What is this? A review and a discussion? I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about my thoughts Nintendo’s latest masterpiece, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t think of much to say about the game itself. Instead, thoughts of what the next 3D Mario game could be swirled in my head. So I decided to jot down both within this single post.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a rare occurrence within the main line Mario games. It’s a true sequel; an extension of ideas established in 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy and then some. Upon closer inspection, this sequel improved on several key areas including variety and minimizing frustrations involving motion controls. In fact, the only finicky motion related activity involved the giant bird gliding stages and those were uncommon. No more water bosses and no more water races on-top of giant manta rays. I wouldn’t have minded those motion controlled moments if they were utilizing the precision of the Motion Plus accessory, but that wasn’t the case.
With less reliance on motion controls, power ups became the source of inspiration. Power ups like the cloud suit and the drill offered a slew of inventive boss fights and levels. Pairing power ups like the drill with spherical worlds and gravity meant platforming was a bit more involved than any other platformer around — 3D or otherwise. They even brought back my favorite “power-up”: Yoshi.
Yoshi? A power-up? He certainly was a power-up or at least that’s how they treated him.
The return of Yoshi brought back memories of Super Mario World and the dinosaur’s integration to that Mario game. Back then, I could bring him anywhere I wanted — except for castles, fortresses and haunted houses. And unlike within Super Mario Galaxy 2, Yoshi had unique traits such as walking on certain enemies that would otherwise hurt the plumbers. Yoshi also acted like a buffer between enemies since getting hit meant the plumbers were simply dismounted. In Super Mario Galaxy 2, the plumbers would be dismounted and lose a bit of life. This behavior closely mimicked the behavior of the off the other power-ups.
While examining the minutia of the how Yoshi functioned in this game, I realized that Super Mario Galaxy 2 was following the guided experience like many other games do nowadays. Just like when shooters place a sniper rifle to pick off enemies or rocket launcher to take out tanks, Super Mario Galaxy 2 placed its power ups just for the situation in front me. This isn’t new for the sequel, but thanks to Yoshi, I was left wondering about the possibilities of a 3D Super Mario World where I could bring Yoshi and power-ups anywhere I wished.
Would it be a better game? It would certainly be more open ended, but I don’t think we’d see the refined journey that is Super Mario Galaxy 2. In fact, I think the challenge would be lost if I were able to abuse the powers of the fire flower across a number of levels. And if were able to bring Yoshi along? His abilities may have broken some of the levels. And I don’t think they could have pulled off that fight with Bowser Jr. in thattowering tank of his without planting cloud suits in key locations.
But enough talk about what Super Mario Galaxy 2 could have been. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is what it is and that’s an excellent platformer. They’ve cut (what little) fat Super Mario Galaxy had and focused on its strengths. I don’t think anyone who enjoys games will be disappointed by it. It’s challenging, it’s inventive and — most importantly — genuinely fun. Who knows maybe it’ll spark something in your mind and send you off on some nostalgic tangent.
For more information on Super Mario Galaxy 2, visit the official site.