Thursday, September 4, 2008

Super Mario Galaxy--Review

"An incredible game and a must-have Wii title"

Super Mario Galaxy is the premiere Mario game on the Wii and the first true successor to the wildly acclaimed Super Mario 64. Galaxy takes everything that game invented and takes it to the next level.

Gameplay: Galaxy's gameplay is standard Mario fare mixed with some interesting new mechanics. The goal is to lead Mario to the famous star at the end of each level. There are many different galaxies, arranged in “observatories” accessible from the main hub, and each galaxy has several stars to obtain, for a total of 120. The variety of galaxies is amazing, as no two locales are similar. Many of the galaxies revolve around a new gravity mechanic-jumping from planetoid to planetoid. Each platform in these space-based levels allows you to walk completely around the platform, even upside down. This adds a whole new dimension to the standard platforming common in Mario games. Land-based galaxies are more traditional Mario locations, similar to the gameplay of Super Mario 64. These levels usually involve an objective of some kind that you must complete to get the star.

Every galaxy has a comet that occasionally arrives nearby. These “comet missions” involve doing a specific objective you already completed, but with a twist. These twists include only having 1 health unit, every enemy moving faster, or getting the star in a time limit. Completing these comet missions gives you a star as well. Finally, there are other stars that are hidden in levels that already have a star of their own, and stars found by Mario's brother Luigi-who subsequently gets himself captured and must be rescued to obtain his star.

The Wii Remote is used for several functions in Galaxy. In order to do a spin attack, you shake the Remote. Spin attacks are used for various actions and to injure enemies that can't be jumped on. However, the game often relies on spin attacks so much that you'll find your wrist hurting after just an hour or two of playing a galaxy that uses spin attacks frequently. Additionally, a few galaxies make use of holding the Remote in different ways, like on its side or vertically. These galaxies are usually more annoying than challenging.

A small new feature is the collection of star bits. These appear often, after doing anything from defeating enemies to simply finding them scattered throughout levels. Star bits can be collected by moving the Remote cursor over them. Star bits are used as a sort of “currency,” some areas of levels, and some whole galaxies, must be accessed by paying star bits to NPCs. However, the star bit function really serves no purpose other than this.

Another new mechanic is the suit function. Mario can find various mushrooms, like in classic Mario games, but the difference is these mushrooms cause some bizarre changes-one turns Mario into a bee and lets him fly around, another turns him into a spring to let him bounce higher. The only issue with this mechanic is that its only used when it needs to be-if you see a bee suit, you know you need to fly somewhere, and they never appear when you don't need to.

However, the gameplay does have a few small flaws. The camera is an annoyance throughout the game-whether you're on a planetoid and the camera refuses to follow you, or you're underwater and the camera randomly pans in front of you. While this seems like a minor issue, it can cause you die very easily when you can't see what you're doing.

Graphics: Galaxy is a beautiful game, hands down. All of the environments are amazingly detailed. Water reflects perfectly, the grass sways in the wind, and everything is perfectly and realistically rendered. The colorful art style makes the game easy to look at, and many times you'll enter a new galaxy and spend a few seconds just looking around at the landscape in awe.

Music: Galaxy's music is catchy and enjoyable. Many of the tunes will be stuck in your head for hours afterword, and all of them are unique and fit their respective galaxies well. Some of the boss battle songs are surprisingly epic for a Mario game. The game also adapts the music to the environment well-for example, the music distorts when you go underwater to reflect what actually happens to sound underwater. The music is one of the best parts of the game, and you'll probably find yourself humming some of the tunes without realizing it.

Replayability: Galaxy's large amount of collectible stars makes it a long, but well worth it, journey to undertake. However, the game's replayability revolves around the reward unlocked for getting all 120 stars. While I won't spoil it, I will say this reward's attempt at extending the game's replay value only applies to hardcore completionists. Nonetheless, it's a fun ride while it lasts.

TOTAL: Galaxy's enormous variety of locations and objectives means you won't get bored fast. The game is both deceptively easy and challenging for older players too, although the difficulty seems uneven throughout the game. The small flaws are outweighed by the pure fun the game gives you. This game is a must for all Wii owners.

Score: 9/10
Release date: November 12, 2007
Platforms: Wii
Originally written for GameFAQs

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