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Super Mario Galaxy 2
10 / 10
When the first Super Mario Galaxy came out, it was a hit right out of the gates. It really threw a lot of interesting stuff at players with little doodads to fiddle with, levels
chalk full of different types of gameplay mechanics, zipping around with
Yoshi, you name it. With the sequel Nintendo has included a lot of what worked in the first game, and built upon it. As such, Galaxy 2 brings a good mix of the familiar and the new, making for a great platformer well worth playing.
Just like the first game, players follow Mario as he travels from galaxy to galaxy (essentially tiny little planets, strung together by launchers, that Mario can explore) as they try to hunt down Bowser. This time
the lizard king has gotten his mitts on some fancy stars that make whoever possesses them super strong, and, of course, being a bad guy, Bowser is up to no good and has kidnapped Princess Peach, hence why Mario is cruising the cosmos in search of the now gigantic dinosaur. Itís typical Super Mario fair, but helping to dress it up is the crew of a little spaceship that Mario uses to travel from one galaxy to the next. It would seem that Bowser got these stars of his by stealing them from the crew of this ship (the stars are the power source for the shipís engine).
Mario makes a deal with the ships crew to help recover their stars, and
in return the crew will help him save the princess. As players make it further into the game, the crew of the ship slowly grows, and Mario can interact with them learning little tidbits about the game, and adding a little more
depth to the story as well.
The various Galaxies that players will visit consist of a bunch of little spheres that one can run around, jumping about, ultimately in search of a
stolen star that can be found at the end of each stage. This all plays out largely through the traditional run and jump gamut of platformer conventions, while Nintendo throws in a few little extras with each new level. This can range from appearing and disappearing platforms to navigate,
to areas where up is down and down is up,
to shifting between 2D and 3D planes. Moreover, Mario gets a slew of power-ups to help him along ranging from the traditional fireball flower, to being able to make clouds to jump to very high areas, and, of course, riding around on
Yoshi. There's also quite a bit of collecting of items (mostly colorful
star-like gems and big coins), which players can actually cash-in for
extra health, 1ups, or even opening up new galaxies to explore. There really is no lack of things to do in Galaxy 2.
Getting used to moving around some of the galaxies can take a little while, especially on the tinier spherical planets, but after that itís good platforming fun, and if youíve played the first game, thereíll be no trouble in diving in here. The levels themselves are well laid out, and provide a good challenge. There are plenty of times where one will be in a situation where theyíll think, ďHow on earth am I going to get over there!Ē as they see that the next checkpoint is in a tough to reach area, or one of the stars that Mario has to collect is in some far flung, precarious place. However, after a little bit of thinking, one can figure out what to do to get there, making it more a matter of getting your hands to move just so to help Mario get to that place. One thing players will quickly discover in Galaxy 2 is that there are also a lot of bosses randomly peppered throughout the game worlds, not just at the end of each. Better still is that they are all quite large, and each have a unique mechanic that players need to figure out in order to defeat them. These battles go a long way to giving a more epic scale to the game.
What I like the most about Galaxy 2 is how it has so many things that it throws at the player, and brings them in at a nice, steady pace, as opposed to other games where itís like hitting plateaus, introducing a bunch of stuff, waiting a while, then introducing a bunch more. Galaxy 2 takes a gradual approach to giving players more to do just enough so to challenge them without overwhelming the person. Itís a great set up as it makes it a lot easier for casual gamers to sort out all the things to do in the game, but thereís still enough going on to keep the more hardcore crowd plenty engaged.
In terms of aesthetics, Galaxy 2 isnít going to really wow anyone. Visually itís about on par with the first game, and a lot of its contemporaries on the Wii. At this point in the consoleís life span, though, I think most people have come to expect this and will overlook this lack of graphical luster as they come to it for the gameplay experience. On a technical level, the visuals are solid, avoiding issues of draw-in, bad camera angles, and the other maladies that can sometimes crop up in a platformer. Itís just straightforward, cartoony goodness.
In the end, Super Mario Galaxy 2 has done an excellent job of bringing back what players loved about the first Galaxy game, while steadily building upon the experience. Any gamer with even a passing interest in platformers owes it to themselves to spend some time with this game.