Sorry Mario, but the Princess is in another…ahem…planet!
Mario has flown all over the galaxy and into our hearts this time! Why is it that I always give my highest scores to Mario games? Am I just completely biased by his charm? I’m pretty sure that it’s not just that.
Most Mario adventure games are simply very well made, starting with the good old Super Mario Bros. all the way to Super Mario Galaxy. There have been exceptions, of course, but overall Mario is there to bring the best possible gaming experience to our homes. I was one of those people completely disappointed by Super Mario Sunshine and not completely wowed by Super Mario 64, although I liked it. It seems like Mario had lost something when he made the transition to 3D. However, Super Paper Mario, even though it’s not exactly one of the series and it’s not quite three-dimensional, really had me impressed. Amazingly, Super Mario Galaxy impressed me even more!
In the first cutscene, we’ll see how Mario runs to meet Princess Peach at her Castle, on the night of the Star Festival. Like most fairy tales and all of Mario’s games, the fortune won’t be with our heroes right from the beginning. Bunches of flying pirate-ships invade the starry skies and approach the castle. Bowser shows up with the most cavernous voice ever heard and threats everyone with building his own galaxy. Chains drop from the pirate-ships and clutch the piece of land where the castle is sitting, not only stealing the Princess but also the castle itself! His arrogance went too far this time! Mario finds himself, once again, all alone and with a huge mission in front of him: rescuing his beloved princess. Weird, uh?
What makes this game different from all the others is the ground-breaking gameplay. It’s not due to the Wii controls, like everyone may think. The concept of platforming has just been remarkably innovated, thanks to Super Mario Galaxy. Nintendo broke the mold one more time and gave birth to one of the smoothest and most fun to play platforming adventures out there. The game may be on the easy side, but the unique gameplay just flows like never before, making this a true work of art.
Mario will have to explore each galaxy in order to obtain power stars. Their power feeds the Observatory Station, where Rosalina and the rest of the stars live. From there, you can view and study all the galaxies that form the Universe. With Bowser’s invasion, the power stars were lost and without them the Observatory has been extremely weakened. Mario needs to help restore power by finding all the power stars. Hopefully that way he’ll be able to find the Princess and save her!
Mario, eager and responsible as always, will jump from planet to planet and from galaxy to galaxy looking for power stars. Each galaxy contains one or more planets. These planets are full of small planetoids with different missions and platforming elements. There are so many of them that the fun and uniqueness never stops. You won’t spend much time in each planetoid; everything will just flow; before you know it, you’ll find another launch star and will be sent off to the next planetoid. Each of them has a little mission. Some will have you crush enemies and obtain a key to unlock the next launch star; others will keep you busy jumping from platform to platform collecting pieces of the launch star; sometimes you’ll have to solve a small puzzle, go through pipes, be chased by bullet bills, get on top of rolling balls, inside bubbles or travel by launching yourself with the sling pod.
There are coins all over the place, which restore part of Mario’s life. You’ll also find green and red shells, 1-Up mushrooms, and life mushrooms that temporarily increase your health meter. Star bits are the main course in Super Mario Galaxy; they are colorful shooting stars that fall from the sky and sometimes hide within bushes and flower patches. They can be fed to hungry Lumas (weak stars) or used as projectiles to knock out goombas and many other enemies found in the game.
You can pick up star bits by running over them or pointing at the screen with the Wii-mote, and then shoot them with the B button. While this can be fun, it’s my least favorite part of the game. There are hundreds of them everywhere, they come out from every nook and cranny, and they fall like raindrops from the sky. I found it difficult to ignore those little shiny things, and kept wasting my time making sure I picked up every single one of them. That’s the one thing that slows down the gameplay and doesn’t seem very necessary. Simply reducing the amount of star bits would have solved that problem.
As many of you know, Mario is back to his roots and is using his power suits again. Not only will he use the fire flower to shoot fireballs at enemies, but he’ll also find ice flowers that freeze water so he can make his own paths, rainbow stars that make him invincible for a short period of time, and other more innovative suits that will turn him into Bee Mario, Boo Mario or Spring Mario.
A fuzzy striped mushroom turns him into a delicate bee; as you might have guessed, he looks cute as can be! When you hold A, he’ll be able to fly and buzz around just like a little insect. His flying abilities are limited by a timer. However, he always has enough flying time to reach the next platform or at least a honey wall where he can stick and plan his next destination. With the evil-looking white mushroom, the plumber will turn into a ghost. If you shake the Wii-mote, he’ll become invisible for a few seconds, giving him the ability to go through walls and narrow bars. He can also float if you press the A button repeatedly, much like Racoon Mario used to do. The metallic spring mushroom turns Mario into a bouncy spring. Timing landings correctly will make him jump high! Mario will be vulnerable to different things when wearing the suit; water, damage, light, and launch stars could bring Mario back to normal.
Of course, Mario’s abilities don’t just relay in his power suits. He can nicely jump, wall-jump, duck, swim, dive, ice-skate, climb poles, do cool summersaults in the air, ground-pounds, and more. His specialty in Super Mario Galaxy is the spin. When you shake the Wii-mote, he’ll perform a spin attack that usually triggers or breaks something or hits the enemy. You can even discover sproutle vines that will take you from one place to the next; just keep shaking the Wii-mote and he’ll spin out like an acrobat! The controls are so easy and intuitive a kid could play. Not everything is based on motion controls; in fact, you’ll be using the Nunchuk’s control stick and all of the buttons quite a bit. A is for reading signs, talking to people, jumping, etc. B shoots star bits, Z after a jump makes him ground-pound, C adjusts the camera for you, and the minus and plus buttons pause the game and bring you to the main menu. Special moves, like pickup up and throwing things, skating, etc. will be done by moving the Wii-mote. Also, you’ll use the Wii-mote as a pointer to pick up the star bits.
The game allows one of your friends to join you at any time. You just need an extra controller and he or she will take charge of the pointer. It can be of great help to have someone else collecting star bits and knocking out enemies while the main player focuses on the gameplay. The second player won’t be having much fun, but at least he will be following the story and feel somewhat helpful. It’s the ideal situation for parents playing with their kids. They’ll be excited just holding the Wii-mote and “helping,” so the parent will get all the fun without having to trade the controller at all!
The graphics in Super Mario Galaxy are simply outstanding. The level design is loaded with fluffy and colorful shapes, sharp and bright colors, and lots of detail. It has the same feel as most Nintendo games out there: Mario Strikers: Charged, Mario Party 8, etc. However, the amount of detail here surpasses any other title. This new world is so huge and amazing it will keep everyone occupied, not only playing the awesome levels but also enjoying the visual feast of each galactic theme. When you go from one galaxy to another, you’ll be presented with new environments and characters. Each of them follows a main theme; you’ll go from Good Egg Galaxy to Bee Hive Galaxy, and even to the depths of the earth later on. If the Wii supported HD graphics, it would have made my jaw drop! I just can’t believe how much imagination and creativity has been put into this game. Nintendo always beats everyone else in that department, without a doubt.
The music, voice-over, and sound effects are also terrific. There are several new tunes that accompany the innovative gameplay. They’re all reminiscent of other Mario titles, but different and well done. Sometimes, like when you enter certain warp pipes, you’ll encounter smaller side-quests that carry old soundtracks with a new twist. This always puts a smirk on my face while I remember, for example, the castle levels of Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Mario’s voice hasn’t changed a bit; needless to say he still maintains his cute Italian accent. The princess is as peachy as always, maybe a little too sweet for me. The toads are still cheerful and youthful creatures. The new characters all show their great personalities through their voices. The sound effects are authentic and perfect; warp pipes, coins, blocks, power-ups, springs, etc. – everything has the effect you’d expect.
Mario followers: this is your final call! If you haven’t picked up the game yet you better go and do it before they run out of copies. This is not an experience you should miss. If you were dissatisfied by Super Mario Sunshine, don’t be afraid; this game will give you everything you wanted and much more. It sure was worth the wait!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
Excellent graphics for the Wii. The level of detail here is unseen in other titles. 4.0 Control
They’re very easy and manageable, but shaking the Wii-mote can get old. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I can’t find anything annoying or negative about the soundtrack, and the voice acting is as awesome as always. 5.0
This is a true Mario game for Mario fans. The fast pace and ease of gameplay will draw you right in!
4.8 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.