Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) review
"Super Mario is such forgiving fellow. In one game he may be trying to take Bowser and his henchmen off the throne, and in others heís playing a gentlemanly game of golf or tennis with him. But Mario games that involve pounding on top of Bowser have become an increased rarity; this is only the third original 3D Mario title ever. For many, this is truly the second, as Super Mario Sunshine didnít count apparently. "
Super Mario is such forgiving fellow. In one game he may be trying to take Bowser and his henchmen off the throne, and in others heís playing a gentlemanly game of golf or tennis with him. But Mario games that involve pounding on top of Bowser have become an increased rarity; this is only the third original 3D Mario title ever. For many, this is truly the second, as Super Mario Sunshine didnít count apparently.
Letís get one thing straight: Super Mario Galaxy isnít fantastically ace. Although a very solid polished game, it stinks of hype, only getting its huge appraisal due to the fact everyone has been waiting for this since the genre-defining Super Mario 64. As a reviewer who hasnít owned a Nintendo console until the Wii, I just approached Super Mario Galaxy like any other game. Take out Mario, the novelty galaxy browsing and the Wiimote features and this is just a typical platformer indistinguishable from other decent last-gen titles like Ratchet and Clank.
But SMG is far from poor though, as this is a decent title that any Wii owner would be wise to play. This time, Bowser has no time for a game of golf with Mario when he has plans to rule to universe, crashing the centennial Star Festival and uplifts Princess Daisyís castle into outer space. As Mario awakens on a random planet, the mysterious Rosalina offers to help but her observatory is useless for travel without the power stars. Consequently Mario must travel through outer space to rescue the stars to operate the observatory and reach the centre of the universe. You certainly guessed right, itís another case of Princess Daisy being held hostage and hence the plot isnít particularly exciting. But now you have a valid excuse to collect 120 shiny power stars.
The diversity here comes from the presentation of levels, using SM64ís fundamental formula but beyond recognition. The observatory is a hub to allow access to other levels (called galaxies) accessible by entering various rooms that are gradually unlocked depending on the number of stars collected. Each galaxy contains various planets that Mario can transfer between from the usage of launch stars. As each planet contains a gravitational force, falling through a gap on one will cause Mario to land into a lovely ball of dark matter and kill Mario. But while this layout for a game is welcome, itís very superficial and adds no drastic changes. Whatís done here is no different to scouting around conventional worlds; this title is essentially the traditional stomping on enemiesí madness.
The controls here are largely conservative, using the Nunchuk and Wiimote are used to control Mario the usual way, but with a few added twists. Firstly, Mario can execute a spin by shaking the Wiimote, and secondly starbits that are scattered around the galaxy are collected by pointing the Wiimote at them. But spins are necessary to activate launch stars, whilst pointing the cursor at blue stars will pull Mario towards them. However, most of the Wiimote features are utilised in many of the mini-game galaxies, unlocked by feeding Luma your star bits. These mini-games include rolling Mario on top of a ball by precise tilting of the Wiimote, steer Mario through on a water mantine or direct Mario around in a bubble with a cursor-controlled fans. Many mini-games donít even rely on the use of the Wii-mote at all but instead activities such as running around disappearing or toppling platforms. The balance of using motion specific enhancements and traditional controls is spot-on in such a game. Although Wiimote use couldíve been a lot more, itís hard to imagine how it couldíve been implemented without potentially making a Bowserís breakfast of it.
Nintendo rarely ever offer anything less than a polished, near fault-less experience when it matters. The visuals showcase what a Gamecube on steroids can do, although comparing it to the 360 is a slight exaggeration. The graphics are bright and cartoony providing plenty of galaxy themes, with fantastic animations and physics whilst the camera is virtually glitch-free. Not bad when it couldíve been potentially problematic considering the complex level design. The classic roster of characters and features is to no exception here, with the return of Koopa, goombaís, stalking flying bombs, coins, and of course the signature mushrooms. However the redemption of these signature features, alongside the recycling of parts such as the plot and the melodies suggests that Nintendo are still too eager to remain hooked onto its roots. The very few clips of voice-acting are inexcusable these days, and although Nintendo donít want to ruin a franchise Sega style, some more new ideas wouldnít hurt. Full credit to Nintendoís new innovations here, but they seriously need to slacken their heritage. Itís sometimes fascinating how the fanboys cope.
Super Mario Galaxy isnít quite the omnipotent title that itís made out to be. Importantly fans and even the journalists need to sober up from the euphoria of a proper 3D Mario release since absolutely zonks ago. Itís not that thereís anything wrong with this, but this galaxy navigation is a macho gimmick, the star-collecting leads to some repetitive and laborious objectives and the Mario-brand is the only real selling point. Nevertheless itís a solid platform game with plenty of variety, the usual polish and enough collectable stars to keep you going for a couple of months. Itís a must for any Wii game collection, but partly because triple-A titles are a little slim at this moment. I await the next title to play a gentlemanís game of golf with Bowser once more.
Community review by bigcj34 (May 24, 2008)
Cormac Murray is a freelance contributor for HG and is a fanboy of Sega and older Sony consoles. For modern games though he pledges allegiance to the PC Master Race, by virtue of a MacBook running Windows.
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