We covered many aspects of Super Mario Galaxy in our last preview, so this time around we’re going to dissect some of the planets, which in many ways are the real stars of the Galaxy series. So take a ride on our galactic mushroom ship as we see the sights on…
Yoshi’s pepper-gobbling routine gets a proper airing in this vertiginous wooden sprint. Travelling at speeds that would make a velociraptor’s eyes water, Yoshi can run on vertical surfaces. Fail to reach the peak by the time the pepper runs out and you slide all the way back down with the kind of friction burns you could genetically pass on to your kids. Basic vertical sprints grow more and more abstract. As Yoshi runs across vertical walls (very Prince of Persia) the wooden arena begins to look like a bagatelle board, especially with jutting metal pins trying to knock Yoshi down. Ring any bells? One of Mario Sunshine’s void stages was also based on the French pinball precursor.
Hightail Falls is a series of wooden platforms floating above a Niagara Falls-ish valley. Squint and it almost looks like a Kororinpa stage.
Urged on by Super Mario World’s honky tonk piano theme (the dee-diddle-dee one), Yoshi tears up a cliff face. You have one shot at grabbing the coins - vital for feeding a hungry Luma later in the level.
Log bridges undulate under the combined bulk of Mario and Yoshi. That’s some damn fine undulating. Good work, EAD Tokyo.
Yoshi’s sprinting is a more controllable take on Mario’s hot-hot-hot burnt bottom routine. Glowing ember hot, Yoshi sweats profusely and won’t stop dashing until the pepper depletes or he thunks into a solid object.
Jumping from branch to branch in Tall Trunk harks back to Sunshine’s Pianta Village. Again, Mario scales the leafy heights. But where in Sunshine FLUDD spurted him upwards, here he relies on air expelled from Yoshi’s lungs. Blimp fruits turn Yoshi into a blue space hopper. Thankfully, the air leaves his mouth. (Eat a bag of prunes and you’ll understand the dire alternative.) Mechanically, blimp fruit echo Mario’s bee suit hovering – you get that same will he/won’t he feeling as you struggle that final inch to a platform. It’s infinitely funnier than Bee Mario, though, simply due to how callously Mario manipulates his dino chum.
Tall Trunk’s wooden populace talk a strange talk. “Treetop good,” one says, reminding us of Toy Story’s ooohing aliens. They also call Yoshi “The Green One” – politer than what we call him.
Blue Yoshi handles like a dopey marshmallow. Bobbing moronically into webby scuttlebugs and spiky plants, you’ll have to hold his breath (with A) and hover to dodge threats.
Spare a moment to appreciate Yoshi’s bloated design. With his protruding boots he’s a dead ringer for post-bubblegum Violet Beauregarde. To the juicing room!
Tall Trunk builds to a 2D maze carved in the bark of a rotating trunk. Blimping Yoshi up effectively rotates the trunk down; deflating spins it up. Combine floating and falling to snatch five star chips. Try not to hurl.
The demo’s most straightforward level is our favourite. Galaxy’s gravity antics toss our brains into a washing machine and set it to fast spin. Down is down unless up is down, as it often is in this perplexing 2D corridor. Mario’s moveset is brilliantly altered. Where else can you perform a triple-jump and land perfectly on the ceiling? It’s Olympic gymnastics meets David Bowie in Labyrinth, and every bit as awesome as that sounds. Galaxy 2 pushes the idea further, with cavernous halls dotted with patches of reversed gravity. As Mario jumps, falls upwards and somehow lands back down below, you’ve no option but to drop the remote and applaud.
Upside Dizzy is two levels in one: on the floor and ceiling. Each offers obstacles and treats. Do you wait for gravity to automatically switch or risk back flips and long jumps to grab the goodies?
Behold: the Comet Coin. If you can see one of these beauts, you can guarantee the Grim Reaper is just off screen rubbing his bony hands in anticipation. When gravity flips, Mario will tumble into the electricity above. Tricky.
Getting that 1-Up mushroom should be the new Mensa initiation test. Getting onto the underside of Mario’s platform (technically the top) involves falling up and wall jumping down. Brain… overheating… send… help…
Gravity reversals, spring pads and Paragoombas? Why race to the end of the level when there’s this much plumber-pirouetting fun available?
Digga-Leg is a pint-sized version of Galaxy 1’s Megaleg boss, designed to teach Mario the way of the drill. Feeding hot rotating metal into a robot’s belly? This is edutainment. Initially, the spinning bit is little more than a portable warp pipe, ploughing onto the underside of an earthy disc. Before the spark of doubt ignites, Nintendo whip out the fire extinguisher of wonderment. Soon you’re excavating secret planet cores, solving platforming puzzles and, of course, bringing down Digga-Legg with a sneaky gouge to the robo-nads. The drill’s a one-trick pony, but it’s a pony made out of metal, rotating three thousand times a second. An awesome pony.
Flicking activates the drill, pulling Mario up into a slot where his body-spin powers the bit into the ground.
In one side, out the other. Galaxy 2’s camera miraculously finds the best view of the action. Also: look beyond the planetoid to see the entire galaxy is itself inside an earthy orb. God bless you, Nintendo.
Unlike forgotten Hollywood bust the Core, Mario doesn’t need CGI to explore subterranean realms. That said, he’s just lucky God chose tasty coins instead of a hot magma filling.
Megaleg was susceptible to a Bullet Bill to the head. Digga-Legg needs a drill enema to set him straight. Misjudge Mario’s approach and he prangs off Diga-Legg’s size 37 iron Hush Puppies.
Dodge the Monty Mole battalion Digga-Legg sends after you and he’ll eventually pause for robo-breath. Time to deliver the goods. Oof.