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Why Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of the greatest games ever made

The Super Mario franchise has been known for simultaneously advancing the medium of games while still being inviting to new players. It did that with the original Super Mario Bros. when it popularized the sidescroller, even more so when it redefined the genre with Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario 64 exemplified exactly how to make platformers in 3D. When the Wii hit the scene, that system needed a whole new Mario game to evolve the genre once more. Fortunately the Super Mario Galaxy games were up to the task, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 in particular marks a highpoint for this generation in terms of design, creativity, and outright fun.

Though a handful of games like Tomb Raider and Ratchet and Clank took 3D platforming in new directions, the genre still had many of the same problems that had been around since Super Mario 64. It was difficult to judge the distance of jumps in three dimensions, camera controls were wonky, and most games relied on reusing the same levels with different objectives. Super Mario Galaxy 2 addressed all those with such ease that it's amazing that they were ever a problem.

The dramatic shift was in the level design. Mario still controlled the way he always had in 3D games, but the new galactic setting of exploring a collection of tiny planetoids refocused the games. Instead of dropping players in a big open world, each tiny planet had a clear objective and easily defined space for the player to explore.

Since each planet had its own clearly defined gravity, platforming was much easier to understand in three dimensions. It also helped that planets came in such varied shapes that the devs could place the camera in much smarter ways, ridding players of the hassle of carefully tweaking the camera so as to best judge a stage. And even with that clarity of design, the stages were filled with little details that made each visually distinct.

Though clarity is one of Super Mario Galaxy 2’s greatest strengths, so is variety. It rejects the annoying trope of searching for countless collectibles in the corners of a handful of large areas. Instead, SMG2 kept finding new ways to entertain with each objective it threw at you, never bogging players down. Innovative areas and enemies were everywhere, and in the rare cases when the game reused something, it was always for a clever reason.

10 comments

  • tehtimeisnow - November 14, 2012 9:41 p.m.

    horrable game only littel kids play this garbege its so easy u dont need any skill cuz u just waggel the dum wii remote aruond like a baby and u win no skill at all
  • Broddeb - November 15, 2012 2:03 a.m.

    Wow! I say that about Ipad games! Replace "dum wii remote" with "shite touch screen controls" and it's practically the same sentance!
  • tehtimeisnow - November 15, 2012 2:35 a.m.

    u just waggel the shite tuoch screen controls around like a baby and u win no skil at all? i tryed replaceing it but it dosent make sense. its cuz ipad gameing is superier and wii is a peace of trash
  • Churze - September 21, 2013 6:40 p.m.

    Let me guess: You think you are some cool badass for playing CoD. Ignoring of course that you can't type and clearly never watched any gameplay footage of this game what so ever, you are still the bane of gamers. The poor representation of the other wise great gaming society who only plays M games. You clearly have never played this game. You what to know how much time you spend "waggling?" Less the 3% of the game. You only waggle to do a quick attack. Anyway, I think we can all learn something from you: Don't talk unless you know what the hell you're talking about.
  • masterjoe123 - November 14, 2012 3:26 p.m.

    I would love to see Nintendo make an hd remake of this. Imagine one of the best looking wii games as an hd wii u game. Nintendo would make even more millions.
  • Darkhawk - November 14, 2012 3:18 p.m.

    I definitely have a sentimental attachment to Super Mario 64 (still a brilliant game) but no question that SMG2 is the better Mario. My one criticism has been its direct re-use of levels from SMG1 (why do that in a game with 120 stars to collect?!) but otherwise just a perfect capital-G Game.
  • shawksta - November 14, 2012 3:13 p.m.

    Damn straight SMG still has the feel of the first time, but it still has its problems and either way you see it, the more accessible Star Ship Mario let's you hurry up and play the game. What I love especially about Galaxy 2 is its suprises and how they added things we didn't think needed to be. Boss Blitz Galaxy for example, the name gives it away and yet those clever bastards did a twist you wouldn't expect. It just makes you wonder what they'll do for the Wii U
  • kachigop - November 14, 2012 1:49 p.m.

    I started to get emotional watching the trailer and listening to the music. That's how much I love this game.
  • 7-D - November 14, 2012 1:45 p.m.

    Agreed
  • Z-man427 - November 14, 2012 1:45 p.m.

    Agreed

Showing 1-10 of 10 comments

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