Super Mario Galaxy 2

The great thing about Mario Galaxy 2 isn't that Nintendo throws a lot of different gameplay ideas onto the table -- the beauty is that they all work. In a single hour of play time I've seen four different ideas crafted and delivered in such a way that an indie developer could spin a whole game off any one of them and rake in IGF awards doing it. Not only are they creative, but they're fiendish without being soul crushing in the same way the original 16 bit Mario games were.

What has to be infuriating for other developers is the seeming ease at which they do it. Just as I'm getting used to a side scrolling planet with alternating gravity depending on where you jump; I'm flying to the next stage and drilling my way through planets like I've been doing it for years instead of mere minutes. Even new wrinkles like riding Yoshi around and swinging from flower to flower feels totally natural after a minute or two. They seem to have created a rule that if the player can't get a handle on a new mechanic within 60 seconds, they toss it out.

Underneath the fuzzy-wuzzy exterior of Mario's latest adventure lays a tremendous amount of design discipline. Nintendo understands better than most that real creativity is found in limitations -- not adding more toys to the sandbox. Mario can jump, duck, spin and do a couple wall jumps. That's it. What can they do with that? How can they introduce new elements without losing sight of the primary thrust of the game which is locomotion and jumping? The levels and challenges are wrapped around these controls like bacon on a roast. They take something that's perfectly good and make it better.

That's not to say Mario Galaxy 2 is without challenge. On the contrary, it ramps up very quickly compared to its predecessor. A couple hours in and I'm already losing lives because Nintendo has faith that the tools they've given the player will deliver the goods regardless of whether or not the game is a cake walk. They're not wrong. I find that I'm enjoying myself more compared to the original game which took hours to ramp up in the same way. Of all the developers to respect their players and take them to the mat within an hour of starting, Nintendo would seem to be one of the least likely to do it considering their family friendly image. We forget that they cut their teeth on beating us as children with some truly devilish challenges.

I won't say Mario Galaxy 2 is a return to form. Instead, it's a core group of believers that remembers the foundation Nintendo was built on and honors it. If you haven't dusted off your Wii for a while and feel like you've been left behind, let Mario embrace you and stare lovingly into your eyes as he knees you in the groin. Welcome back.

Comments

let Mario embrace you and stare lovingly into your eyes as he knees you in the groin.

I just realized that this is all Mario has done to me since I was 5, but I still enjoy it. Am I sick?

And there's a catch-all for specific spoilery discussion and things.

Just 75 minutes in or so myself, and it is amazingly fun.

ELewis17 wrote:
let Mario embrace you and stare lovingly into your eyes as he knees you in the groin.

I just realized that this is all Mario has done to me since I was 5, but I still enjoy it. Am I sick?

If you're sick for that, I must be completely demented.

First thought: "Holy crap a Certis post! He still works here!?"

My wife and I picked this up on Sunday. The Co-op mode has had an overhaul to the point where being "star-bitch" isn't nearly as degrading as it was before, the second player actually has a tangible effect on the game world, and it definitely helps in the tricky bits. If you are looking for a good significant other game, this is it!

Stylez wrote:

First thought: "Holy crap a Certis post! He still works here!?"

My wife and I picked this up on Sunday. The Co-op mode has had an overhaul to the point where being "star-bitch" isn't nearly as degrading as it was before, the second player actually has a tangible effect on the game world, and it definitely helps in the tricky bits. If you are looking for a good significant other game, this is it!

Yeah yeah, mark it on your calender. Murdoch is giving me a run for my money on the absentee posting front I think.

Stylez wrote:

My wife and I picked this up on Sunday. The Co-op mode has had an overhaul to the point where being "star-bitch" isn't nearly as degrading as it was before, the second player actually has a tangible effect on the game world, and it definitely helps in the tricky bits. If you are looking for a good significant other game, this is it!

Agreed, the co-op mode is much improved. I'm still playing it largely solo, but that's what I go in for with Mario/Zelda games. I totally agree with Certis though; this game is everything that made the first one great and then some. There's been a couple of purple coin challenges that gave me a run for my money, but nothing else really. Am I just that good? Ah well, it's incredibly fun and the level design is phenomenal.

Certis wrote:

The levels and challenges are wrapped around these controls like bacon on a roast.

Dammit, I was already hungry before reading this. Now I'm starving. Thanks!

That's a very fine-tuned post, sir. If you didn't cut a mess of sentences, then I'm green. Well described.

This is the first thing in a while that's made me crave a Wii.

Stylez wrote:

My wife and I picked this up on Sunday. The Co-op mode has had an overhaul to the point where being "star-bitch" isn't nearly as degrading as it was before, the second player actually has a tangible effect on the game world, and it definitely helps in the tricky bits. If you are looking for a good significant other game, this is it!

Couldn't agree more! My non-Gamer (aside from an occasional Bejeweled, Tetris, or Peggle) wife, reluctantly agreed to try the star-bitch hat on last night, and ended up having a lot of fun, particularly because she was able to have a direct effect on the game. In fact, it's almost a bit game-breaking, being able to freeze an enemy in place while P1 sets up for a perfect butt-stomp, or trying to make a very long bounce-off-an-enemy jump.

Certis wrote:

the original 16 bit Mario games

For shame, Certis. For shame...

merphle wrote:
Certis wrote:

the original 16 bit Mario games

For shame, Certis. For shame...

The very first Mario game was in the arcade. I wonder how many bits that was.

4 bits. Actually, I don't remember, but I knew it once.

The original games were remade for All-Stars, so he's not entirely wrong.

merphle wrote:
Stylez wrote:

My wife and I picked this up on Sunday. The Co-op mode has had an overhaul to the point where being "star-bitch" isn't nearly as degrading as it was before, the second player actually has a tangible effect on the game world, and it definitely helps in the tricky bits. If you are looking for a good significant other game, this is it!

Couldn't agree more! My non-Gamer (aside from an occasional Bejeweled, Tetris, or Peggle) wife, reluctantly agreed to try the star-bitch hat on last night, and ended up having a lot of fun, particularly because she was able to have a direct effect on the game. In fact, it's almost a bit game-breaking, being able to freeze an enemy in place while P1 sets up for a perfect butt-stomp, or trying to make a very long bounce-off-an-enemy jump.

Certis wrote:

the original 16 bit Mario games

For shame, Certis. For shame...

What? I meant what I wrote. Super Mario World struck the right balance. The 8 bit Mario games were TOUGH.

Awesome article, and fantastic description.

Now to get back to my star collection.

I cut my teeth on those 8-bit Mario games, Certis. Many gamers did. They form the basis of what's "Normal" in game difficulty for me.

I have no Wii, nor any real experience of Mario, but this here:

I'm flying to the next stage and drilling my way through planets like I've been doing it for years instead of mere minutes. Even new wrinkles like riding Yoshi around and swinging from flower to flower feels totally natural after a minute or two. They seem to have created a rule that if the player can't get a handle on a new mechanic within 60 seconds, they toss it out.

Underneath the fuzzy-wuzzy exterior of Mario's latest adventure lays a tremendous amount of design discipline. Nintendo understands better than most that real creativity is found in limitations -- not adding more toys to the sandbox. Mario can jump, duck, spin and do a couple wall jumps. That's it. What can they do with that? How can they introduce new elements without losing sight of the primary thrust of the game which is locomotion and jumping? The levels and challenges are wrapped around these controls like bacon on a roast. They take someone that's perfectly good and make it better.

Sounds like it should be the holy grail of all game designers. Challenge should come from elegance and creativity, not obtuseness.

Certis wrote:
merphle wrote:
Certis wrote:

the original 16 bit Mario games

For shame, Certis. For shame...

What? I meant what I wrote. Super Mario World struck the right balance. The 8 bit Mario games were TOUGH.

It read, to me anyway, that you were implying that "the original" Mario games were 16-bit (though clearly we're in agreement that there were, in fact, 8-bit Mario games preceding SMWorld). I see what you were trying to convey now, but it still looks a bit funky -- restating it a bit:

Not only are [SMG2 gameplay ideas] creative, but they're fiendish without being soul crushing, similar to how the 16 bit Mario games played -- but unlike their painfully evil brethren, the 8 bitters.

Sounds like work, merphle. I won't stand for it.

So let's say your favorite days of Mario are in the 2D plane, with Mario World being your favorite. You've enjoyed what you played of NSMBWii and did enjoy the first Mario Galaxy. However I own neither NSMBWii and have not beaten Galaxy. I also completed Super Paper Mario, finding it is one of the best Wii games on the platform.

Would you recommend I trade in Galaxy for Galaxy 2 as it sounds like less of a cake walk and thus more prone to challenge and thus keep me playing? Or should I stick with NSMBWii since the 2D has, thus far, been more my style?

It sounds like Galaxy is "more of the same", only better, and I really respected Mario Galaxy for its sheer creativity and masterful use of game design. Unfortunately, I couldn't play for more than half an hour, on rare occasion a full hour, before feeling satisfied and walking away, perhaps not coming back for days. Which became not returning for months and months.

Sleipnir and I are only about 20 minutes in, but we're having a great time. I'm glad they fixed the co-op feature so that whoever's second shift can make more of a difference, but that it's not so necessary that you NEED to have two players. Loving it so far.

They have just started trailing ads for this on UK TV. I have to wait until the 11th. What cruel torture is this?

Just finished world 5, and completed 3 of the galaxies within it in the process. Every galaxy was beyond what I expected, except the ghost one. That one while still great, was by comparison dull, and that is to say, more interesting than a lot of other games high points.

Only 57 stars so far.