Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remembering my 2007 GOTY: Super Mario Galaxy

This fall is just filled with many amazing games such as Gears 2, LittleBigPlanet, Left 4 Dead, and many more, but last fall was also considered one of the best seasons of gaming till this year. Even though last fall had many blockbusters like Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, and The Orange Box, it was a Wii game that was my favorite game of the year and so far my favorite game of the decade, which is Super Mario Galaxy (check my review at the section to the right).

A year later, SMG is still one of my favorite games of all-time. With my disappointment for Twlight Princess and the enjoyable Metroid Prime 3: Corruption so far on the Wii, Galaxy is Nintendo's best game since Ocarina of Time (the first Metroid Prime doesn't count since Retro developed it). The core 3D Mario formula is still the same of collecting stars to unlock more galaxies, but the new approach with the platforming using gravity is simply amazing. The game just wants to put a smile on your face at every moment (This is the same feeling I have with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts currently). Sure, the game is the easiest of the 3D Marios (Mario 64 still remains the hardest of them while Sunshine has some tough moments, but still fairly easy), but the game does challenge completionists to get every star and even play the game differently as Luigi with his different characteristics. Like most of my favorite games of all-time, I felt happy beating it once and once only because I feel I won't the same feeling as I did the first time, and beating it as Luigi wasn't worth my time last year. Then again, I had to beat the last stage multiple times to show off little cousins, nephews, and nieces how amazing Galaxy is.

There are so many favorite moments in Galaxy that made me happy. Certain levels stand out as personal favorites such Battlerock and Dreadnaught to even Gusty Garden's wind concept. The other galaxies were really clever based by their concepts with Freezeflame and Toy Time. Even the Bowser levels from the Airships to the final stretch were memorable levels. Some decisions by Nintendo were a little iffy like beating the game once to unlock the purple coin challenges and then beating the finale again for all 120 stars. The controls felt perfect not being totally driven by motion control with the Nunchuk and Wiimote. In addition, I still think it is the best looking Wii game out now.

Galaxy's incredible soundtrack still remains one of my favorite gaming soundtracks of all-time. It is the perfect blend of nostaglic and orchestral tunes from Gusty Garden's BGM to the retro goodness of Toy Time's BGM. You truly feel like you're part of something epic when playing some of the stages with orchestral themes (mainly Battlerock and Dreadnaught Galaxies for me personally). The game's retro tunes brings back through all the Mario games from the past from the original SMB to Mario 64. I didn't mind the lack of voice acting which is expected for Nintendo games either.

Depsite all the games filled with violence driving the industry mainstream, a handful of games keep the violence out and still deliver satisfying and entertaining experiences. Last year, Mario Galaxy filled that void and still is one of my favorite games of all-time (probably in my top 5). It was a near perfect and polished product for a genre that used to rule the gaming landscape in the 90s and now it is a rarity. I hope this year Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Nolts and LittleBigPlanet fill a similar void to SMG being the best non-violent games (while having awesome humor), but like most people predicted, Banjo won't get enough sales despite its cheap price point while at the same time LBP won't get the attention it truly deserves and the majority of us would rather play Gears 2, Left 4 Dead, and COD: World at War.

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