Nintendo always makes us wait so long for that next true Mario game, and Galaxy has
been no exception. It's been a little over five years since the launch of Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube, released
in August of 2002. Gamers and critics alike did a double-take when they saw the kind of "next-generation" Mario that
Miyamoto had come up with to support the fledgling GameCube console. Set in a head-scratching tropical vacation island
with strange, humanoid creatures that had palm trees sticking out of their heads. Sunshine brought a lot of great game
and level design to the dying platforming genre, but also showed that Mario games weren't always ground-breaking. Solid,
for sure, but Sunshine was certainly no Mario 64, and, I am happy to say, certainly no Mario Galaxy.
There are so many things to consider when scoring a game, especially one as highly-anticipated
as Super Mario Galaxy. How good are the graphics? What about the controls? Is the music up to par?
How about length and replay value? Well, surprisingly, this is the easiest game I've ever reviewed. It didn't
take long to settle on a final score. There were no second-thoughts or last-minute altercations, this is a game that
is completely deserving of one of the highest scores I can give it, and I have no qualms about that. Don't listen to
other talking heads on the major game sites who docked Mario Galaxy several points for this and that. Play this
game, and you'll understand what gaming is all about. It doesn't matter that the game isn't always at 60 frames, or
that the camera isn't always directly where you'd like it; those things don't matter when a game is this exceptional, beyond
Mario cleaned up nice for his first, genuine Wii debut. Ultra crap-bags like Super
Paper Mario and Mario Party 8 don't count as anything but blemishes, not that they were intended for Wii anyway. The
level of detail and shean on every surface of Galaxy is absolutely incredible, from the first time you step foot in Toad Town
during the Star Festival, to defeating Bowser for the third climactic encounter at the Center of the Universe.
Gameplay, as it has since Super Mario 64, revolves around gathering up to 120 stars
to have enough power to ultimately face Bowser and defeat him to obtain peace and rescue Peach. Though, for the casual
crowd, Nintendo loosened up a little and lowered the minimum number of stars to face the final boss to 60, down from 80 in
Sunshine, and 74 from N64.
Some of the levels feel too similiar to others, but for the most part, especially with
powerups like Ice, Boo, Bee, and Fire Mario, most "galaxies" as their referred to so unscientifically, have their own distinct
feel and level design.
The sound, as has been one of Nintendo's many strong suits for its heavy-hitter franchises,
is once again top-notch. For Galaxy, Nintendo's in-house celebrity composer Koji Kondo went all out and composed most
of the game's soundtrack entirely from a full orchestra, giving Mario flying through space that extra sense of wonder.
Flying through space and hitting tons of star bits and planets on the way is the perfect
fit for Mario's next-gen debut, but one has to wonder where Mario could possibly go from here. The motion control is
never forced, though every so often shaking the controller yields no spinning, which is bad when Mario needs to defeat surrounding
enemies. Pointing at the screen and collecting star bits is both easy and intuitive, and it makes Mario feel new again.
Nintendo seemed to go the extra mile to make sure the surroundings were familiar enough
to satisfy long-time fans, while at the same time reinventing not only Mario games, but the entire platforming genre.
Super Mario Galaxy takes 2007 honors for Game of the Year, hands down. This is
one of those games that makes you forget about other games you've recently played, because it's truly that excellent.
No game since Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time have managed to fill players with such a sense of wonder and joy as
Galaxy has, and it's hard to imagine another game achieving this same level of near-perfection for a long time to
Will Galaxy gain legendary status in the annals of history like Mario 64 and Ocarina
of Time have? Only time will tell, but as it stands right now, it's hard to imagine it as anything but.
I'm not really a believer in perfect games, but this is certainly as close as any game
has come in a long time, since the Nintendo 64 era at least.