Monday, May 24, 2010
Review: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Believe it or not, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the very first direct sequel to a Mario game that we’ve ever gotten in this country on the same home console. Now, before you start pointing fingers and saying, “Well, what about,” or, “Now, that’s not true!” Just hear me out for a moment.
On the NES, we got Super Mario Bros. 2, but cartridge pictures were deceiving, as our SMB2 was nothing more than a game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic in Japan with the original characters substituted in with Super Mario characters. It felt very different from the first Super Mario Bros., and it was different, and in that way, it felt like a brand new game to us on these here parts. The REAL Super Mario Bros. 2 didn’t come out over here until we got Super Mario All-Stars, as Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Worlds was the game that we were originally supposed to get. The thing was, Nintendo thought it was too hard for us puny Americans, so they gave us the modified Doki Doki Panic instead. But, upon playing the original, Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, you kind of get the feeling that it’s a nice little experiment and all, but if we had gotten it back then in this country, would we have really been that enthused about the series when SMB 3 came out and harkened back to the love we had for the first game?
Maybe, maybe not, it’s debatable, but the fact of the matter is, it wasn’t a direct sequel, and it made the series seem like it was constantly changing, constantly on the move. It’s for that reason that later titles in the series, like Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine (Even though, many people still call it to this day Super Mario 64 with a water gun) and Super Mario Galaxy seemed like the next huge step for Nintendo because they never did the same game twice, and were always reimagining the platformer with each new installment in the series. If you don’t believe me, then look no further than Yoshi’s Island, which many people don’t even realize is fully called, Super Mario World 2.: Yoshi’s Island. Honestly, did you that Yoshi’s Island was the sequel to SMW? They’re completely different games!
So, why did I bring all that up? Well, it’s because even though Super Mario Galaxy 2 is heavenly, divine, and perfect, it’s NOT as mindblowing as the first Super Mario Galaxy.
That’s not to say that Super Mario Galaxy 2 isn’t better than the first game, because it is, 100% so even. But a direct sequel on the same system just doesn’t have the impact as the original game did because in many ways, I feel like I already played this game before only a few years ago, and I did, so I’m not as thoroughly impressed as I originally was. Still, with every first-party Nintendo game, and especially with Mario, Nintendo doesn’t mess around when it comes to sequels, so while, yes, this game doesn’t blow me away like the original SMG did, it’s still the best game to be released for the Wii since then.
Now, I’m not going to even talk about the story (Princess Peach gets captured by Bowser yet again), but I do want to talk about the structure of the game, as it is quite different from that of the first title. Whereas the first game was set on a space station that you wandered around to get to other planets and galaxies, this game is now set up with a world map, a la, Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, and that makes the game 100% more accessible and more fun than the original game. In this installment, the planets can be traveled to in a spacecraft that is actually shaped like Mario’s head (as one of the characters in the game notes, though, it looks more like Luigi than Mario since it's mostly green).
Oh, and speaking of Luigi, he’s no longer a secret at the end of the game anymore and shows up sporadically to take over at times if you choose him. Yoshi makes a reapparance, too. Controlling his tongue takes some getting used to but he’s an absolute blast to play with once you get the hang of him. He adds many layers to the overall wonky physics of the game, with Yoshi running up walls with one of his power-ups. It really takes the game to new hieghts.
The co-op mode isn't really updated all that much from the original Super Mario Galaxy. Player 2 takes on the role of an orange Luma who can't move on their own and basically just shoots out stars at enemies from the Wii-mote. I guess the mode is intended for your girlfriend or little bro who might be intimidated by all the wacky physics going on in the game, so I won't say that it's COMPLETELY worthless, but I wouldn't say that it's entirely entertaining, either. Whatever the case, it's probably best if the mode is left alone as it doesn't really provide much to the game and still seems like a bit of an afterthought in the long run.
Don’t worry if you liked the bee suit, the boo suit, and the spring suit in the original, as they all return in SMG2. But added to the list of power-ups are the drill suit, the cloud suit, and the boulder suit, which all feature prominently into the overall gameplay. The drill suit is definitely my favorite as it allows you to burrow right through the middle of planets and get to the other side, which is a good way to find special power-ups and secrets that layer the game. Next up is the cloud suit, which is just okay as all it does is allow you to make three clouds as platforms. It’s decent, but I was expecting a bit more from it. And finally, there’s the boulder suit, which allows you to plow right on through things with ease. It takes a bit getting used to navigating it on the round surfaces, but it’s a blast to use once you get the hang of it and I love it, so I have no complaints with that.
The number of planets has been greatly increased this time around. Instead of being stuck on a planet and having like five or six stars to find on it, you now only get about three or four stars on each planet, with two of them usually being secret. This means you get a lot more variety this time around. I have a hard time deciding which planet is my favorite, but the water ones are a clear contender.
Also new are the Comet Medals, which unlock the secret competitions of the first game. For example, you might race somebody or try to avoid the brand new Mario clones. The clones, by the way, are cool in that they make you feel like you’re in a parkour chase.
Overall, Super Mario Galaxy 2 doesn’t blow me away like the first game did, as it’s too similar to the last one to really feel like it’s the next step in the Mario franchise. But with the first Super Mario Galaxy already being one of my favorite games of all time, is that really such a bad thing that I get so much more of it and thensome? No, no it is not. Super Mario Galaxy 2 may not be the transition from Super Mario World to Super Mario 64 that you might be hoping for, but it’s a better game (I know, heresy) than both of those games combined and definitely one of the best games I’ve ever played in my entire life. Pick this game up now. It's legendary.
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo