I had a hell of an
annoying week. I mean really annoying. So, despite how it usually
just adds to my frustrations, I broke down and bought the newest
Mario game. I mean while Mario is usually an innocent looking
character, his games seem to annoy me rather quickly.
Well, I had to say
the glowing reviews I've seen for Super Mario Galaxy 2 are beyond
well deserved. This is the best 3D platformer I've ever seen, and
definitely the best Mario game I've played (better than the 2D
classics, like Super Mario World, which I used to hold so dear).
This game takes all that I used to find annoying about prior 3D
Mario titles and fixes almost everything.
Ok...the camera is
bad. 3D games always have camera issues, and Galaxy 2 is not an
exception. You can now have some limited control of the camera,
which is nice. However, the camera has now been given a more
physical of realities. In other words, it doesn't just get stuck
behind objects. It can now be completely stuck to an extent that you
cannot free the camera from a wall until you walk backwards to where
it got stuck and free it through a combination of your movement and
the limited camera controls. If you walk through a tunnel and then
turn to go along side that tunnel, the camera may never be able to
recover without your frustrated actions.
However, the other
issues seem to have all been fixed. The worlds (the game has worlds
again, and not just stages in a single big world) are all designed
more like an old 2D Mario game. You have a simple map that you
navigate while picking from between one and three available stages
to progress. Then you can either go forward or try to find some fun
in a level you can normally skip.
Best of all,
unlike the first Galaxy game, Mario 64, or Mario Sunshine, you no
longer have eight or so stars in a stage. You still have 120 normal
stars to find, but each stage only has three or fewer stars on
average. This means there are more stages and not just more
variations on a given stage. Even when you try for a second star in
a previously beaten stage, you may have such a different experience
that you feel like it's an entirely new stage and not some rehash.
You don't always see the same landmarks and objects each time.
Even the prankster
comets, which are back from the first Galaxy game, are fun. Instead
of just being an annoying goal added to a previous incarnation of a
stage (like beat this stage in X minutes, or beat this boss with one
HP), the new goals are usually unique and entertaining. If you must
beat a boss with 1HP, you start at the boss (no annoying 1 HP
navigation to the boss and then the fight). If you have to beat a
level in a small time frame, the level probably has some cool new
twists (like falling rocks and random destruction to imply the rush
is because that world is ending). Plus, to get the prankster comet
to show up, you first must find a hidden comet coin in a stage,
which adds more replay fun to a stage.
Even the special
powers you gain are better this time around. All powers you gain are
actually planned for in their level, so it's not a power-up for the
sake of it. If you find the rock ability (let's you roll down
enemies like you are a bowling ball), then the game will give you
some fun rolling courses. If you find Yoshi, then the level will
take advantage of his eating abilities or his flutter jump.
There's also some
really cool "2D" levels. They are not fully 2D, but they capture
that fun and nostalgic feeling of an old 2D Mario title...while
still remaining obvious to be a 3D level.
I guess I did skip
one other problem in the game. Like with all 3D platformers, there
is at least one water stage. Water and 3D adventure seem to go
together like an angry bee and someone who is allergic to bees. In
other words, no matter how it goes down, someone is getting hurt and
someone is going to die. In Mario's case, my patience gets hurt, and
a little of my respect for Nintendo dies. At least, after getting to
the mid point of the third world of Galaxy 2 (about 30+ stars
obtained), I've only found one 3D swimming stage (and an actually
fun 2D swimming stage within the same stage), and it wasn't
unbearable. It wasn't great, but it wasn't the horror that was
anything like the swimming in Sunshine.
been going light on new games lately (I still need to finish the
epilogue of Lunar 2), I have to say that the $50 (plus tax) I spent
on Galaxy 2 is more than worth it. I can also say that this may be
the first 3D Mario game I try to get all 120 stars on (and even the
120 Luigi stars). Does it merit a 10/10 grade on Gamespot? Probably
not. Does it deserve something damned close? Without a doubt.