Super Mario Galaxy: best Wii game yet

Super Mario Galaxy KamekI think it’s fair to say that Super Mario Galaxy is, without a doubt, the best game on the Wii. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’d be willing to say the initial impression shows all signs of the game being much better than its predecessor, Super Mario Sunshine (a game I did like a lot, incidentally).

Quite simply, this is an explosion of nostalgia and awe. From the very beginning, you’ve got memorable locations and characters filling every inch of the screen. You start around Princess Peach’s castle, which is the same one we fondly remember from Super Mario 64, surrounding lake and all. Then the flying battle ships from Super Mario Bros 3 come in, with their classic music to boot (albeit worked into a fantastic new orchestral composition).

As if that wasn’t enough, Kamek of all people — the main adversary in Yoshi’s Island and guardian of Baby Bowser — appears out of nowhere and messes you up. There’re also areas where you’re confined to 2D movement, and it plays a little more like New Super Mario Bros. Heck, even the end-of-area Bowser levels from Super Mario 64 where you scale the floating level to a fight with Bowser at the top are back.

Super Mario GalaxyAll these fantastic memories are continuously fed to you. A lot of the magic is in the music, which is a beautiful soundtrack that works in endless cues and melodies from Mario games of yore. You’ll smile when you see a large egg creeping around with a mysterious green tentacle coming out the back of it, and then realise the underground music from Super Mario Bros is subtlety worked into the backing with a vibraphone.

Super Mario Galaxy definitely doesn’t just rest on its laurels though, and introduces no end of incredibly innovative platforming mechanics which truly go beyond anything we’ve ever seen in a 3D platformer before. The gravity unsurprisingly plays the biggest role in this, with you having to think in increasingly abstract ways to get things done. And yet, despite the complexity of the experience you never feel like it’s unintuitive; weirdly, you almost forget you’re looking at the game upside down or from above a lot of the time (although flat Mario 64-esque levels do exist). This is truly a masterpiece of game design.

The only negative comment I have after getting a few stars into the first world is that I haven’t played it enough to find anything negative! This is quite possibly the best first impression I’ve ever had from a game, with the whole introduction sequence that mixes relatively awesome cutscenes (for a Mario game) with gameplay setting the tone beautifully.

Super Mario Galaxy CaterpillarsAnd speaking of beautiful, damn this game is beautiful. Even though there is disappointingly no anti-aliasing, even on a 32-inch high-definition television it looks fantastic at 480p. It’s perfectly smooth, and the sheer quality of the lighting and artistic direction entirely overrules any technical drawbacks; the camerawork and animation in the introductory cutscene is also simply amazing. I can’t see many people playing Super Mario Galaxy and being disappointed with how it looks, and I personally do really like my graphics and fully appreciate the criticism of many Wii games’ lack of graphical prowess.

One thing’s for sure: this game is going to entertain me for some time to come, and it definitely sits closer in feel, gameplay, and execution to Super Mario 64 than Super Mario Sunshine. Buy it now! If I can’t convince you, the excitedly-narrated Japanese TV commercial clearly will.

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