Super Mario Galaxy – when it was released in 2007 deservedly became a Wii instant classic. The sequel which we are looking at today follows the divine path of Nintendo, who are endlessly able to create games packed with wonder and visual excitement. Sure, Galaxy 2 isn’t stunningly original anymore, but the game oozes so much charm that it is impossible not to be impressed.
Many sequels we have noticed tend to try and shake things up too much however Nintendo are aware of this and have provided enough of the same thrills and spills to keep Mario fans happy. There are new additions … Rock Mario, Cloud Mario and Yoshi add to the diversity of the overall game, but it remains true to the Nintendo purist franchise. These new powers and characters bring even more fun to an already dazzling title.
Nintendo have revamped the world map making it easier for the player to transverse the locations and get to levels without hassle. The developers force you to explore all the lands to collect Stars and Star Bits to enable progression. Every level also has a Comet stage, this tasks you with finishing a goal in a short time frame.
There are moments when you will think “mmm, I am sure I played this before” … the design is so similar at times. Nintendo haven’t broke the mould by creating a fantastically creative story – its the same old crap we all know and love .. yep, rescue the idiotic princess. Do not despair however, as with all Nintendo games, the story is secondary to the stunning gameplay.
The game starts outside Yoshi’s house although it is floating on an asteroid and you move under it and through it before entering a series of mini levels that get you quickly to grips with the 360 degree game style mechanic.
The pacing is a lesson on how game development should be handled – you are never left with time to wonder what you are meant to be doing, as you storm through level after level, eyes wide in amazement at the sheer genuis of the designers who actually come up with all these concepts and ideas. This time your home is a Starship – a giant Mario head made from bricks and mud and controlled by a purple star. As corny as it sounds, it is the brain child of a childrens dream and lets be honest only Nintendo are able to do this right.
Each of the six worlds ends with a boss fight and sometimes you are forced to revisit previous worlds to collect enough stars to get further. This retravelling is the only aspect of the game which I find slightly frustrating, but I am not the most patient of gamers so I will put it down to my own weakness rather than a fault with the game.
Each of these worlds offers various challenges to earn more stars, such as speed runs. Their implementation works better and is one of the many reasons that Mario 2 is actually more fun than the first. Power ups also get the fine tuning treatment and the Rock Mushroom deserves special mention for its damaging smash attack. Cloud Mario can summon three platforms from nothing, just by performing a simple dance. The drill move is my favourite because you travel through any surface to the opposite side of whatever it is you are standing on. You don’t often get the chance to do it mind you, it is used wisely to create a further sense of wonderment.
I have left the best to last – Yoshi, Mario’s faithful cartoon dinosaur companion. He has a new jump technique and a range of power ups which he can eat for a plethora of special moves. His tongue can also be controlled to reach impossible places and he can use it to swing from location to location. The control methodology has been almost perfectly tested as you get so much fine control over it, you feel you could hit a single pixel on the screen, if you had to.
Motion control is included and with a flick of the remote you can extend your jumps – causing Mario to perform a last minute spin mid air to reach further distances. Galaxy 2 has made some changes to the control system because while there is a little reduction in ‘fine’ control the game is now somewhat more forgiving than it was before. I also find he doesn’t have the same level of ‘after motion’ as he did before, coming to a halt faster.
The addition of Luigi is a stroke of genius as he not only looks completely different to Mario, but he intentionally lacks his precision jumps and control – he barrels about like someone who has just swallowed a packet of M&M’s with a litre bottle of coke. ‘Hyper Luigi’ offers a comic relief in certain situations which adds a further level of charm to the proceedings. If you complete a level with him in control you get a ghost Luigi who can guide you to reach a level secret.
The game manages to be both simple enough to get a child hooked almost immediately, yet it offers just enough finesse and challenge to keep adults engrossed for the long haul. This ‘one size fits all’ approach is something that Nintendo have been mastering for many, many years.
Graphically, the title pushes the modest Wii to new heights – the bombardment of colour and high framerate helps to maintain a high level of immersion while the audio soundtrack helps to enhance the atmosphere, considerably. Orchestral pieces add a sense of epic drama to many of the levels.
After all the main bosses are defeated Galaxy 2 is far from over – when I completed it, I still had 50 stars to collect and this will satisfy the gamer who likes good value for money.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a stunning title and one that just reinforces the imagination of the Nintendo game makers. They don’t need to ram new hardware technologies down our throat to create a stunning game – and for many this will be almost a sure way to relive the wonderment of your childhood. I could wax lyrical for hours, but really the best way to experience it is to just head down to your local store and pick up a copy. Trust me.