Super Mario Galaxy 2 Updated Hands-On
Bee and Boo Mario are back, but Mario's got a few new tricks up his sleeve.
Yoshi was clearly the highlight of our last play session with Super Mario Galaxy 2. However, during our recent hands-on time with the game, the focus shifted back to Mario as we checked out one of the plumber's cool new suits, which was a rock suit that transformed Mario into an unstoppable--well, unstoppable until he hit something bigger than he was--rolling boulder. We explored five distinct levels, faced some peculiar bosses, splashed around in a water level, and then proceeded to go ice skating. As talented as Mario is, it shouldn't surprise us that he's also quite the ballerina on ice, and his shoes are obviously made to endure just about anything.
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Before jumping into the various galaxies, we were first given a tour of Starship Mario. This will be your planetlike ship and hub area that you'll use to navigate the overworld map. The map layout is reminiscent of old-school Mario games where you move along a path from one level to another until you reach the boss at the end and warp onto the next world. On the ship--which is a landscaped version of Mario's big head and bulbous nose--you can run around and mingle with the Toad Brigade, as well as your various Lumas friends. As you progress through the game, more things will be added to the starship, but at this point, we only had access to Yoshi--conveniently nestled on Mario's gigantic nose--and a packed berry garden in which we could play around. We're guessing that as you get new power-ups, they will also be available here on the ship to practice using because there are signs posted throughout to give you a refresher course on the basics of Mario Galaxy.
Our first stop was the Puzzle Plank Galaxy, where we needed to use our ground stomp to activate switches, push blocks, and move planks. The fiddle music was lively and upbeat, as we dodged wigglers and butt-stomped everything that looked like it could be a switch. Other than snagging the usual starbits and reaching the star at the end, there were comet medals that were hidden or tucked in hard-to-reach places for us to collect or unlock levels from previous galaxies. Before fighting the miniboss at the end of the stage, we had to use our ground pound shift and slide giant pieces of a wooden plank to complete a painted image, which was similar to a sliding puzzle. Once the image was in place, a couple of beetles stacked on top of one another appeared but were easily disposed of after a few stomps.
The next galaxy we visited was called the Boulder Bowl, where we saw the rock mushroom for the first time. This stone fungus gave Mario a stone hat and a tough exterior, but he was only protected when we shook the remote, which transformed him into a huge rolling boulder. Once we were spinning, we couldn't stop until we ran into something hard enough to either break, or big enough, to hurt us. You're unwieldy in this form because you're rolling fast, but you can guide Mario to knock down bridges, break things, or roll over goombahs. The boss fight took place on a circular wire cage, where we faced Rollodillo, a monstrous well-armored critter that would charge at us by rolling into a spiked ball. Like all boss fights, there was a weakness to exploit, so it didn't take long before we used rock Mario to ram into Rollodillo enough times to call it a day.
The only 2.5D platforming level we played was in the Honeybloom Galaxy where we got to check out Bee Mario again. As cute as Mario is in his little bee outfit, the controls are still the same as you press and hold the A button to hover--ever so slowly--to higher ground while dodging snappy piranha plants. It was a bright and cheery level, filled with blossoming flowers; we also got to swing on green vines and bounce off of soft pods. Our favorite level by far was the next area we traveled to: the Cosmic Cove Galaxy. Here, we swam underwater and saw bizarre creatures--including a giant stinging jellyfish--that lurked beneath the surface. We also rode a green turtle shell as though it were a jet ski. Once you grab the shell, it'll start going and you can control the direction you want to go until you get hit. You can press the Z button to brake (but who does that?). The shell also comes fully equipped with brake lights and a headlight. The level wasn't very large, but it was big enough to gain speed and jump out of the water as though we were a dolphin. There was also enough going on in the sea bed for us to explore as though we were scuba divers, but it didn't end there. Once we activated a switch, the top layer of the area froze over and we then had a giant skating rink on which we could skate. By shaking the remote, Mario swooshed gracefully across the ice and did pirouettes in the air with very little effort. Enemies that were unfortunate enough to have been at the surface were frozen and could be plowed into, but we could also see that the creatures beneath the ice were still swimming along undisturbed.
Yoshi came in at some point in our demo, and we were introduced to a new fruit: the golden bulb berry. Instead of giving Yoshi some potential indigestion, the bulb berry turned Yoshi into a golden dinosaur that lit up a small radius around the duo to show floors that were otherwise unseen. For example, we were in the Haunty Halls Galaxy where platforms would shift and disappear while we were constantly surrounded by a variety of ghosts. Only Light Yoshi could illuminate the invisible floors so that we didn't take a misstep and fall into oblivion. There's a timer, though, on the bulb berry, and the constant ticking is a nagging reminder that you need to either get to the next berry to keep the floor lit or find a platform to take a break. Even if you know where the floor should be, it won't be there unless you have Light Yoshi with you.
There's an incredible amount of variety from what we've been shown that all looks and sounds great. There's plenty of detail in every world that you explore to make it unique and stand out, as well as a peppy soundtrack to keep you motivated. Nintendo will be revealing more details on the game so we'll be able to update you with more information on Super Mario Galaxy 2 in the near future. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is set to be released on May 23.
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