Oh, how we long for Super Mario Galaxy 3. After the recent release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, bringing critically acclaimed titles such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy onto the Switch, it’s easy to feel nostalgic about some of Nintendo’s best platformers to date. More specifically, the absence of Super Mario Galaxy 2 in the bundle had us remembering what made it so interesting in the first place, and how much of an impact Super Mario Galaxy 3 would have nowadays.
The truth is that, thanks to how secretive Nintendo tends to be, the possibility remains quite a mystery - but that doesn’t mean we should lose hope. Back in 2015, Shigeru Miyamoto told Eurogamer that "[a new Mario Galaxy] is always in discussion", adding that he and Yoshiaki Koizumi, director of Galaxy and producer for Odyssey, are “always looking to challenge Galaxy and do another 3D action title”.
In the interview, Miyamoto also mentioned the ever-present question mark about whether or not there’s a possibility for a middle ground, coming up with a game that fans of Galaxy’s 3D worlds with free roam exploration and rather traditional experiences such as New Super Mario Bros. can both enjoy. They attribute a barrier of sorts to hardware technology capabilities, but now that we have all seen Super Mario Odyssey as such a good fit for the Switch, it’s safe to assume this could be the moment Miyamoto and company had been waiting for all these years.
Regardless of whether or not Super Mario Galaxy 3 is out there under development, this is our wishlist of everyone we would like to see in this third instalment.
1. A refined camera
One of the biggest weaknesses of 3D platformers is the camera, and the Galaxy series isn’t extent from it. On one hand, it makes sense that running and jumping through entire worlds would lead to this, but after two entries, it’s highly likely that Nintendo would know by now which parts of it could be refined to make traversing the galaxy as seamless as possible. Fitting the action onto a small screen like the Switch in handheld mode as well as using joy-cons could make for a difficult combination if the camera doesn’t follow along as it should, so this would really make a difference from the get-go.
2. More 2D levels
There’s something special about 2D Mario levels that shouldn’t be ignored. In previous entries these excelled in terms of design, helping to add variety to your star hunting by offering similar, yet entirely different platforming sections that had you swinging on ropes, swimming or just jumping throughout multiple blocks to get to the other end. These were mesmerizing, and going back to the initial quote from Miyamoto, it makes sense for them to add levels like this, knowing full well how much veterans and newcomers alike love playing them. This would help Super Mario Galaxy 3 to reach that long wished balance.
3. Proper co-op
The Switch has been welcoming co-op games ever since its conception, and many games that previously only had local co-op on PC or consoles were revitalized thanks to the swift nature of the joy-cons. But as fun as it was to collect stars and pull in items in Super Mario Galaxy 2 as a second player, or controlling a character like Cappy, Super Mario Galaxy 3 should take the next step and add a proper co-op mode.
We know this would be divisive for some, but take Luigi’s Mansion 3 as an example. Having a second player control Gooigi complemented the experience in numerous ways, offering abilities that Luigi didn’t have without making it so that you needed to control both characters if you were hunting ghosts in singleplayer. Either Mario’s brother or any other character could take this place and follow a similar route. As fun, as it is to point a joy-con at the screen as some kind of magic finger or as Cappy, earning a more starring role would make a difference, whilst also honouring the Switch’s foundation in the process.
4. It’s time for photo mode
Asking “does it have photo mode?” is slowly becoming the equivalent to “is it on Switch?” and for good reason. It allows for players to pause in the midst of the action for the perfect shot, or just during quiet moments, capturing a landscape, an easter egg, or just grabbing a quick selfie for your growing collection.
In Super Mario Odyssey, you could activate photo mode just by pushing the lower button in the D-Pad, which made it far more approachable than pressing both analogue sticks at once or reaching towards the start button. A similar control scheme in Super Mario Galaxy 3 would open many photo opportunities in outer space, and knowing how interesting and intricate the levels in the series can be, we can only picture what skilful players could do with these shots. Of course, filters should abound as well.
5. Cloud Mario should make a comeback
One of the most common power ups in Super Mario Galaxy 2 was the Cloud Flower which once obtained turned the protagonist into Cloud Mario, was probably the most revolutionary of the bunch. Being able to dash, run, or even fly across levels has been seen and done many times already. But after two prime examples of level design in the series, the ability to create up to three clouds in mid air added many possibilities that weren’t there before.
These levels are all about exploration, but also memorizing where you should land after each jump to make it to the other end. By allowing you to come up with your own platforms, there’s a potential to shake things up - to look for alternate paths or reach to previously unreachable areas. Most importantly, it gives players more agency by rewarding experimentation, throwing expectations out of the window and forging your own path. If there’s an entry that could take this idea to whole new heights, that would be Super Mario Galaxy 3.