align for E3, and one of the brightest is Mario, the mustachioed plumber extraordinaire. But not all is right in the skies above Mario Land. A certain lovely lady has gone missing, and a new menace has wrecked the cosmos. While we don't know how the story will unfold, we got a brief hands-on taste of what will be in the stars and stores for you when this game ships on the 12th of November.

Early on you'll find yourself talking to a rabbit on a small planetoid. He's quite rascally, and before zipping away he challenges you to capture him and his friends. As you begin your search, you'll notice the same jumping mechanics from Mario 64, including the timed triple-jump (yip-yahoo-yoweeee!) and the long jump. The long jump is particularly cool, especially on this small starter planet, because you can literally launch yourself into orbit and travel halfway around the world in one jump.

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

As you explore the world searching for rabbits, you'll notice landmarks like a warp tunnel, a black crater, and a dense thicket. As you dive into each one, you'll flush out a varmint, and then the chase is on. If you recall the rabbit chase in Mario 64, this is very similar. These rabbits are slightly slower than Mario when he's built up a full head of steam, but they corner devilishly.

On top of that, if you chase the critter down to the underside of the world, you'll find yourself chasing him upside down, with reversed controls! It's definitely disorienting in a fun, topsy-turvy sort of way.

After catching the bunnies, you'll gain a spin-punch attack that can be executed by simply shaking the remote back and forth, which will smash crystals and bash enemies. It's not the only weapon in your arsenal, however, especially if there's a second player on hand. In any game of Super Mario Galaxy, a second player can join in any time and take control of what appears to be a small shooting star to help you grab power-ups, or stun enemies for an easier butt-stomp. It's an interesting take on cooperative play.

Shortly after you master the spin-punch, you'll be able to jump from planet to planet on big, star-shaped launch pads, or float from place to place by targeting small networks of blue stars. The worlds may be small, but the levels promise to be huge. Cosmic, even.

While it's too early to say whether or not Super Mario Galaxy will completely outshine the competition this holiday season, we have a feeling that Mario's looming journey across the universe will pleasantly change your world this November.

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