Super Mario Galaxy Reader Review
I was walking through GAME yesterday when I heard one of the weirdest things. Mario announcing that Galaxy was out and that everyone should join him in vocal stylings far too eloquent for the usually silent (Well almost) protaganist. Obviously I didn't have to listen to what an emulated Martinet had to say because everyone already has Mario Galaxy, don't they?
The main issue with starting a Super Mario review, one that doesn't include the words "party" or "whatever sport they feel like being today discounting only the most extreme like "Super Mario gang-bang olympics 7" of course is that most everyone who is thinking of buying it is already probably well aware of it's quality by proxy. Everyone else is still probably locked in their rooms masturbating to six-foot print-outs of Crash Bandicoot, Shadow the Hedgehog or Spyro the Dragon who haven't particularly aged with the same finesse or dignity, their cries of ecstacy sounding an awful lot like "Nintendo is for kids lol". Don't let the cutesy sterilized graphics fool you though, theres enjoyment to be found here for almost every demographic. Yes, even the ones who claim Ratchet and Clank and Sly Cooper (Or perhaps in the most peverse cases: Blinx the Timesweeper) are superior to the Italian stallion. Given a chance Galaxy is fully capable of providing enjoyment even though technically it is just a platform collectathon. It's all in the presentation.
Sorry... I'll start again shall I?
Arguably the most anticipated game over the past few years from Nintendo. Galaxy is stepping into the breach carved out by Super Mario 64 which up until recently had been the rented abode of Super Mario sunshine before it was bloodily dragged out, kicking and screaming. Being brutally murdered by raging fanboys quietly at an undisclosed location. Gone is the FLUDD that made things drearily easy last time around (and when pure platforming arrived it felt like an unfair chore) and also gone are the loathesome residents of Isle Delphino and the Yoshi made from fruit juice that dissolved instantly into a disgusting Yoshi soup on contact with water... In a game focused almost entirely on water. Here in Galaxy we delve into a frontier further affield than the mock-mediterranean.
The pretense and narrative are much the same as what you've been spoon-fed by the plumber for the past two decades: Barebones storyline in which Lizard/Ape/Alien takes girl in dress from point A to point B, Hero travels from point C to point A to meet with girl in dress but discovers he now has to walk to point B without an airship/clowncar and somehow retains his sanity by screaming "Yeehaaaah!" at every opportunity. In this case point B is space wherein all the major Mario characters can breathe perfectly and in true space-fiction stylings sound travels through a vacuum. The girl is Peach who in a glaringly obvious nod to the legendary Mario 64 opens the game with a spoken letter wherein she states her intentions to finally consumate their relationship by "giving him something" (Though dropping the "Toadstool". Thankfully the kids now know her name is Peach proper).
Mario is armed with essentially the same moves as when he was generated into polygons (Minus his Mario Judo) for the first time but just in case you didn't play the N64 when said game was released theres a dinky tutorial to trawl through featuring those annoying little rabbits in all their chirpy brilliance. New arrival is the spin which is activated by even the slightest movement of the wiimote, this has multiple uses beyond causing an adorable star to erupt from your brain. It can also be used to extend Mario's ample jumping abilities, to smash ice-like formations or as the main form of attack on the bosses. Strangely though Mario's health has been handicapped to three hits which doesn't allow as much experimentation, however certain mushrooms temporarily raise the cap to 6 and coins still heal you.
Mario is regularly aided by Lumas (stars) that are curiously submissive to their "Mama" (New "Space princess" Rosalina) or terribly underfed, the starving ones actually repay your kindness by killing themselves which kind of makes you wish they had so that you could have kept your vast "star bit" (Objects that can be sucked up by hovering the motes cursor over them, granting you 1-ups after a certain amount) reserves. Maybe initiating "The Mario family" with them whenever you locate Luigi and start whacking people left, right and centre.
While I'm on star bits, the games box promotes the application of a friend as a second player which while strictly true probably would make the generally agreeable Marquis Halim Ondore blush. Basically player two can point a second Wiimote at the screen and do whatever you'd be doing as player one anyway by sucking/blowing more star bits than an actress in Arizona. The effect makes you feel like the little sister forced to play through a marathon session of Sonic 3 and Knuckles entirely as Tails commanding the second pad. The kind of situation that makes you feel bad ripping around stages as Hyper Sonic and never allowing them to land. Generally though, the mote controls don't feel quite as tacked-on as they did with Twilight princess or work quite as badly as in Sonic and the secret rings.
Besides the spin attack you could essentially beat the game with a gamecube controller if it were compatible. Too many games have attempted to incorporate "Shake features" for the sake of it and it's good to see a limited application in a game that requires a degree of precision. Mario sticks well to the control stick too which is great when walking along a road that builds itself as you step on it. If he didn't stick to the controls well enough in these portions then he'd be forced to join Sonic squatting in a corner, eating his own faeces. While the player jammed themselves repeatedly in what used to be their face with a shattered Wiimote.
The mote isn't entirely faultless this time out though, certain stars ask you to steer with the wiimote without falling off. This would be easier using the stick and feels a little bit like they were looking for a way to use the remote. Especially the ball rolling sections which probably would have been more fun if you rotated the areas monkey ball style instead of Mario himself. Of course with the wiimote comes another issue, without the c-buttons/second analogue stick to control the camera it's essentially static and when you do move it around with the d-pad it has the great idea to snap back into place behind Mario immediately driving you to draw paralells with Sonic adventure. It can make certain platform sections more awkward but no camera can be that bad. It doesn't usually render it unplayable happily.
Strange new worlds...
The Galaxies themselves are accessed easily via domes scattered around the main hub labelled after rooms you'd find in any good Cluedo box and within there are a lot of ideas at work. Certain flying rock formations are crafted entirely for a single puzzle in order to get to the launcher to the next rock. At first walking around a planet is a little strange and feels odd to control but eventually you'll get used to it and love it. You'll love it harder than Oedipus loved his mother. I suppose you'd have to be seven-feet tall and love bar brawls to actually hate the titles charm. Another great feature is that the game mainly lets you get on with it, rarely over-explaining things. You might get an arrow in a two-tone room, jump above it and gravity pulls you onto the ceiling. Falling is rarely a death situation and usually you'll be sucked in by the next platform's gravity anyways. Black holes hovering ominously underneath your footholds are this games "bottomless pits" that will instantly kill you.
You see space was a good idea, it let them play with the very physics you expect from platform-hopping and ultimately your head. You can leap from a 3D platform to a side-scrolling section in certain sections which can be slightly disorientating. Each star is different too and all the galaxies have varying amounts, certain galaxies were created exclusively for a timed challenge for instance while others have several selectable "Missions" contained within them of varying difficulty. Playing through this epic you may even totally forget about the Princess and Bowser who are by now probably onto the second half of a Barry White album. Speaking of Bowser, the boss battles are just as imaginative, entertaining and random. Though still mostly conforming to the Nintendo patented 3-hit vitality rule.
Slightly lying multiplayer aside none of this is inherently bad and a certain degree of familiarity is always good, especially where Mario is involved. Most of the Mario staples are back and some have been restored after long absences like the Fire flower. Coins, Goomba, Pirahna plants, 1-up mushrooms, Starmen and those lovely rotating flame chains are just a few examples of the things you'll encounter. There are new things too of course, like the Bee mushroom which not surprisingly turn Mario into a Bee and allows him to walk on flowers, climb honeycombs and tickle the Queen. It does however dissipate when hit or when you dip your toe into water.
All in all then it's probably the best disc you could put in your Wii if you want a platform adventure in place of a minigame compilation/bodypart training title. It's a superbly imagined Super Mario effort that grabs your head and forces it underwater until the mid nineties flash past your eyes, if those memories are beyond your limits it reintroduces you to the 3D Marioverse without asking you to reduce your fingers to bloody stumps attempting to play Super Mario 64 DS or having a lacklustre Hudson-hosted party that's so bad it needs recalling. Hell, it's the best pure platformer in a very long time. It's something Nintendo want you to pick up and play for years which is clear in it's application and ease of immersion.
10 / 10