Super Mario Galaxy 2: review

The original Super Mario Galaxy was by far the best game on the Wii, and is also one of the greatest games of all time. Nintendo haven’t released a numbered sequel to a Mario game since Super Mario Land 2 on the GameBoy in 1992, so can this new entry hope to capture some of the original Galaxy’s magic stardust, or does it fall tragically into the black hole of identikit sequel?

The original Galaxy hit you with so many new ideas in each level, that it seemed impossible for Nintendo to create a Mario game that could raise the bar any further. The good news is this sequel does manage the impossible, and deserves its place amongst gaming’s greatest. With the release of Wii Fit, Wii Music etc, naysayers thought Nintendo had lost their magic, and it’s so gratifying to see them pull off such an amazing feat. This game re-affirms the belief that when on their game, no one can come close to Nintendo’s creative flair.

The new spaceship is a lot easier to navigate around than the previous game's Observatory

The first thing that will hit you when you start playing is the graphics. They are simply breathtaking for the Wii, with a colourful palette, and some insanely creative worlds to explore. The characters are all well animated, and with some huge boss characters to fight, the game amazes at every turn. Just how Nintendo manage to create fur so convincingly when even the HD consoles struggle we’ll never know!

Now the one thing that Nintendo lack, even with all these marvellous worlds to explore, is the ability to change the formulaic plot of Princess Peach being kidnapped..again! But who cares when you encounter levels with such ingenuity and variety. The aim of the game is to rescue the Princess, by collecting stars from each of the galaxy’s levels to power your spaceship towards the final battle with Bowser. If you’ve played the original Super Mario Galaxy you’ll be instantly at home here. The main hub this time is a much more compact ‘Mario’ spaceship, and you don’t need to go to different areas of the ship to navigate to a new galaxy. It’s a much simpler affair, with you simply taking the captain’s wheel and plotting your next move on a simple map, much like previous Mario games. This saves a lot of aimless wandering and is a welcome addition. Probably our favourite new feature though is the return of Yoshi, the loveable sticky tongued dinosaur. His return really adds a lot more variety to the levels. The ability to play through some levels as Luigi, Mario’s brother, is also welcome; but he doesn’t really bring anything different to the game, and at the end of the day his addition ends up feeling like a wasted opportunity.

Dodgy caption competition!

Each of the game’s levels has its own theme, from lava and water to the obligatory ice level. On some levels Mario can gain powers for a limited time. There are a few that return from the previous Galaxy including the Fire, Bee and Ghost suits, which enable you to shoot fireballs, fly like a bee, or float through walls ghost style respectively. New additions include the Rock suit which turns you into a boulder that you roll around in, there is also the Drill that enables you to drill through planets, which is well implemented in some of the levels. Another addition is the Cloud Mario outfit that lets your character create cloud platforms to help you reach distant areas. You can also pick up a balloon that inflates Yoshi to let you float around the levels, or in one instance use him as a torch to illuminate the platforms in front of you, by collecting ‘Light Yoshi’ power ups to traverse the pitch black level. Each of these powers is never overused and are expertly crafted into the gameplay in the well designed levels.

When it comes to the levels they seem even more outrageous than before, with the game taking you from a 2D perspective to 3D and then to an overhead view all in one level. One of our favourite levels started in a 2D perspective, before the angle changed and the level bent over in front of you like the scene in the new Christopher Nolan film, Inception, where the buildings fold over. Then towards the end of level we reached a flat platform with a button that when pushed made the floor rise up, much like a kids pop-up book, creating new platforms. There are also levels where there are buzz-saws that not only kill you, but are sawing apart the level that you are trying to traverse! Some of the levels are reminiscent of LittleBigPlanet, with gravity playing a part in your race to find the Star. If you are struggling to get past an area, Rosalina from the original Galaxy appears, and you can let her take you past the offending obstacle – the only downside being that the star you collect is bronze instead of polished gold, making you feel like an inadequate gamer. Hardcore players looking for a challenge can collect Comet Coins which unlock extra levels, with a much higher difficulty than the initial playthrough; so collecting all 120 stars can be a daunting prospect.

Some of the bosses are huge, and the graphics are top notch on the Wii

Now the only thing we can mark this game down on is the lack of originality of the plot, and the fact that some people may get motion sickness with some of the topsy turvy worlds that you encounter. The re-use of some of Mario’s powers may bring a sense of deja vu to some of the levels, but they never outstay their welcome, and the addition of the new powers takes the game in new refreshing directions.

It can never hope to recreate the original’s initial wow factor, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 is so full of ingenuity and creativity, that you are wowed just by playing it. With each level being a tour de force of different ideas that are never overused, and are fun-filled and challenging. This is arguably the greatest Mario game of them all, if not one of the best games of all time. The question is where can Mario go from here? But then we thought that the last time too!


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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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