Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

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Mario has done a lot of things throughout his lengthy career, so why not be a traveller of space? When Wii games were first being showcased during Nintendo’s E3 2006 conference, Super Mario Galaxy was revealed for the first time. Mario’s planet hopping and defiance of gravity was met with excitement. Super Mario Galaxy finally made it to the console in November 2007. Two years later at another of E3 conference, Nintendo revealed that for the first time ever, a sequel to a 3D Super Mario game would come to the same console. With the first being held in such high regard, could Super Mario Galaxy 2 live up to the fans’ expectations? It could, and it did.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 begins with Mario being invited to the Star Festival by Princess Peach, sound familiar? The opening itself is a small, interactive sidescrolling level that takes place near Princess Peach’s castle. You’ll meet a Luma companion along the path, and once you reach the castle you’ll encounter none other than, you guessed it, Bowser. Bowser captures Princess Peach once again, but this time Bowser is gigantic; giant Bowser is cool, but I really miss the U.F.O. from Super Mario Galaxy. Bowser then sets off for the centre of the universe to create a massive galaxy worthy of being called his kingdom.

This setup is similar to the story in Super Mario Galaxy, complete with the objective to collect Power Stars to power a spaceship that will be used to reach Bowser’s Castle. It’s simple, yet effective storytelling of a plumber flying through space to rescue the princess, again.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 borrows heavily from Super Mario Galaxy’s story and setting (like any good sequel), but drastically improves the overall concept. Super Mario Galaxy 2 eliminates a hub world and streamlines the experience with simple overworld maps. While there is no hub, Galaxy 2 does allow you to explore Starship Mario, the spaceship you use to travel between galaxies on the overworld map.

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There are six worlds in Super Mario Galaxy 2 with each one containing seven galaxies. Each galaxy has a unique, creative theme and holds a set number of Power Stars to collect. Much like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and of course, Super Mario Galaxy, you collect Power Stars after completing certain objectives; there are 120 Power Stars to collect in all. Objectives vary, but the majority of them will test your platforming skills. Galaxy 2 ramps up the challenge so skill is a must; however, checkpoints are plentiful in each galaxy which means you can get away with a few mistakes without worrying about a huge penalty.

Nintendo has implemented a Tip Network that provides players with short tutorials at key moments in the game. The Tip Network is accessed by approaching TVs located in some of the game’s levels. Nintendo has also included the Super Guide in Super Mario Galaxy 2, however, this time it’s being called the Cosmic Guide. After dying too much, a Cosmic Spirit that resembles Rosalina appears to offer assistance to the player. If the player accepts, the Cosmic Spirit will take control of Mario’s body and reach the star for the player. Accepting help from the Cosmic Spirit will result in a Bronze Star.

Mario controls flawlessly with physics and controls taken straight from the first game; A is used to jump, B slings star bits while the pointer grabs them, Z can be used to duck, the analog stick moves Mario, and a spin of the Wii Remote is used for Mario’s spin attack. All of his familiar jumping techniques like the long jump, wall jump, and backflip return.

Super Mario Galaxy is full of impressive level (galaxy) design, so it might be hard to believe that Super Mario Galaxy 2’s galaxies are more impressive. Gravity and planet hopping still play a major role this time around, but the concepts are recycled far less. An example of the top-notch galaxy design can be seen in Spin-Dig Galaxy. This galaxy introduces one of the game’s new power-ups, the Spin Drill, which must be used to drill through dirt to navigate the level. Sometimes you can explore the insides of a planet, but in most cases you will come out on the opposite end. This is cleverly used to help you reach platforms that are too high to reach without the Spin Drill.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 introduces other new power-ups that can’t be found in Super Mario Galaxy. Collecting a Cloud Flower will turn you into Cloud Mario which gives you the power to create cloud platforms at will. After jumping and spinning, a cloud will appear beneath Mario. You can use these to cross large gaps, or to climb high into the sky. You can also collect a Rock Mushroom, a power-up that will turn you into Rock Mario. Shaking the Wii Remote will turn you into a boulder that can be used to destroy obstacles and to leap over huge gaps. Rock Mario is actually similar to Goron Link from Majora’s Mask.

i_23061Also new to Galaxy 2 is the addition of everybody’s favourite dinosaur, Yoshi! Riding Yoshi in a 3D environment isn’t exactly new as it was a concept first visited in Super Mario Sunshine, but it has been vastly improved in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Yoshi has ability to eat berries and enemies, but also brings back his useful flutter jump. Also new to Galaxy 2 are Yoshi’s abilities to ram enemies with his head and the ability to swing on flowers using his tongue via the pointer. Yoshi can’t throw eggs, but he does get three brand new power-ups of his own.

First is the Dash Pepper, a pepper that makes Yoshi run at extreme speeds. This is useful for running over water and up steep slopes. Blimp Fruit causes Yoshi to blow up like a blimp which can be used to float through the air by slowly exhaling air. Bulb Berry is the last Yoshi specific power-up and it will cause Yoshi to start emanating light that reveals hidden platforms. Overall, Yoshi is a lot of fun to use; his presence adds new types of challenges that weren’t possible in Super Mario Galaxy.

Like the first game, Super Mario Galaxy 2 has a number of larger than life boss battles. A standout boss battle would be the fight against Gobblegut, a large dragon that burrows through the tiny planet that Mario is standing on. I’m also quite fond of the battles with Giga Lakitu and Glamdozer. Prankster Comets also make a return, but with a twist. Instead of the comets randomly showing up on their own, you must collect Comet Medals (one can be found in each galaxy) to make them appear. Most of the challenges are the same and include collecting 100 purple coins, and finishing levels with just 1 HP.

Motion controlled levels also return from Super Mario Galaxy. The painful rolling ball stages are back, but they have been designed to be a little easier this time around. The other type of level is new to Galaxy 2 and gives you the chance to fly through the sky with Fluzzard. Fluzzard is a bird that lets Mario hitch a ride to glide through an obstacle course. Motion controls work as they are explained in the game and they never caused any cheap deaths. However, these levels tend to be a little on the annoying side because they expect you to perform at optimum levels, a slight break in your concentration may be a disaster waiting to happen.

i_23060It will take a lot of time to collect all the Power Stars and Comet Medals, but Super Mario Galaxy keeps throwing new challenges your way. After getting 120 stars and beating Bowser a second time, 120 green stars will appear. Yes, Super Mario Galaxy 2 has over 200 stars to collect, spoiler alert.

Visually, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is outstanding, and quite possibly the best looking Wii game. Super Mario Galaxy 2 has more colorful and creative galaxies than the first game; however, Galaxy is no slouch in the visuals department either. When comparing the two games, the soundtrack is bound to come up as well. The Mario Galaxy Orchestra makes their return and their performances are just as magical the second time around. Galaxy 2 gets a slight nod because of the orchestra’s brilliant covers of old Super Mario themes.

Final Thoughts:

There is a lot to say about Super Mario Galaxy 2, so much that I’m leaving a lot out, like the Co-Star Luma that can be controlled by Player 2 to help Mario overcome obstacles, or that players can play as Luigi during certain portions of the game. Regardless, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of the best video games I’ve ever played. One could argue that it recycles almost too much from Super Mario Galaxy, but Galaxy 2 adds enough to make the game feel like a sequel rather than an expansion or DLC. I like both Super Mario Galaxy games about the same, but I definitely don’t miss the hub. I prefer a streamline approach, so it’s no surprise that I enjoy the overworld maps. Overall, Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes what made Super Mario Galaxy a success and improves it in every way imaginable. Few video games are perfect; then again, not many games have Super Mario Galaxy in the title.

10/10

Obtained as a gift

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