Friday, June 25, 2010

I Found My New Favorite Game of All-Time... The Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

I was literally blown away by the first Super Mario Galaxy when it came out in November 2007. It was a Mario game unlike anything else going beyond what Mario 64 and Sunshine brought to the table with the whole galaxy theme along with messing with gravity. I never seen such unbelievable variety in a game ever until the first Galaxy. Nintendo seemed like they can do more with the galaxy concept with Mario, which is why Super Mario Galaxy 2 was announced as a sequel on the Wii. Not only Galaxy 2 exceeds why the first Galaxy started by expanding upon the gravity concept, it also adds a new sense of variety that is unmatched in any other game that is out today. When Nintendo is at the top of their game taking advantage of what they have, they can not be stopped as Galaxy 2 is an example of that. I never thought that the first Galaxy can never be topped in terms of Mario games for me, but Galaxy 2 exceeded my expectations in a big way to a point it is pure perfection.

The simple storyline for Galaxy 2 is what you expect with Princess Peach being kidnapped again by Bowser as it is up to Mario to save the day (I bet you know the drill by now). A Luma gets lost from her mama which allows Mario to do his spin attack that was also in the first game. In some way, Nintendo treated the story this time as if the first Galaxy did not exist with Rosalina around and her hub world to explore, but eventually there are some relations between the two games once you beat it. Galaxy 2 takes the hub world approach in a different way with Spaceship Mario, a "faceship" you travel on chasing Bowser through six worlds that consist of many galaxies you transverse on. Other than stocking up on extra lives, which the game hands out again like candy if you played recent Mario games such as the first Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros. Wii, there is nothing much that Spaceship Mario offers to explore besides talking to new friends you made during your journey. Galaxy 2 does things better by straight up going boom boom through these galaxies at a quicker pace by selecting the galaxy to explore within the given world. You are still getting power stars to progress through the game as well as grand stars against Bowser and Bowser Jr. at the end of each world, but the sequel once again does a good job of allowing players to be beat the game with the minimum requirements, but those who are wiiling to 100% the game will go the extra mile to get all the stars. The fun does not stop there when you are able to get all 120 Stars as a special surprise gets thrown at you at the point the game takes a different turn with a new batch of 120 green stars to collect.

The combat mechanics of Galaxy 2 are pretty much the same as the first game with some new fun additions and power-ups. The spin attack is still Mario's go-to attack by shaking the Wii Remote to take out enemies collecting star bits and coins if he jumps on them. The platforming remains as satisfying as it has been with Mario making death defying jumps at times and also avoiding obstacles that stand in his way. Other than the core combat, some power-ups return from the first game with the bee suit for temporary flight and the fire flower, but the new power-ups are fun to use anytime they were offered in the galaxies. The Rock Suit flashes back to the Goron Suit in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask of rolling in a rock-like ball taking out certain obstacles and enemies. Mario can also hold a drill-like item to drill holes underground to reach new areas in certain galaxies. The Cloud Suit is arguably the best new addition which allows Mario to make cloud-like platforms to hop on even though there is a limit with them. Other than the new power-ups, Mario's dinosaur buddy Yoshi also gets some attention as well in some levels and it actually feels fun to control him around eating enemies, making him go crazy fast, float like a balloon, and illuminate light in certain spots. Yoshi does not feel tacked on as compared to previous Mario games, which is a good thing seeing the green dinosaur being a major factor in Mario's adventures. Luigi is also playable at some point in the game and he controls similar to what he was in the first game if you were able to unlock him in the first game.

The level design is Super Mario Galaxy 2's biggest feat especially when Nintendo is at the top of their game. It is unrivaled compared to games and the variety once again increases tenfold like the first game. Sure, some elements from the first Galaxy return, but you are always doing something new every ten minutes. It is as if they give a tease by messing around with a new item, but they stop focusing on it to move on to something else, which makes the experience more fresh than it should in the first place. At one point, you're riding Yoshi around, then you're flying with a bird that changes the Wii controls up a bit, and revisiting a classic level from a previous game. There is never a dull moment where repetition kicks in as the new ideas keep flowing and flowing at every hour, which is an amazing feat of its own. Also like the first Galaxy, you feel like you can not stop playing because of you wanted to see what is next or what would they throw at you next even though they will tell you to take a break here and there. It makes you wonder how crazy the developers are when they were making these levels by pounding in new idea after new idea. Boss battles are also fun to play even though the similar formula of three hits still works, but the ideas keep flowing to them as well. Sure as in any other Mario game you have played over the years, the frustration of trying to make certain jumps or dealing with the prankster comet challenges, also returning from the first game, will indeed kick in at some point, but luckily the extra lives will come in handy. It also borrows some sense of a Super Guide from New Super Mario Bros. Wii in which they will do the level for you as you end up with a bronze star if you die too much.

The graphics for Galaxy 2 is among the best the Wii can offer so far with lots of variety of backgrounds Mario explores from haunted houses, jungles, space stations, and so on. Sure, there are the obligatory lava, ice, and water levels that appear at points during the game, but the level variety is still out of this world and it makes you say OMG when you see these backgrounds and the amazing level design working together as one. As expected with other Nintendo games, this game performs at a constant 60 frames per second and no obvious glitches. The camera also was handled very well with rare cases of it becoming a problem, which is a good improvement. With the top notch effort Nintendo has done with the graphics on the Wii for Galaxy 2, the same can be said for the music and sound as well. Super Mario Galaxy had one of the best gaming soundtracks in recent memory with an epic mix of orchestral and remixed classic tunes as the sequel is no different continuing the mix. Some of the orchestral pieces are indeed the best I have heard in any game in a while and while the first game gravitated to more Super Mario Bros. 3 tunes, the remixed BGMs borrow from Super Mario World, specifically the Ghost House music reappearing again, and even Super Mario 64. The sound effects remain unchanged for the most part if you played the last game too, but the soundtrack as a whole is nothing but amazing stuff from beginning to end.

I never experienced something as special as Super Mario Galaxy 2 especially in this current generation of consoles. Even though it is a sequel to an amazing game, it still lots of things new to the fold that also caters to the astounding level design. The game is also beautifully paced well that players will be happy with whether if they want to get through the game as fast as they can meeting the 70 star requirement to take down Bowser for the last time or being a true completionist collecting everything in the game from comet coins, green stars which makes the game twice as long for those that are willing to accept the challenge, and more. In addition, Galaxy 2 looks as good as if better than the first game on the Wii and the soundtrack is once again among the best in the business. Nintendo's magic once again delivers as if they never missed a beat through these years with Galaxy 2. It is funny to me that Galaxy 2 is now in a special place in my heart as my new favorite game of all-time, but indeed it is beating an elite group of games I have played over the years. This is something any gamer should not miss on at any cost as you must play this game.

Score = 10/10

  • Pure perfection as it is Nintendo at its finest once again
  • Level design remains unmatched compared to everything else out now
  • Soundtrack is among the best in the gaming business today
  • A great mix of old and new from past Mario games with the amount of variety offered
  • None of the new additions feel as tacked on as Yoshi is actually fun to play as in he appears in certain levels
  • None at all! My highest recommendation to go out and play this game as soon as possible.

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