It is sad that I am going to have to start reviewing Wii games like PSP games in a sense. Most PSP games would be very excellent, if the system itself was designed in a different way. Super Mario Galaxy is proof that you can have a good game with a system that could be so much more.
Super Mario Galaxy starts off the way all Mario games do, with a letter from Princess Peach. Then the first hour starts. Nintendo seems to stress story this time around, making Mario a friend of yet another Princess who has a space ship who could travel the universe. That’s right, could. That is where everyone’s favorite plumber steps in, collecting Power Stars to power the ship.
The controls in Super Mario Galaxy have been vastly simplified from Mario’s last official outing, Super Mario Sunshine. Gone is the all annoying Water Pack, and for the better. Mario loses most of his attacks, at least in the sense that you are in control of. In place of it is the Spin attack, which with a flick of the wrist, Mario can knock enemies back to be jumped on or kicked. Kicking is performed just by running into a dazed enemy, while jumping is mapped to the A button. Camera control is mostly thrown out the window, for better or worse.
Graphically, this is the best looking Wii game to date, hands down. And that is the problem. Sad to say my 360 outputting in 1080i has spoiled me for the rest of my life. It hurts to look at the game compared to certain games on the 360. I am not saying I want Mario rendered in the Unreal Engine, but working out the edges wouldn’t hurt at all. There are plenty of games with a creative art design that don’t look like this. Just look at Ratchet and Clank Future.
The sound design is not only the best aspect of the game, but damn near perfect. From classic Mario themes, to crazy renditions, to new orchestrated tunes, Galaxy performs in spades. The thwomp of Mario’s Stomp ability, the ambiance of the lava lakes, the sound of being shot threw space. Everything is perfect.
Level design is another area where this game shines, from planet sizes ranging from the tiny to the planets made of very few platforms of fire and ice, the game shows off everything you could think of. The later levels are very unforgiving, which is okay because the game stacks you with lives like no other, but the challenge doesn’t loom quite as nicely. My personal favorites were the Toy Level and the level in which rain controls where you can travel. This is Nintendo game design at it’s best.
With 120 stars to collect and a reason to traverse the universe one more time after that, Super Mario Galaxy delivers time and time again. The co-op mode feels tacked on at the last minute, and while the game is fairly new, the hardware does show it’s age. It is nice to have this Power Star back, but it could have had way more Shine.