The Wii has its "killer app"
To be blunt, Super Mario Galaxy is a great game. Obviously the best the Wii has seen in this year it has been out. This is basically the game that nearly every Wii owner bought their Wii for. This is the game that hardcore gamers have been begging for. Although it is a fantastic game for longtime Nintendo fans, new and non-gamers will love it as well. For example, my six year old sister saw me playing this and asked if she could start a file. Nintendo has nailed it.
The story, as in every other Mario game, is nonexistent. Princess Peach tells Mario to come down to her castle for the annual Star Festival as she has a present for him. Mario shows up, but an old friend shows up as well. Yep, you guessed it. Bowser flies in and kidnaps Peach yet again. Kamek shoots Mario off into the cosmos. Conveniently, Mario wakes up on a "planet" (more of a planetoid-like ball) where he meets Rosalina, who owns a spaceship in which he chases after Bowser and Peach. As you can see, this Mario title has a better story than Sunshine, but not a story worthy of a title so great.
If you've come looking for a great story; you're likely to be disappointed. When you arrive on Rosalina's spaceship, the story is presented to you through a storybook which may make gamers feel as though they're being babied through the game. The art in the storybook is nice looking, however it won't offer anything other than brief eye candy.
The graphics--due mainly to the fact that Nintendo knows their own hardware--are phenomenal. They are easily the best on the entire system. I was only playing in SD, so it would look even better on HD with component cables. Although, there are a few jagged edges, so I suggest sitting at least five feet away from the TV; where they are unnoticeable. The textures are quite good as well. Especially the water, which is some of the best water I've ever seen. The shading is very well done, especially on Mario (you can get a good look at him as you collect a star). I think Nintendo has outdone themselves in the graphics; excelling on the minimal hardware that the Wii has.
The sound is a variety of mixes; from classic Super Mario Bros. tunes (some from Super Mario Bros. 3 that I was ecstatic to hear) to new orchestrated themes. I even found myself humming the fantastic theme from time to time. Don't worry, longtime fans; the sound effects are just as great. From the warp pipe sound effect to Mario's voice, Nintendo knows what to do here. They even threw in a little bit of voice acting (I would've loved to see the entire game in voice acting). On the subject matter of voice actors, the actors are great. I especially liked Rosalina's voice, which sounded like the perfect blend of kindness and sternness. That being said, the music will even make you turn up your Wiimote speakers. Don't worry--the sounds coming from the speaker won't be full of static like other games (Excite Truck...), but clear and blended perfectly with the action.
Now, onto the most important subject of a game: the gameplay. As Super Mario Galaxy excels in many other aspects, it pushes the gameplay beyond anything you've ever imagined a platformer to be. Nintendo has always been known for bringing something innovative and revolutionary into a genre. Take Super Mario 64, for example. It was the first Mario game to be in 3D, and after it came out, many clones came. Now, Nintendo is revolutionizing again. If you thought that you would be getting another dose of Super Mario 64 with upped graphics, then you're wrong. This is a completely new game that is so fantastic that you might reconsider your favorite Mario title. Instead of the generic platformer in which you stay mainly on a platform, this time Mario goes all the way around the object you're on. Also, this time it introduces gravity into the mix. At one time near the beginning of the game, there is a star shaped planetoid. You can jump all around it and it will keep you on it. It's quite fun playing around with the gravity and I spent a long time doing so.
In every Mario game to date, the currency has been coins. Galaxy switches up this formula a bit. All coins do now is restore your health. Star bits are now the currency of the game. You can collect them using the cursor that appears onscreen. Even though it was a nice little activity, I found the star bits to be a bit overabundant. Within a few hours of playing I had nigh 3000 star bits. But what would money be without something to spend it on? From time to time a hungry Luma will appear and it will be up to you to feed it star bits. After feeding it, the Luma will transform into a galaxy for you to explore. I found that this freshened things up, albeit not a lot.
Super Mario Galaxy also has a few 2D side scrolling platforming levels in which gravity is also implemented. In these levels arrows tell you which way the gravity will be going and you have to solve the level accordingly. Although this has been done in a couple of other games (Metal Storm) it is done very differently here. These levels also blend into the 3D levels really well, so you'll barely feel the switch. Also included is a (limited) cooperative mode. A second player can stun enemies (slightly), make Mario jump, and collect star bits. Even though this was limited, it definitely kept my smaller siblings occupated while I played.
Of course, without good controls, this game wouldn't be anything, right? But, no need to worry. The controls are great. In many recent Wii games, you have to do annoying tasks with the Wiimote like "shake it constantly to swim." But, there's nothing like this in Super Mario Galaxy. The only tasks you'll find yourself doing with the Wiimote are collecting star bits and shaking to activate star warps (I have no clue what they're called) or attack. I think that the controls were done quite well and other platformers made on Wii should learn from Galaxy.
Other aspects of this game include replayability and camera control. The replayability of this game is pretty good. After collecting 120 stars you can unlock Luigi as a playable character and then replay the game as "Super Luigi Galaxy." While this is kind of limited, I am motivated to unlock Luigi. The camera control, during a few times, can be frustrating. I know I died a couple times. But, flaws aside, these other aspects are actually better than most other Mario games (Sunshine's camera was very frustrating for me).
Overall, this game is a must buy for any Wii owner. If you're going to buy a Wii; this is the game to buy it for. If you're looking for a fantastic, innovative, and revolutionary title that will completely redefine what "platformer" means to you, then Super Mario Galaxy is for you.