Hello gamers! Welcome to day four, week ten of our 100 reviews in 100 days countdown!
Flying into the # 52 spot…
An evil villain Dinosaur has stolen the light of the stars, kidnapped a princess and removed the energy that fuels a Comet Observatory that’s used to traverse the cosmos. The universe doesn’t call upon scientists or super heroes, because that would make sense. No, the universe needs a plumber to rescue the damsel in distress and save the day. But not just any plumber will do, of course. It needs Mario.
To The Stars!
Super Mario Galaxy starts like most of the other Mario games: Bowser kidnaps the princess for the thousandth time (He either has a really bad crush or she has Stockholm syndrome; I’m not sure which). This time he’s upgraded his army by a bit, using a fleet of airships and a flying saucer to abduct Peach’s entire castle. Go big or go home right? Mario gives chase but gets thrown to the wind, and ends up meeting Rosalina, an enchantress whose comet ship has been drained of its power source, (stars), by none other than Bowser. What? Dude gets around. Rosalina asks for Mario’s help in recovering the stars during his journey, and offers him her help on his path to rescue the princess once again from the Koopa’s clutches.
Every world that hides some of the lost stars contains new and fun ways for Mario to travel around, and aspects of old Mario games make a comeback (before you get too excited, there’s no Goomba Shoe). Bee suits allow flying for a short time, reminding us of the fox tail or cape. Boxes float above the terrain containing coins, and shells still make an appearance regularly. Coins play a role, but Galaxy introduces Star Bits into the game, which can be shot at enemies with the Wii remote. It gets more and complex and yet more fun as the game goes on, and of course everything culminates in a standoff with the big Koopa himself.
Mario Galaxy uses the Wii remote and nunchuck in combination to hop around black holes, navigate through floating space rubble and catch rides on star catapults to move greater distances. The gameplay is exceptionally smooth, and the pace can be as quick or as leisurely as you want it to be, as you can return to and explore each world multiple times to collect different stars before moving on. Reminiscent of Mario 64, Galaxy makes use of mechanics that play off of many of the early Mario games, and at the same time it somehow makes the whole ‘Mario in Space’ thing work. Running around miniature ‘planets’, making up become down; the new mechanics force your mind to adjust, and keeps the gameplay fun. With the spacing between planets, the game feels very open and almost free form, at least for a platformer.
Boss fights steadily increase in difficulty, but stay fairly lighthearted like the rest of the game. The challenges you encounter change up more than enough to keep repetitiveness from becoming a noticeable problem. It seems like there’s always a new mechanic to contribute to the diversity of the game. One of Nintendo’s biggest accomplishments here is that the Wii-mote doesn’t feel cumbersome whatsoever, but instead feels natural. Considering that the only other Wii game that really pulled this off in any meaningful way was Wii Sports, that’s high praise for the game, although certainly not for the Wii. It’s a small wonder a sequel was made for this game, considering how well it plays.
I was a little hesitant at first because… well, Mario in space? Really? I love all things space, so when I heard them referring to what appear to be solar systems as ‘galaxies’; it kind of made me cringe, to be honest. A small change in terminology wouldn’t have hurt the game. But with a little suspension of disbelief, (you are collecting stars and flying in the vacuum of space equipped with overalls and a mustache, so if you’re buying into that, overlooking some issues with naming conventions shouldn’t be too tough, right?) I was able to push past these little problems of terminology, and just go with it. I think that’s really what it takes to enjoy Galaxy. The ability to just relax and have fun. And if you’re willing, Galaxy can be loads of fun. In an age of games that strive for realism, Mario reminded me how fun, silly, and cartoonish games can still be, even for a ‘serious’ adult. This less than serious adult happily gives it 4.5 out of 5.