Wednesday, July 7, 2010
In 2007, Nintendo launched Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii, and it wowed critics, with its innovative Gravity gimmick and supersmart cameara. While I enjoyed Galaxy, it didn't have the certain spark I expect from Mario games (such as an actual challenge, Galaxy 1 was far too easy), and I preferred Super Mario Sunshine over it. With that, I went into Galaxy 2 with caution, expecting no more than, well, more of the same. While that it is, everything is improved to perfection.
The story starts out regularly: Peach gets kidnapped by a Giant-sized Bowser, and Mario must save her. The plot was one of the things I didn't like in Galaxy 1, in any other game it would feel fine, but in a game filled with talking Mushroom heads and turtles that squawk like birds, it felt too out-of-place. Galaxy 2 simplifies it down, and that's way things should be. You eventually meet up with a fat Luma called Lubba, and sees you are the hero of the cosmos, so he fashions a ship shaped like Mario's head, which he dubs "The Faceship." With the Faceship comes a new way of getting to levels: it is set up more like the 2D Mario Overworlds, so getting to levels are fast and easy. The ship itself is smaller than the Comet Observatory from Galaxy 1, which is good, because the Observatory was far too large and hard to get around.
But you didn't buy this game to see how to get to a level, you bought it because of the levels, and on that front, this game delivers. The levels are even more linear than the first games', which I thought would be a negative, but what is in them is more fun and challenging than ever before. The Level Design is excellent, an expected from Nintendo. The camera is still scary-smart, and the controls feel a bit more comfortable than the first game's, due to the better level design.
Perhaps the biggest new feature is Yoshi, who controls great. His tounge and eating powers are used in a handful of innovative ways, such as sticking his little licker onto a peg and swinging across it Indiana Jones-style, or eating a variety of fruits to float, go super fast, etc. Another positive about him is that he appears fairly often: that was one big problem for me in New Super Mario Bros. Wii: he was only used in less than 8 levels. Here, he's used in over 16 of them, and levels with him are always a fun time.
The other big new feature is the power-ups: The Rock Mushroom, Spin Drill, and the Cloud Flower. The Rock Mushroom allows Mario to roll around like a bowling ball, and is fairly fun to use. The Spin Drill and Cloud Flower, however, are a work of genius. The drill allows Mario to, well, drill into the planet's surface, setting up a variety of innovative puzzles. The Cloud Flower lets Mario create fluffy platforms whenever he spins. It's the most used item in the game, and deservedly so: it's easilly one of his greatest power-ups ever. Returning items like the Bee, Boo, and Spring Mushroom are not used very often, and that's good: I've had enough of Mario's infernal springing.
You can't really complain about a lack of challenge: this game assumes you already got down the basics of gravity and all the other gimmicks in the first Galaxy, and elevates them tenfold. Getting the 70 stars on the initial run is fairly tough, but getting all 120 is one of the hardest Mario experiences ever. And, (spoiler), even after you're done getting the 120 stars, you've still got more to do. This is truly not for the faint of heart.
The music is nothing to complain about, either. From the Jazzy tunes of the Spin Dig Galaxy to the sweeping orchestral opening in the Sky Station Galaxy, this game's soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal. And just like in Galaxy 1, old Mario tunes get a whole new limelight. The Graphics also look beautiful, too. There's never a hint of slowdown, and you always know what everything is.
This game has a few minor problems. Most of the Comet Challenges are fun (now activated by collecting Comet Metals in each level), but some are more frustrating than fun. Also, you can't skip the dialogue, so having to hear Lubba tell you every ten minutes to take a break can get pretty annoying. These are minor issues, as the game in whole is well-polished and very fun.
Gameplay: Greatly improved over the original. The levels are all interesting, and the new power-ups are very fun to use. 9.75
Graphics: Looks on-par with a PS3 game, maybe even better. 10
Audio: Fantastic. Your ears will thank you. 10
Overall: This is an extremelly fun game that is yet another worthy installment in the treasured Mario franchise. If you own a Wii, you must buy this game.
10 out of 10