December 27, 2007

Super Mario Galaxy: A Review

This time, Mario travels through space in what can only be described as his finest outing ever!

There is no doubt that Mario Galaxy is a wonderful piece of work. It controls beautifully, it sounds beautiful, and it implements some beautiful ideas. The crazy Mario Sunshine, in which Mario ran around with a water squirter on his back, left many people thinking, "What else could they possibly do with Mario?" Answer: put him in space. Let's get one thing clear now: this is not Super Mario 128. There never was a Super Mario 128, and there never will be. Mario 128 was a tech demo from 2000 to show off the power of the Gamecube. Bits and pieces were used in the creation of both Sunshine and Galaxy. That's where the planetoids come in. Mario Galaxy sure does have some dazzling and innovative new concepts, and the planetoids stand out as the best of what the game has to offer. Throughout your journey, Mario will encounter floating planetoids and space junk. He can run, jump, and explore every square inch. If you jump off the edge, Mario will be pulled back by the planet's gravity. If you walk off the edge, Mario will appear on the underside of the planet. It's a truly great idea and you wonder why no one thought of it before. The crazy gravity also highlights the spectacular camera system. Mario 64 really innovated the camera in 3D games, and now Galaxy has done it again. As you run and jump around various atmospheres, the camera flies, pans, flips, and follows your every move without missing a step.

The game also controls like a dream. It's interesting how elements of both 64 and Sunshine have been implemented into Galaxy. There's classic long and tripple jumps, in addition to spin and wall jumps. All control beautifully with the wiimote/nun chuck combo (or as i like to call it the "waggle wand"). Speaking of waggle wand, Galaxy makes good use of it without ever feeling gimmicky. There is a blue star on screen that acts as your pointer. It never feels bothersome or in the way like the dreadful fairy from Twilight Princess. Mario has one new move in the game that sends him spinning in a circle with a flick of the remote. This stuns enemies and allows Mario to easily take them out. You would think that Mario's new attack would detract from the experience or make it too easy. Not so. It really adds to the fun- trust me. You can even have a friend help you out by controlling another star pointer! On the subject of difficulty, Galaxy seems slightly easier than previous titles. This is somewhat balanced out by the fact that Mario can now only take three hits. Health can be replenished with coins, as always, but coins are now less abundant. In their place are star bits which can be collected with the remote. These can be used to unlock new levels or to buy useful items before a boss fight.

The overall flow of the game is the same as always (as always, with zero plot). You start in a hub world and travel to different levels while collecting stars along the way. These stars unlock more levels until you've reached the end of the game. Galaxy is different in that you unlock observatories when you defeat a galaxy's final boss. The observatories have about four or five galaxies each that you can travel to, each with one to three stars to unlock to start out with. The first thing you'll notice is that there are a lot more levels this time around. More levels, but each contains less stars- it's a trade off. Personally, I like the layout of Galaxy. There's just more to explore. And, boy, are is there a lot to explore. The sheer diversity of levels is astounding! There was even a Monkey Ball-type level that had Mario rolling on a giant ball (controlled by twisting the remote of course). You only need 60 stars to finish the game, but if you really want a challenge go for all 120. You'll even be rewarded by unlocking Luigi as a playable character!

Mario Galaxy is the prettiest game on the Wii, hands down. It's colorful, sharp, and graphically stunning. It proves that you don't need super high-definition visuals to look beautiful. Finally, there's the sound. Mario Galaxy contains the Mario franchise's finest soundtrack yet. Plus, it's the first to be fully orchestrated. I have to say, Mario is at least 10X better with a fully orchestrated soundtrack. The music is wonderful and quite varied. New tracks and old are both represented here. Word's can't describe how great it felt to journey my way to fight Bowser with a beautifully orchestrated version of the N64 song playing in the background.

In all there is just one word to describe Mario Galaxy: stunning. Galaxy is Mario's finest game ever, the best game on the Wii, and my pick for Wii game of the year!

Visuals: 10
Controls: 10
Gameplay: 10
Sound: 10
Replay Value: 9
Overall: 10/10

Wii Game of the Year

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