Super Mario Galaxy is a 3D platformer for the Wii. Once again, Princess Peach has been taken by Bowser, so it’s up to Mario to save her. The only problem is that he has been tossed through a black hole. He’ll have to find out where she is… as soon as he finds out where HE is. He encounters some star creatures called Lumas. One of them becomes Mario’s friend and helps him on his quest. He is taken to a space station where Rosalina, the leader of the Luma, requests his help to retrieve power stars. The power stars will power the ship, allowing them to travel to more places. The gameplay is rather simple as well. You run and jump as Mario. You can do double jumps, triple jumps, long jumps, wall jumps, and side flips. All kinds of jumps. You can also use your Luma friend to do a spin attack, which is a nice addition to the usual jumping on heads. There are a number of different powerups in the game. Some you’ll recognize, like the fire flower, and some that are new, like the bee suit. Your Luma friend can also come in handy other ways. You can hover your pointer over the colorful star bits to collect them and shoot them with the same pointer. There are many galaxies to go to, each with their own number of stars to obtain. There are also bonus stars that appear when comets come around. These will give those old stages some new challenges for you to complete. If that’s not enough, there’s even a bonus challenge galaxy. Being on the Wii, a new system at the time, Super Mario Galaxy also has many unique ideas to implement the Wii’s motion controls. Tilting, pointing, flinging, and wiggling the Wii remote are various ways to do different tasks in order to give them more of a personalized feel over button presses. Also, to get a sense of gravity, there are sections where you can run around spherical planetoids and float to the gravitational pull of others for a new type of platforming. The visuals are quite impressive, with beautiful artistic palettes and settings. Deep blues and vibrant greens are a lovely combination. The orchestral soundtrack is also very big and beautiful. Plus, there’s even some optional backstory that unfolds as the game goes on. It has an overall wonderful atmosphere.
The drawbacks of this game come more from comparison to its sequel than this game itself, but it does have its own problems alone. The new touches of control are interesting for navigating the game, but the motion control parts are sometimes hindered by the imprecise nature of their type. The gravitational planetoids come at a cost as well. When running around to the undersides of these planetoids, sometimes movement gets locked, so hitting forward from the current position makes you go backwards from where the camera is situated. This can be very confusing and disorienting. That, and the fact that reorienting the camera doesn’t always work, creates what might be an intentional disorientation from gravitational switches that, either way, is not a favorable design choice as far as gameplay is concerned. The multiplayer is also very lackluster. The first player will be Mario, and the others can use just Wii remotes to move cursors across the screen. Hovering the cursor over the star bits will collect them and they can be shot out at enemies and obstacles, the same as can be done in single player. This is okay, but there’s not much more for the other players to do to help. Also, with more than one person in charge of the star bits, it’s more likely that they’ll be wasted when multiple people shoot at the same target. The big problem with this, however, is that the one other function of the other players is that they can help Mario jump. If one of these extra players points at Mario and hit a button at the same time Mario hits jump, Mario will perform a bigger jump. That sounds fine, but if the player hits the button and Mario does not hit the jump button at the same time, they will simply make Mario do a regular jump. This can be a huge problem because it can mess up the main player’s control by the press of a button. There needs to be more for the other players to do, and this jumping mechanic should be reworked or canned altogether. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have more levels. Or, it could have less levels and utilize them better, more like how Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine used the same levels to do multiple different things.
I really like Super Mario Galaxy. I actually like it more than Super Mario Galaxy 2. Sure, it has less levels, the level design isn’t as good, and the multiplayer leaves a lot to be desired in comparison, but Super Mario Galaxy just has such great presentation. The atmosphere is wonderful with the art, the soundtrack, and the strange physics. There’s a bunch of new touches, new powerups, new controls, new enemies, and new experiences. It’s simply a lovely adventure through space that has worked its way into being not only my second favorite Wii game, but also my second favorite Mario game.