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.
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