Super Mario Galaxy is truly amazing

  • Game Review - The entire gaming community needs to give a standing ovation to Super Mario Galaxy for providing one of the most fantastic game experiences of all time.

    Mario fans have no doubt heard the expression that Super Mario Galaxy is the first "spiritual sequel" to Super Mario 64, originally released in 1996.  That's quite a promise.  After all, the Nintendo 64 title wrote the book on 3D platforming.  Unfortunately, since then the platformer genre has been uninspiring and kind of pathetic.

    Enter Super Mario Galaxy.  This is the first Mario platformer since Super Mario Sunshine came out more than five years ago.  But even Nintendo has said that Sunshine, a Gamecube title, wasn't a "true sequel" to Super Mario 64.  In other words, hardcore fans have been waiting over 11 years for a new 3D Mario game that goes back to its roots.

    That's a long time to wait, but Nintendo has come through in an unimaginable way with Super Mario Galaxy.

    The game controls take some getting used to, and the fundamental mechanics are radically changed from "classic" Mario controls.  The nunchuck attachment is required, as the joystick acts as Mario's main mode of movement.  The Wii Remote's essential function is linked to the A button, which makes Mario jump.  The motion sensitive aspect is used to pick up star bits that appear sporadically on the screen.  Star bits are used as weapons that can be thrown at enemies, and are also used to unlock various things or to complete quests.

    On that note, the game revolves around dozens of different levels, each with an array of quests to complete.  Each completed quest nets Mario a star, and more stars allow new galaxies to be unearthed.

    Though not as complex and open-ended as Super Mario 64, the overworld in Super Mario Galaxy ties the entire game together quite well.  Mario arrives on a mysterious planet with a handful of planetarium-type huts that allow him to travel to the various galaxies.

    The underlying story is that Princess Peach was kidnapped by Bowser, taking her to a far away galaxy that is unreachable by any normal means.  Mario is lost in the cosmos, and before reaching the pilfered princess he must assist a group of lunar creatures.

    Much of the game takes place on small planets, which requires Mario to walk around from right side up to upside down and everywhere in between.

    I'll admit that, even after playing numerous demos dating back to 2005, I found the idea of walking around planets and defying gravity very awkward.  However, after really sinking my teeth into the game it feels absolutely natural.  It even complements the extra dimension of play offered by the Wii's control scheme.  This game really shows off the amazing foresight Nintendo has, because the concept seems odd at first but immediately sucks you in after you get the hang of it.

    Each planet has its own distinct environment and feel, and some of them are fairly large so there is a lot of exploring to do.  Some of the planets, though, are too small and the challenges are therefore a bit too easy to conquer.  All in all, this provides the game with a nice built-in learning curve.  It definitely gets more challenging as you progress through it.

    What I found to be the coolest part of the game was the fact that traditional-style power-ups have returned.  In addition to Bee Mario, which was revealed several months ago, the game allows the iconic plumber to transform into Boo Mario, Ice Mario, Spring Mario, and an old-school favorite, Fire Mario.

    As with any good platformer, strategy is key with these power-ups.  For example, Mario can only walk on flowers and climb honeycomb platforms when he is in his bee form, and Ice Mario allows him to create walkable platforms of ice to reach new areas.

    The game is awesome on so many levels.  Mario veterans will certainly appreciate the many nods given to games from yester-year.  From musical cues to game mechanics, several classic Mario components are packed into Galaxy.  You can even stomp on koopa troopa shells and toss them at enemies, a feature that hasn't been seen on a console Mario game since Super Mario World for the SNES.

    For a Wii game, Galaxy looks gorgeous.  At times I forgot that I wasn't actually playing in high definition.  Granted, because of this the intricate details are not as smooth as similar PS3 and Xbox 360 visuals, but this is as close as Mario has ever come to being in HD.

    Essentially, this game is why the Wii was made.  The Mario series has been a tradition of offering new and exciting game play experiences, and Galaxy delivers on that tradition in droves.  It's an amazing game that is worthy of any Wii owner.  Heck, it's even worth buying a Wii.  Just go out and get this game.