Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

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Super Mario Galaxy 2 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo

Platform: Wii
Reviewed on Wii

Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser, the giant turtle-monster busy trying to conquer the galaxy. So what makes this game different from every other Mario game? Well... most of the levels are set on tiny planetoids, each with their own microgravity. Oh, wait... that's Super Mario Galaxy. This is Super Mario Galaxy 2, so all that stuff above holds true, but now there are more and different levels. For something so generic sounding, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is surprisingly fun and endearing.

Kyle Ackerman

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a dreadfully adorable game, packed so tightly with cute that I can't help but smile every time I pick up the game and make my way through yet another world or another few levels of Mario platforming action. It's also the game that made me decide I'm really tired of the Wii. The only thing that could make Super Mario Galaxy 2 better would be if it shed all these damnable motion controls and just admitted that it's a button-pressing, D-pad jamming throwback to a more innocent age of gaming.

Before I dwell on the game proper, I realized that I was done with the Wii while playing a sequence where every time Mario spun in the air, a sequence of platforms flipped over, making this particular level (the "Purple Coin Flip 'n' Sprint") a grueling-but-clever puzzle that required perfect timing and quick wits. The problem was that performing the spin jump requires shaking the Wii remote. When nearly done with the complex sequence, my bicep tired from suspending the Wii remote in the air to perform repeated, precisely timed shakes, and as I lowered my arm slightly, one coin from completion, the game interpreted this as a shake of the remote and I fell to my death as the platform dropped from beneath me. This happened repeatedly until I was actually too tired to complete the sequence, and had to return another day. The game is brilliant, the level is cleverly designed, and I would have had endless fun if the game hadn't been made to try and integrate the Wii's motion control abilities in a framework where they are pointless.

A Collection of Cleverness

That complaint aside, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an absolutely entertaining romp with plenty to offer casual and hardcore gamers alike. The game doesn't have pretentions of anything world-altering. It's simply an elegant extension of Super Mario Galaxy. As always, in Super Mario Galaxy 2 Bowser has stolen the princess, and Mario has to bounce around a series of surreal platforming puzzles on tiny planets, space stations or deep space toys to win her back. It's as if the designers got to include every cool puzzle and gimmick they couldn't cram into the first game due to time constraints or just a general lack of thematic coherency.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 makes even less sense than its predecessor, but Mario gets to fly around the universe on a travelling planetoid shaped like his head, collecting coins, stars and anything else that will let him pass to the next world. Mario finds a variety of new costumes that let him solve even more complex puzzles, making the entire game a simple, abstract joy. Super Mario Galaxy 2 offers plenty of opportunities to collect what you need to reach the end of the game, so casual gamers will have certainly be able to reach the Bowser-bashing conclusion if they so desire. Hardcore fans, however, get tons of optional puzzles. After playing for a while, even those options expand as optional coins and prankster comets open up even more complex puzzles. There is an (almost) endless supply of levels, ranging from the simple and cuddly to the diabolically cute. Some of the most entertaining (and difficult) puzzles don't even appear until you've defeated Bowser and rescued the kidnapped princess.

The Joyous Journey

The gimmicks from Super Mario Galaxy are back, with even more power-up mushrooms and the addition of Yoshi as a sidekick and mount for Mario. Frankly, Yoshi isn't really any different from any other power-ups, in that he lets players solve certain puzzles with additional abilities. But that's part of what provides the platforming puzzles with so much variety in Super Mario Galaxy 2 There are so many different puzzles, with optional variations and hidden secrets, that there's no reason to restrict yourself to the basic "plot." The point of playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 is to enjoy the journey, not power through to the end. As journey's go, very few games offer the value for your dollar that Super Mario Galaxy 2 provides. You can keep playing... and playing... and playing. And unless you are an absolute completionist, you can just skip anything that annoys you (unless it's a boss battle).

I did find a few of the boss battles irritating, but no franchise is as good as the Mario games at offering bosses that provide a clear sense of progress and feedback on your efforts. I had to replay several such battles (especially on "daredevil" retries), but was never at a loss for what to do. To the extent that you have to have boss battles, Super Mario Galaxy 2 does them right. Super Mario Galaxy 2 also allows a second player to assist, but it feels like a game mode designed for a disinterested spouse or overly enthusiastic two-year-old. The second player has no real impact on the game other than helping collect star bits by waving a second controller around at the screen. A truly skilled second player can stun some enemies and help a bit, but mostly I found anyone trying to assist was more of a distraction than a help.

Oh Wii, Why?

If you're looking for pure and simple fun on the Wii, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better value than Super Mario Galaxy 2. There's a seemingly endless supply of entertaining levels that will stretch well past any ordinary conception of value. That said, I really wish the game hadn't been released on the Wii and tried to cram motion controls into an otherwise entertaining game. Scratching my nose should not cause my death. That's the stuff of a three-year-old's monster-under-the-bed nightmares, not good game design!

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 12, 2010 6:51 PM.

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