June 11, 2010

Review: Super Mario Galaxy 2

*Note* Sorry this took so long to get up. It's been finished for a bit, but I spent the last day in the hospital.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is, more or less, the definition of a great game. Don't call it Super Mario Galaxy 1.5 Everything about it is polished and executed perfectly. I'm not sure if any game has achieved this level of perfection before, but certainly no Mario game has. Since Mario is usually at the top of its class, I think it's safe to say that Galaxy 2 is one of Nintendo's finest games ever. Is it better than Mario 64? Most would say it's not because Mario 64 is classic. Honestly? Yes it is. It's the culmination of everything that worked in past Mario games. Even the 2D ones.


Visuals: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is beautiful. Not for a Wii game, just in general. With next-gen brown invading everything and generic bald space marines in generic armor fighting generic aliens in generic cities, it's nice to have something full of color and imagination. This game reminds me why I love games and why I started playing them. It reminds me of a simpler, more challenging, and more fun time in gaming. Everything shines and comes to life. Mario proves that 1) you don't have to be cell shaded to look good on the Wii and 2) you don't have to be cell shaded to be imaginative. And, honestly, this game has some of the most beautiful water on any system ever.

Presentation: This game makes me very, very happy. It takes me back to the N64 days when platform games were in their prime. I'm reminded how many there were between Rayman, Bomberman, Banjo-Kazooie, and the like. Games back then were colorful and imaginative. There was less emphasis on a serious story and more emphasis on fun. That's what Super Mario Galaxy 2 is. They took everything that's worked in all the past mario games and combined it together. No more stupid observatory to mull around in. It's replaced by Starship Mario, which acts as the game's mini hub world. It keeps the action going because you can jump into a stage at any time. The stage select uses a map similar to past Mario games like Mario Bros 3 or NSMB. Not a moment goes by when you're not doing something meaningful.

While it might seem like more of the same with the "Galaxy" name, it's not at all. Besides the space aesthetic, this game acts as if the previous one never happened. As a result, it's 100% new material. Every stage is new, there's several new powerups that the game makes extensive use of, Yoshi's back and isn't tacked on like he was in Sunshine, the Bowser fights are different, even the music is different. If a song returns, you can bet it's been rearranged. And the game is made with the hardcore gamer in mind. The star limit for the final battle has been upped to 70, and the difficulty in general has been increased. Never did I find myself with an excess of stars like in the first game when I had enough to finish it without even unlocking every galaxy. This game fixes the pacing and makes sure you see everything the game has to offer. There's quite a few more stages this time around and, consequently, they have less stars each. This adds great variety to the gameplay because nothing is overused. You may come across stages with a gameplay element you'll never see again. Some of these single-star stages are the best in the game.

Gameplay: The base gameplay is the same as the last title, but it's got a lot of new and unique elements. There's a few new powerups for Mario such as the cloud flower, rock mushroom, and drill which are used creatively in stages and boss battles. Likewise, Yoshi has his own powerups. I loved this idea. The little green dinosaur has never been so well integrated into Mario's adventure.

Above all, the designers of this game have perfected level design. Every stage is absolutely fantastic and memorable. Though there's more stages, meaning they're shorter, they certainly are short but sweet. I was surprised, playing through, that the creativity and challenge never let up.

Controls: Not much to say here. It's the same as before, your standard Mario fare. When you ride Yoshi, your pointer controls his tongue you you can eat from afar. Yoshi's tongue is another important gameplay element in the game.

Sound: I'm not certain, but I think this game might outdo the previous game's soundtrack. It's pretty much the highest quality gaming music you can find. Lovely stuff, really. Besides the music, the rest of the sound is equally lovely. It's as imaginative and creative as the rest of the game.

Replay: This game has 242 stars. They're all different. That's one long game. After you beat Bowser the final time, you unlock World S with some of the toughest stages in Mario history and after you collect all initial 120 gold stars, you unlock the green star challenge. This time, collecting another 120 stars is not simply a rehash with another character. These green stars can be hidden anywhere in a stage and many of them are extremely tough to grab. Finding them all will unlock the final galaxy with two more stars. And after you do that, you unlock Luigi to play in any stage to obtain any star (he's playable after 25 stars in certain stages). So, yeah, there's a lot to do here.

Final Thoughts: This game will take you back to the good 'ol days of gaming. It'll make you remember why you got into gaming in the first place. Regardless of which console you prefer or whether you may regret buying a Wii for some reason, this game will make you a Nintendo fan again.


  1. lol so you give it a 10 I'm guessing?! Anyway, I've been busy trying to clear games I've accumulated but haven't beaten yet before I sink into this masterpiece. I want to focus all my attention on Mario Galaxy 2, and your review brought a smile to my face remembering the good old days of gaming. Maybe this game is the catalyst that encourages other games to return to the days of Challenging but Simple levels and graphics/sounds that keep you smiling the whole day.

  2. I neglected to mention the perfect and seamless blend of 2D and 3D gaming. There are sidescrolling segments that play like classic Mario games with modern Mario game flair. It's really what NSMB Wii should have been like. There are so many nods to Mario games of old it puts a smile to your face. The attention to detail is astounding.