Super Mario Galaxy 2 Wii review
Innovation can only happen once, or so the story goes. “Sequels are never as good as the original,” they say. Yet we buy them up anyway. To gamers, sequels provide more of what we love – to publishers, it’s an opportunity to cash in. It’s a win-win for everyone (sort of), and it’s been going on since the beginning of the industry.
What if, however, someone was bold enough to change this format? What if there was a developer capable of justifying the creation of a sequel the publisher demanded? The world as we know it would cease to exist.
Well, Mario fans: consider the world extinct. If you were shocked merely by the announcement of Super Mario Galaxy 2 (let’s face it: 3D Mario games don’t grow on trees, and they never appear on the same console), then you won’t believe what the developers have concocted.
One Brilliant Perspective
Aside from being a stellar game with great objectives, perfect controls, and an impressive camera system, the first Mario Galaxy was loved for its unrivaled level designs. Every level was called a galaxy, and every galaxy was made of planets you could walk all the way around – even upside down – thanks to the game’s imaginative use of gravity.
Mario Galaxy 2 could have done the same thing. During the first few levels, that’s where the game appears to be headed. But it’s not. Nearly every single world is an adventure into the unknown. Every kind of level format (3D wide-open, 3D linear, 2D side-scroller, and combinations of all three) is represented in the game. And it is with those formats that the developers ran wild and created a universe that will blow your mind.
When Mario drops by to say Boo! to his favorite ghostly enemies, he’ll stumble upon a flat platform with some interesting drawings. After stomping on a button, the platform folds up 90 degrees as portions of the drawings pop out, similar to (but more impressive than) a pop-up book.
Speaking of things that fold up, in the trailer for Inception (the new Christopher Nolan film), one large city is folded in half. Mario Galaxy 2 doesn’t have any city environments, but it pulls a similar world-bending trick, eventually folding the level into a square. Just like the first game, Mario has gravity on his side and may continue moving across the level as it transforms. Players, however, will have to make some adjustments. While it isn’t hard to walk upside down, there is a bit of a learning curve since the perspective is so new and different. Nintendo greatly expands on this concept in Mario Galaxy 2, making the original seem like training wheels for what they had planned in the sequel.
Hop on, Suit Up
Yoshi, along with the new suits (Cloud Mario, Rock Mario and Drill Mario) have been the spotlight of Mario Galaxy 2’s promo campaign, and with good reason: they’re excellent, memorable additions to the series.
But the hype doesn’t reveal the beautiful details hidden within the game. Cloud Mario, for example, isn’t just about creating cloud-shaped platforms; when combined with a gust of wind, Mario can use those clouds to soar across a portion of the level. Cloud Mario is also much lighter on his feet, allowing him to glide gently through the air when performing a long jump.
Most of the old suits are back, and it must be said that their implementation is just about perfect. You never have the chance to get sick of using a particular suit because the game doesn’t over do it.
Prior to Mario Galaxy 2’s release, I had concerns about Yoshi’s inclusion. This didn’t seem like the appropriate title for him. But he works really well, and is only featured in levels that were designed around his abilities, which mirror those of his Mario World debut: he can hover after jumping and grapple-hook enemies into his mouth using his lengthy tongue. The latter is controlled by pointing the Wii remote at the desired enemy or object before pressing the B button.
Double Your Pleasure
Numbers are rarely something gamers care about. Statistically, we hate math (which is kind of ironic since we had to use math to find that out). But in Mario Galaxy 2, you will be happy to know that there are seven worlds, 49 levels, and roughly 240 stars. Among the 240 are dozens of Comet stars (the beastly bonus challenges introduced in the first game). Although some of them are laughable – Mario wouldn’t be Mario without some cakewalk objectives, I suppose – there are at least 10 that will not only test your patience but also your ability to persevere against a challenge that feels hopeless.
The Perfect Sequel?
Mario Galaxy 2 just might be the perfect sequel. But it is not a perfect game. Obviously, certain elements of the original – most notably the groundbreaking space/gravity effect – are not as impressive the second time around. That said, Nintendo has done an unbelievable job of creating innovative levels that make the game fresh again, to the point where it almost feels like you’re experiencing Mario Galaxy for the very first time.
You may be annoyed by the familiarity of the first two or three levels (they’re decent but typical), and you may be frustrated by the semi-rehash of the Bee Mario world; clearly the developers really love it since they rehashed it twice in the last game and created a not-so-new one for the sequel.
But are these really complaints? Hardly. Mario Galaxy 2 is a game that would sell the Wii if most gamers didn’t already have one. It will amaze you, it will surprise you, and most of all it will be a game that you will cherish for years to come.