Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) review
"I once heard a kid in a wheelchair say that Mario is the most well-known game character ever, that both hardcore and casual gamers know who he is. Everyone from the geek down the street who stays inside playing games 24/7, to your parents, to girls, all know who Mario is. As a result of this, Mario has progressed from stomping on turtles to his name appearing on just about every game genre possible. While being whored all the time, gamers keep faith that every five years or so, Mario will ret..."
I once heard a kid in a wheelchair say that Mario is the most well-known game character ever, that both hardcore and casual gamers know who he is. Everyone from the geek down the street who stays inside playing games 24/7, to your parents, to girls, all know who Mario is. As a result of this, Mario has progressed from stomping on turtles to his name appearing on just about every game genre possible. While being whored all the time, gamers keep faith that every five years or so, Mario will return to his platforming roots, this time it comes in the form of Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii.
Like Marioís return to platforming every five years or so, a comet returns to the Mushroom Kingdom every 100 years. This comet is responsible for creating stars and galaxies and the Mushroom Kingdom celebrates its return. During the festival, everything seems to be going well untilÖ yep you guessed it, Bowser comes to crash the party by taking all the beer and kidnapping Princess Peach by ripping her castle out of the ground and into the sky ala Paper Mario. Mario makes a noble attempt to stop him but heís knocked far away into space. Mario awakens on the Comet Observatory which is run by an emo-Peach look-alike, Rosalina. She not only runs the observatory but is also the guardian of the Lumas who are small chubby star creatures who have the power to transform into galaxies, planets, and stars. Like in Super Mario 64, Bowser has stolen all of the Power Stars and itís up to Mario to recover them in order to restore power to the observatory so Mario can rescue Peach in the ultimate showdown against Bowser that takes place in the center of the universe with ďThe Final CountdownĒ music playing in the background.
Essentially, the game plays out like Super Mario 64Ö in space! All of his classic moves are back; the momentum-based triple jump, sideways flip, and the long jump return. Everything plays as expected where the analog stick moves Mario and the A button allows Mario to jump. The Z button when used in combination with A and depending on the situation will allow Mario to use his backflip, long jump, and butt-slam abilities. Jumping on enemies is still the default attack but Mario is given a spin attack which is done by swinging the remote. The spin attack not only stuns enemies but itís used to activate the star launchers that shoot Mario off into different parts of the galaxy. Galaxies are the levels of the game and each has six or seven missions for Mario to complete in order to get a star. Some of the missions may have similar themes such as defeating a boss or navigating dangerous terrain, but in general all of the missions are unique and each mission will lead you to a different direction than before.
Since the game does take place in an outer space setting, Mario will navigate to different planets and each planet has its own gravitational pull, which allows Mario to run and jump around a planet in all directions. I personally enjoy long jumping off of what appears to be the edge of a planet only to float down to the bottom of the planet upside-down, which youíll often be doing. Running upside-down and backwards may seem trippy at first but like all drugs, youíll get the hang of it and love every moment of it. The camera follows you pretty well but there were a few instances where I wanted to look around but couldnít because I was in a too constraint of an area, but this mainly occurred on flat terrain levels.
The flat terrain levels are pretty much the only areas where you can die from missing a jump. Sometimes youíll fall into a bottomless abyss but for the most part thereíll be a black hole (or as a buddy of mine cleverly referred to as a black anus) swirling below that will suck you up if you fall. This can make you want to go out, shave your ass and shoot yourself when you fall while collecting purple coins or star pieces; or better yet, youíve collected all of the damned things and the star appears far away from you and when youíre on your way to getting it, a rock comes out of nowhere and knocks you down.
All of your favorite platforming levels are back too: fire levels, ice levels, desert levels, water levels, and so on. Water levels still suck due to weird camera angles and issues with making sharp turns, but I suppose thatís a curse thatíll never be alleviated. These levels are usually normal but prankster comets randomly appear and can influence the area greatly. These comets may force you to complete a task within a time limit, defeat a boss or clear a stage without taking any hits, complete a task when the enemies are moving faster than normal, racing an evil version of yourself to a star, and collect 100 purple coins. Purple coins are probably the main flaw of the game because youíll have to collect them in most of the levels but they wonít appear until you first beat the game. They come in a variety of forms, including large areas where theyíre scattered about, small areas where they are close together, but youíre under a time limit to grab them, or youíre on an automatic moving platform and you collect them as you go but if you miss just one coin youíre effed and you might as well kill yourself.
Not only do you collect stars and coins, but youíll also collect star bits. Star bits are small stars that appear pretty much everywhere. You can pick them up physically or by pointing your cursor at them. Your cursor can also fire star bits at enemies in order to stun them. If you have a second remote, and a buddy who is watching you play, they can join the action and collect star bits for you, shoot them at enemies, and they can also give you an extra spin jump by moving the cursor over Mario and pressing A which can be distracting if a noob is in control. For every 50 star bits you pick up youíll earn an extra life. Star bits are also used as the method of currency in this game as youíll feed Lumas a certain amount of star bits in order access new planets or even smaller galaxies known as trial galaxies. Trial galaxies are a bit more challenging than normal galaxies, which is why they usually include only one star. You can also use star bits to purchase items such as 1-Up mushrooms and life mushrooms which temporarily increases your health from three to six, but will go back to three if it drops below four.
These arenít the only mushrooms Mario will come across as there are several others that grant him special abilities. If youíve paid attention to the game via trailers or screenshots then one of the most notable power-ups is the Bumblebee Suit, not only is it part of Marioís Spanish television program but it also grants him the ability to fly briefly. Mario can turn into a Boo as well, and use their ghostly powers to float or to turn invisible for passing through walls. In addition, Mario can turn into a spring in order to bounce uber high but the problem with this power-up is heís constantly bouncing so heís hard to control. Fire flowers make a return and they allow Mario to throw/shoot/spit fireballs (the debate on how he fires the projectiles remains to this day). Inversely, there are ice flowers that turn Mario into ice, allowing him to walk over water like Jesus. Mario also regains the ability to soar through the skies but not in the form of that fruity wing cap from Mario 64. With a change of black overalls, he can now fly in the sky but retains the same iffy controls that his winged counterpart also had. If I wore black overalls, Iíd probably get shot. Invincibility stars return but in the form of rainbow stars which turn Mario into a rainbow version of himself. It works like a normal star where you canít take damage and anything you touch dies, and you run around uber fast, itís awesome! The gameplay in general is fantastic and the level design is probably the best Iíve seen since Psychonauts.
The level design is not only great to play, but itís a beautiful sight to see. The levels are detailed and colorful, everything from grassy planets to burning lava worlds truly shows what Nintendo had in mind for the graphical capabilities of the Wii. Would Mario look any better if the Wii had 360 or PS3 graphics? Probably but it would also be overkill to see every thread and mustard stain on the crotch of his overalls. While Twilight Princess looked like a high-end GameCube game on the Wii, Super Mario Galaxy follows Metroid Prime 3 in the visual department of earnestly looking like a next-gen game despite the hardwareís limitations.
When I watched trailers for this game, the think I immediately noticed was the orchestrated soundtrack. Iím a sucker for game music, well actually, thatís the only music I listen to, but when itís orchestrated and catchy nothing screams dorkgasm more than that. The original tunes that make up the Gusty Garden Galaxy and Good Egg Galaxy themes are among my favorite. Updated versions of classic Mario themes including a techno rendition of the original Mario theme to orchestrated versions of Super Mario Bros. 3 tracks are all great forms of fan service. This is definitely the best music Iíve heard since Dragon Quest VIII, but that will inevitably be undermined by the epic soundtrack that is Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Of course, it wouldnít be a Mario game if we didnít have all of voice actor, Charles Martinetís ďWoo-hooís and one-liners like ďThank-a-you so much for playing-a-my game!Ē And after hearing a lengthy telephone message from him informing me that my copy of Super Mario Galaxy is available at GameStop, and that I could trade in my old games so I can buy his game, I think I almost threw up. However, Iím thankful that Mario will never have spoken dialogue in a game ever. There is some spoken dialogue from other characters but itís far from the amount that was included in Super Mario Sunshine. Aside from the introductory letter from Princess Peach inviting Mario to the castle, there are only random words that are spoken. The whole ending sequence involves dialogue from Rosalina and itís just creepy when she just speaks random words during the cutscenes. But I am thankful that they didnít include those god-awful spoken scenes from Super Mario Sunshine with Bowser and Bowser Jr. However, the sound is probably my favorite thing about the game.
Itís a shame that the game can be completed rather quickly, as in you can confront Bowser as soon as you collect 60 stars, and the bosses and most of the challenges are pretty easy. However, if youíre willing to collect all 120 stars then you should be satisfied by the staggering difficulty for the last few stars. I actually felt more compelled to collect every star even if it meant cursing out each and every purple coin I collected. Itís strange since I never had that feeling with the other Mario games. If you are successful in retrieving all of the stars then youíll be treated to an unlockable that many cried out for back when Mario 64 first came out.
All in all, Super Mario Galaxy is definitely among Bioshock and Rock Band for my pick of game of the year. While it may not be as revolutionary as Super Mario 64, which did introduce Mario to three dimensions and the analog stick, Galaxy is definitely a much better game. You could probably think of it as Mario 64 is to Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Sunshine is to Super Mario Bros. 2 and while they were great games, they just werenít as great as everyone hoped them to be, and Super Mario Galaxy is to Super Mario Bros. 3. And since Super Mario World is better than SMB3 in my opinion, the next Mario game will be amazing.
Community review by Ness (December 21, 2007)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this Super Mario Galaxy review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!