Super Mario Galaxy 2

As a huge Mario fan from way back, I jumped at the chance to review the original Super Mario Galaxy. Somehow, Mario always seems to reinvent himself while keeping true to the gameplay that made the franchise so popular. Galaxy took platforming and turned it on its head.

Galaxy 2 is one of the most direct sequels Mario has had, so will it still manage to be a breath of fresh air like Super Mario Bros 3? Or is it more of a remix like the Japanese Super Mario Bros 2? To tell this, you have to get past the cringe-inducing intro. Okay, Mario has always been a bit twee, but Bowser wanting Peach to make him a cake really is taking the Mario. Fear not, though: besides the opening and closing scenes, the story is completely forgotten, letting you get down to business.

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Super Mario Galaxy was all about the game's insane sense of gravity and physics, and the sequel gets straight to the point of bending your sense of perception as the game changes from a 2D side-on playing field, to a top down perspective, to 3D and back again without skipping a beat. Like the last game there are moments where the sheer insanity of the level design completely stops you in your tracks. Levels range from super fun and flowing levels (usually the Castle levels) that are great to speed through, to levels such as Chompworks Galaxy where you have to figure out the best way to clear paths for rolling chomps (I thought they could smash through anything once off their chain). The levels are bite-sized with only a couple of stars each, so generally you don't mess around on the same level for too long. This is both good and bad as you won't feel intimate with any of the levels like the good old days in Super Mario 64, but it does feel very true to the older Mario 2D games.

Because of this, the gameplay suits those with short attention spans fine, and the game is very easy to fire up for a few minutes at a time. I would have liked to see each world hold an overall theme with levels expanding and evolving the overall concept; as it is, the levels feel like a bit of a mishmash. Super Mario Bros 3 was very clever at this: you had very memorable scenarios such as Sky World or Pipe World where each stage kept the overall theme but added different elements each time. When remembering where levels are in Galaxy 2, you can't really say 'Oh, that's a World 1 level'.

Of course, collecting stars is the aim of the game again. As previously mentioned, there are only a couple a worlds, but a huge amount of levels. These start off very easy, and even beating the game isn't much of a challenge with Bowser never putting up too much of a fight. However, collecting all the stars and hidden comet coins requires superhuman patience as you fluff a jump and get hit by a rock projectile hurled from an Octorok wannabe for the fiftieth time. A lot of the hardest stars occur when a comet passes a level, altering the level, often requiring epic speed-runs or legions of foes vanquished in an impossible time. There is a lot here for the hardcore if you are prepared to put in the hours. Unfortunately there isn't what I would call a proper hub in the game. In Super Mario 64, just messing around in Peache's castle could provide a welcome break between challenging stars, becoming somewhat homely.

The biggest problem with this game, for me at least, is that sometimes it feels too much like the first game. The odd level feels like a reject from the original game. While the game is indeed a lot of fun, it has lost a bit of its freshness, or 'wow' factor. Newbies will have endless fun leaping around an entire planet, or chuckling as a fireball you threw whizzes past for the third time. I already spent hours playing with the physics in the first game. Galaxy 2 does occasionally 1-up its predecessor, and flows from perceptive to perspective a little easier, but not enough to feel like a completely new experience to me.

Controlling Mario is very intuitive; the little guy usually runs just where you want him to and the controls are very responsive. Occasionally it can be hard to judge depth when butt-stomping a Goomba and the, perspective shifts occasionally mean you get your controls backwards, but the Wii-mote does an excellent job of keeping up with the constantly shifting angles and precision the level design demands. My only gripes are that the camera is never adjustable when I want it to be and Mario's spin maneuver can be a little bit annoying to pull off at times.

Graphically the game is charming. Sure, some of the technical limitations are even more obvious in 2010, but largely the quality artwork and level design trumps the hardware limitations. You always want to see what the next world looks like, and this is indeed the main motivation to power through the game. Music is where the game really comes into its own, though: the sound in this game is outstanding. Many favourite Mario ditties are spruced up and placed next to some fitting orchestral scores. If Mario's whooping doesn't put you off, this is a game you should play loud.

At the end of the day Galaxy 2 is exactly what most Nintendo fans wanted: another quality Mario title. There is enough here to keep you busy for ages, and the game is remarkably imaginative and fun. It was just never going to be as earth shattering as Mario 64 or the first Super Mario Galaxy. Galaxy 2 doesn't really do much new, or offer that much of a fresh angle over the last game - but it is a solid Mario outing with all the bells and whistles. I'm not sure if it's Game of the Year material this time around, but it's definitely an essential play through.

Super Mario Galaxy 2
"Another A+ Mario title for your collection."
- Super Mario Galaxy 2
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments Comments (12)

Posted by OrkMischief
On Monday 21 Jun 2010 8:39 AM
mean, i've got this turning up from mighty ape tomorrow and can't wait to start collecting stars. :)
Posted by phantom
On Monday 21 Jun 2010 12:26 PM
I am loving every second of this so far. The new extended "player two" stuff keeps me interested even when the wife is wielding Mario directly. It's unbelievable how Nintendo have managed to keep Mario fresh and relevant in this his umpteenth iteration and yet still retain so much that was core to the very first version. I honestly don't see how they could improve it at all - it's a 10/10 from me :D
Posted by guido
On Monday 21 Jun 2010 5:53 PM
Crikey?! This has (currently) 36 perfect scores showing on Metacritic and is now tied with GTA IV for the highest ranked game across current gen platforms at an average rating of 98/100?! Certainly must be another game of the year contender??
Posted by Wozza
On Monday 21 Jun 2010 6:23 PM
Yeah seen the scores overseas, crazy! Loved the game, it's awesome, but just a little of the 'X-Factor' had been lost from the first time I played a Galaxy game. The post-Bowser levels are awesome though.

Hope I don;t get the metacritic kids running through here because I have tarnished the 'perfect' rating.
Posted by tiamat1990
On Monday 21 Jun 2010 7:39 PM
I'm not so sure about it not being GotY material. It certainly is I think.
I also don't think the game is so easy to beat, even just the main story. There are certain instance where I was yelling at the screen. This game is definitely harder than the first.
Posted by RealmEnder
On Monday 21 Jun 2010 8:53 PM
Would certainly be at the top of my list if I ever got a Wii. No doubt I'll get to try it out on friends or family's systems.
Posted by Mr.Deflok
On Tuesday 22 Jun 2010 11:16 AM
Great review, Wozza! Always interesting to read reviews where the reviewer actually knows what they're talking about.
Posted by Wozza
On Tuesday 22 Jun 2010 11:37 AM
Cheers D

I just looked at my play notes, and I forgot to add an extra point for the Toads "Oh no!" voice bite which cracks me up every time.
Posted by ChatterboxZombie
On Tuesday 22 Jun 2010 8:13 PM
21 June 2010, 06:23 PM Reply to Wozza
Yeah seen the scores overseas, crazy! Loved the game, it's awesome, but just a little of the 'X-Factor' had been lost from the first time I played a Galaxy game. The post-Bowser levels are awesome though.

Hope I don;t get the metacritic kids running through here because I have tarnished the 'perfect' rating.
You have no idea.....
Posted by Koopa18
On Tuesday 22 Jun 2010 11:05 PM
After playing the first parts of this game I agree with this review a lot. Great stuff Woz.
Posted by Liam_OConnor
On Friday 25 Jun 2010 9:03 PM
I'm both sharing your concerns and also wondering if they are needed. Does Mario always have to innovate? Can it never refine? Why can Call of Duty get away with it and not Mario? All rhetorical questions, of course.

Anyway, as for Bowser, the whole "cake" thing is innuendo. Read between the lines. Mario is constantly getting "cake" from Peach and now Bowser wants some of that too!
Posted by Wozza
On Friday 25 Jun 2010 9:54 PM
Good points Liam, Mario doesn't NEED to innovate each time to be a great game. To score higher than I scored the first game, or to give me the same level of joy I felt with Super Mario Galaxy.

The thing with Mario is that all of the ones that stick out as "OMG Mario" games innovated. Super Mario Bros broke boundries. Super Mario Bros 3 expanded on this tenfold. Super Mario World had insane level design. Mario 64 was a pioneer of 3D gameplay. Galaxy the took the 3D Gameplay and distorted it into new dimensions. Somehow, despite being such an old and rehashed franchise, Mario has always kept fresh and new, unlike my ex-favourite franchise Zelda which really needs a shake-up.