Super Mario Galaxy - WII - Preview
E3 2006 Hands On Preview
Every generation, an action/adventure comes along that reinvigorates the genre. It breathes new life with new concepts that take us to places we’ve never been before.
This generation, that game is Super Mario Galaxy.
Created with the same innovative touches that made the previous Mario titles the best of their time, Super Mario Galaxy is beyond brilliant in the two areas that matter most: game control and level design.
The E3 demo essentially consisted of one level set in outer space. Instead of hopping around mushrooms on safe ground, Mario is now forced to venture off into a world of low gravity. Yet somehow he manages to stay within the area he currently resides. The level – which could be from any portion of the final game – consists entirely of planet-shaped platforms. Large platforms that have a considerable amount of depth. Most are circular, but some were shaped like Saturn, and one had twists and turns that look like they came from a Sonic game.
The amazing thing about all this is how consistent Mario, the camera angle, and the controls are throughout the entire experience. The programmers perfected every detail. While the analog movement for Mario is virtually the same as it was in Mario 64, the camera is 20 times better.
For one thing, I’m not even sure you’ll be able to influence the camera in this game! I couldn’t figure out a way to do it in the demo, but that didn’t really matter because the camera followed Mario around every corner. I walked around these platforms numerous times in a row. I jumped, back-flipped, spun around in the air (using one of Mario’s new bag of tricks. More on that next). It was incredibly silky and perfectly smooth. It felt so natural and so fun, just like Mario 64 did the first time you played it. At the same time there was a bit of a learning curve involved – first because it was a new Mario with new moves. Second, because it’s the first Mario game for Nintendo Wii and uses an entirely new controller: the Wii remote.
Mario Galaxy uses both the Wii remote and the analog attachment together, giving players the best of the old (Nintendo 64, GameCube) and the best of the new. See a Goomba? You can squash him just as before – by jumping and landing on his head. That action is performed with the analog stick and the oversized A button on the Wii remote.
The Wii remote’s motion-sensing technology functions as an activator to other features and moves. Mario will come across several spinning stars on his journey. He’ll need to use them to get to other planets (platforms), which is an integral part of the experience.
Point the Wii remote at your TV screen and you’ll see a glowing cursor appear. It doesn’t matter how lightly you move the remote, the game will pick it up and the image will register on screen. The amount of sensitivity tied to this remote is out of this world. But right now, the remote’s sensitivity doesn’t affect this game as much as the analog stick’s sensitivity. As an “activator,” as I like to call it, the Wii remote triggers Mario’s stars and transport him to new locations. When near a star, simply point the remote at the star and shake. Mario will get sucked into the star and then launched into the air.
Will the Wii remote play a bigger role in Super Mario Galaxy’s future? Most likely. This is one level – a short, 15-minute world that concludes with a wonderful boss battle. It was amazing, and will be a must-have adventure the second it’s released.