Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Wii
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release Date: May 23, 2010
Nerd Rating: 9.5/10
Reviewed by Paladin
2007. The Wii is still a relatively new system. With Super Mario as their flagship character, Nintendo had a history of debuting new consoles with a fresh and innovative Mario game: the GameCube had Super Mario Sunshine, the N64 saw the legendary Super Mario 64, with the SNES we got Super Mario World, the list goes on. One benefit of having a franchise featuring something as insane as a plumber who jumps on monsters and goes in and out of warp pipes in order to save the princess of the mushroom kingdom from a giant talking turtle king with the help of superpowers and a hungry dinosaur is that you can literally do anything with it. That being said, Mario is one of the few video game characters whose installments rarely suffer from stale ideas, at least as far as gameplay and design.
Nintendo proved this once again with Super Mario Galaxy. Gone were the days of frustrating camera angles and 2D jumping. Instead, players were treated to a Mario game that included inventive puzzles, a beautiful and immersive environment, and, last but not least, the revolutionary spherical walking. The game received outstanding reviews from critics and fans alike. Some even feared that the Wii peaked too early: that is, until 2010 rolled around and all bore witness to the awesomeness that is Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Galaxy 2 takes everything we loved about the first one and amplifies it. New levels and suits will have first-time and veteran fans alike glued to the screen. It starts off slow, with the opening tutorial being played through in 2D and that third dimension gradually being worked in. The controls are easy enough for anyone to master, but not simplified to the point of lessening the challenge and the level design takes full advantage. Every stage is unique and fun in a different way: sometimes the path only unfolds as you walk, sometimes Mario is thrown topsy-turvy around a dangerous curve, sometimes the entire world flips around. The camera follows the action in a seamless series of angle changes that rarely obstruct the action.
For all of its complex nuances, Galaxy 2 never shies away from the fact that it’s a Mario game. Everything from the story (spoiler: Peach gets kidnapped) and characters to the color palette and sound effects are still the bright and upbeat staples we’ve come to love. One admirable point is that even in 2010 Nintendo wasn’t adopting the norm of cinematic storytelling. Like its predecessor, this game furthers the plot with a series of word bubbles and only gives voice to the characters in brief sound bites such as an exclamation of surprise or dismay. Bowser is back and this time he’s the size of a planet. Mario embarks on a quest to defeat him and rescue the princess. Once again he’s aided by his brother, Luigi, who gets a little more screen time than in Super Mario Galaxy, and Yoshi, whose unique skillset help out where Mario’s fall short. All of this is accompanied by a beautiful and fully orchestrated soundtrack that is sorely missing from iTunes.
The word “innovation” keeps coming up and there are times when it feels like that was all the developers were going for. Not often, but there are moments when something new really didn’t feel needed. The replay value is great; there is always something to go back and collect from each level, but a few of the challenges can feel slightly rehashed or slightly forced (did we really need to collect 120 more stars just to unlock a single new stage?). The Co-star mode is fun, but mostly for player one as player two is relegated to zipping the cursor around the screen collecting items for Mario. I guess that the full Mario and Luigi 3D adventure will have to wait.
Any flaws in this game are miniscule at best. Most of the time the worst thing a sequel can do is try to be better than or the exact same as the first one. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that rare second installment that is not only better than the first, it’s better without being the same. While Galaxy contained more of the traditional platforming Mario elements, Galaxy 2 feels more like an arcade game with its fast pace and constant stimulation, yet the familiar groundwork is still there for that spark of nostalgia. I would highly recommend this game to anyone looking for hours upon hours of addictive puzzle solving and 3D navigation. If you’ve just played the first one you may want to wait a bit as the formula can wear thin after two games, but even at its most familiar Galaxy 2 always has a new twist just around the corner.
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