Giant Bomb Review

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Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

5
  • Wii

Super Mario Galaxy 2 sees both Nintendo and Mario himself in top form, delivering an adventure that's as consistently exciting and inventive as ever.


 I imagine this is the photo Mario gets taken at Sears.
If you look at the history of the core Mario games, it's actually rare to see as direct a sequel as Super Mario Galaxy 2, particularly over the past decade. While the game's development history--which saw it start its life as Super Mario Galaxy 1.5--might paint it as an also-ran, the finished product is about as polished and propulsive as any Mario adventure before it. A number of appreciable new gameplay concepts have been introduced here, including that infernal dinosaur Yoshi and a whole new wardrobe of clever suits, and the levels are even more ambitious with the crazy ways in which they play with the relative laws of gravity. So it doesn't have quite the same New Mario smell as the original Galaxy, but there are far worse games to draw favorable comparisons to. Maybe it's been just long enough since the first one came out for my memory to fade, but I still found the style of action as fun and fresh as I did two and a half years ago.

If there's any consistency between most Mario games, it's the jumping-off point, and Galaxy 2 stays true to the rich tradition of Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach and Mario giving chase. This time Mister Mustache teams up with a ragtag crew of lumas, those weird little raw-chicken-shaped star people from the first Galaxy, on a planetoid spaceship that looks like a topiary version of Mario's head. Cruising across the universe in this spaceship--or should I say, faceship--Mario follows a mostly linear, Super-Mario-Bros.-3-style map system from one level to the next. Though there are still star bits, coins, and a few other trinkets to collect and cash in for various power-ups and unlockables, your main concern is collecting stars, which is what throttles your progression from one level to the next. In a structure that can be traced all the way back to Super Mario 64, most levels also feature secret stars and secondary stars for you to go back and collect.

Traditionally, a lot of those bonus stars are optional, but the star requirements in Galaxy 2 are pretty high, and other than the deliberately crazy-hard and brutal bonus world you unlock after you finish the game, I didn't fee like I had left very many stars on the table by the time the credits rolled. I don't think Galaxy 2 is actually that much more difficult than the first, it's just that a lot of the harder stuff ends up being part of the critical path. I definitely engaged in my fair share of one-sided yelling matches with my TV playing the game, but it almost always seemed fair, and there was only one occasion I can recall where I felt like it was the game's fault and not my own. It's tough, but it provides you with more than enough tools to get the job done.

 Suit up!
Personally, as a big-time Super Mario Bros. 3 fan, I love seeing Mario in crazy-ass suits, and this game represents the single largest influx of new suits since then. The fire suit, the bee suit, and the spring suit all return, and the game also introduces a cloud suit that lets Mario conjure up a series of floating platforms; a rock suit that lets him turn into a rolling boulder to smash through enemies and obstacles; and a boo suit that turns him into an officious-looking, mustachioed ghost that can float around and pass right through certain obstacles. The powers they imbue you with are unique, and the game consistently explores their impact on the gameplay in interesting ways.

Galaxy 2 also marks the return of Yoshi. Now, I'm historically not so fond of that cutesy, inexplicably boot-wearing dinosaur, but his abilities make him a smart addition here. Yoshi can gobble up enemies, turning specific types--like those nihilistic Bullet Bills--into deadly projectiles. You'll find special swing points that only Yoshi can use, as well as highly reactive fruit that can turn Yoshi into a leaky balloon, a land-rocket, or a walking lantern. For as many new tricks as Galaxy 2 introduces, I never felt overwhelmed by the options, and the game does some smart handholding, providing entirely optional tutorials whenever a significant new gameplay concept is introduced. It's a touch that helps keep the game accessible to those not already familiar with the odd nuances of the original Galaxy. At the same time, the vast array of abilities you have at your disposal helps keep things feeling fresh throughout. This isn't a short game, and it took me a good thirteen hours to make my way to my final encounter with Bowser, but it was never overly reliant on one specific ability, and I always felt like I was seeing something new.

Much of that credit, though, has to go to the level design, which seem much bolder than before, and more willing to take some weird risks with the planetoids and abstract platforming that set the tone in the original Galaxy. The relative virtues of gravity are far more contentious, levels will fold in on themselves in a way that's reminiscent of what you might get if MC Escher did origami, and there are entire levels that hinge on the rhythmic fluctuations of physical law. Yet these heady concepts are executed so deftly that I never found myself confused or uncertain about that behavior. The only real downside is that some of the gravity play might be too intense for certain players, and if games like Portal trigger your sense of vertigo, you may have some problems staying right-side-up here.

 There are plenty of big, crazy boss fights, too.
The Mario name represents one of the most potent payloads of nostalgia in video games, something that Galaxy 2 certainly taps into, but it does so with a fairly surprising amount of restraint, and in ways that ultimately benefit the finished product. In full throwback fashion, the game will fluidly switch between full 3D movement and pseudo-side-scrolling action as the levels demand it. There are Boo houses, there is a giant world, and there are full-level homages to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, the latter of which is (arguably) better than anything that was actually in Super Mario Sunshine. 

Of course there's the music, which trades both in remixed classics and some jaunty new tunes. And unlike the first Galaxy, you don't have to collect every last star in order to play as Luigi, who will pop up in random levels and offer to take over for Mario for a little bit. I didn't feel like he changed the action much, but it's fun to see the lesser Mario brother getting some play. If there's one Mario trope that gets revisited here that I could've done without, it's the repeating Bowser encounters, simply because they end up diminishing the game's final encounter. After some of the challenges I had to fight through to get to that point, it felt just a little underwhelming.

For all the meaningful changes and additions that have been made, this is still more Super Mario Galaxy--which is to say that it looks and sounds about as good as a game for the Wii ever has, with consistently inventive level design, and exceptionally responsive gameplay. We all like to give Nintendo a hard time for pandering to casual and nostalgic audiences, but when it brings its A-game, it's still able to deliver a fun, accessible game experience that's second to none.
163 Comments
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Posted by Tebbit

Oh Mario hype, the best, and for me only kind of hype. 
 
Also @Ryan: the boo suit was in Galaxy 1 as well. Although it didn't really get a huge amount of play-time.

Posted by RLLink

Can't wait for this. Getting it day 1, which is also my birthday. May 23rd ftw. Getting pumped up right now.

Posted by big_jon

yay!
Posted by OldManLollipop

I want it I want it. Oh how I want it.

Posted by Kombat

I'll probably have to pick this one up over the summer.  My Wii isn't exactly here at college with me, and I already blew more money than I should have buying both Red Dead Redemption and Alan Wake.  Both are great.  I have no regrets.

Posted by Shibbles

Am I the only one that remembers back when the first one was released and Gamespot did the stream of Jeff and Ryan playing the game for three hours or so?

Posted by Butters_RAWR

gonna have to wait until june 11th in jolly old england. But should give me enough time to complete super mario galaxy 1 =D

Posted by Claude
@OldManLollipop said:
" I want it I want it. Oh how I want it. "
Well shit, you made me have to clean myself. Dammit, have fun. When you can.
Posted by KingGamer
Awesome review Ryan! Was Hoping for a 5 :D
 
@Oni said:
" I never played SMG 1, having bought a Wii a few months ago. Should I skip that and go straight into this? "
Well seeing how the game treats it as if you never played the first game despite being a direct sequel, yes you can just skip straight to this.
Posted by SkylinePigeon

My sister and I had a blast with the first one; I can't wait to play this one with her, too! :D

Posted by mutha3
@KingGamer said:

@Oni said:
" I never played SMG 1, having bought a Wii a few months ago. Should I skip that and go straight into this? "
Well seeing how the game treats it as if you never played the first game despite being a direct sequel, yes you can just skip straight to this. "
So what? just because the sequel has tutorials too , does not mean he should skip out on one of the most amazing platformers ever made.
 
I mean, these games are 15 hours long at best. This isn't a Persona type of situation where you pretty much have to chose P3 or P4 and stick with it. Buy the original too! I consider that to be the best platformer ever made
 
Maybe this will surpass it
Posted by Egge

Finally a title which you can say "A good game for the Wii" about without being mean to the platform. In fact, I might get this despite not having the console in question...

Posted by Ockman

I was really hoping there would be a Quick Look to go along with the review. I hate reading reviews, lol

Posted by KingX

 This will be THE nr 1 game this summer at least for me! Been waiting for this since the last one! 
Great Review aswell! 

Posted by Jordan23

Super Mario Galaxy 2 has "Game of the Year" written all over it. Hopefully, the GiantBomb team will create a video review for SMG2.

Posted by Willy105
@Egge said:
" Finally a title which you can say "A good game for the Wii" about without being mean to the platform. In fact, I might get this despite not having the console in question... "
That's just silly. How will you play it?
Posted by phobic

Looks like I'm buying another Wii pretty soon.

Posted by danimal_furry
@Shibbles:
I remember that. And Alex went the most bananas about how awesome the game was in his review, than he had ever gone over any game.
Posted by danimal_furry

I am with you, Ryan. I hate Yoshi. I mean, Yoshi has to be the dumbest animal alive. What kind of creature, when no one is riding it, just takes off in a straight line until it finds a cliff and jumps off? And he can only be hurt by bad guys when he has a rider? Wouldn't a dinosaur that can eat bad guys just run around eatting them all the time? I mean if you are a suicidal dino, why not take out a few other creatures on your way to that cliff edge.

Posted by fjor
@hy4000uk said:
" Instead of complaining how you haven't played your wii in "over a year"  why dont you stupid cunts buy some games from it?  it's gotten a steady stream of titles like shattered memories, sin and punishment 2, no more heroes 2, tatsunoko vs capcom and new super mario brothers.   you dumb mother fuckers are on a videogame website. try doing a bit of research "
word!!!
Posted by RLLink
@danimal_furry said:
" I am with you, Ryan. I hate Yoshi. I mean, Yoshi has to be the dumbest animal alive. What kind of creature, when no one is riding it, just takes off in a straight line until it finds a cliff and jumps off? And he can only be hurt by bad guys when he has a rider? Wouldn't a dinosaur that can eat bad guys just run around eatting them all the time? I mean if you are a suicidal dino, why not take out a few other creatures on your way to that cliff edge. "
Yoshi Story says hi. So does Yoshi's Island(including the DS game). And Touch n' Go.
Posted by danimal_furry
@RLLink:
Thanks. :) I was just commenting for the sake of comedy. Although, Yoshi is just kind of an evolved Kirby. 
Also, Happy Birthday!
Posted by Atlas
I continue to be very impressed by Ryan's reviews. He's such a strong writer, succint and yet so informative. I think him and Brad are among the top writers in the industry.
 
This might be the Wii system seller I've been waiting for. Galaxy looked cool, but this sounds even better.
Posted by DaBigDawg

Looks good, but probably no serious GOTY candidate.  I mean, if it's more of the same thing, there's no chance.  Sure it's well polished and the production values are good, but at the moment I still have my money on RDR.

Posted by lockwoodx

I'm glad Jeff didn't review this or the bias would have stunk to high heaven.

Posted by RobotHamster

Damn, I really shouldn't spend $200 on a wii, even though its black, comes with a motion plus, resort, Mario's on it, the new Zelda's coming out, FUUUUCK someone talk me out of it!

Posted by Supermarius
@RobotHamster:  get the cheaper white wii bundle.
Posted by RobotHamster
@Supermarius said:
" @RobotHamster:  get the cheaper white wii bundle. "
Yea but its black!!!
Posted by RE_Player1
@DaBigDawg: Wow were already talking about goty...
Posted by SleepyDoughnut

Jonesin for a quicklook now

Posted by StriderNo9

Nintendo needs to update how they handle bosses. It's a bit sad now eh?

Posted by Crushed
@DaBigDawg said:
" Looks good, but probably no serious GOTY candidate.  I mean, if it's more of the same thing, there's no chance.  Sure it's well polished and the production values are good, but at the moment I still have my money on RDR. "
It's no "more of the same thing" than any other sequel.
Edited by Majkiboy

For someone who though the first one was immensely booring, will this be .. not as boring?
FYI I love Mario (and Yoshi).. although i felt kinda borded with Super Mario Sunshine as Well, Maybe it is because I have so high hopes for new Mario games =/

Posted by EndlessMike
 or should I say, faceship
 
BOOOOMMMM
 
Stopped reading there. Glad this games good though.
Posted by Shirogane
@danimal_furry said:
"@RLLink: Thanks. :) I was just commenting for the sake of comedy. Although, Yoshi is just kind of an evolved Kirby. Also, Happy Birthday! "

I now hate you, along with Ryan. It was ok to hate on everything else, but hating on Yoshi? You've gone TOO FAR!!
Posted by Rhaknar
@Crushed said:
" @DaBigDawg said:
" Looks good, but probably no serious GOTY candidate.  I mean, if it's more of the same thing, there's no chance.  Sure it's well polished and the production values are good, but at the moment I still have my money on RDR. "
It's no "more of the same thing" than any other sequel. "
err it's probably the biggest candidate for GOTY at the moment, judging my the universal acclaim it got >_> Might not be YOUR goty, but it might just be most sites and publication's.
Posted by xync4

craaap gotta finish the first one!

Posted by Willy105
@StriderNo9 said:
" Nintendo needs to update how they handle bosses. It's a bit sad now eh? "
Why? They still make them more exciting, exhilarating and epic than most of the bosses on other games.
Posted by l3roken

This game makes me want a Wii, if only I had some extra cash...and the summer release calender wasn't packed already.

Online
Posted by teh_pwnzorer

This is the gayest looking Mario game, yet.

Posted by RE_Player1
@teh_pwnzorer said:
" This is the gayest looking Mario game, yet. "
Does Mario get with a man in this game? I don't understand how is this gay exactly? 
Posted by SofaKing

The game's so much fun. I decided to put off playing Red Dead in favour of it. It basically blows the lid off the fun-factor-omter like only a Mario game can. It's highly addictive.

Posted by teh_pwnzorer
@RE_Player92 said:
" @teh_pwnzorer said:
" This is the gayest looking Mario game, yet. "
Does Mario get with a man in this game? I don't understand how is this gay exactly?  "
It's very cheerful.
Posted by jledesma

My GF just gave it to me as a birthday present.  I guess it's also a present for her as the original MG is one of her favorite Wii games.
Posted by ToadRunner

theres a typo, ryan writes that he didnt "fee" instead of "feel"

Posted by RedFive
This game is the reason to turn on my Wii in 2010. Thanks for the review, Ryan.
Posted by Carlos1408

Awesome review Ryan. Still considering whether to pick this one up. I think at the moment I'm holding my money for Red Dead Redemption. However, if I can spare the money... DUN DUN DUN!!!!

Posted by TAYREL713

 OMG Amazon can't deliver this soon enough

Posted by immike

OMG FACESHIP!

Posted by TheHT

Gosh, Mario games just make me feel so happy. Well the REAL Mario games, none of that Hotel Mario-esque stuff.

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