Super Mario Galaxy
: Nintendo Wii
: November 12, 2007
Mario takes to outer space in his latest adventure, the first full 3D Mario game for the Nintendo Wii. Leaving the Mushroom Kingdom behind serves as a huge change in Mario’s new journey and with it comes some surprisingly fun times.
Mario has been invited to Princess Peach’s castle to celebrate the coming of a bright, shining comet during the Mushroom Kingdom’s Star Festival that occurs every hundred years. The heavens above the Mushroom Kingdom are showering star bits all over the area. The entire Kingdom was happy for the occasion, all the Toads and Toadettes dancing with glee and a sparkle in their eyes. Mario, also happy for the approaching comet, makes his way to Peach’s castle.
Unsuspecting to our hero, Bowser has also come to town, waiting for the right time to strike and allow his latest plan to unfold. He decides to crash the party with his fleet of flying ships. The poor citizens of the Kingdom are bombarded with cannon fire from his ships. Eventually, Bowser flies to the castle and spots Peach standing at the balcony. Suddenly, Bowser summons a huge flying saucer above the castle which sends lasers that cuts the earth around the castle. Using the saucer, Bowser rips Peach’s castle right up from the ground and proceeds to fly up to space. Mario was able to make it to the castle’s front door, but not until a magikoopa appears and fires a spell at Mario, knocking him back, falling towards the planet below.
“Mario! Mario!”, cries Princess Peach, as he plummets further and further away.
Though all is not lost, Mario is saved by a creature called a luma. Lumas are star-like beings who hold the power to transform into power stars, and even planets. This luma helps Mario get back on his feet, and Mario soon sees that he’s on a small planet with its own gravitational pull. Soon, Mario comes upon a new face, Princess Rosalina, who keeps watch over the cosmos and those that inhabit them. Her star ship serves as a shelter for lumas, and is their personal home too, not to mention acts as a comet observatory. Rosalina decides to help Mario find and defeat Bowser once again, and save Princess Peach. However, in order to do so, Mario must recover the power of the Grand Stars, which will power Rosalina’s star ship to give chase.
Mario must explore the reaches of the galaxy to gather the power stars. Join him in this fun galactic take on the Super Mario series.
Mario is Nintendo’s flagship character, so of course no holds were taken in its design. Despite the Wii being a standard definition console, Super Mario Galaxy is still a pretty game to look at, and is one of the Wii’s best looking first party titles. The galaxies that Mario explores are rich in color, brightly lit stars will dot the screen and Mario will leave a beautiful stream of light as he travels at high speed from planet to planet.
Lumas come in a variety of shapes and colors. The galaxies that Mario explores include bee hives, ocean paradises, ghost houses, golden deserts, and of course, Bowser’s fortresses surrounded by boiling lava. Sure they’re settings that you’ve seen in Mario games since the NES, but they look more impressive on the Wii, and makes you wonder the extent of the graphics had the Wii been running on high definition.
Mario’s famed sound effects return, along with a plethora of new ones. The iconic musical jingles when you pick up a power up or jump down a warp pipe will bring a smile to any Mario fan. Mario, of course, will bring back his favorite exclamations such as “whoo-hoos, ha-has, and yip-pees!” One of the best new sound effects is when Mario flings himself towards another planet from a great distance. Mario just doesn’t fly casually to the next area he’s going, no, he rockets toward it like he’s his own spaceship, so it sounds cool each time he blasts off and thumps down in a new area.
One of Super Mario Galaxy’s greatest assets is its soundtrack. It was a shame that another first-party title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, did not include an orchestrated score. Luckily, that’s where Mario hits a sweet spot. Super Mario Galaxy features some of the greatest original music since Super Mario 64, all with a full orchestra. Fans will be pleased to know that some tracks that were made popular in the old Mario games have received and orchestrated update. The Airship theme from Super Mario Bros. 3 returns, along with music from Super Mario 64. Koji Kondo’s done it again.
Super Mario Galaxy retains a similar gameplay feel to that of Super Mario 64, and of course Super Mario Sunshine. Jumping, ground pounding, wall jumping and back flipping should all be familiar to fans. Mario won’t punch or kick his foes this time; instead with the power of the lumas, Mario has gained a spin attack. Spinning into an enemy, such as a goomba, will send daze them so you can even jump on them to finish them off. Mario’s spin attack is your best bet for the whole game. The spin attack also acts as an extra jump of sorts, so it’s best to put it to use for those platforming segments where you’ll need a little more “umph” to get where you’re going. The Wii remote can be pointed at the screen to gather star bits, which can be fired at enemies too. Just merely waving the Wii remote over a group of star bits will attract them to Mario like a magnet, eliminating the need to walk over them.
The point of Super Mario Galaxy may seem familiar to Mario veterans. Mario must explore a variety of galaxies to gather power stars. The more power stars Mario has, the more levels will open up. Mario will encounter bosses that must be defeated to obtain a Grand Star, which powers Rosalina’s star ship/comet observatory. New faces will appear to challenge Mario, along with old ones such as Bowser and Bowser Jr.
Super Mario Galaxy’s most notable change of traditional gameplay is the absence of gravity, in some areas of the game. True, there will be times in the game where Mario will traverse a flat surface, traditionally, but for the most part there will be planets, both small and large, that Mario will need to explore. No worries though, when Mario approaches the curve of a planet, he won’t slip and fall, instead the gravitational pull of the planet will keep Mario supported. It makes for some interesting gameplay when up becomes down and left becomes right, etc.
Of course, power ups are what makes Galaxy a Mario game. The Fire Flower makes a return to give Mario the ability to throw balls of fire at his enemies. New power ups include the Ice Flower, which gives Mario the ability to throw balls of ice that freeze enemies, also when Mario jumps into water, ice will form at his feet enabling him to “walk on water.” The Boo Mushroom will turn Mario into a Boo, allowing him to float around and, by shaking the Wii remote, will temporarily turn him invisible. Grabbing a Rainbow Star will turn Mario temporarily invincible, defeating enemies just by touching them. Using a Bee Mushroom will give Mario the powers of a Bee, he can stick to walls that show honey combs, and can flutter in the air with his wings for a short time. Finally, grabbing a Spring Mushroom will envelop Mario in a spring, allowing him to bounce around and jump to great heights. Mario can also use items such as koopa shells to his advantage.
Getting around the various galaxies is the cool part. Approaching a launch star and shaking the Wii remote will launch Mario towards the next planet like a speeding bullet. During this time you can point the Wii remote at the screen to collect star bits that follow alongside Mario as he flies. In some areas of the game, Mario will come across blue stars that act as pull stars. When Mario is close to one of these pull stars, point the Wii remote at the screen, pushing A will allow that pull star to reel in Mario, keeping him suspended as long as you hold the button down. It makes for an interesting take on point and click gameplay, the motion based controls make it quite fun.
Though you only need a few stars to reach the games end, there are still 121 stars in total to be found. Even if you don’t finish the game the first time with each of them in hand, that’s reason enough to go back and play the game to obtain every last one. I have to say, Super Mario Galaxy did bring challenge in some parts of the game. Sure there are familiar gameplay segments, but enough of it was brand new to keep me trying over and over again for each star, no matter how many lives I lost. Finding everything in the end was worth it.
Collecting every single power star in the game and defeating Bowser in the final boss fight will award you with a surprise. What it is, I let you figure out so as to not spoil everything for gamers who may have not given the game a play through. I’ll just say that it gives the game a sudden need to be played again, and brings up replay value.