I loved Super Mario Galaxy. I in fact loved it so much that it received e-AAGH.net’s Game of the Year award in 2007. When a sequel was announced – the first time a console Mario title had a follow up since the NES days – I was excited. As time wore on, though, and we heard next to nothing of it’s development, my excitement wore down. The hype brewed back up prior to release, but when other reviewers were throwing 10/10s at it, I was hopeful and skeptical at the same time. Really? A game that was that good back in 2007 got a sequel and it’s even better? How? I was to find out when I got my hands on it that the hype is for real – even if perfect scores aren’t a perfect fit.
The gameplay is much, much faster then in the original. You quickly wind up on a spaceship shaped like our hero’s head and promptly go from galaxy to galaxy on it, nabbing stars and chasing Bowser for Princess Peach. This time, they don’t try to build the story up as something more then it is – an excuse to for some of the greatest platform gaming around.
The best part of the pacing is that each galaxy has less then 3 stars to grab on it, so you go from world to world faster then in any previous Mario title. The net result is that you never have time to grow weary of a particular environment. As a bonus, if you like one allot, odds are there’s a reason to go back. Levels beaten with Luigi (he appears periodically at the start of a level and can then be used for that stage) unlocks developer ghost runs that you can race. You can also wind up going back to galaxies to undertake them again while dealing with a Prankster Comet, which modifies the challenges with timed runs, limited health and more.
As for the galaxies themselves, they actually remind me very heavily of Mario 64, but the gravity effects are show stopping. You wind up in side-scrolling areas running along the back wall of the world, or following a random path right up the side of a wall and back across the ceiling. Floors warp and contort, and you never really feel safe that what you’re standing on is what it looks like. Some platforms flip from one position to another with the use of the spin-move, which is used for platforming and puzzles. The bosses of the different worlds are much more epic is feel and size. As a cherry of the sundae, you also get to ride Yoshi in a good number of the worlds.
The graphics look as good – if not better – then in the original, but the sound seems to be a step back. The music is good, but more synthesized then last time. The biggest change in play is the difficulty. This is allot more challenging the before, so if the first Super Mario Galaxy was too easy for you, you’ll be in heaven.
With all the praise I’ve blessed SMG2 with, how can I not give it perfect scores? Because there are a few things that nag at me. For one, the spin move seemed harder to pull off this time around. Another problem is the sound, which I touched on above. But more importantly, I still feel they can make the game even better. I don’t know how, but I’d love to see Nintendo try, even if it has to wait for their next system. Alphasim out.