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Super Mario Galaxy 2 super review

Astonishing
AT A GLANCE
  • More of Mario's particular brand of magic
  • Tons of neat new tricks, power-ups and techniques
  • Some great references to previous Mario games
  • Dealing with the general imperfections of a 3D camera
  • Some really frustrating levels late in the game
  • Can't Bowser do something new?

The Wii is a joke, or at least that’s how it often feels. In the past, we’ve gotten lots of mileage out of mocking the system and its mega-hits, like Wii Play, Game Party and (sigh) Just Dance. We still turn on our Wiis every now and then, mostly just to play the rare “real” games that get put on disc or come to WiiWare, like Cave Story did. But give us more Mario Galaxy and we hurriedly dust off the white wonder, install new batteries and get to waggling, no questions asked, as all the cynicism and bad feelings wash away.

And why not? The first Galaxy has remained the best game for the system in the two-and-a-half years since its release. Once Super Mario Galaxy 2 was announced, we were filled with high hopes that at least something would be coming to the system that could keep up with competition, instead of merely side-stepping it with casual hits and exercise plans. But is Galaxy 2 what we hoped for? Or is it just microwaved leftovers from the brilliant first outing?


This isn’t Mario Galaxy 1.5 (mostly)


After it was announced, some critics condescendingly referred to Galaxy 2 as “Galaxy 1.5,” and it didn’t help when Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto said it was once called it that internally as well. But even if it was initially planned as a mere update to the original, it’s become so much more that the 1.5 label no longer fits. But maybe 2 isn’t quite the correct title either. Maybe it should’ve been “Episodes from Mario Galaxy,” as it feels more like a new, alternate take on a near-perfect original than what we’d normally define as a sequel.

We’d start with the story, but it’s of little consequence and you probably guessed the entire plotline the moment Nintendo announced the game. Believe it or not, Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser, and Mario must save her. We’d like to say it has some twist, but no. Although it is pretty interesting that the game doesn’t recognize the events of the first Galaxy; Mario meets the Lumas, Star Bunnies and the rest for the first time, again, while the Lumas’ “Mama,” Rosalina, is nowhere to be seen. That’s mostly due to the elimination of a traditional hub world, which has been replaced with Starship Mario, a smaller environment that traverses the galaxies similarly to how you used the overworld map in Super Mario World or Mario 3. And that’s just the beginning of Galaxy 2’s many fun and familiar additions.

The game begins a little slowly, with an all-2D intro (probably to ease in those more familiar with New Super Mario Bros Wii), but it very quickly finishes the warm-up and starts hitting players with more challenging tasks sooner than the original did. For those pretty well-versed in Galaxy and 3D Mario navigation in general, it will fit like one of Mario’s gloves, but for the unlucky few who are unfamiliar, its devilishly simple controls will still be easy to understand. And if you’re really confused for some strange reason, there are entirely optional video tutorials in many of the early levels, as well as the return of the divisive Super Guide from NSMBW, which can more or less play sections of the game for you if it gets too hard (although it’s equally optional, and appears only sporadically).


Above: But every time you run out of lives, this dick will suggest taking a break. We’ll tell you when we’ve had enough! 

The structure of the original is maintained as well, though the sequel comes with some nice updates, too. You still head to a galaxy, decide what star you’re going after and then follow that path over several planetoids, all of which are packed with secrets for you to discover. That’s still marvelously enjoyable, and it happens across more worlds than before, with Galaxy 2 boasting nearly 50, compared to the first game’s near-40.

 

Its close adherence to the first game’s structure is why the title 1.5 could almost fit, but Galaxy 2 boasts too many new ideas to be given such a backhanded compliment. Even if the core mechanics are all the same (which isn’t completely true), their implementation is different enough to make the experience new, like the alternate take it is. Since Galaxy 1 did so very little wrong, keeping some of the old stuff is to be expected, but the fresh aspects of it work great, too, if not better than what they replace.

An abundance of ideas

So yes, it’s more than a little similar to first game, at least on the surface. But spend only a few minutes with Galaxy 2 (which is hard, given how addicting it can be), and you’ll see enough new ideas and concepts to easily lay to rest any concerns that it’s too stylistically similar. Perhaps the developers felt they needed to prove their critics wrong by overloading the game with so many new things (but never so many that it overwhelms the player).

 

Let’s start with the power-ups. We’ve detailed them pretty heavily already, but here’s a refresher: New power-ups like Cloud, Drill and Rock Mario all add incredibly inventive new approaches to standard level setups, whether it’s in making new cloud platforms to climb higher, or knocking down enemies as you barrel at them inside a giant rock. All are taken full advantage of throughout the many levels they appear in, along with all the previous power-ups that return, but are often used in new ways (such as Fire Mario’s assaults on snow sculptures of Bowser). But the new powers get much more time devoted to them, and deservedly so.

Yoshi is also well utilized, which we really appreciated after his half-hearted appearance in NSMBW. He’s integral to enjoying the numerous galaxies he appears in, and his role has expanded with the introduction of power-ups, such as Light and Blimp Yoshi. And just as Mario’s abilities get used in expansive and varied ways that still feel natural, the same can be said for Yoshi, as he finally returns to deserved prominence in a core Mario title.


Above: And Luigi is playable basically from the start

But those are just the most obvious examples. Seemingly every level has some new trick to it, with only a few old, familiar dynamics returning, like balancing on top of a sphere containing a star. These ideas are normally just exclusive to just one or two levels, like Mario hurling himself from bar to bar like a gymnast, rolling giant snowballs or gliding with a bird that looks fairly similar to the Pokemon Ho-oh. Same goes for the boss fights, which (outside of the first one) are totally new and are all fun. We don’t want to go into too much detail, as Nintendo and others have already given away too much about what makes this title special, but even without the immediate surprise of seeing some new aspect of SMG2, you’ll still be shocked by how well so many new ideas can work.


Why can’t all Wii games look and sound this good?

Seriously, this game looks amazing. Just like Galaxy 1, much of this game looks great even when compared to the average 360 title, only they’ve improved the graphics even more. Sure, if you were actively and exhaustively searching for some flaw you could point at and whine, “this texture doesn’t look next-gen,” then fine, you win. But Galaxy 2 so fully understands how to get the most out of aging technology that nearly all graphical flaws are smoothed over or covered up, leaving you with Wii’s best-looking title to date.

The soundtrack also ramps up from the previous game’s excellence. Not only is the music all orchestral, giving a real epic and grandiose feel to new and returning tracks alike, but when it remixes classic melodies from Super Mario 64 or Sunshine, they’re given new impact and gravitas. Like all game soundtracks should, this further enhanced a superb experience, even for a reviewer who normally doesn’t notice background music all that much.

Why Mario Galaxy 2 is a 10

Ultimately, we had had one of the finest times in a long time playing this game, and when compared to other Wii games – even great ones, like Muramasa or A Boy and His Blob – Super Mario Galaxy 2 is hands-down the greatest the Wii has seen since, well, Galaxy 1. But can something that even we admit is nearly a remix really garner our highest score? Yes, and here’s why.

Like we said earlier, it always either fixes the limited number of flaws the first game had, or just takes interesting new approaches to much of what worked, while still being a game that stands on its own. You may notice that until now we’ve had few complaints, and that’s simply because there are so few things to complain about. The final worlds and some stars that are all completely unnecessary to finish the game can get pretty frustrating for non-Mario savants, but those areas are just gravy anyway. In a long weekend of play, we got 90-plus stars out of 120, and while we are pretty familiar with Mario, we’re by no means perfect players; there’s just the right balance of challenge in all but the later worlds (which are made for the super-skilled, anyway). Also, very rarely, the camera can be slightly tricky, but it still sets the bar very high for all other 3D games. Sorry, haters, that’s all the negative we’ve got.

Even if you discount the relative ghetto of middling games on the Wii, Galaxy 2 is one of the year’s top games on any system, and one of the few must-have reasons to buy a Wii… outside of weight loss and bowling, that is.


Is it better than…

Super Mario Galaxy? Yes, but barely. It feels newer and more varied, though it isn’t the revolution the first game was. If you just bought a Wii and have to pick one or the other, play SMG2 first, since it’s slightly more inviting and fast-paced than the original. Once you’ve wrapped up 2, by all means go back to first one. Following that, leave your Wii unused for the majority of your year like everyone else, making sure to dust occasionally.

New Super Mario Bros Wii? For the love of God, yes! Maybe NSMBW’s lack of creativity compared to Galaxy 2 makes the latter look even better next to it, but there’s really no contest. NSMBW is a good game, but we expected so much more from the first new 2D, console-based Mario in almost two decades that we were understandably disappointed by how few new things it tried, outside of an underwhelming multiplayer aspect. Oppositely, Galaxy 2 really pushed itself to outperform expectations, not just meet them exactly.

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time? Yes, but it’s closer than you’d think. And if you lack Nintendo-tinted glasses, the gap gets even closer. R&C games are always fun, and Crack is a step up, graphics-wise, compared to SMG2. But the annual releases of Ratchet games makes them feel less special, and we’re getting a little franchise fatigue. Meanwhile, a second core Mario game for the Wii, delivered nearly three years after the last one, feels like a real treat.


Just for you, Metacritic!

Expanding on the original’s brilliance, this ingenious platformer only gets better by embracing the Wii’s limited capabilities and adds so many ideas, big and small, that we can’t help but love it. Even if you (mistakenly) believe it’s too similar to the first game, what’s wrong with more of an incredibly great thing?

May 21, 2010

More Info

Release date: May 23 2010 - Wii (US)
Jun 11 2010 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Action
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Franchise: Mario
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Cartoon Violence
PEGI Rating:
3+

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60 comments

  • EricGirasole - November 20, 2010 9:41 a.m.

    This is personally MY favourite game ever. The graphics ARE next Gen and they ARE Beautiful . The game has nothing to complain about except some minor Camera and View issues. Having Yoshi in the game made it feel special becuase Yoshi hasnt stood out for a long while now. The later level's are much harder and frustrating , you guys are completely right there ( Pyramid-Esque level boss battle Dare Devil run Dont even bother) But it's not that hard either and this time round the Prankster comets have a MUCH MUCH more role to play like beating the level with the giant enemies on a timer run was Great fun . But ... Bowser really hasnt changed ... the Bowser Jr Boss battles were inventive enough ..but Bowser is the same old bowser.... I felt one good moment with the Final Battle and that was when I fired the Last comet into him Straight in the face . But this game is perfect.... the flying level's cpuld have been better but heck.. better than Screaming at a Fish isnt'it? All in All I think I can say... the game was The best the Wii has to got I Enjoyed it very much but .. Story was a bit short but I'd rather Jump on Goomba's heads without having to worry "Oh I gotta beat this level and kill Bowser) It's more relaxing the second time round and believe me I doubt anyone has found all the secrets.
  • Octoboy - July 26, 2010 5:11 p.m.

    So, ... SMG 2 gets a 10, but Red Dead only gets a 9? There's something seriously wrong about that.
  • fartinapot - July 23, 2010 8:05 p.m.

    This game is great because even when the challenge seems impossible to beat, you always find a way to win it. in fact, right now i have 105 stars, and the game isn't getting any easier. I have beaten SOOOO many levels that were difficult and fustrating. In a way, this game is mostly fustrating instead of fun, but boy, is it addicting! :P
  • redalert3 - July 19, 2010 6:54 p.m.

    it looks great, but the bad news is that i can only get this on my birthday, which is right after summer ends. this still looks great, and i can't wait to get it. the level designs look better and it looks more challenging that SMG1, and those star bunnies idea in SMG 1 got annoying. Hope no more bunnies in this one. this loks like something to get my wii ready for, now i've just gotta find batteries and other stuff for this game... See you soon SMG2... (P.S, they better make a SMG 3)
  • GreenEyedGamer - June 24, 2010 11:50 p.m.

    I finished the game 100% in 33h 'cause I just couldn't stop playing it! I still play the game 'cause it is AWESOME!!!
  • fartinapot - June 17, 2010 5:21 p.m.

    I just got this game a few days ago. It is super fun. One or two levels so far were fustrating, but they are still possible to beat. I just finished world two.
  • Kikyabut2 - June 15, 2010 11:59 p.m.

    Lol. I read the review after I bought the game. I still have to give you guys credit for accuracy. I love reading u guyses reviews.
  • guiarherodrummer1998 - June 9, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    WAHOO!!! Best game ever and its finally here. Thank you Nintendo!
  • TheElephantManchurianCandidate - May 25, 2010 12:40 p.m.

    Nicely written review! A few more weeks for us here in the UK can't wait
  • Elementskater - May 25, 2010 5:34 a.m.

    Wow McSpermie you are pretty lame. If RDD is so good, than why aren't you just playing that "all summer" rather than looking on a Wii game's review, if you never plan on picking it up anyways because its a Wii game. If you dont like it, stay out of the article. I mean yeah, every Mario game is basically the same, but yet they sell MILLIONS of copies because they are still fun. And i'm sure RDD will sell millions of copies too, it's not like that people buying this game will mean Rockstar will just die out. How about diversify your outlook on video games, because nobody wants to hear your opinion about if "Wii Sucks" or whatever.
  • GR_HenryGilbert - May 24, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    @bhup666 You have to reeeeeeeally suck for the Rosalina guide to show up. Though several stars took more than a few tries for me, I only failed at one enough time (about 12) for her to show. She will get you to a star, but it will be a bronze one, reminding you that you took the easy way out. Also I don't believe she helps on prankster comet stars. I did one purple coin collection I swear 20 times and she never showed, so I bet she shows on normal ones, not challenge ones. And no, she doesn't get the comet coin for you.
  • fartinapot - May 24, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    This game looks awesome! I want to get it so bad!
  • CAPST3R - May 24, 2010 8:48 p.m.

    Not got a Wii, not buying one. It's missing HD graphics, and has motion control. If I wanted to get up off my keester to game, I wouldn't be gaming. Even the Sixaxis is too much. It's as ridiculous as 3D tech; What's the point? I don't want the picture to be out of the screen, I want to be in the picture, which I think they'll find works better. They'd better come up with VR tech, because until then, I ain't moving.
  • Churze - September 21, 2013 7:05 p.m.

    "It's missing HD graphics" No HD graphics allow for larger and longer games. HD costs a LOT to make. I would rather play a 100 hour game in SD rather than a 20 hour game in HD. Also, SMG2 has better art direction than almost every game of the generation, rivaled only by Bioshock and Xenoblade. Also, people who don't own wii don't understand motion controls. For 90% of the Wii games I own I never need to stand up. The motion controls are never exhausting and not used nearly as frequently as everyone acts like. Instead motion controls are used to make games more satisfying and feel more real. Despite HD graphics, I never feel like I'm "in the zone" quite like I do while playing. And HD is just as much of a gimmick as 3d and motion controls. It is not necessary to play any games on the system (only a few Wii games take full advantage of the controller). I highly recommend you pick up Wii, it is the single most underrated console of all time. I know a lot of people say there are not any good games on the system because 60% of it's games is shovel ware, but the same thing can be said about PS3 and Xbox. There are very few truly high quality games on each system, totaling only about 50 for each system (not including downloadable titles. People tend to not search for any good wii games, opting instead to pick up shovel ware sport/party games. If you are worried about a lack of games, I would recommend TONS of games, but if you bought the console for about $70 pick up these some of these games with it -Xenoblade Chronicals (best JRPG of the generation) -SMG 1+2 (best 3d platformers of all time) -Mario Kart Wii (best kart racer of all time) -MadWorld -Red Steel 2 -The Legend of Zelda:Skyward Sword -Metroid Prime Trilogy -Donkey Kong Country Returns -The Little King's Story These are just to name a few.
  • shawksta - October 28, 2013 10:55 p.m.

    Dude Your replying to a 3 year old comment
  • Bhup666 - May 24, 2010 6:48 p.m.

    Question to anyone: Just wondering about the Rosalina guide help-thingy.. when it takes over and you get a bronze star and it counts as if you completed the level.. does it mean you can do that to all the galaxys and actually play through all the game without getting one single gold star? My question is actually if Rosalina only guides you to the star or to the Comet medals as well? Does she show you how to get that? And does she do the comet medal galaxys also? Is it possible to get 240 bronze stars? Thanks for your answers, I live in Norway so were not tgetting this game until 11th June!
  • reaperman22 - May 24, 2010 11:47 a.m.

    wait, wait, slow down a second. Bowser kidnaps the princess!!! :O i never would of expected that to happen, that there is some groundbreaking story telling
  • BIOSback - May 24, 2010 12:08 a.m.

    Ahh I'm glad I stil have my Wii.
  • Cyberninja - May 23, 2010 5:36 p.m.

    just played the first one today to get ready for this when i get it soon

Showing 1-20 of 60 comments

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