It’s unfortunate that the Wii I worked so hard to find at launch sits mostly unplayed for periods of time, but once in a while something comes out that makes this system shine. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of these games. The true sequel to Mario’s first Wii outing is one of those titles that comes along once in a blue moon and thrusts the Wii to the forefront of my console list, pushing aside new titles like Red Dead Redemption with ease. Super Mario Galaxy 2 doesn’t dwell on story, and yes the ol’ cliche of Princess Peach getting captured by Bowser stands strong in this one. The twist? Bowser is planet sized. At least early on, anyway.
The core gameplay of Super Mario Galaxy 2 stays the same as other 3D Mario titles: each level is spaced out and has a goal of collecting a star. Collect enough stars to open up other levels, and jump, smash and spin-move your way through some amazingly well-constructed galaxies to attempt to rescue Peach. Some slight changes have been made to help streamline the game, and they have been for the better. Gone is the hub world aspect of Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Sunshine. Instead, the new Wii title uses a grid system inspired by Super Mario Bros. 3 and, more recently, the New Super Mario Bros. This method I feel adds more of a cohesive feeling to the game and allows very easy navigation through the multiple worlds you unlock.
Nintendo’s new game controls like a masterpiece, and just like the first Galaxy title. The Wii remote can be used to collect star bits on the screen, while giving it a quick flick will initiate the always there spinning attack. Even when wearing one of the many suits that Mario or Luigi can don in the title the controls feel dead on. The new Cloud Suit helps create floating platforms allowing easy access to out of the way areas and the Rock suit lets you ball up into a boulder which you can use to smash rocks, or in one particular level clear 30 crabs off a caged planet to unlock the star. Favorites like the Bee suit are back in action as well, so most players will be pleased with the suit selection. When Yoshi makes his grand entrance early in the game, his controls are also spot on. Eating fruit and enemies is as simple as pointing at them and swallowing, and firing projectiles back at a target is equally as intuitive. Even the camera scheme has been tweaked for easier use, making deaths more the fault of the player than that of the game itself. For those who have a lot of issues and find themselves dying a lot on particular levels, the Cosmic Guide is here to basically play the game for you — while reducing the award you get for that particular level. Having trouble with a certain robot boss? Not any longer, as you can sit back and watch Mario issue a beatdown that will make you envious.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks great, and that’s without any of the standard “for the Wii” qualifiers. The game is sharp, bright and very colorful. Sure there are some times where the background could have used some additional artwork added to it; then again, once you start getting into the game these types of nitpicks simply dissolve because of how much fun you’re having. What I love most about this game is how each level, while oddly familiar, is unique. Even when revisiting a galaxy for the second or third star, the entire landscape or your path through the level will be different enough to stay fresh. Oh, and be sure to collect any Comet Medals you encounter in a galaxy, as these allow Prankster Comets access to your galaxy changing the landscape or rules of a galaxy dramatically. For example, one level where previously you had to battle a robot using only a drill digger was changed to you having only a single health bar, while the robot had more minions and moved faster. Another was the aforementioned challenge to wipe 30 crabs off a small planet in under sixty seconds. So if you think you may get bored while trying to catch all 240 stars in the game, think again.
Super Mario Galaxy was a very pleasant surprise, especially after the lackluster (in my opinion) Super Mario Sunshine, and Galaxy 2 is not only more of the same, but done very well. I spent hours on end sitting on the couch, Wii Remote in hand thinking that I can just get one more star before I head off to bed. Part of this drive is that the levels are all so fun, or so mind bending, that you just want to see what’s coming up next. Combine that with the fact that each level can be completed anywhere from a minute in some race levels to around 10 minutes for the longer ones, and there’s plenty of room for the “Just One More” mantra. Super Mario, welcome back. It’s a blast to see you back with Yoshi and Luigi in a game that isn’t a kart-based racer.
- Score: 9.75
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Wii
— Jeff Paramchuk