|Super Mario Galaxy 2|
|Genre||Gravity bending platformer 2|
|MtAMinutes to Action||0|
|Buy from Amazon|
For all its talk of innovation this generation, Nintendo seems to be falling back on their old tricks like never before. Alongside its Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus, Nintendo announced two games at E3 2009 that surprised the videogame community: New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2.
What's that I hear you say? "Big deal! How are new Mario games a surprise?" Well, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the first 2D Mario game to hit a console since Super Mario World, just under nineteen years ago. And Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the first direct sequel to a Mario game since Super Mario Bros. 3, just over twenty years ago. Nintendo may be feeding casual gamers with one hand, but it's got plenty of snacks for Mario lovers in the other.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii was set loose upon the world last November, and continues to sell like Wii-branded hotcakes well into this year. But Nintendo held Super Mario Galaxy 2 off until this summer, ensuring that they have a full three years to create new worlds for Mario to explore. Is the Galaxy worth revisiting, or was one trip to the cosmos enough?
(minutes are in bold)
00 - The adventure begins! In the same way as most Mario games, Peach lures Mario to her kingdom with promises of cake, this time to be enjoyed during the Star Festival. Mario shows up on the scene in classic fashion: through a pipe. The sidescrolling 2D introduction is playable, subtitled with the barest semblence of a plot. Star bits are raining down from the sky, while bystanding Toads offer tips to collect star bits with the pointer.
01 - Pages turn to advance the stage and story! Mario finds a white luma, confused and lost. It takes a shine to Mario and decides to tag along inside his hat. Mario got a new ability: shake the Wii remote to spin! A Toad says the Princess is waiting in the castle.
02 - Something's wrong! Lumas and Toads are encased in crystals near the castle, though they're freed wtih a spin. The game expands to allow foreground and background movement as Mario approaches the castle. Oh no, an enormous Bowser is stomping around! He's almost as big as the castle. "I'M HUUUUUUGE! Even scarier up close, huh?" He has the power of the stars and plans to build a gargantuan space empire to match his new size. He's taking Peach along so she can bake him enormous cakes. Have to say, the big turtle really has it all figured out.
03 - Lumas at the castle entrance recognize Mario and his new luma friend. Apparently he's a White Luma prince. Royalty lives in your hat, Mario! The Lumas launch Mario to Sky Station Galaxy, where Pee Wee Piranha is throwing a Temper Tantrum. Apparently the power of the stars belongs to the Lumas, or it DID until Bowser stole it.
04 - We've landed on our first planet! There's a door with a note from Yoshi: "Hey friend, go around back!" A nearby pipe leads to the other side of the planet, into a glass case with a 1up.
05 - A nearby TV offers advice on how to spin to beat enemies. It's pretty obvious, so I won't watch that tutorial. I head around the other side of the planet and climb to the top of the center. A hole at the top leads down through the planet to the top of Yoshi's house. A sign there says Yoshi's out helping friends.
06 - A nearby Luma turns into a launch star, and blasts Mario off to a new planet. There's a Bowser flag that changes to an M when touched, must be a checkpoint. Little blue bouncing enemies hop around and spit rocks at Mario, but are easily dispatched. Elevators appear at their lowest point and disappear at the top, granting access to higher shelves of land.
07 - There seems to be plenty of chances for alternate routes through the level so far. I've bypassed a few elevators with some creative wall jumps and mid-air spins and such. Another 1up is sitting right in the middle of the path. A Luma appears and says "Follow me!" I acknowledge and obey.
08 - A large coin creates a path of music notes. Just like in the original Galaxy, each contributes to a classic Mario tune and collecting them all yields three 1ups.
09 - There's a small rainbow spot on the ground. Spinning on it teleports Mario to a small room with an invincibility star and six enemies. Defeating them all within a time limit yields three more 1ups. That's seven 1ups in two minutes!
10 - Back at the actual stage, I've made it to the highest point of this planet, where a luma waits. "Let's fly!" says the luma. Time to launch!
11 - Running around two very small planets now. This is extremely fun to experiment with. I long jump out to a launch star, which jumps me to some out-of reach coins.
14 - Yeah, so...I just spent three minutes jumping all over these two small planets. The gravity gimmick still hasn't gotten old after three years! A launch star sends Mario flying around the two planets a few times, finally making it to another launch star that continues the level. This next planet is vaguely cylindrical, though a black hole is at its center. Here's another checkpoint. Mud slows Mario's movement, and a rotating platform cycles around the cylinder's bare spots to allow passage.
15 - Another 1up! Riding the platform all the way around the cylinder allows me to grab a large coin, called a "comet medal." The prankster comets from the first game return, and these are the key to unlocking them. A Luma leads the way to the end of the cylinder, and launches me to the next planet.
16 - This one is bun-shaped and seems to have no danger. It offers another checkpoint along with a Mushroom, which ups Mario's health from three hit points to six.
17 - A launch star crashes Mario onto an egg, sitting atop a small round planet. It cracks, and Pee Wee Piranha hatches...mostly. His butt is still stuck in the egg. Poor little giant predatory flower...
18 - Boss battle! Pee Wee waddles around, attempting to bite Mario, but he's quite slow. The egg is obviously the weak spot, and a spin attack cracks it. After two hits the egg flies off, revealing Pee Wee's enormous round posterior. He retreats around the planet but is easily caught with a spin-attack. The egg reappears somehow, and the process recycles: two hits to the egg and catch the fleeing giant anus plant.
19 - You've killed the newborn, Mario! A star appears from its corpse. Upon collecting it, Mario is taken to a small grassy area. Coin total, star bit total, the comet medal, and the time taken to complete the stage are all recorded.
20 - A paunchy purple Luma named Lubba introduces himself as head honcho of Luma Crew, a band of spacefarers. He says they need the power stars to reach Peach at the center of the galaxy. The stars power the spaceship Mario is standing on, though it looks more like a hunk of grassy comet than a spaceship...
21 - Lubba sees the Young Master (white luma) and pledges to get the power of the stars back. He asks whether or not Mario wants to save the Princess. The choices are "That's right" or "Yes."
22 - Lubba uses his chubby star powers to transform the spaceship into a giant grassy Mario face. We can explore Starship Mario or take off to the next power star. Let's have a look around before we set sail.
23 - The game is automatically saved after each stage finished, which is convenient. A sign offers to demo the Long Jump. Lumas hanging around the giant Mario head offer advice on saving the game, doing a backflip, using the cursor to collect star bits, and the triple jump.
24 - More luma help. Ground pound and wall jumps are outlined.
25 - An orange luma details the co-op mode, which sounds a bit more involved than the first game's co-op. The second player uses just the Wii remote pointer to collect star bits, hold enemies in place, pass projectiles to Mario, and bring him coins. Considering how many collectibles and enemies there are so far, that seems pretty engaging for the second player.
26 - Time to head out. Starship Mario blasts off at the speed of light! We come to a map screen that would look familiar to anyone who's played Super Mario Bros 3. Lubba notes that gaining more power stars means more energy for the ship, which allows us to reach worlds farther away.
27 - First stop, Yoshi Star Galaxy! Mario launches himself from Starship Mario toward the new galaxy. The first star to collect here is "Saddle Up with Yoshi."
28 - We immediately come across a Yoshi egg, though it's trapped in force field. A Magikoopa guards the egg, launching fireballs from his wand at Mario. It is easiliy beaten with a spin attack, and the Yoshi egg is freed.
28 - The egg cracks when approached and Yoshi appears. "Hop on my back!" Sounds good to me.
29 - Let's get to know Yoshi a little bit. He has a sideflip and a double jump like Mario, but no triple jump or wall jump. Holding A after a jump causes Yoshi to flutter, which keeps him in mid-air for an extra second. Mario's spin-attack is replaced with Yoshi bashing his skull back and forth. And pressing crouch and jump causes Mario to dismount his dinosaur steed with a stylish backflip. This can be done in mid-air to get an extra-high jump, much like in Super Mario World. Yoshi also runs a bit faster than Mario, isn't slowed down by mud, and runs away (slowly) when Mario gets hit while riding.
32 - The star bit-collecting reticule has changed to a red dot, which circles enemies. Pressing B causes Yoshi to lash his tongue out at the targeted bad guy. He ate a goomba! He swallows and star bits appear.
33 - A sign post notes that the D-pad can be used to rotate the camera. A strange balloon enemy with big lips appears. Yoshi lashes his tongue out, but the enemy refuses to be swalloed and sticks to Yoshi's face with a vicegrip kiss! Yoshi can't eat anything else while it's there, but shaking it off finishes the enemy.
34 - A challenge teleporter is nearby. There are 6 goombas in a small arena, though Yoshi can eat three at a time, making short work of them. After collecting three 1ups, we're transported back. A large fruit blocks a pathway: Yoshi can grab it with his tongue and pull back away from it to eat it.
35 - The fruit's flower turns into a launch star, and our heroic duo is blasted to a small planet. A six-sided die yields a coin when rolled. Other possible outcomes were a star bit and a goomba.
36 - We blast off to a new planet, this one strewn with piranha plants and spiky bushes, neither of which can be eaten by Yoshi, apparently. Guess he's not the highest one on the food chain after all.
37 - Walking over a fruit causes Yoshi to auto-eat it. Ack, got hit! Yoshi apparently lost the will to live, and ran off the edge of the planet. Not a problem, though, as a nearby nest produces a new Yoshi egg. Guess you're never without Yoshi in certain stages.
38 - We've reached the top of this planet. Flowers suspended in mid-air can be grabbed with Yoshi's tongue. He swings around them when he does, allowing him to climb upwards.
39 - Launched to a new planet. This one has lots of enemies, holes, and platforms to navigate. A handle on the side of the wall can be pulled with Yoshi's tongue, revealing a platform to jump to. A spider enemy hangs from the ceiling, and can only be beaten by being jumped on.
40 - A series of flowers are suspended in air, and they lead to an elevator that continues upward. Quick use of the pointer in conjunction with platforming in 3D is required, and quite engaging.
41 - Another chain of flowers leads to the power star, which is encased in a crystal. Yoshi bashes the gem with his face and the star is freed! More swinging takes Mario and Yoshi to the star.
42 - The results screen again shows that I found a comet medal, tallies my coins and star bits, and notes that the starship can now advance to the next galaxy on the map.
43 - Lubba notices a Yoshi egg has nested on Starship Mario's nose. I check it out and hatch the Yoshi. A chain of flowers leads to a platform suspended above Starship Mario's face with a 1up. Jumping down from here, it seems Yoshi can flutter more than once in mid-air when dropping from very high.
44 - Hmm, it seems I actually can't go to the next Galaxy for some reason. Oh well, I'll go back to the first stage, Sky Station, and get the next star there, "Storming the Sky Fleet,." Lots of bullet bills and a black spiky piranha plant are seen in the preview.
45 - Chain chomps roll around this first planet. They can't be beaten by Mario alone, but slingshot plants nearby can crash into them when Mario spin-attacks them. The chain chomps produce a lot of star bits when defeated.
46 - I've beaten all the chain chomps on this planet, expecting a launch star to appear, but nothing happens. Maybe I'll check out the Yoshi door? Nothing.
47 - A pipe leads to the other side of the bun-shaped planet. A captured luma is in a force field, and a trasure chest sits near a patch of slingshot bulbs. The chest is opened by smashing a bulb into it and reveals star bits. A chain chomp is beaten with the slingshot bulb and produces a key, which frees the luma.
48 - As they all seem to, this luma turns into a launch star, propelling Mario to the next cylindrical planet. A fence is in the foreground, let's see what's on the other side!
49 - Turns out it's death, in the form of a black hole. Guess the fence was there for my protection. I restart right where I died thanks to a checkpoint.
50 - Bullet bills are launched from the top of the cylinder all down the side. Maneuvering around them may be tough, so let's look around for anything that might help.
51 - Conveniently, an invincibility star is waiting to be grabbed, and Mario runs right through the bullet bills unharmed, collecting tons of star bits as he dashes with technicolor glory.
52 - A hatch leads inside the cylinder, which switches gravity in a weird way: Mario's vertical movement is accompanied by cylinder rotation. Mario could technicall keep falling around and around the cylinder forever, pretty neat. Travel in the cylinder is restricted to a 2D plane, and platforming across rotating gears is the name of the game.
53 - Found another challenge teleporter, this one with an invincibility star inside. Seven enemies are beaten in less than four seconds, and three 1ups increase my lives count to 20.
54 - Continuing through the gears, the 2D section ends with Mario jumping into a launch star surrounded by electrodes. He launches straight through the glass cylinder to the next planet.
55 - Big blue switch platforms turn yellow when walked on. The switches turn green when they're all activated, and produce a path to the next section of the level.
56 - A luma warns Mario to watch out for "cosmic clones" ahead! They follow Mario's movements exactly in a line, though hitting all the blue switch platforms explodes the dopplegangers into star bits. A launch star leads Mario to the next planet.
57 - A star resides in a force field behind a bullet bill launcher. The giant bullet bill shoots across a pathway, and it is easily followed to the next section.
58 - Mario climbs up a pole to find a big black spiky piranha. Slingshot bulbs nearby offer an easy solution to this untouchable menace, and the plant surrenders the key to the force field when hit.
59 - Returning to the star takes some patience and caution, as the giant bullet bill is now heading TOWARD Mario. Hiding in nooks in the ground allow the bullet bill to pass by and Mario to continue in its wake. The star is taken, and Mario celebrates.
60 - Back at Starship Mario, Lubba wishes he could help Mario more and reminds us of co-op mode. A new planet is available, but this first hour is over.
Minutes to Action: Zero. Mario is immediately controlled in the introduction, though the first bit of danger doesn't appear until a few minutes in.
What I liked: Everything, really. The playable introduction merges Super Mario Galaxy 2's rail-thin storyline with a great beginner's tutorial of how to move around. At the same time, the first stages provide plenty of chances for Mario Galaxy veterans to flex their platforming muscle and reach small bonuses.
Video: The original Super Mario Galaxy is arguably the Wii's best-looking game and Super Mario Galaxy 2 looks just like it.
Audio: The orchestrated style from Super Mario Galaxy returns, and it sounds just as amazing. The music is nothing short of beautiful, and the sound effects are typical bouncy, lighthearted fare.
Story: Same as every Mario game: Peach has been kidnapped, and you have to rescue her. Beyond that, there's not much to praise or complain about.
Gameplay: It plays exactly like Super Mario Galaxy did. Mario's controls are as tight as ever, and the reason why he's the king of platforming.
Challenge: Obviously the first hour of a Mario game is going to be quite easy, with plenty of tutorials and hand-holding for those new to Mario or video games in general. It still starts out a bit tougher than the original game did, and ramps up the difficulty earlier.
Fun Factor: It's gorgeous, it sounds fantastic, it controls like a dream, and it's full of surprises. It's definitely a Mario game.
Would I keep playing? Yes. The first hour isn't particularly exciting for anyone with Mario experience, but it moves quickly enough to keep the momentum rolling.
Words from beyond the First Hour: I've played thirteen hours of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and I'm still not even halfway finished. Most seasoned gamers will reach Bowser's final lair in about ten hours, but that requires less than 33% completion. Like the original Galaxy, the sequel features two hundred and forty-two stars, the second half of which are placed in hard-to-reach areas in the first 120 stars' galaxies. It's a smart way to add longevity and a much better reward for getting those first 120 stars than any of the previous 3D Mario games.
I could go on and on about how Galaxy 2 has really surprised me and surpassed my somewhat lofty expectations, but that's a topic for another day. The bottom line is this: if you enjoyed the original Super Mario Galaxy (and who didn't?) then I can't imagine a universe where Super Mario Galaxy 2 won't be worth your time.