Home > Gaming, Opinions (Gaming) > Gaming: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is brilliant

Gaming: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is brilliant

Wikipedia quote: "Mario is able to ride the dinosaur Yoshi, who can use his tongue to swing across gaps, as well as eat fruits that give him various powers, such as speed boosts, the ability to inflate like a balloon, or the power to reveal secret paths."

There’s a certainly level of familiarity when playing Super Mario Galaxy 2. That’s not just from Nintendo’s appeals to nostalgia or even how used most gamers are now to controlling Mario in the 3D games, but because it’s the closest direct sequel to a Mario game ever since he successfully navigated the tricky switch from 2D to 3D. Going from Super Mario Galaxy to Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a much more incremental leap than from Super Mario 64 to Super Mario Sunshine or from Super Mario Sunshine to Super Mario Galaxy. That’s inevitable when a sequel comes around so quickly on the same hardware and in the same setting (which is the standard approach for most other developers), making it important for this sequel to justify its existence by expanding on the original game’s ideas and taking its place as a great game in its own right.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 absolutely succeeds at this. It’s still built around the same core as the first Galaxy game, each level letting you loose in a ‘galaxy’ of planets to navigate with a star (or a boss containing a star) at the end, the planet concept meaning it’s fully 3D (in terms of level design, not visuals), smoothly switching you to different perspectives without pause. The controls are unchanged, Mario possessing the same repertoire of moves and tight controls that any gamer familiar to the Mario games is likely fully in tune with after all these years.

The game also improves on some of the areas where Super Mario Galaxy needed tightening up. Rather than accessing levels through the hub world traditional to the 3D Mario games (which in the first Galaxy game was a tall floating observatory that at times was awkward to navigate) the game copies the world map design of the later 2D Mario games, with Mario and his friends travelling on a ship in the shape of Mario’s head. Completing a level opens the path to the next, with some gates requiring a certain number of stars before you can pass. The comet system, which in the first game added a new challenge to an existing level at fixed points in the game, has been swapped for comet coins that you collect (one per level), each one activating a comet challenge. The story is the same as ever, with Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach for some reason and Mario trying to save her.

The drill power-up has one simple function, able to drill straight down from where you're standing, but Nintendo still manage to wring multiple interesting levels and uses out of it.

Some of Galaxy’s power-ups have gone, the red star that let Mario fly (but was barely used) and the ice flower that let you throw ice balls and walk over water or lava. A few new power-ups and modes have been added, in addition to those carried over from the first game like the fire flower (which is an old power-up but hadn’t been in the 3D games before) and the limited flight bee suit, while adding new ones like the drill shown above and a cloud suit that lets you make three temporary platforms. There are gliding levels and races that see you controlling a bird drifting towards the finish, and of course the star new addition is Yoshi, who in addition to his grabby tongue has a range of his own power-ups to extend his abilities. They’re all neat concepts that add a new element to the game and are used sparingly so that they never dominate or grow tiresome.

As is standard for a 3D Mario game each level has multiple stars on it, each having two or three normal stars, a comet star that puts a new spin on the level (such as a speed run or getting through a boss fight with only one health), and in the endgame there are two or three green stars hidden throughout that you have to hunt down. With 242 stars to collect in total there’s plenty to do, even if the green stars get a little repetitive.

Certain levels have Mario followed by an endless stream of cosmic clones who copy his every move, forcing you to keep moving or get overwhelmed.

The game looks wonderful, following the original in being one of the best-looking games around (despite being an SD game) thanks to the lovely art style. As is standard for Nintendo they do a great job balancing appeals to nostalgia through familiar enemies and environments (with a few levels that are pure nostalgia) while still giving the game its own identity. The score is fantastic as well, again using a full orchestra to provide new music in addition to re-using all the great pieces from Super Mario Galaxy.

While it feels much more familiar than any other 3D Mario before it due to being the first direct sequel it isn’t really fair to say it’s just more of the same, as it is constantly bringing in new ideas (using a lot less from the first game than was originally planned). Super Mario Galaxy 2 has some of the best levels in a 3D platformer and it’s at least the second-best platformer this gen (between this or the original Super Mario Galaxy), and one of the finest games so far this entire generation.

Game of the Year status: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is only the fourth 2010 release I’ve played, and the only one so far where the flaws are minimal, currently giving it the number one spot in the list.

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  1. September 19, 2010 at 06:18

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