I’m a big-time Mario fan. I’ve played every Mario platformer I know of and can talk Mario with anybody. With that in mind, I was excited to play Super Mario Galaxy. I was mildly worried about being stuck on little orbs the whole game, and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle the Wii controls, but now that I’ve put my time in with it, I can say that this is one of the best games I have ever played.

The controls for SMG are as simple as they are genius. You have Mario’s typical 3D platformer moves like wall jumps, triple jumps and instant backflips, as well as an  improved version of the spin move from Mario Sunshine. Done by spinning the Wii Remote, this allows you to pick up objects, throw them, hit things, deflect projectiles and activate switches. It’s easy to do and feels great.

The actual platforming is easy in concept, but – in typical Mario fashion – tough to master. Some of the areas are tricky as hell while others are almost too easy, but with the comfortable controls, you’ll get the hang of it all in no time.

There are 2D platforming sequences, planet-hopping areas and levels set on single planets big enough to pass as a whole Mario 64 level. There are also a couple of wildcard levels, like racing a manta ray and rolling atop a large ball. In all, it keeps the gameplay fresh throughout.

The graphics aren’t spectacular, but they’re so far the best that the Wii has produced. The sounds. while lacking in voice acting, has some of the best music ever in a Mario game. I still maintain that Mario RPG on the SNES has the best Mario soundtrack, but this comes pretty close. It’s a great mix of old and new, and feels familiar and unique at the same time.

There’s a minimal multiplayer aspect in the co-star mode. A second player can take up a Wii remote and help Mario by freezing enemies, shooting things with star bits and helping Mario jump. That last part was a stupid design decision. Beta and I played together, and while she saved me a few times by shooting mines out of my way and freezing enemies for me, she also liked to make me jump when I didn’t want to.

In conclusion, Super Mario Galaxy is everything you could want in a Mario game. The story isn’t deep, the characters aren’t complex, and the game world is still unnaturally vividly colored, but Mario and the gang have never looked – or played – better. If you like platformers, you’ll love this game. This is the game to buy a Wii for, if you don’t have one already. Alphasim out