I’ve always been a fan of replaying and remaking old games. Things like Square-Enix’s remake of Final Fanatsy III really excite me because I don’t think anyone would contend that very many games are perfect just the way they are. Almost any game could use an update.
That’s kind of how I view the Super Mario series. Nintendo has been remaking Super Mario Bros. since Super Mario Bros. 3, and every game in the series since is a just a take off of that revolutionary game. It turns out that’s a good thing, though.
Super Mario Galaxy is a perfect example of this. It really doesn’t do anything all that different from Super Mario 64. Granted, it throws in a gameplay twist here, a new suit there and a whole heap of brilliant level design, but, in general, Super Mario is Super Mario.
In Galaxy, you guide Mario through a series of themed levels to rescue Princess Peach from the evil clutches of Bowser. Sound familiar? Story has always been the Super Mario games’ weak point. As in there’s not much to speak of. I actually kind of like that not every game has to be the next War and Peace, and the story in Super Mario Galaxy is enough to get us to what we want to do anyway, which is play the thing.
Of course, this is where Mario really steps into the sunshine, so to speak. The gameplay in Galaxy hasn’t changed all that much from Super Mario 64, but that’s not a bad thing. Super Mario 64 defined what 3D platforming games should be, so it’s only natural that Super Mario Galaxy fits snugly into that category. It throws in some changing gravity, running around very small spheres and some fun new suits (though the tanooki suit from Super Mario Bros. 3 will always be my favorite), but you’re still searching for stars to unlock new areas to find more starts to eventually find and beat Bowser and rescue the Princess.
Like every Mario game, the visuals are bright and cheery and the sound track is catchy but not incredible. You could complain that, compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3, the Wii’s graphic capabilities just aren’t enough, but do you really notice all those tiny details if you really get into playing? Simply put, a game should have enough suspension of disbelief for you to forget the difference between standard definition and HD, and Super Mario Galaxy does that.
Unlike the last few Super Mario games, Galaxy re-introduces multiplayer into Super Mario. Instead of the switching off of Mario and Luigi as they did in the 2D days, players can now use two Wii remotes to play, one person controlling Mario and the other staring at the screen jealously pointing a little yellow star in a way that doesn’t really matter all that much. The second player can be quite helpful if they want to be, but it really isn’t all that much fun. What seems to work best is when two people switch off in some way, either lives or possibly levels. This works especially well on the rally difficult levels because, not only are you playing all the time, but it also forms a sort team, us-versus-them spirit that makes it a lot more fun than you would think.
The most new element of this game is the new control scheme, and Nintendo really pulled them off. It definitely takes some adjustment, every Wii game does, but once you get it down it works incredibly well. The only real motion control, aside from minigames, is waggling the Wii remote to make Mario spin. This serves as one of the primary attacks, a way to get a little extra height out of a jump and a possible way to solve puzzles. Otherwise the controls are basically as you would expect to find them on a GameCube controller.
All of this makes sort of makes Super Mario Galaxy feel a lot like a remake, but, as I said above, that’s not a bad thing. Nintendo has continuously taken the same diamond and kept polishing and shaping it, and each time it comes out better. The newest polishing and shaping has once again put out a game that’s really fun to play and doesn’t really have any major faults, and I wouldn’t mind if Nintendo did it again for whatever the next next-gen is.