Saturday, July 24, 2010

Game Review: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 

Caliente!

Wii, 2010

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Time to Complete: 20-90 hours

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is, as of this writing, the second-best selling game of 2010 - right behind God of War 3. Nintendo has outdone themselves yet again with this one, delivering an amazing game with almost no strikes against it. Well, almost. The Threesome Minigame is out of place in an Everyone-rated game and personally, I'm appalled that Mario and Luigi would do such unspeakable things with Princess Toadstool while the Toads look on creepily.


The original Super Mario Galaxy was a return to form for 3-D Mario games, going back to the standards set by Super Mario 64 while largely ignoring Super Mario Sunshine's additions to the series. The Wii controls are tricky at first, but after a while become second-nature much like the N64 controller did when Super Mario 64 launched. I'd go so far as to say that with some practice, the controls in Galaxy are better than those of Mario 64. Galaxy brought new dimensions to the series and was critically acclaimed across the board. Now, for the first time since the NES, Nintendo has released a sequel to one of their flagship Mario console games on the same console. How does it stack up?

(Tangent Time: Seriously, think about it. The NES had several Super Mario Bros games, but after that, there was nada for true sequels. Super Mario World had no real sequel that followed the same formula; it did have Yoshi's Island, but that was a completely different kind of game and a prequel. Mario 64 had no sequel; nor did Mario Sunshine. It is probably a testament to Nintendo's faith in the Wii that this console generation is getting at least one follow-up to its flagship Mario title.)

Mario's flying, Mark Twain esque galaxy-travelling ship 

The short answer to how this game stacks up to the first: Very well. The graphics are still bright and colorful, and while playing this it's easy to forget that the Wii isn't an HD system. The music is typical Mario fare, but there are some real standout tracks in the midst of things. Perhaps the finest example is the outstanding remix of Mario 64's Bowser stage theme, which plays for not one but two stages in this game. The audio/visual magic is still there, and even at its most frustrating, this game never stops being fun.

The first three worlds


However, there are downsides that keep it from being quite as great as the first Galaxy. Some influences from New Super Mario Bros Wii manage to creep into this game and bring it down a bit. For one thing, this game is more linear than the first, and linearity doesn't seem like something that belongs in a post-N64 3D Mario game. The linearity is a definite drag on the game at times, especially when combined with the low number of stars in each world (at first, most only have one or two to go for). This can leave the player somewhat boxed in as to what their options for advancing are, something that shouldn't happen in a game like this.

The other unwelcome import from NSMBWii? Bowser Jr. I don't know what the deal is with this little cretin, but he needs to go away permanently. He totally steals the thunder of the Koopalings, and he simply isn't cool or interesting.

 Pumpkinhead meets his maker

I mentioned the low number of stars in each stage, one or two compared to six in earlier games. This changes as the game goes on, but for the most part during your first playthrough you'll have low numbers of stars to work with. This is both good and bad. It's bad because, as I said before, it boxes you in a bit. Individual stages don't get as much use as they would normally, either. The good is that it means more variety overall, as early in the game you'll find yourself going from stage to stage rather than hanging out in a couple of easier stages nabbing all the stars.

"Tag 'em and bag 'em, boys! Tag 'em and bag 'em!"

This game can take anywhere from 20 to 90 hours (give or take ten on either end, really) to finish. What's with the huge polarization of numbers, you ask? There are several stages of "finished" to this game, depending on what kind of player you are. If you just want to beat the game, collecting 70 stars and defeating the final boss will probably take you around 15-20 hours. People who played the first Galaxy may have an advantage out of the gate, but I think anyone could catch up quickly. Then, there's the usual post-game goal of getting "all" 120 stars, which takes quite a bit longer. This game puts yet another layer on the star-collecting, though. Get to 120, and another 120 materialize, for a total of 240. Getting all 240 of the stars that this game has to offer can take quite a while. Personally, I stopped at 70. It really depends on how much you want to put into the game, but it's commendable that the game has such astronomical (pun intended) replay value.

Something I particularly liked and want to point out: the throwback level. One level late in the game is pretty much lifted directly from Super Mario 64. It's vastly easier than the incredibly-difficult levels that are found before and after it, so really it's kind of a break. The ending of the level is new, but the level itself takes older Mario veterans back in a way that is definitely appreciated. Shigeru Miyamoto has always been dedicated to the fans above all else, and this game proves yet again that he knows how to bring the magic to players of all ages.

I also found myself really liking Mario's cloud power. It amazes me how, game after game, they can keep coming up with new unique powers for Mario to use. The cloud power is particularly fun and inventive, and can be utilized in a number of ways. Basically, it lets Mario create his own platforms. He can only create three before he has to recharge the power, though, so strategy is a necessity.



In closing, this game is brilliant. However, it still does not answer the age old question of what Goombas would sound like if they had voices. My guess is that they would have cockney British accents.

"Oy! What the bloody 'ell ya stomp me head fo', guv'nor? Bloke's jus' tryin' to make an honest livin', so SOD OFF! And ya know what else, ya blimey pooftah? While oi'm moppin' Bowser's floors and gettin' me melon jumped offa by a bloody plumba, me sodding wife is out there with the boys, flauntin' 'er 'giner!"

In real closing... play this. It's got something for everyone.


Rating: 9.5 out of 10

3 comments:

  1. There's an argument to be made that Yoshi's Island is a proper sequel to Mario World (like the fact that it's in the title), but the mechanics are different enough for it to not count in this particular discussion.

    However, a prequel is a sequel.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey, blame Mario Sunshine for Bowser Jr.!

    ReplyDelete