By now, most everyone who knows video games knows Mario, and those that own a Wii are probably already aware of Super Mario Galaxy, a game that burst onto the scene in late 2007. As of this writing, it has already sold over 8 million copies, and my reviewing the game is not likely to cause much of a bump in sales. However, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to review it anyway, because it is one of the few video games ever made that I could call perfect.
Two years ago, when I heard that Mario Galaxy was coming, I decided that it might be wise for me to get used to playing Mario games in 3D, as I’d never played classics like Mario 64. So, I picked up a copy of the Gamecube game Super Mario Sunshine – which, of course, plays on the Wii – and started playing. I soon discovered that I was not particularly good at the game… I had a difficult time mastering the controls, and there were too many precision jumps for me to master. Less than a tenth of the way through the game, I put the game away, hoping that Super Mario Galaxy would not be as difficult for me.
Fortunately, it is not. The controls are perfect, and the spin ability while jumping means that, if I’m about to land somewhere that I wasn’t intending to, I have a second chance before landing to correct my jump and land properly, which was much easier to master than Mario Sunshine’s F.L.U.D.D. system.
The gameplay is amazing. The opportunity and challenge of solving puzzles while walking upside-down is quite a feat in itself, but the fact that you can play gravity-defying levels without getting dizzy is astounding. The game seems to delight in twisting your brain in ways its never gone before, while still making sense.
From watching trailers of the game, I had gotten the impression that the game would all be about walking around on curved planets and puzzles with gravity, but it was much more than that. Some planets turned out to be giant watery racetracks, surfing on the back of a giant manta ray, while other planets put Mario in a bubble, requiring you to blow him around with the Wii remote.
One of the most overlooked points of Mario Galaxy is the fact that it’s a multi-player game. A second person can, whenever they want, pick up a second Wii remote and help Mario by collecting star bits for extra lives or holding back enemies, which is good for helping less skillful players (or giving less skillful players something helpful to do). Another frequently overlooked point is Mario Galaxy’s music, which is frequently fully orchestrated and gorgeous. If Nintendo ever decides to sell the soundtrack in North America, I’ll be in line to buy it.
There’s more to be said about the game, of course. Rosalina shines as a wonderful female character addition to the Mario series, the boss battles are frequently intense, the difficulty is just right; it’s a wonderful game to play.