QJ.NET reviews Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy - Image 1For years, Mario has entertained us with his wide variety of games – from his humble beginnings as an 8-bit plumber to his iconic adventure in glorious 3D. Now, Mario’s back, and this time he’s off to save Princess Peach once more in what could be the biggest adventure of his lifetime. This is his title for this generation. This is what he offers us after years of dedication, of faith that he would rise from the stigma of awkward spin-off titles and that game with the backpack full of water. This is the review of one of the best platformers of the entire history of forever, Super Mario Galaxy.

Banner - Image 1  

With the Nintendo Wii having been flooded with a glut of minigame compilations and dinky titles that took its innovative motion-sensing gameplay as more of a gimmick than a legitimate element of play, it’s certainly not surprising that the Nintendo Wii’s current library hasn’t been all that exciting as of late. Barring a few well-made first party titles, the Wii hasn’t really gotten its killer app, so to speak.

All of that is going to change, however, with yet another blast from the Nintendo war machines of videogame goodness, and it features the company’s flagship mascot, that inexhaustible plumber, Mario. Yes, it’s Super Mario Galaxy, and this is its review.

The highly-anticipated Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Mario Galaxy has been one of the titles that Wii owners all over the world have been chomping at the bit about, and it’s not just because of nostalgia. In fact, it’s safe to say that Super Mario Galaxy doesn’t rely on that warm and fuzzy feeling to get a cheap boost, but rather makes it a launching pad to send players screaming into the stratosphere in an explosion of ecstasy with.

That’s right, this game will take whatever you loved with Super Mario 64 and blows it completely out of convention. And it does it in a way that it feels like second nature, that it’s the natural step for the series, despite the fact that its predecessors took place rooted firmly in Terra Firma.

Super Mario Galaxy begins with a premise that Nintendo doesn’t seem to get tired of: Princess Peach invites over Mario to her castle, Bowser suddenly comes into the scene and kidnaps Peach, Mario goes to rescue her. It’s certainly no stirring space opera but it works, if only to give Mario a reason to collect dozens of stars while stomping in a few skulls here and then.

Super Mario Galaxy - Image 1 

What’s new, then? The fact that it takes on an intergalactic scale. Bowser didn’t just abduct Princess Peach, he went and literally kidnapped the entire monarchy along with her – castle and everything – and sends it into space. We’re not too sure how it works, seeing as the vaccuum of space doesn’t have quite enough air to support life – but asking questions like that in a game that lets you consume mushrooms to wear costumes is an effort in futility. So in essence, that’s the main spin of Super Mario Galaxy. The Princess isn’t just in another castle, she’s in another galaxy altogether.

So, after the requisite kidnapping sequence (all of which rendered on the in-game engine and looks absolutely spectacular, considering that it’s on the Wii), Mario hooks up with a few new friends to get him oriented on the ways of planet-hopping. These new buddies are called Lumas, cute little things that look like soft, plump Starmen just begging for a squeeze or two.

There’s also Rosalina, a Princess Peach lookalike that all the Lumas refer to as their mother, as well as a main world that serves as a hub to the galaxies you’ll be plucking stars from. And just like Super Mario 64, you have to collect a certain amount of stars in order to access other galaxies, only this time it’s to power up certain damaged areas of the world instead of merely unlocking them. Again, this is all just shoe-horning, but it’s set in a way that it easily blends in to the magnificence of the game and doesn’t detract from the gameplay in the slightest.

With that said, let’s get on to how the game plays. The controls are simple enough – you use the A button on the Wiimote to jump, the Nunchuck’s analog stick to move Mario around. Star Bits are the game’s main currency besides coins – not only do you get to unlock other areas with them, but you can also use them to temporarily stun enemies before giving them the boot. Be careful not to use too much, as you can run out of them, but the spawn rate of these babies are so high that you can potentially end up with a huge number of Star Bits at the end of a level if you take the time enough to collect every one you come across.

Now for the rather iffy part: motion-based controls. As Super Mario Galaxy is a Nintendo game, yes, it does make use of the Wii’s motion-sensing features, but in a way that doesn’t feel at all forced or half-baked. This is done by making the motion-sensing control as part of the gameplay, and not as a game in itself where you’re forced to adapt or get a game over trying.

One example is Mario’s ability to spin – a move that not only stuns enemies, but is also key to him being launched from planet to planet. Making Mario execute this handy move involves a simple shake of the Wiimote. Aside from an occasional level where you have to tilt the remote from side to side or to and fro to make Mario move, that’s all there is to it. Simple, fun, adds another level of gameplay to an already great game without being too obstructive.

Super Mario Galaxy - Image 1 

So how do these controls, as simple as they are, work on the game? Brilliantly. Mario walks, runs, swims, jumps and spins like a dream. With the exception of a slight delay on the spin maneuver (which actually involves a clever bit of gameplay balance that’s explained in the beginning), Mario is in the best shape he’s ever been in, and you’re controlling his every move.

One particular bit I loved is how you can do all sorts of flashy things with the plumber-turned-gymnast, a particular favorite of mine being rushing towards a goomba and shooting a Star Bit at it. What happens then? The goomba gets stunned and Mario kicks it into oblivion, in a two-hit combo that can only be described as slick. Badass. Totally freaking awesome.

Of course, getting Mario to do what you want with the tightest controls in the world would mean absolutely squat if not for the camera – and this is yet another gem in the Super Mario Galaxy‘s jewel-encrusted surface. The camera is smart. It follows Mario around, taking the most cinematic angle possible, and while that doesn’t sound too reassuring it works in near perfection.

I say near because there are a few times where you’ll have to move Mario around just to see something, but besides that really minor hiccup, rest assured that the camera will work with you and not against you. In fact, I can honestly admit that the numerous Marios I’ve lost during my time with the game can be attributed more to player-specific ham-handedness rather than the game working against the player himself. A good thing for other players, and a bad thing for Mario when I’m at the helm.

The controls are good, the camera is the best thing since sliced bread – but what about the graphics? Normally, we’d be avoiding this part of the review like the plague or pretend that graphics never really matter when the Wii is involved. But Super Mario Galaxy takes the belief that good enough is good enough and throws it out the window. Everything is bright, vivid and detailed, to the point that you revisit galaxies you’ve already plundered every star from over and over just to take it all in again. There’s always a sense of life whenever you’re romping about in a planet, from the bristling of the spiked plants to the grind of the rolling obstacles you’ll have to avoid. In short, these are the best graphics you’ll ever find on the Wii.

Great gameplay, awesome visuals – what’s missing? Music. And this, my friends, is where Super Mario Galaxy really starts to rack up the points. Nothing but the best of Mario’s sounds – reimagined and re-performed by a full orchestra – will grace your ears as you guide Mario through the galaxies. The soundtrack is such that I can honestly say that it has been the first game on the Nintendo Wii that you’d want to turn the volume way up for everyone to hear. The sound effects are crisp, clean, and never grating – even the rather shrill ringing that chimes whenever you collect Star Bits is actually a small treat in itself. The overall effect is emotive, soothing, and epic.

Super Mario Galaxy - Image 1 

I’m not going to talk about any game-specific topics, such as what you get after completing the game, or the various powerups you receive in Super Mario Galaxy – that would be spoiling you. I will, however, offer the assurance and guarantee that if you’re ever enjoyed a Mario game, if you’ve ever enjoyed ANY game at all, then you will love this game.

The visuals are beautiful, the soundtrack is out of this world, the level of variety in the different galaxies – there’s something in there that will definitely tickle your fancy, and will have you liking the game more and more that it ceases to become a game and more of an experience altogether. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have without playing a game that has someone getting shot up, ripped into pieces, or mauled to death with some sort of power tool. And that’s saying a lot. With that said, this lowly QJ.NET writer humbly recommends it to anyone with a pulse and a heart.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *