Mario. His name is synonymous with gaming. From five year olds to fifty year olds, if you mention Super Mario Bros to almost anyone in that age group, they will know what you are talking about. For as long as I can remember, Mario games have been great masterpieces of gaming. Well, Super Mario Galaxy 2 retains that image.
The makers of Galaxy went back to the drawing board with the story of Mario Galaxy 2, and basically threw it out. Bowser kidnaps the princess, and pretty much the events of the first game never happened. So, you have to save Princess Peach, once again with the help of the blubbery star-looking creatures called the Lumas, with Lubba leading the way. As you first start to encounter Bowser, you realize that he is now planet-sized, and this changes how you approach his boss battles, leaving you looking miniscule compared to him. Overall, there isn’t much story, and the developers try to immerse you by having you roam around the new Mario “face-ship” , meeting people and talking to people, but generally, I wanted to just get on with the gameplay, because that’s what these games are all about.
They start off the gameplay sections in a unique way, giving new players a form of Mario game they can recognize. The whole game starts in 2D, similar to New Super Mario Bros. It slowly transforms into a 3D game before long, as most hardcore gamers remember. I really enjoy this approach, because it eases everyone in at the same level, providing a much guided opening. As a matter of fact, many of the elements in this game resemble a 2D Mario game, such as the world map. No longer do you have a hub world, and you can navigate to any world you want at any time without having to run to where you want to go. Also, some of the levels will alternate back into 2D at some points, which makes the game feel more of a throwback in some sections.
They have done an incredible job varying the gameplay this time around. Every level only has one or two power stars on them, with some having bonus stars you can unlock (I will explain this shortly). So, every level feels fresh and bite sized, leaving you to almost constantly be getting stars. Never will you have two levels of the same type in a row, and you are constantly being challenged and wowed with what they come up with next; it’s astounding.
Every level introduces something new as well, and this is thanks to the amount of new suits you have this time around. I will go through each one individually, but there really isn’t much to say about each one except for what it does, because using each one is part of the fun. First, we have the rock suit, which is used to plow into enemies, and knock over platforms. Second, there is the drill suit, which allows you to drill through dirt surfaces to attack enemies, as well as reach new places. Next we have the returning bee suit, which allows you to suspend yourself and hover for a few seconds. Finally, and by far my favorite is the cloud suit, which allows you to create cloud platforms to reach farther places. All of these suits are wonderful to use, and vary the gameplay up even more. In later levels, aside from the obvious uses of each, the developers managed to find new and unique ways to use each suit; it’s simply amazing.
To even add more gameplay twists, they have now added Luigi as well as Yoshi into the mix. Luigi plays very similar to Mario, and you don’t unlock him until world three in the game, so you have time to get used to playing with Mario in the early stages of the game. You receive Yoshi however very early on, and immediately he is fun to play with. Yoshi I must say is one of my favorite characters in the Mario universe, and he definitely doesn’t disappoint here. Along with the basic platforming and such that is involved with Yoshi, he has certain new abilities as well. These include the bulb berry, which lights up surfaces you couldn’t normally see. He also has the chili pepper, which makes him run at intense speeds, and finally he has the puff berry, which makes him expand like a balloon and take him vertical. As mentioned before, all of these abilities vary the gameplay, and provide new ways to think about a platformer.
If all that wasn’t enough, they also have included comet stars and bonus stars in each level, which adds new challenge to almost every level you play. The comet stars are found by collecting comet coins. These comet challenges are much harder than some of the normal stars, and are definitely there for the hardcore, as they are not required to finish the game. The bonus stars include giving (the returning) star bits and coins to Lumas to allow them to transform to reach new areas. Also, they now have developer time trials in the form of Ghost Luigi, and you can race against the clock to try to beat the developers at their own game.
There are very few things I have to complain about in this game, because the gameplay is superb on almost every level. Some little nitpicky things I can say are that I don’t appreciate the sudden spikes in difficulty. One level you will be able to get a star with ease, and then the next it will take you almost a half an hour to get it right. Also, some of the animations tend to collide, such as you can never really tell how close you have to be to an enemy to use your spin attack, and they can then easily attack you if you miss. Often times, these result in you falling off a platform and restarting the level. There are really the only two things I can think of that sometimes frustrate me, but overall, the game is stupendous.
Graphically, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is gorgeous. The amount of color and detail are amazing, and each level has a unique look and feel. They have done a great job varying the level design as well, and the amount of graphical fidelity helps this. The music and sound are outstanding as well, with some sweeping orchestral scores, as well as the same music that you know and love from Mario games. The old sound effects all return as well, complete with the unique sounds of Yoshi’s jumping and tongue flinging. Presentation wise, the game is astounding.
It seems I have run out of adjectives to explain how great this game is, so I will put it this way: if you own a Wii, go buy this game. As a whole, this game is by far one of the best, if not the best games on the system. With so many degrees of gameplay, and so much fun packed into a single game, it’s hard to not recommend this game to anyone who has ever picked up a controller. Mario continues to keep his platforming throne, and shows everyone why platformers are still entirely relevant to the gaming industry.
Review copy provided by publisher.