Our Story So Far: Welcome, Whole New Galaxy!

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is an incredible platformer that surpasses the original in almost every way.  It ranks up there as one of the best Mario games, and it could possibly be the best game available on the Wii (with the possible exception of Shattered Memories).  You should play it.  You should be playing it right now.  So go do that.
...OK, I suppose I should go into more detail than that.  This is a core Mario game, which should explain a lot about why it's so good.  Yes, there are a ton of games that bare the Mario name.  Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Mario Kart, Mario MMA (OK, that's fake, but it would be awesome), etc.  Every month it seems some new title comes out baring the name of that most famous of mustachioed plumbers.  Yet fans know there have only been 8 true Mario games prior to Super Mario Galaxy 2.  Ten if you include the New Super Mario Bros. games.  Twelve if you include the Super Mario Land franchise on Game Boy.  Oh, and I think there might have been a Virtual Boy title too...Look, I'm trying to say that there are only a handful of games that can call themselves a true Mario title.  And I consider almost all of them to be ranked among the greatest games ever made.  Honestly, I think the original Super Mario Bros. IS the great game of all time, mainly due to how key it was to revitalizing the nearly extinct video game market back in its day.  About the only bump in the saga was Mario 2, which isn't even a "real" Mario game.  Sure, it counts now, but it wasn't one originally.  And it's still pretty good.  (Also, I never really played Super Mario World 2, so I can't actually speak to that one's quality.)  Thankfully, Super Mario Galaxy 2 lives up to the high standards of its forefathers.

When I said that SMG2 "surpasses the original in almost every way", I should explain that these are minor improvements to the already excellent Super Mario Galaxy.  This isn't leaps and bounds, but I feel the improvements are still noticeable.  The story is basically the same as the last game.  In fact it's really a retelling of Super Mario Galaxy with some minor differences.  But you don't come to a Mario game looking for its story.  The Mario RPGs, yes.  Core Mario games, no.  You come looking for the best platforming in gaming, and SMG2 delivers.  The gameplay established in SMG1 stays intact, with a few new things thrown in.  You have some new suits, like the Rock Suit and the Cloud Suit.  You also have Yoshi, who makes a big difference in the way you approach levels.  And Yoshi himself has some unique power-ups, so there is a huge variety to the ways you'll be playing this game.  These are all minor changes, though, so if you played the first game, you'll know what you're doing in this game without any problems.  If you didn't play the first one, then trust me, you won't have any problems either.  The controls are tight and responsive, just as a Mario game should be.

The biggest improvement here is in level design.  The first Super Mario Galaxy had some really clever world designs and played around with the gravity mechanics in some neat ways.  SMG2 takes those ideas from the first game and just goes crazy here.  There are a ton more worlds here, and each level within the world feels like a different experience.  One level will have you riding Yoshi, who eats chili peppers so he can run up walls.  Another level will have you skating on ice.  Yet another will switch you to a side scrolling perspective with you flipping upside down and right-side up.  Again, many of these were explored in the first game, but I feel that they really fulfill their potential here.  This was apparently just supposed to be a bunch of add-ons to Super Mario Galaxy, but they kept thinking up enough cool ideas that they decided to turn it into a full blown sequel.  I can see why.  There is so much stuff to do in this game, and I love all of it.

For me, the Super Mario series has long been the standard of excellence in video games.  I love stories, moral choices, and all the other innovations the industry has built over the years.  Yet Mario always manages to come around every few years and blow me away with an experience that just focuses on making the game as fun as possible.  SMG2 is challenging, but not punishingly so.  It requires skill, but that skill is not difficult to develop.  This is pure platforming entertainment distilled down to its finest.  Some people like to rag on Nintendo, claiming that they just mine their properties without changing anything up.  But Super Mario Galaxy 2 shows once again why Nintendo is one of the very best companies at doing what they do.  When they put their best into a game, there are few who can touch them.  
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