previews\ Oct 17, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Super Mario Galaxy - WII - Preview 3

E for All 2007 Preview

Upon entering the finished (but timed, grr!) build of Super Mario Galaxy, my eyes gravitated to one thing: armor-covered Goombas. You just know they’re going to be easy to defeat. Goombas always are. But before your hands even touch the controller, you step back and think, “That’s cool.”

Building on that, Mario Galaxy is 20% cool, classic, and pure mushroom Heaven. The other 80% is dedicated to bringing Mario into the next generation. They’re doing so with the best level designs seen in an action/adventure since Mario 64.

But you’ve heard that before. You’ve heard about the spherical platforms and how amazingly well the camera system works. Now it’s time to dig deeper into the game and explore more of those incredible worlds.

Wave Race

Nintendo has yet to announce the return of N64’s most innovative racer. But they’re given us a taste of what the future could be like in the form of a short water stage in Mario Galaxy.

You control Mario, who has found himself an eel to ride on. He needs the eel to climb a lengthy water path that is literally suspended in the middle of the sky. The controls are excellent – this is the first time we’ve seen Mario Galaxy take serious advantage of the Wii’s motion capabilities. The nunchuck is not used, and you don’t have to worry about pointing the remote at the screen to collect gems (the gem collecting aspect is cool, but it’s nice to have variety). The only thing you do is tilt the remote left or right to steer, and hold the A button to speed up.

Mario’s steering mechanics are very intuitive, bringing back memories of Wave Race. The water-based visuals are really impressive, featuring large waves that push Mario into the air and, if you’re not careful, will send him flying off the edge.

The stage is wonderfully designed is more of a challenge than some of the other levels we’ve taken a look at in previous builds. Those levels – including the Bee Mario suit – are in the final game and contain additional objectives to complete. Each task leads to a star. Like Mario 64, stars open up new worlds. Or in this case, new galaxies. And each galaxy may contain several worlds within it. The transition from galaxy to galaxy is seamless. Enter the appropriate, mushroom-shaped area (and other domes), touch the launch pad, and Mario is shot into the air.

Bullet Bill

The “cool and classic” part of Mario Galaxy comes in the form of returning favorites. You’ll get new enemies, like a giant insect boss. But those don’t gain smiles. Bullet Bill, however, always gets a smile.

In one stage you’ll be bombarded by Bills. They don’t seem to have a purpose at first. The trick is to get them to chase you (which is done by standing in front of the cannon before launch). The fun begins as soon as they start to follow. A star is hidden within a caged area, and the doors keep replenishing themselves as they’re destroyed. One Bill won’t do it – you’ve got to use several of them to penetrate the two barriers that stand in between you and the star.

After nabbing the star, the camera pans back for a cool view of the stage. You’re once again on a large spherical world. But it turns out that there’s a giant robot on top. He’s destroyed in the aftermath, leaving behind nothing but the most gorgeous explosion effects. It’s not violent, but it’s definitely more intense than what you’d expect after Sunshine’s too-friendly-for-words gameplay.

Ready for more? So are we. But the demo kept booting us, and it’s not like we can hog the controller now that North America has finally received a consumer-based game event. If you can get to Los Angeles this weekend, do so immediately. Ten minutes isn’t nearly enough time to absorb all that Mario Galaxy has to offer, but you won’t care – the time spent getting here and waiting in line is worth every second.

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