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Chris Sell
08 Nov, 2007

Super Mario Galaxy Review

Wii Review | The gaming galaxy’s brightest star.
For effectively as long as gaming has been around, Mario platformers have set standards for everyone else to try and meet. Not just within the platformer genre either, all games aim to emulate the quality of a Mario game, with their tight controls, imaginative gameplay, beautiful graphics or even just tunes that’ll stick in your head. Super Mario Bros. on the NES did all this. In the years to come, the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island pushed the boundaries of 2D gaming further than anyone thought possible. The transformation into 3D had been a step too far for some game franchises but again it was Nintendo with Super Mario 64 that demonstrated how to do 3D right. And 'do it right' is exactly what it did as for many it still remains the benchmark for 3D platformers to this day.

The reason for this brief history lesson isn’t actually just to pad out the review to fill the minimum word quota, but is in fact needed to point out how Super Mario Galaxy is one of these genre defining games. As good as Super Mario Sunshine was, it’ll never live in the memory in the same way Super Mario Bros. 3 or Mario 64 do. Super Mario Galaxy quite possibly will, simply because it has the magic, the ideas and most importantly, the imagination that the very best of the best have – and Galaxy has all of the above in spades.

Imaginative environments have always been a staple ingredient in the Mario games and it was in this area that Sunshine really came up short, ditching the surreal Mushroom Kingdom for more (and we mean this in the loosest possible sense) ‘realistic’ settings. Beaches, fairgrounds, shipping harbors and villages are about as visually appealing as a stretch of motorway when compared to the delights contained in Mario’s latest offering. The use of Galaxy in the title really emphasizes the degree of freedom the developers have had in creating the world. There are no boundaries, nothing is too surreal or off limits as far as the environments go.

One minute you’re invading the site of a rocket launch, the next you’re scaling a giant, motorized robot like something out of Shadow of the Colossus. To go into any further detail would only rob you of the magic of uncovering these delights yourself, but needlessly to say the game constantly surprises, and delights, again and again. As does the actual level design which frequently ignores any unwritten rules or conventions when it comes to platforming. For a kick-off, the game is constantly shifting from 3D to 2D depending on the situation. In 3D platformers there are always parts where a simple fixed camera would suffice. For example, you simply don’t need a 3D plane when you’re on a fixed moving platform, dodging between laser beams and balls of fire. Galaxy recognizes these moments and adjusts the perspective accordingly.

Looks like we have a mole problem....

Looks like we have a mole problem....
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The trend in most 3D platformers since Mario 64 has been to throw you into a 3D world and have you complete a handful of tasks to progress. Despite star collecting still being the aim of the game, Super Mario Galaxy again tosses the rulebook out the window and does things how it wants. Contained within the main hub of the game are a selection of observatories, and each contain a different galaxy of orbiting planets. These planets could be absolutely anything. They could be a Mario 64-esque world containing a selection of stars, or they could be a linear set of interconnected planets, each with their own mini puzzles to solve in order to progress. Anyone who enjoyed the semi-linear Bowser stages in Mario 64 will be happy to see a spiritual return of those too. It’s not uncommon for whole planets to exist solely for a single star. Take, for example, the water park planet within the first galaxy - a giant water slide suspended in mid-air created for one single race. Things aren’t needlessly reused here to artificially lengthen the quest like they are in lesser games.

Unlike Super Mario Sunshine, where collecting red/blue coins made up a large percentage of the 120 stars (‘shines’ in that game), there is none of that laziness here. You can really appreciate the care that went into making practically every star in the game an enjoyable achievement. One of the biggest reasons why Yoshi’s Island is such a special game is the way each level had its own theme, its own idea, its own power up or ability that made it different from the rest. Super Mario Galaxy replicates that variety.

Its ideas are simply jaw dropping at times, whether you’re jumping your way through gravity switching tubular structures, taking a ride inside a bubble, or sling-shotting yourself across an asteroid belt, the game constantly presents you with new, exiting ideas and gameplay mechanics. A big factor in achieving this sense of variety is the inclusion of arguably the best set of power-ups in a Mario game since Super Mario Bros. 3. We’ve all seen the ‘bee’ costume that handily lets Mario hover in the air briefly as well as tread lightly on clouds and flower petals, but it’s predictably the ones that Nintendo have kept under wraps that offer the most thrills.

The game isn’t afraid to completely change the control dynamics for particular levels either. The water slide race mentioned earlier, for example, features Excitetruck-like controls, while a motion controlled Monkey Ball tribute stage is hidden away too. There are many sections where the Wii remote pointer is used - most commonly for traveling between the blue star orbs scattered through space but it does have other quite frankly more inventive uses that you’ll be keen to discover.

Mario's plan to sell fruit & veg didn't quite turn out as he'd hoped.

Mario's plan to sell fruit & veg didn't quite turn out as he'd hoped.
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While on the subject of the Wii remote, it’s of little surprise that Super Mario Galaxy's controls are absolute perfection. The camera is near faultless, never getting stuck in silly positions and always trying its best to give the best possible view of the action. Mario is controlled exactly how you would expect him to with movement on the nunchuck analog stick, jumping with A on the Wii remote and a combination of Z and A to perform Mario’s butt stomping, long jumping and back flipping abilities. His movement is quicker, his jumping is smoother and his ‘weight’ feels just right. In short, Mario is a complete joy to play with, especially given the swift pace of the game. When playing at full flow, leaping between platforms, bouncing off enemies and flying from planet to planet it echoes one of those expert Super Mario Bros speed runs, such is the fluidity.

For the most part this game could be controlled on a Gamecube pad, but doing so would remove the surprising satisfaction that the spin attack provides. Traveling between planets is achieved by activating star launch pads. They could have made them activate automatically or with just a button press but by requiring a shake of the Wii remote it genuinely connects you to the game. It’s the same with the boss encounters. In the past a punch from a button press would have been more than acceptable, but smashing the tail of a giant piranha plant or fiercely returning a watermelon into the face of a humongous octopus with a sharp thrust of the Wii remote is strangely satisfying.

On the topic of boss fights, the quality of the ones found here are in keeping with the high standards the rest of the game has set, the Bowser encounters being the jewel in the crown. Not just because they’re superb, screen filling affairs, but also because Bowser is back to being mean again. In recent years he’s been treated as a bit of a token comical bad guy, but in Galaxy he’s angry and he’s evil and it’s great to see. Especially given the strength of the story this time around which, without going into detail, has a much grander, more epic feel to anything that has gone on in a Mario game before now.

In terms of visuals and presentation there isn’t a single game on the Wii that can match what Super Mario Galaxy delivers. From the Yoshi’s Island-style story book sketchings that open the game to the gorgeously rendered cutscenes that play throughout, the game is presented in the highest quality. Graphically it’s in a league of its own compared to other Wii titles. It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s imaginative, it’s surreal, it’s beyond anything you could expect from a Mario game but at the same time it’s exactly what you would expect. It looks like Mario but offers so much more. Everything is huge and totally over the top and we love it. It all runs incredibly smoothly, no matter how fast things are moving or however many things are on screen at once.

One of the finest platforming levels in gaming.

One of the finest platforming levels in gaming.
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Music has always been a big part of what has made the Mario series so special. Everyone knows the Super Mario Bros. theme, the level 1 tune from Super Mario Bros. 3 and the unforgettable melody of Peach’s castle in Mario 64. Thankfully Super Mario Galaxy yet again excels in this area, providing the player with a variety of catchy tunes that you’ll find yourself humming around the house or whistling to yourself in the shower, especially the beautiful orchestrated hub theme. To add to this delight there are also a handful of classic tunes thrown into the mix, including the Bowser stage music from Mario 64 which pleased a certain member of our staff.

It’s hard to find any fault in Super Mario Galaxy. Sure, there are a handful of anti-climatic star missions, but out of 120 of them it’s hardly a worthwhile complaint. Difficulty is something that has often been lacking in recent Nintendo games, but even here Galaxy excels, managing to challenge the player more the further you get. Being able to ‘finish’ the game at 60 stars also gives the game a wider appeal, allowing more casual, lesser skilled gamers get to the ‘end’ while the hardcore players will attempt to truly finish it at 120 stars (and beyond…) much like in Mario 64 where you could finish with 70/120 stars, or even Yoshi’s Island which wasn’t a hard game to finish but the underlying score system gave the committed gamer a worthy challenge.

Sometimes a game of such high quality comes along and you’ve just got to hold your hands up and say well done. Super Mario Galaxy delivers blistering quality in every area, whether it’s level design, the soundtrack, boss fights, graphics or controls. It feels familiar but fresh thanks to the sheer amount of ideas and creativity put into each and every level. Like so many lesser games do, corners haven’t been cut by reusing ideas over and over or artificially extending the length of the game with collect-a-thons. Practically every level offers something different from the one before it and it’s a game that will surprise and delight more the deeper you explore. There's no such thing as a perfect game, but Super Mario Galaxy comes as close as you're ever likely to get. An essential experience for all gamers.
The Score
Super Mario Galaxy is without doubt the finest game Nintendo have produced this decade - endorsements don’t come much stronger than that. 9.9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Super Mario Galaxy Content

LGC 07: Mario Galaxy coming to PAL regions November 16
22 Aug, 2007 We breathe a sigh of relief.
E3 2007: Hands-on with Super Mario Galaxy
14 Jul, 2007 It's-a great.
E3 2007: Mario Galaxy US dates, screenies revealed
12 Jul, 2007 Bee there or bee square.
48 Comments
6 years ago
A perfect 10? That's big in the PALGN world...

I am so glad Nintendo picked up their game (no pun intended) after Sunshine. I cannot *wait* to play this now.

And props to PALGN for getting this review out so quickly!
6 years ago
Can't. F'ing. Wait.

Good review. Only fault is making me want to play it. NOW.
6 years ago
Brilliant! Very glad that Galaxy lived up to the hype, November 29 cannot come soon enough...

*drools*
6 years ago
You give your second 10 score (the first being RE4 on GCN). I am EXCITE and jealous. It's the real deal.
6 years ago
Wow. PALGN's second 10, now I need a Wii...
6 years ago
Im so happy for Nintendo, and when I get this game, ill be so happy for myself ^^
6 years ago
Man, I really should pick up a Wii... I was pretty stunned when I saw the final score.
6 years ago
How did you guys get a hold of this? Import?
6 years ago
Its out in the UK next week, I would assume its a review copy.
6 years ago
PALGN doesn't get review games from Nintendo Australia, it is a Japanese import copy.
6 years ago
You don't get them from Nintendo UK either? I assumed that since Chris was doing it it must have been a UK copy.
6 years ago
No. Nintendo Europe wants us to deal with Nintendo Australia, whom don't send code out to PALGN.
6 years ago
Dam I want this game. Chris' other 10/10 (RE4) is my favourite game, so if Galaxy can get as good as that, I'm going to be playing it non stop these holidays.
6 years ago
Damn. That sucks.

Anyhoo, how 'bout that Mario, eh? He's pretty cool.
6 years ago
Man that looks great. A 10 wow, can't wait.
6 years ago
Luke wrote
No. Nintendo Europe wants us to deal with Nintendo Australia, whom don't send code out to PALGN.
Then don't review their games. You guys are getting heaps of hits. Keep Halo 3's 9.5 on the front page for a few months and watch them change their minds (assuming their minds aren't made of peanuts, which from stories I've heard may be very possible).
6 years ago
To be honest, i don't really think that is actually going to make any difference, the loser here would be our readers if we completely abandoned Nintendo's products.
6 years ago
Holy crap.

Still won't buy a Wii for it though. icon_razz.gif
6 years ago
Wow, for me this release has really sprung up quickly for me. I wasnt expecting it for at least another month or two. I better find a job soon so I can afford all these little bank breakers icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
Oh man, GAME OF THE FOREVER.
6 years ago
legend166 wrote
Oh man, GAME OF THE FOREVER.
No, Brawl is 'Game of the Forever'. Galaxy is 'Game to Rule all Games'.
6 years ago
WOW!

I mean I was already getting this, but WOW! icon_biggrin.gif
6 years ago
Chris is a ten whore, i bet he's like that best mate every one has that says every chick that walks past is 'a 10' icon_razz.gif

I'm very suprised though, suprised at how early this review is and surprised at the score.I just couldn't get into sunshine for the life off me, it just rubbed me the wrong way.I'd love to demo this, though the stages/map/levels look so strange, 90% of it looks like bottomless pit territory?Can mario die of heights in this or does he float around every level.Odd.
6 years ago
crestfallen wrote
Luke wrote
No. Nintendo Europe wants us to deal with Nintendo Australia, whom don't send code out to PALGN.
Then don't review their games. You guys are getting heaps of hits. Keep Halo 3's 9.5 on the front page for a few months and watch them change their minds (assuming their minds aren't made of peanuts, which from stories I've heard may be very possible).
That's not the point - I reviewed movies for a while and some distributors just didn't show previews to movies sites on the internet. But that doesn't mean you boycott the movie.

If you really like games you'll review the title whether you get a free copy or not.

PS - Chris you basically changed my mind about this game. I think Im going to have to get it!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  29/11/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $99.95 AU
Publisher:
  Nintendo
Genre:
  Action
Year Made:
  2007
Players:
  2

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