Super Mario Galaxy was one of the most critically acclaimed titles to grace the Wii console, it was accepted by the fans having sold over eight million copies worldwide, and has won many awards and accolades since its release, including being called the Nintendo Game of the Decade by Nintendo Power. Following up such a title is an unenviable task but it was the challenge set before Nintendo and they have delivered Super Mario Galaxy 2.
On first glance, Galaxy 2 looks to be a rehash of the original Galaxy. Anyone who has ever played a core Mario title in the past twenty plus years knows the drill. Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser and it is left up to Mario to save the day. In Galaxy 2, Mario is tasked with traversing the heavens chasing after the evil Bowser, collecting stars along the way to help fuel his exploration.
Much like the first game, the premise of traversing the heavens opens up the ability to have a variety of different themed levels. Galaxy 2 takes this premise to the extreme becoming much more than just a simple rehash of the original by offering some of the most diverse and original levels for platforming ever created. In addition to the wondrous levels Galaxy 2 offers up some new features to help the game from feeling too much like its predecessor. Rock Suit Mario and Cloud Suit Mario join the standard suits in helping Mario to traverse the levels and battle his enemies but the biggest addition is the inclusion of Mario’s dinosaur pal, Yoshi.
With Yoshi joining the fray it allows for a whole new approach to the established Galaxy formula. While I never have, and still don’t, enjoy Yoshi all that much his inclusion, while initially jarring, is a welcome pace changer. Yoshi, and any of the abilities actually, is never overused. It is all wonderfully positioned creating a great sense of pace to the game.
The platforming is the best the series has ever seen and while most of this is due to the imaginative level designs some of it can be attributed to the refined control system. The camera, one of the biggest issues with the original game, never feels out of place and as such more precise jumping is capable. But this doesn’t make the game any easier than Galaxy, if anything Galaxy 2 is more challenging. While I only struggled on a handful of levels there is a noticeable sense of difficulty to many of the levels and the final 10 stars needed to challenge Bowser were some of the most frustrating and rewarding moments I have ever had in gaming.
I do take issue with one aspect of the control though and fortunately it is not something that is recurring throughout many of the levels. A couple of the galaxies require the exclusive use of motion controls, be it to fly Mario through a level or drive him on a giant ball, but like many games that utilize motion control on the system, the control ends up being loose and not entirely intuitive. The levels I became frustrated the most with were the ones that required precise motion control and were timed, if it weren’t for these arguable errors in design judgment, Galaxy 2 would be very near a perfect game for me.
One of the biggest complaints leveled at Wii games is that they do not match up graphically to games featured on its high definition competition. Super Mario Galaxy 2 shoves that argument down its detractors throats as it is one of the best looking games of this generation, not just on the Wii but on any system. Galaxy 2 relies heavily on its cartoony art style but it is that art style that enables it to look so good. It truly is like a cartoon come to life. The music is equally phenomenal featuring a stellar mix of new themes and remixed classic ones. The music in Galaxy 2 perfectly compliments the whimsical nature of the title and is some of the best ever produced by Nintendo.
All of these praises though are hinged on technical aspects though and it is true that the game is a technical marvel but its true magnificence comes from its ability to take a simple game and have it accomplish the complex goal of being amazingly fun and appropriate for all ages. It is something more than what is generally offered up by gaming companies now a days, a sequel that does more than just revisit old ideas. Galaxy 2 refines old ideas, offers up plenty of new ones and delivers a magical ride unlike any other this year, or in recent years. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is something special, quite possibly the most special game delivered this generation, and most certainly one of the best games of this year.
5 out of 5