When Super Mario Galaxy rocketed onto the Wii in 2007, it was heralded (rightly so) as the best 3D platformer ever released. It fizzed with energy, throwing ideas at the player at every oppertunity, crackling with joyous gamplay and hidden delights and held together with the polish and flawless precision you'd expect from a top tier Nintendo title. It was also gave the platform a game of rare and unexpected beauty.
The brilliant devs at Nintendo must have been very happy and proud...for about a day! For then the fear of the follow-up must have hit them. How do you follow THE BEST 3D PLATFORMER EVER!!!?
Well, they needn't have worried, for as Ninty have proved in the past, re-inventing the wheel is second nature to these genius' (SMG1 did surpass the last 'best 3D platformer ever', after all - in the rotund shape of Mario 64).
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is simply a joy to play. From the loading "Woo-hooo" to that final star, it's the most fun you can legally have with a wii-mote (hell, any type of controller for that matter).
Like it's predecessor this game has all the imagination and inventiveness in the world and then some. The gameplay ideas come thick and fast, 'throwing away' a gimmick that a lesser game would make an entire level out of. Every positive aspect of SMG1 (and there were tons of them) has been tuned to perfection and the negatives have been improved upon or abandoned (like the finicky hub overworld being replaced with a less charismatic, but eminantly more functional world map).
It's also a truly generous game. There are a total of 242 stars to collect (more than double the last game) and it's not just more for mores sake. One play through of the game gets you warmed up, then the second really tests your mettle - flipping previous challenges on thier head and adding a new perspective to a well warn planetoid. The 'Prankster Comets' also make a return (again, in a much more user friendly form) and add all kinds of crazy (and in some cases crazy-hard) challenges to up the ante.
And this is where some people might have cause for complaints. Whilst Super Mario Galaxy 2 is always fair, it can also be tough in places (in ways that SMG1 never dreamed of). Still, death is not a frustration. Every loss of life is attributed to player fault, not a breakdown in mechanics and every death leads to 'just one more go'. Still, Nintendo have a fix for this too - the brilliant 'auto-play' system introduced in New Super Mario Bros Wii.
Die too many times and a helpful spirit (Princess Rosalita fact fans) will take control of the portly plumber and complete the level for you. Easy peasy. You only have to face the indignaty of a tarnished Bronze star...
And that's the end of it's faults. It is the best feeling game I have played this year and the one that has put the biggest smile on my face. Brilliant new power-up, gorgeous visuals, a wonderful score (with all the twists on old themes you've come to expect) and, of course, the return of Yoshi (yes, he is genuinely great again).
Yes, this really is THE BEST 3D PLATFORMER EVER!!! Good luck on the next outing Nintendo, it's going to take some beating.