With the release of Nintendo’s new Wii console, the advent of a spectacular Mario game was almost a guarantee. Nostalgia-filled fans, watching for the advent of a “Super Mario 64: 2” were not disappointed when Nintendo announced the release of Super Mario Galaxy (“Whoo-hoo!”).
With all new levels, characters, and the addition of the Wii controls, Super Mario Galaxy promised to be an instant hit… or so the advertisements said. Now that the game is out, so is the truth! Can Super Mario Galaxy even hope to stand on a platform next to its best-selling predecessor, Super Mario 64?
Every century, a rare event takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom. The Star Festival is a time when a special comet flies through the skies, filling them with a radiant glow and scattering tasty Star Bits down on the gaping spectators.
When Peach invites him to the castle to enjoy the celebration with her, Mario expects little to happen. However, Bowser has other plans. Bursting onto the scene with his trademark apathy, he wastes no time in trapping the Toads in large crystals, uprooting the entire castle, and kidnapping Peach. When all seems hopeless, a mysterious being named Rosalina makes her appearance, claiming that she can help reunite Mario with his “special one.” While her identity remains a mystery to Mario, he knows that he has no choice but to ally himself with this woman or risk losing Peach forever.
In other words, it’s the age-old story of Peach getting kidnapped… again. But, as the famous saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Perhaps the greatest positive element in all Mario games is the fact that there is almost no offensive content. Mario is 100% family-friendly, and Super Mario Galaxy is no exception. It’s a game you could let a child of any age play and have no qualms about it.
Mario is a selfless, determined hero who goes to great lengths to save Peach. Throughout the game’s many missions, Mario will help several characters in need.
*SPOILER WARNING* Despite her loneliness and sorrow at leaving her home behind, Rosalina chooses to dedicate herself to her Luma “children” in spite of her personal suffering. She is a very selfless character. *END OF SPOILERS*
As is trademark of Mario, one of the levels is a haunted-house stereotype. The level plays scarier-themed music, as Boos (ghosts) float around with bats, spiders, and other “scary” enemies. Boos can only be defeated with light. Mario has the ability to turn into a Boo on this level, giving him powers to become invisible and float. A boss on this same level is a ghastly monster made of stone with two glowing, yellow eyes. At worst, this guy might scare younger gamers.
One boss you will encounter is a duck… wizard… thing… or something like that. Anyway, it wears a wizard-styled hat and has a magic wand which it uses to cast spells at Mario.
An inquisitive Toad wonders if Rosalina is a witch. This, of course, is not true.
Cutscene Violence. Violence of all types is very tame and family-friendly. Several explosions go off in the opening cutscene. Bosses generally have dramatic, cutscene-styled deaths, but quickly explode in a colorful “poof” shortly afterward. Bowser is knocked into a river of lava, but is later shown to be unharmed afterwards.
Gameplay Violence. Mario violence is about as tame as a Nintendo franchise gets. Mario has two main ways of defeating enemies: jumping on them and flattening them into the ground, or spinning them off the screen with a spin-attack/kick combo. It’s all very tastefully done and nothing worse than a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Violence in boss battles tends to be a bit more severe than this, but still shouldn’t be a call for concern. When a boss is struck, the hit looks solid and hard, knocking it back or making a large starburst. Bosses generally scream or roar when struck.
There is no language in Super Mario Galaxy.
Typically, Mario is in love with Peach, but what else is new? The entire game’s plot revolves around him trying to rescue his “special one.” If anything, this is a positive element!
Nothing of concern.
Other Negative Content
Some creatures may scare younger gamers. For example, the haunted house level has a ghastly boss (mentioned above). Other bosses include a giant skeleton fish and large angler-looking fish with sharp teeth.
Rosalina’s story is quite sad. Some younger gamers (and yes, some older ones, too) may even be moved to tears by it. This isn’t a negative element at all; I’m just putting it here as a warning to grab the tissue box!
Super Mario Galaxy is a true gem because it flaunts Nintendo’s new virtual control system without overusing it. For example, spinning the Wiimote triggers Mario to do a spin attack–a move necessary for defeating enemies, working levers, and shooting him out across the galaxy. In some special cases, Mario will find himself on the back of a manta-ray in a surfing competition, or on top of a ball, balancing and moving it around. In these cases, all-new controls come into play in which the Wiimote is held and tilted in a special way. Pointing at the screen will allow the player to easily collect Star Bits, special food to feed the Lumas.
Super Mario Galaxy also contains a special, off-screen, drop-in/drop-out two player mode. A second player can use an additional Wiimote to collect Star Bits, shoot them at enemies, and stop on-coming attacks, thus helping the player controlling Mario. This may sound like a boring two-player mode, but it’s actually quite fun and very helpful to the first player.
Super Mario Galaxy loyally follows its famous ancestor Super Mario 64 in the fact that it contains many levels of a great diversity. In fact, it noticeably borrows a lot of ideas from its predecessor. There’s the desert level with the stacked-up cactus enemies, the haunted house with the Boos, the lava and ice levels (etc.). Likewise, many of the enemies will bring on the nostalgia–Goombas, Koopas, Piranha plants… They’re all there!
Each level has several different missions involved, and some special levels only have one mission. After progression is made through the game, the player will learn about the different comets that orbit the planets on which a level exists. When a comet is in orbit with a certain planet, the player can partake in a special, additional mission to gain a star. These missions involve everything from “race against the clock” to “race yourself to the goal” to “beat the boss with only one hit-point.” They’re a fun challenge that players will quickly jump on at any opportunity.
Mario also gets a few new transformations. Bee Mario turns the plumber into a flying, honey-clinging insect. Boo Mario makes a ghost out of him. Other transformations like Fire Mario and Ice Mario give him special powers to combat the elements and gain the advantage in a level.
The missions just never get old. Nintendo has come up with so many different quests that I can’t believe they haven’t run out of ideas yet! Mario will be thrown into all sorts of unique situations, which usually take advantage of the anti-gravity arena of space. With this advantage, Mario can walk beneath objects without worrying about falling to his death, like in Super Mario 64. Certain areas challenge the player to overcome puzzles as they float along a platform passing through gravity-switching zones.
The nostalgia flows freely during a couple of levels in which Mario is put into a side-scrolling area and made to walk past the obstacles. Remember the original Mario Brothers, anyone?
Controls are flawless and the Wiimote is used often, but not too often, making Super Mario Galaxy a real treasure in its gameplay department. The camera angle is perfect… about 98% of the time. The other 2% put the player in an awkward, almost crippled situation. One level, for example, challenges Mario to fly around, collecting stars in order to get a special Red Star. The level has a terrible camera angle. I couldn’t see where I was going and was actually getting dizzy due to the way the camera was flipping.
Mario will unlock several different galaxies, filled with roughly five new levels each. After collecting a certain number of stars, he is allowed to progress to the boss level, new galaxies, and more levels.
The story mode can be completed with only a fraction of the stars in the game. However, Rosalina will encourage Mario to collect all of the stars in order to unlock a new galaxy. You unlock more than by the end, but… I won’t spoil it for you guys!
The one drawback of Super Mario Galaxy was that it seemed a bit too easy. Compared to a game like Super Mario 64, in which the player racked his brains looking for the “easy” levels to collect stars from, Super Mario Galaxy really doesn’t have any “hard” levels. Some of them border on “hard,” but never cross the line to “difficult.” Perhaps this was done to encourage younger gamers. At any rate, the game can be beaten fairly quickly due to this. A determined player who wants to collect all the unlockables, however, will be playing much longer.
A special area called the Library allows players to hear the story of Rosalina’s past. Those interested in the plot will enjoy this addition. Those who just want to keep gaming will want to skip it. However, Nintendo does provide the option–a smart move on their part.
The graphics are breath-taking. There’s really no other way to say it. Nintendo has done an amazing job with Super Mario Galaxy. The opening scene, where Mario walks around the Mushroom Castle, is practically created to awe the player into submission. The atmosphere is incredible!
Following the tradition of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy is full of levels of great diversity, giving Nintendo a chance to show off their potential for graphic design. The desert looks hot, the outer space looks endless and gorgeous, the ocean looks just like real water, and the haunted house looks… well, haunted. Really, though, I was so impressed with how realistic the water was that it made me thirsty.
Cutscenes are few and far-between. However, when they do show up, they’re beautifully done. The opening movie is full of well-crafted models, backgrounds, and effects.
The music can’t be described; it’s just that good. Fully orchestrated tracks are blended in with those that are not. In either case, the music is awesome. This is one video game soundtrack worth paying money for.
Music typical of the Mario series fills the game. It’s uplifting, moving, exciting, and relaxing. In fact, the music of the Space Observatory made me so happy it almost put me to sleep.
Oldies fans will recognize classic tunes subtly sneaked into different levels. These tunes come from a wide-range of Mario games, from the original, to the Mario Party games. Kudos on the music, Nintendo! You did an amazing job.
I never came across any glitches in Super Mario Galaxy.
From a Christian point-of-view, Super Mario Galaxy is a wise entertainment choice. Its clean, kid-friendly atmosphere makes it a perfect family game. Mario has again done us proud!
While it may not be as long or as difficult as Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy is proof that Nintendo hasn’t lost their touch. Years will come and go, consoles will rise up and die out, but this little gem will always be remembered for its beautiful graphics, fun gameplay, and family-friendliness.
Now that’s something to say “Momma Mia” about!
The Bottom Line