Review: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the sequel to one of the best Wii titles and arguably the greatest platformers of all time. Before its release, it was hard to see the sequel push the bar that was set by the original any further. Well, Super Mario Galaxy 2 has arrived and it has managed to do the unthinkable: Go bigger, better and more fun than Super Mario Galaxy in almost every aspect. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a reminder of why Mario is the king of video games.
First off, Mario games don’t need a story, but there is one anyway. So, what’s the story this time? Peach has been captured and Mario has to rescue her. No surprise there, and I’m glad that’s out of the way. The only complaint I have here is that the game looks incredibly cinematic, but the characters still talk in bubbled text. It breaks up the experience for me. I would rather hear the characters talk, but I’m sure even more complaints would be heard on the other side of the scope if the classic characters were given less than perfect voices.
The overworld is much simpler than the previous 3D Mario titles. In the past, different worlds and stages could be long distances apart, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 has a basic world map for all the stages. It is more like the 2D style where you have all your available stages selectable by moving up, down, left and right. I prefer this over the original’s, because the confusion of “is this really where I need to go?” is not punished by the wasting of your precious time.
As far as controls go, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is as smooth as silk. Mario is responsive and the controls are super accurate when moving in both 3D and 2D stages. The game does a good job in allowing those who have never played Galaxy before to learn the controls, and in allowing those who have played the option to skip all the tutorials. You can jump, triple jump, wall jump, and even some waggle is implemented with Mario’s spin attack. This has all been seen before, but the inclusion Yoshi is certainly a refreshing addition to Galaxy 2. Yoshi flutters, swallows up enemies, brings some tongue swinging action, and also has his own set of power-ups. These power-ups include the ability to fly, dashing incredibly quick and shining light to reveal paths that are normally unable to be walked upon. Each power-up only lasts for a short period of time, so you’re going to have to continue grabbing more of these power-ups which are contained in fruit form.
There are also, of course, the power-ups available for the man himself, Mario. Power-ups from the original return and new ones are thrown on top of that. Each power-up is available to complete stages that are specially catered to them. For example: You pick up the cloud suit to create your own platforms on the galaxy that has big gaps in between platforms that are usually too much for Mario’s normal jumping. It is because of cases like the one I just mentioned that I don’t really consider the power-ups in Super Mario Galaxy 2 to be what power-ups are in the traditional sense. Personally, I believe that the power-ups in Galaxy 2 should be called “stage clearing assistants,” because power-ups usually give you an edge on clearing the stage. The power-ups in Super Mario Galaxy 2 are mandatory if you want to clear the stage, and they are also unavailable on stages that do not require them. You want to knock this wall over to move on to the next part of the stage? Well, you better find a rolling rock suit power-up, because you’re not going to be able to do it otherwise. It just bothers me that the power-ups feel more like they’re forced on you rather than feeling like a privilege. I’m not going to list the rest of the power-ups, because most of the fun is discovering what you can do with the power-ups you are given.
The thing I find most enjoyable about this game is the challenge to manage all that is happening on the screen at once. You have to worry about Mario, worry about the jumps ahead, worry about the star bits you can collect with the pointer, and worry about whatever the galaxy throws at you. It is incredibly hectic, but when you pull it all off, it is a feeling of satisfaction that is unmatched by any game I’ve played. For the most part, the game does a good job of letting you know that you screwed up, and that it is absolutely your fault. However, there are occurrences of rare cheap moments or camera difficulties that happen 1 out of the 100 times you fail where you can pin the blame on game rather than yourself. Aside from those, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is virtually bug-free.
Throughout your quest to get through the stages and face the final boss, there are so many opportunities for extra lives and extra coins, the game practically holds your hand as it walks you through. The experience is pretty easy, but still very fun. Bosses can be a bit challenging, but manageable. I never found any of the bosses overly frustrating, and some have very clever ways to defeat them. You can also add a second player into the mix to help you along your journey. Player 2 can use the Wii pointer to gather star bits and coins, and fend off enemies. This brings the difficulty down even further. The beauty of most great games is the ease to learn how to play, but having the depth and difficulty to learn how to master it. Super Mario Galaxy 2 can be beaten by almost anyone, but the challenge comes to those who want to finish it 100%. Collecting every single star is as challenging as it ever was. Good luck to all those who wish to accomplish such a feat.
Being a person who has been playing Mario games for almost my whole life, I have to say that Super Mario Galaxy 2 certainly gives something to the fans. This something comes in the form of the fantastically nostalgic music. Hearing some of the music that I haven’t heard in over a decade is such a great feeling as you progress in an already amazing package of a game. There is also new music and unfortunately, some recycled music from the original Galaxy, as well. But that was to be expected.
However, what made the experience feel a bit lackluster was when I ran into some stages that felt recycled. Some stages felt as though they were taken directly from the first Galaxy, with only minor changes. An example of this was with the stage that introduces the Bee suit in Super Mario Galaxy 2. I remembered the original’s Bee stage clearly, and this new version was almost identical. Those who have played both will know what I mean. I know that sequels are going to inevitably have similar content in its games, but I unfairly put Mario games unto a higher standard. And just because so many sequels do it, it doesn’t mean that it is right. Mario games are supposed to lead the way!
Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks beautiful, plays great, and the ambition is all there. It is a true joy to play as Mario once again in what could be the finest adventure for the plumber to date. There are a few hiccups and some personal problems I have with the game. But that will not change the fact that I think everyone should go and play this game as soon as possible. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the epitome of what games should be, fun. Mario does it again.
- Game: Super Mario Galaxy 2
- Release Date: 5/23/2010
- MSRP: $49.99
- Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Platform Reviewed: Wii
- Review copy info: A copy of this title was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for purposes of this review.