Super Mario Galaxy

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Check out this quality review from our newest contributing editor, Gary-Paul Robinett.  Expect more great content like this in the near future – Richie
 
When it comes to platforming games, you only
talk about either "new ideas and breakthroughs" OR "what the guys over
at Nintendo are doing".  Doesn’t really matter what system or gaming era
either.  Back in the days of 8-bit you had the side-scrollers (Mega Man
series, a constantly evolving Super Mario Series) and a couple of
"breakthrough" over-the-top platformers (Star Tropics Series).  The
16-bit days ushered in Sonic the Hedgehog which gave gamers the
opportunity to use speed as a weapon, and Super Metroid which allowed
gamers to explore areas at their own pace, only being limited to what
their character could do based on the power-ups they had earned.  Again,
Mario evolved.

Everyone remembers the PSX/N64 era competition
between "on-the-rails" Crash Bandicoot, and the much more liberating
Mario 64.  The next generation after that (PS2/XBOX/GCN), platformers
began to grow stale. Franchises that were successful at first (Jak and
Daxter, Rachet and Clank, etc.) began to drown themselves in their
own sequels.  I think every self-respecting gamer at least once in their
life has groaned at the idea of ANOTHER Spiro game.  Even Nintendo, who
wrote the book on platforming gave the lackluster "Super Mario
Sunshine" which featured the ability to use a jetpack/water gun that
replaced the hat system that most gamers seemed to like in its
precursor, Mario 64.  Needless to say, the platformer was doomed.

Then
in 2007, Nintendo announced that its long-time project, mostly known
as Mario 128, was FINALLY coming out on its new system, the Nintendo
Wii.  Mario 128 was actually to be released on GameCube, and was even in
development back when the GC was thought to be named "The Dolphin"
(remember that?!).  Like a shining knight riding out of the pits of
development Hell, Nintendo charged back onto the scene with its
platformer of platformers:

Super Mario Galaxy.

I must
start with the fact that the game is nothing less than a blast to play. 
Right from the beginning Mario is thrown into the dilemma of Princess
Peach being kidnapped by the evil Bowser.  Cliche, right?  Well, yeah,
but when you get the chance to play the game, you’ll be extremely
forgiving.  In this installment of Mario, we see Mario travel among
distant planets in the galaxy.  Big planets, small planets, doesn’t
matter.  What Nintendo brings to the game this time are variable
gravity physics.  Small planets don’t have as much gravity, larger
planets have more normal gravitational states.  Even non-terrestrial
objects like spaceships and giant floating robots have gravitational
fields.  You can run up walls and ceilings, swim in classic Mario
tradition (or use a koopa shell as a sort of jet ski).  You can fly
thanks to Mario’s Bee Suit. You can also spring haphazardly with the
Spring Suit.  The Fire Flower makes its return, and is now even balanced
out by the Ice Flower. The possibilities of what you can do in this
game are nearly endless.

 
PRESENTATION– From the start the
menus are easy, uses limited Mii compatibility for saving games (your
head becomes a planet icon), and the story line is engaging despite the
over-used formula. Side-line stories aren’t as intriguing, but add
flavor. Load time minimal.

GRAPHICS– This is the first game
I’ve ever seen actually give the system a run for its money.  The
graphics are gorgeous, color amazing, and clipping is a thing of the
past.  Also runs at a BEAUTIFUL 60 FPS (uninterrupted) with 480p and
16:9 supported.

SOUND– The music is all orchestrated and
sounds like effort is being brought into this area of gaming once
again.  You can compare the GREAT transition in music from Mario
Sunshine to Galaxy, to the VAST difference in music between 8-bit Zelda
and 16-bit Zelda (and if you don’t get the comparison you owe it to
yourself to check it out).  Voice-over is minimal, and sometimes quiet
compared to background, but Mario was never much of a talker anyway.

GAMEPLAY–
Controls are tight, but have a slight learning curve. Once you play for
an hour, you’ll be a pro. Great use of motion-sensitivity.  Even a
second player can join the game and "cover" you vs. enemy attacks.

REPLAY–
The game is one that you’ll insist that your children play.  The main
story line length is dependent on how adamant you are about getting all
the stars. Easily could be a 30 hour game at core value. Add in LOTS of
extras, time trials and such, and the game goes on and on…
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