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Michael Kontoudis
21 Jun, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

Wii Review | Reach for the Stars.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 flirts with perfection in ways which so few games ever do; it dances on the precipice of unadulterated nirvana, confident and assured of its greatness. In short, it is a game which is impossible to dislike unless you are one of the unfathomable and unfortunate beings unable to derive any enjoyment from the act of leaping, flipping and somersaulting over bottomless pits. In our minds, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is among the best platforming games ever made and the best game in which Nintendo’s portly plumber has ever featured. Representing the first direct 3D Mario sequel to appear within a single console generation, Super Mario Galaxy 2 successfully and effortlessly refines and expands upon the concepts firmly established by its immediate predecessor while somehow finding the time to deliver new and unexpected mechanics, levels, enemies and ideas so regularly and so generously that one scarcely has time to catch breath.


Mario's Drill power is clever enough to support its own game.

Mario's Drill power is clever enough to support its own game.
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Following the kidnapping of Princess Peach by the indefatigable Bowser (he wants her to bake him a cake, you see – perhaps she should just indulge him), Mario is quickly ushered upon the ‘Starship Mario’, which is a minor hub by which the plumber traverses the half-dozen worlds and galaxies therein in search of the elusive power stars which will allow him to plumb the universe in search of his ‘special one’. Traveling from galaxy to galaxy and selecting the desired level has been streamlined in Super Mario Galaxy 2, eschewing the layered menus and hub-exploration of the original in favour of a map screen in the vein of Super Mario Bros 3 or New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Nintendo’s decision to allow players to jump straight into their desired level is indicative of the developer’s approach to their game as a whole, which seems to be heavily focused on delivering new ideas, creative designs and unique challenges as often as possible and without padding. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an embarrassment of riches, offering up one-off missions so bizarre and creative that they could support an entire game. New power-ups, such as the Cloud Suit, are gloriously entertaining and have been tuned to perfection, fitting right alongside returning favourites such as the Bee Suit and Fire Flower which are used only a couple of times throughout the lengthy adventure. As with the aforementioned New Super Mario Bros Wii, but to a greater extent, Nintendo seems to be treating its mascot with a sort of jazzy playfulness and willingness to experiment; some levels are tight, linear tests of reflexes and dexterity, evoking Mario’s two-dimensional heritage, while others are quite literal throwbacks to the explorative challenges introduced to the series by Super Mario 64. Between these two extremes is the ground in which Nintendo has seen fit to play, tasking Mario with balancing atop a rolling ball, careening down a perilous side, or dangling from the feet of a gliding bird as it swoops through the jungle.


Yoshi makes a welcome, adorable return.

Yoshi makes a welcome, adorable return.
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The introduction of Mario’s longtime dinosaur companion, Yoshi, represents yet a further mechanical wrinkle to the canvas of Super Mario Galaxy 2; the way the little fellow gobbles up fruit and enemies with his tongue via artful pointing of the Wii remote is not only perfectly tuned, but also stands testament to Nintendo’s restraint when it comes to utilising the capabilities of its controller. Save some awkward flying sequences where motion controls do not feel as responsive as they should, every use of the Wii remote in Super Mario Galaxy 2 is considered and conservative; a prime example of this is the improved two-player mode in which a second players can assist Mario by halting enemies and collecting items simply by pointing at the screen. While the multitude of ideas on offer in Super Mario Galaxy 2 are vast in scope and variety, the care and caution with which Nintendo has designed the game’s levels and play mechanics remains extremely consistent. There are some levels which feel rough or unpolished (and the tangle with the final boss is an inexplicably insipid encounter), but they can be counted on one hand and are only noticeable in the context of an otherwise blissful experience.

Staggeringly, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not only an enormously entertaining game to play, but also a substantial one, with lots to see and do long after the vanquishing of the final boss. Collecting all 120 power stars will take most players a considerable amount of time, and even upon reaching this milestone, Nintendo has seen fit to provide players with further incentives to replay the game and bring the total number of power stars available to a humbling 242. In direct comparison with the original Galaxy, the game is larger and boasts more unique content, and is clearly the sort of game which will remain in the drives of many Wii systems for weeks and months to come.


Not a screenshot from Gears of War 3. Obviously.

Not a screenshot from Gears of War 3. Obviously.
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In what is perhaps Nintendo’s most elegant coup, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is also one of the few games which can properly be said to offer something for everyone. While the initial 50 or 60 power stars can and will be gathered without much difficulty by players of all ages and experiences, the game’s tail end ramps things up considerably, providing franchise veterans with challenges as stiff as anything they have previously encountered. The difficulty level on offer in Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that most idealised standard, being tough yet fair. With controls so perfect and level design so well-considered, the only impediment to success is your own dexterity and reflexes. Practice truly does make perfect in Super Mario Galaxy 2, and in the case of the unskilled or inexperienced who understandably desire to see everything the game has to offer, they need only utilize the ‘Cosmic Guide’ if an impasse is reached with any of the game’s trials. In the spirit of the concept first introduced in New Super Mario Bros Wii, dying a number of times in the same level will trigger an apparition of Rosalina from the original Galaxy, who offers players the opportunity to let the artificial intelligence assume control and obtain the power star on their behalf. Of course, the power star itself is then cast in an unattractive shade of bronze, urging players to retry the challenge at a later date to improve their standing and regain their honour in their own time.

Given that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is so enjoyable and lengthy, it is a pleasure to report that it continues in the vein of its predecessor by offering up an aesthetic experience unmatched on the Wii. The visuals do not mark a huge improvement over those sported by the original Galaxy, and in many cases appear largely identical, but they are never anything less than gorgeous, colourful and expressive, sporting effects and shaders more properly befitting a game made for technologically superior hardware. Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks so gorgeous that it highlights one of the chief tragedies of the Wii, namely, that nobody outside of Nintendo has tapped its power in the four years since its debut. The largely orchestral soundtrack is also one of the best of the year so far, mixing classic Mario tunes with sweeping new themes of utter majesty. Nintendo has seemingly devoted itself to ensuring that Super Mario Galaxy 2 boasts superlative presentation, which is not an effort it affords to all of its works in an era which has seen it focus on casual gaming experiences.


Chill, Bowser.

Chill, Bowser.
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It will come as no surprise to many that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best game on the Wii and one of the best games of the year so far. It is rare that gamers are graced with a title of such elegance, creative flair and technical mastery, and even rarer that such a game should boast such a bright, happy surface and be suitable for the entire family. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the epitome of what Nintendo does best and has done best since its start in videogame development; its sole purpose is to raise a smile to the lips and challenge the brain and fingers in equal measure, and in that regard Super Mario Galaxy 2 succeeds manifold. Perhaps the only negative one could raise, and even then with a degree of reluctance, is that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not much different from its predecessor. In fact, barring the wide range of minute refinements which this sequel makes across the board, the words of this review are equally applicable to the classic original, which means that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is unlikely to pack the same punch delivered by its predecessor in 2007. Any sad soul burned out on the Galaxy experience or looking for a gameplay revolution is unlikely to have his flame reignited by this second part, and for this reason alone, Super Mario Galaxy 2, despite being the superior game, falls just short of a perfect score. Such trifling matters are, of course, irrelevant in the face of such a wonderful game; if you own a Wii, you must play Super Mario Galaxy 2, and you must play it as soon as possible.
The Score
As close to a perfect game as any you will play this year, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an exuberant masterpiece of game design. Challenging yet accessible, imaginative yet aglow with nostalgia, this is a game for everyone which posits Nintendo as a master at the height of its power.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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31 Comments
3 years ago
urge to buy another wii rising...
3 years ago
Can't wait for July 1st. Great review.
3 years ago
ANDYBALLINA wrote
Can't wait for July 1st.
I couldn't either icon_razz.gif
3 years ago
I didn't wait either. Currently on 71 stars after an intense weekend and the main 'game' has been completed.

I'm aiming for 120 stars and I will see how things go from there.
3 years ago
My copy should be arriving any minute now... C'mon postal system!
3 years ago
PALGN wrote
Representing the first direct Mario sequel to appear within a single console generation
Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros 3. Am I missing something?
3 years ago
^ Well, well, well, looks like we forgot to insert the term '3D'; mea culpa. I assure you that's what we meant!
3 years ago
if this is better than SMG1 and that got 10 how did this only ge 9.5
3 years ago
Hurry up Royal Mail! icon_sad.gif
3 years ago
spuderump wrote
if this is better than SMG1 and that got 10 how did this only ge 9.5
PALGN wrote
Any sad soul burned out on the Galaxy experience or looking for a gameplay revolution is unlikely to have his flame reignited by this second part, and for this reason alone, Super Mario Galaxy 2, despite being the superior game, falls just short of a perfect score.
Did you not even read the article?
3 years ago
spuderump wrote
if this is better than SMG1 and that got 10 how did this only ge 9.5
Being more fun than the original doesn't mean it should get a higher score, PALGN don't base their scores on fun factor, like since when did that matter when playing games anyway right?
3 years ago
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is as fun, if not more so, than its predecessor, but the gaming landscape has changed since 2007, and the game simply lacks the 'wow' factor of the original. It's a known quantity, albeit a close-to-perfect one, and the review spells it out quite clearly.
3 years ago
I need to ask something and I know some people won't like this...

But what did Super Mario Galaxy bring to the video game industry that Mario 64 hadn't?
3 years ago
Big Pete wrote
But what did Super Mario Galaxy bring to the video game industry that Mario 64 hadn't?
It bought the only good 3D Mario game to the industry. icon_biggrin.gif

Not only that though, it bought motion controls into the game, a whole new theme, gravity gameplay (where you can walk upside down), multi player, different suits/abilities and new characters.

Its definately refined the genre.
3 years ago
Big Pete wrote
I need to ask something and I know some people won't like this...

But what did Super Mario Galaxy bring to the video game industry that Mario 64 hadn't?
Accessibility and elegance, pretty much. Mario 64 was an exploration of Nintendo's platforming prowess in a 3D space with analog control - Galaxy took what they've learned over the years, refined it down to an almost pure diamond of design excellence, and paired it with their newest control progression almost flawlessly.
3 years ago
I think the key with this game over the original is accessiblity due to the removal of the hub. I actually don't really like hubs in games and the old skool map menu is a much improvement.
3 years ago
Dungeon Crawl has been selling the game for a bit now guys.
3 years ago
Big Pete wrote
I need to ask something and I know some people won't like this...

But what did Super Mario Galaxy bring to the video game industry that Mario 64 hadn't?
Fun.


I do want to use this opportunity to say this 'doesn't bring anything new' complaint has to be one of the biggest flaws of video game reviewing, though. I mean, I certainly agree, there should be a 'reward' for developers that try something new and succeed in it - hell, if nobody did, we'd be playing the super refined, HD, online Pong 2010 - but, surely, if a game doesn't do 'innovate', it shouldn't automatically mean "uh oh better knock a point off the score".

Look at movies - Toy Story 3 (sorry, its lodged firmly in my mind at the moment) doesn't really 'innovate' like Toy Story 1 did, but if the story, characters, whatever are great, then the movie is considered great. There's no line in movie reviews that says 'but unfortunately it just doesn't change cinema like Toy Story 1 did, so therefore we can't give it 5 stars'. Because that would be stupid. But when it comes to games, its accepted.

It just bugs me.
3 years ago
Well if you are a good boy there is no real way to import this. Only a week or two to go anyway...
3 years ago
DancesInUnderwear wrote
I do want to use this opportunity to say this 'doesn't bring anything new' complaint has to be one of the biggest flaws of video game reviewing, though. I mean, I certainly agree, there should be a 'reward' for developers that try something new and succeed in it - hell, if nobody did, we'd be playing the super refined, HD, online Pong 2010 - but, surely, if a game doesn't do 'innovate', it shouldn't automatically mean "uh oh better knock a point off the score".
The thing is, though, that scores are not static, objectives indicators. The truth is that a score is simply the way a publication or person expresses their feeling about a game / film / album / book / mongoose at a particular time.

PALGN wrote
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best game on the Wii... Perhaps the only negative one could raise... is that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not much different from its predecessor... Super Mario Galaxy 2 is unlikely to pack the same punch delivered by its predecessor in 2007... Super Mario Galaxy 2, despite being the superior game, falls just short of a perfect score. Such trifling matters are, of course, irrelevant ...
Ultimately, what consituted a "9" or "10" or "6" in the year 2004 as compared to what merits a "9" today may be completely different. In any case, the text of most reviews should make it clear how a review outlet feels. In this case, the proclamation that "Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best game on the Wii" should be telling, as should the notion that it simply lacks the 'wow factor' of the original. In an ideal world, people would realise that a numerical indicator of something's quality is utterly arbitrary and is in fact quite misleading in that it invites direct qualitative comparisons. So one ends up dealing with unhelpful strings of logic in the vein of: 'if the original game merited a "10" and the sequel is better, shouldn't it receive an "11"?'
3 years ago
Am I reading this right, or didn't people like Mario 64?

It wasn't good nor fun hey?
3 years ago
This is fair enough. In fact, in an ideal world, review scores would be abolished, because as you've said, they draw comparisons that aren't there.

I feel I should point out that I don't take issue with this review or your reviews in particular or anything - this is a point I've wanted to bring up for ages, and the fact that this review happened to pop up when I had time off of work, uni and for some super annoying reason can't seem to take advantage of the extra sleeping time. I actually quite like how you've handled it by using the argument that 'if you didn't like the first one, this one won't change your mind' - this is a legitimate point. Its also a point that can be, and is, used in film / album / book / mongoose reviews, because it is, well, quite frankly, a point, not just a bunch of buzz words.

What bugs me is the apparent 'need' to drop something of the score just because it doesn't do something new. Many reviews will throw this in almost as fact - reviews wont even mention it, then, when it comes to wrap up time, theres a dot point in the 'negative' section which says it doesn't 'innovate', and knocks off a point because of it. Even in this article, where you explicitly make the point of pointing out how stupid it is to do so, you still are apparently obligated to lop that little bit off of the score. Does it make a difference in the end? No, of course not. But like I said, it just irks me.
3 years ago
Big Pete wrote
Am I reading this right, or didn't people like Mario 64?

It wasn't good nor fun hey?
I'd suspect that easily 80% or more of the active posters here would say it was a fantastic game. I certainly would - one of my all time favourites. It broke new ground, for Mario and the industry alike, while retaining the charm and fun we already associated with Mario. Plus it was hard enough to keep you going back for 'one more try'. Reason to own a 64 IMO.
3 years ago
I definitely agree that lack of innovation in a game should not be marked down on. Not that I disagree with the score; the review is finely written as always by Michael and he makes valid points. I'm just going by what reviews usually have.

Like DIU, it irks me that games get rated down for lacking in doing anything 'new'. I can easily say that if Uncharted 2 didn't have the artificial lengthening at the end of it, I would've dumped the big 10 on it; and that game didn't innovate in anything. Games should be rated purely in their quality of execution rather than its new 'ideas'. And hell, on a random note, the reason why StarCraft 2 Beta was so immensely enjoyable was because it didn't try to innovate, it just stuck to the formula we know and polished it to an utterly insane level. While on the other end, innovation is half the reason why a game like Supreme Commander failed. It's good, but flawed in so many ways.

Stick with formula's that work IMO, and simply refine and polish up the design/structure of the game to a level that will blow people away.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  01/07/2010 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $99.95 AU
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  2

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