even though i’d finished new super mario bros. earlier this year, i decided to go ahead and finish playing through the only mario game in the main series i hadn’t yet finished (not counting remakes), super mario galaxy.
like my experience with mario 64 it took me a really long time to get into galaxy. i definitely enjoyed the gravity mechanics in the game, but the gameplay quickly started feeling repetitive as many of the levels just involved jumping from planetoid to planetoid with very little skill involved. somehow it just didn’t seem like enough was different compared to mario 64 or mario sunshine, although this is probably more due to me being a complete mario veteran than any huge lack of originality. but eventually i was won over, helped out in no small part by the increased difficulty of the later stages and the new suits. the bee and boo suits were cute but not so interesting gameplay-wise, but the ice flower and the spring suit were quite fun to play around with, and it was fun to see the first appearance of the fire flower in a 3D mario game. the powerups in general were a bit underutilized, but i did like the way the game is set up so that you can beat the game with 60 of the 120 stars. i also appreciated that the number of “collect 100 coins” tasks was minimized. i ended up finishing all the main levels including the trial galaxies (which i didn’t find all that difficult), but after my 102nd star i just couldn’t be bothered finishing the remainder of the “comet” stars (of which there are 30 total).
in terms of making a 3D platformer accessible to the masses, i do feel like nintendo (and miyamoto) completely succeeded. the controls feel great, and the fact that in most cases you can’t fall off an edge does indeed make the game feel like a revolution. this, coupled with the ability to save yourself from minor miscalculations via spin jumping back onto a platform (similar to sunshine‘s ability to recover by using the F.L.U.D.D. water pack), makes this one of the least frustrating 3D platformers ever and sets a new standard; it’ll be interesting to see how nintendo (and other companies) react to and possibly improve upon these new mechanics. there are also some minor and very welcome tweaks to make the 3D gameplay less frustrating, such as having headlights (i.e. laser sights) when throwing a shell underwater. in general the wii-specific controls seem more gimmicky and mini-game-like than not to me, but that’s probably a matter of taste and they didn’t detract from the overall experience. one thing that some reviews criticized was the inclusion of rosalina’s storybook, but i really enjoyed the change of pace and tone that the storybook (which is entirely optional) provided, and it certainly added a bit of depth to the otherwise bright and bubbly mario fare.
in the end the game did feel more original than new super mario bros., and in a lot of ways i agree with the people who have made the comparison that it is to mario 64 what mario 3 was to the original super mario bros.. the comparison isn’t completely valid as mario 3 was such a huge leap in terms of innovation for the series, but although it took a while galaxy has certainly won a place in my affections. being the last main mario game i had left to play i feel like i should post my ranking of all the games in the series, but i think i’m going to hold off until i completely replay the original NES mario trilogy just to see if that changes my mind since i haven’t played them in so long. i don’t think it will, though, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
a galaxy of galactic links!
– iwata asks: huge interview series on galaxy with the creators, including miyamoto.
– guide at IGN
– review at IGN
– good FAQ including difficulty ratings and the # of stars required to unlock each galaxy
– ending with 120 stars at youtube
– IGN’s history of super mario bros.