Pure, flawless fun
The first game console I ever owned was the Super Nintendo. It was a gift I received for Christmas, one that filled me with excitement reminiscent of the meme-tastic N64 kid. The pack in game, Super Mario World, was my first encounter with Mario and one of the earliest experiences that ignited my love of gaming. When my nine-year-old sister asked for a Wii this past Christmas, it took me back to my childhood. My parents secured the console, but I knew what gift I had to bring: Super Mario Galaxy. I hoped her experiences with the game would parallel my own at her age, but I was concerned. Super Mario Sunshine is probably the weakest in the series, and my expectations for Galaxy were low. Fortunately, there was no need for low expectations. As we quickly discovered that Christmas, Super Mario Galaxy is one of the greatest games Nintendo has made in years, easily the best game on the Wii, and Mario's best outing in more than a decade.
The pure fun found in playing Mario's first hits was the substance that gave the Italian plumber his legendary status. Fun game play is the essence of any platformer; this elusive quality will make or break a game. I'm pleased to say that Galaxy is one of the most fun games I've played in years. The controls and camera work in perfect concert, making Mario's maneuvers easy and satisfying to pull off. The colorful levels are well-built and fun to explore without seeming intimidating. While some of the more advanced stars can be tricky, overall the game is not very hard. Each time you fail a jump or level, the game always leaves you with the sense that you can accomplish your goal if you give it just one more try. It tantalizes you into continued play, and the short five to ten minutes it takes to get most stars can keep you glued to your couch for hours. Galaxy was the first Mario game where I actually wanted to get all 120 stars, and I can't imagine better praise than that.
One aspect that surprisingly increases the amount of fun you'll have with this game is the co-op mode. Though incredibly simple in execution, it's much more fun than it seems. The second player uses the Wii remote as a pointer. They have the ability to collect star bits, stun enemies, hold back missiles and boulders, and can help Mario do a special high jump. There are times when a second player is a great help, such as during Bullet Bill segments when the player controlling Mario must give chase to the heat-seeking Bullet Bills in order to blow up a specific target. This mode is simple enough for young children and non-gamers to grasp, but fun enough for older, more experienced players to enjoy. My sister and I had a great time going through the game together in this mode, and it was a perfect way to enhance the Mario franchise on the Wii.
Though the aspects of the game's presentation such as sound and graphics are arguably less important than the way the game plays, one needs not to be concerned about them. The game looks beautiful, and the Mario team worked very hard to use the Wii's graphics processor in the best way possible. The colors are the vibrant hues one would expect from a Mario game, and there are no graphical glitches. The game's fully-orchestrated soundtrack matches the game well and is wonderful accompaniment to the game.
There are a few problems with the game, but they are so minor that they do not affect my overall perception of the game. One of the later power-ups in the game, the flying suit, is drastically underutilized and quite pointless. The story doesn't make much sense, but it's a Mario game and doesn't really matter. These are small quibbles in a game that exudes so much excellence, and they should not hinder anyone from experience the game.
Few video game characters have brought as many smiles to players as Mario. While Super Mario Sunshine may have dampened those smiles a bit with it's frustrating camera angles and high difficulty, Galaxy is non-stop joy from start to finish. It's a fabulous game that old gamers will love, and the perfect way for the influx of new gamers on the Wii to forge memories with Mario.