Game Review: Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
No, you’re not mistaken; this is the review to Super Mario Galaxy, the original, not number 2, the sequel. Why? Because I don’t own number 2 and had never played number 1 until about a month ago when I borrowed it [for a while] from a friend.
I could just go straight out and say this game is excellent, but that would be boring. Mario is the face of Nintendo and has starred in many roles, from saving Peach by jumping in paintings to playing golf or tennis to racing to brawling. Without a doubt, however, when he is sent to outer space, Mario is a complete star [mind the pun].
So, what’s happened this time in the Toadstool Kingdom? At the Star Festival, which happens only once every 100 years, Peach and her Toads are celebrating and Mario comes along to join in. All of a sudden, at the height of celebrations, kaboom, Bowser appears and takes Peach’s castle, with her still in it, literally ripping it form the ground and taking it into outer space. Mario is still aboard the castle, but falls off and lands onto a planet.
He meets some Star Bunnies who transform into Luma’s – talking, friendly stars – which take Mario to their ‘Mama’. That ‘Mama’ is Rosalina. At first glance, Rosalina may seem like a Peach rip-off, but she is in fact quite an interesting character. She has a problem too – her space observatory ship is running low on energy since Bowser stole all the Grand Stars which power the ship when he stormed through to the centre of the universe with Mario’s “special one”. Mario must run, swim, skate, jump, fly, disappear, spin, attack and more on a quest of galactic proportions in order to collect enough stars to power the ship and steer it to the centre of the universe so he can rescue Peach.
Simple plot, right? Of course, only Nintendo can transform such a simple plot which we have seen over the past few decades into something spectacular and fresh. Mario, instead of jumping through paintings like he did in Super Mario 64, now launches from the ship’s observatory decks to various planets, ranging from small round ones to water filled planets to ones with mansions covered with Boo’s. Every single galaxy – the equivalent of a painting in the aforementioned 64 title – continually surprises and demonstrates just how powerful and elegant a Wii game really can be.
Launch Star’s launch you onto other planets in the galaxy so you can collect stars. Pull Stars let you pull them to go near them, so you can form a string of movements across space. Luma’s help you along the way. Some of the classic enemies return – Goombas, Bob-ombs, Piranha Plants and Boo’s. There are some fresh faces as well. Toad’s also help you along your quest, as does Luigi later in the game.
The bosses which are normally encountered every so often in most galaxies range from a huge baby Piranha Plant to a spinning top to a MandiBug. Of course, there is Bowser himself, who you will face numerous times on your quest.
The controls are simple to grasp, which is great. You simply move the joystick on the nunchuck to move Mario. Jump with ‘A’, perform other feats with ‘Z’, change camera angles with the D-pad and ‘C’ and perform Mario’s new ‘Spin’ manoeuvre with ‘B’. Nintendo has been very clever with the introduction to Super Mario Galaxy – instead of just watching a video of the scenes unfolding, you get to take part in the action, quickly learning the controls. It’s a great idea. In fact, the only control related flaw – perhaps one of the only flaws in the game – is the auto-camera. Although effective in 90% of circumstances, it can still be annoying and not go to the right place.
Using the pointing function of your WiiMote, you can collect Star Bits which will help you along the way. I love this addition – it doesn’t matter where you are, just point your ‘Mote and collect the Star Bits. There are still Coins which replenish your health as well. I think it’s very smart how they sneak an option for you when destroying common enemies – spin to defeat them and earn Star Bits or jump on them to earn an coin and replenish your health.
Since Mario is now in space, the opportunities are pretty much endless. Gravity is displayed in various ways, always surprising you. On some planets, due to their spherical shape, when you jump off them you will end up on the other side. On others, if you jump off you may end up being sucked into a black hole and you will lose a life.
A major addition in this game is that of costumes that Mario can take up. You can acquire certain mushrooms which give you power-ups. A Bee Mushroom transforms Mario into Bee Mario – he can now fly for a short period of time, but loses his Bee Powers if he takes damage or touches water. A Boo Costume allows Mario to become invisible. These costumes are a nice addition and very simple and easy to use and also very creative. I’d love to see more in the sequel.
The soundtrack to this game is utterly incredible. Almost all the music seems to be performed by a full orchestra, which is fantastic. Some of the old themes have been elegantly remixed to blend right in with the newer tunes seamlessly. The music is elegant and beautiful. I loved it.
The way Rosalina’s past has been made optional to find out about is a good idea as well. Although I love storylines, I understand that many players do not; making Rosalina’s story unlockable in a library and allowing the player to only read the story if they wish is a great idea. I read her story. It was very touching and sad. After reading her backstory she is now definitely one of my favourite Mario characters – she is such a strong young – could I say that about her? She could be centuries old, after all – woman and has dealt with so much. She is so caring!
If you’re worried about how long this game will last you, fear no longer. Although you only require 60 Stars to defeat Bowser, this game has well over 100 stars for you to collect, ranging in difficulty. The comets add some more spice – a comet orbiting a galaxy will require you to complete a level fast to earn a bonus star, for example. Super Mario Galaxy will definitely have you playing for a long time.
All in all, I think this review speaks for itself. Super Mario Galaxy is an utterly incredible game – a masterpiece. I can’t wait to get my hands on Galaxy 2 and see how they could possibly improve on this.