We were one of the few outlets that didn’t cream its pants over New Super Mario Bros Wii. We felt it was too simplistic playing alone and a bit too clumsy with four people, not to mention devoid of the creative spark that made all previous 2D Marios such a genuine treat. On the other hand, we couldn’t adore Galaxy more – it’s a shining beacon of platforming brilliance loaded with fresh ideas. Galaxy 2, despite being “more of the same,” already exhibits the same illuminating joy found in 2007’s amazing original.
The first Galaxy remains the best-looking Wii game on the market. It’s simply a dream to see in motion, so good in fact it doesn’t need the usual “for a Wii game” tagline. Galaxy 2, naturally, is every bit as beautiful and imaginative. Each of the floating planetoids has its own rules, appearance and overall feel, and soaring from one to the other is still an exhilarating rush. We’re not sure how many new environments there will be, and so far the worlds we played (Hightail Falls, Tall Trunk and others) look similar to the first game, but it’s still a pleasure to play a Wii title that looks fantastic – by any system’s criteria.
Yoshi popped up in New Mario Wii what, three or four times in total? Hardly a selling point then, especially when you consider that his presence didn’t really add anything to the gameplay that wasn’t already present in 1991’s Super Mario World. This time, entire levels are designed around a much more capable Yoshi.
One area, Bowser Jr’s Flooding Fleet, was packed with Bullet Bills, Hammer Bros and other deadly projectiles that would normally buck Mario off the edge of the world. Now, Yoshi can eat them with his tongue (aimed with the Wii Remote pointer, just like you gobble up all the star bits) and actually fire them back at enemies or objects in the environment. In one case we had to gobble several Bullet Bills and send them hurtling towards glass barriers blocking the path.
Bowser Jr hopped in a giant robot for a boss battle (seen above) that revolved around Yoshi’s new return-fire abilities. Other areas use Yoshi’s tongue as a Bionic Commando-style ripcord that lets you sling from one platform to another. All in all, Yoshi’s featured quite a bit, and not in a half-forgotten kind of way.
Galaxy was surprisingly difficult, especially compared to Mario Sunshine and the ancient Mario 64. Part two (releasing May 23) continues the trend with some truly mind-bending areas that’ll make hardcore (read: lifelong) Mario fans far happier than the plain levels of New Mario Wii. The areas we played were fiendishly challenging, causing even our resident Mario expert to replay certain spots again and again. No, it’s not stupid hard, because that’s not fun – it’s that perfect mix of hard at first but encouraging enough to keep trying. Once you do, you feel like you actually accomplished something. In other words, just what we’d expect.
There was a lot to cover during Nintendo’s attractively named “Q1 Media Summit,” so we didn’t get a hand at every single level of the demo. That said, we left no less enthused about the surprise sequel, despite its obvious “sameness” to the original. No doubt the overall impact and ingenuity of the first Galaxy will be gone, but the all-important gameplay looks to be a sharp as ever. We’ll have more, including a luscious Super Review, when it ships this May.
Feb 24, 2010