A lot of people think that Nintendo loves America more than it loves Europe. Thankfully, it only appears to love America by about 16 hours more. 16 or so hours is the gap between Nintendo's latest media summit in the US, where it let loose with quite a lot of exciting information, and its media summit in the UK, where it did the whole thing all over again, except we mostly knew what was coming.
We clapped politely when they did this, but we were being nice. We're like that in Europe. Luckily, Nintendo was being nice, too, because it then let us take a good long look at Super Mario Galaxy 2, which is looking brilliant.
Actually, Nintendo's probably being nice just making the game by this stage. By my own reckoning, I think this is the first time that Nintendo has returned to an existing Mario template for a direct second instalment since the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 - aka The Lost Levels. Mario may mostly be about running around and stepping on people he doesn't like - an inch to the left, and it would could all seem a bit American History X - but the designers have always been insistent on rethinking the way they let you do that each time around.
Galaxy 2, however, is a welcome second dose of something you probably already know you enjoy: the plumber's heading back into space, back onto Mobius-strip worlds that warp and lap themselves, back to chasing clanking robot bosses around huge spherical arenas.
Demoing the dazzling sweetshop universe of Galaxy 2 in the drafty concrete canyons of the O2 Arena turned out to be a masterstroke, as it happens. After sweeping past vistas of drizzly scrub and empty Frankie & Johnnies' with creepy tinned chatter oozing from the prison-grey interiors, watching Mario sail through pink and orange star fields to crash-land on a planet of fuzzy green grass was like waking suddenly from the world's lamest coma.
Every inch of the screen shimmers and jiggles with things to amuse you. Every 15 seconds or so, you're given a new gadget to play with, or a winding trail of coins to collect, or even the opportunity to zap yourself off to a kind of AI deathmatch mini-game, warping onto a tiny glowing disk to kick a horde of Goombas into orbit while the clock ticks down.
Amidst all these distractions, what stands out? Well, the odd new toy stands out. On the earthy backwaters of Spin Dig Galaxy, where the planetoids are little more than odd-shaped chunks of mud and stone, Mario picks up a drill-head. A shake of the remote sends it spiralling, driving the plumber briskly down into the ground, and chewing a path straight through the planet and out the other side.
That means you may find yourself sprouting up in the middle of a patch of swaying grassland, with 1-Ups bobbing in the distance and Star Bits scattered all over the ground. Or you may find yourself piling through mechanised enemies who chug through the dirt towards you, sending up little furrows. The drill even plays its part in fairly simple puzzles, when the only way to reach the summits of unscaleable cliffs of rock is to get all the way around beneath them, and then dig your way to the top.
After a bit of rewarding experimentation, it's time to use the drill in a boss battle, against a clambering bow-legged robot who fights you on the outer edge of an asteroid (which happens to resemble an Oreo cookie). Send Mario drilling towards one of the monster's metal feet and you'll be rewarded with an abrupt clang and a return journey; time things just right, however, and you can slowly smash through the glass chamber lurking under his head to free the star inside.
Actually, it's the boss fights that stand out, too, even though I only get the chance to play through one more. Petey Piranha (it may not be Petey, come to think of it; I was answering a text at the time) waits for Mario on the final stopping-off point at Sky Station Galaxy, a kind of suburban fifties utopia that's been scattered across an asteroid field. Neatly trimmed lawns, bright clapboard structures and perimeter rings made from white picket fences set the scene, all seeming perfectly acceptable within the game's bizarre visual logic.
There are a few things that would be out of place in the world of Oldsmobiles and distant fathers who work in the city and nurse secret passions. The few things include a huge rolling pin you have to work your way across at one point, avoiding patches of sticky tar that will slow you down and get you clobbered by sliding platforms of stone. The oddball additions are entertaining enough to let you forgive them.
Petey himself is in a bit of a state. A screaming baby piranha plant, his fat body still wedged in an egg shell (again, this being Mario, all of this seems to make perfect sense) he's a surprisingly tricky foe to finish off, even though it's obvious you should probably get as close as possible in order to perform spin-attacks on his belly. It's a simple enough set-up, but the game doesn't shy away from throwing in mean touches, increasing Petey's speed when he gets into a rage, and slicing away at the time he spends standing still.
All of which means that, if you'd worried that recent Nintendo games had been getting too easy - granted, you probably weren't thinking that about New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Galaxy 2 isn't afraid to cook up bosses who shove you off into space again and again, and laugh while you're swallowed by a black hole. Later on, it even conjures a purple-coin hunt across some switching tiles that is, arguably, the most difficult thing I've ever endured - and that includes a dream about being stuck in an elevator with Senator Bob Dole.
The game's willing to give you some old friends to help you out, however, and the return of Yoshi - in a game that has finally remembered what to do with him, too - almost brought a tear to my eye.
Thankfully, Yoshi hasn't really changed from the days of Super Mario World. He's still found in eggs, although the spacing of them is a bit kinder this time, he still scarpers around in an excited fluster whenever Mario's in the saddle, he still wobbles through the air with that peculiar frantic hover, and he still dashes off the nearest cliff if the plumber becomes unstuck.
He's still able to eat just about everything that crosses his path, too. It's a mechanic that's handled with absolutely no fuss, by pointing with the remote and then pressing the trigger, and which comes into its own when you stumble across Burp Fruit in the Tail Trunk Galaxy.
Burp Fruit inflates Yoshi like a balloon, which is perfect for exploring a level built around a series of vast trees with landing zones made from branches. Holding a button down allows you to conserve your air somewhat, but with a short timer you really want to be chaining one fruit to the next as quickly as possible.
It's not an entirely new idea for Mario by any means, but it benefits from some intricate staging, as you float uneasily through a spinning wheel maze and around the edge of a rolling log filled with moving platforms, avoiding spiny plants and trying to keep afloat as long as you can.
Yoshi crops up in a few other levels in the eight or so areas revealed so far, and elsewhere there's a similarly pleasant blend of old and new ideas. One level plays the old gravity-reversal trick, with sections that tug you towards the ceiling and others that pull you back to the floor, but there's a greater sense of mischief on display, with moving platforms, crackling laser grids and regular patrols from Octogoombas.
Another challenge, meanwhile, creates a looping, backswitching racecourse peppered with - erm - peppers, which provide Yoshi with a burst of gravity-defying speed. It reminded me of Quackshot for the Megadrive, which was brilliant but not very cool, and so nobody ever mentions it any more.
Nintendo has stated that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is more than just a sequel - it's a new game, with a "new feel". In truth, it's hard to pinpoint that much - other than a chummy dinosaur and a slightly crueller streak - which feels noticeably different on this outing.
That's partly down to the fact that we're being shown a range of different levels out of context, perhaps, but the deeper truth is that adding fresh elements to Mario Galaxy was never going to shake it up that much.
That's because the game's whole design was already based around throwing in new things every few minutes - generously busting ideas other series would probably build a whole game around, and cashing them in on a mere five-minute distraction.
Super Mario titles have always had a kind of gratuitous creativity, in other words; thankfully, there's absolutely no earthly reason to think that this one will be any different.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is due out for Wii in Europe on 11th June.