Written by  :  So Hai (371)
Written on  :  Jun 19, 2008
Platform  :  Wii
Rating  :  4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars

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A Study in Exquisite Game Design.

The Good

Now that some of the glitter-dust has faded, and Mario Galaxy has had time to be played (and played again) in isolation of the heavy promotion and media hype, I think now is a good time to see what this games impact has really been. Also, can Mario Galaxy really give players what they’ve been thirsting for; a worthy sequel to everybody’s revered favourite?

On boot-up of the game, we see that the promoted space-theme is only suggested at, and, after selecting a Mii for our game-save file, we take hold of the Wiimote and nunchuk and begin on the mission of finding and rescuing Princess Peach. Bowser, in his infinite stubbornness and admirable determination, has managed to seize her again for his own ends. This segment is probably one of the more disturbing scenes ever shown inside the Mushroom Kingdom. The grounds outside the Castle look like they’ve been fire-bombed – smoke, debris and lifeless toad-characters litter the landscape. Mario, you enter late and are given proper motivation for tracking the Koopa-King down one more time.

‘Galaxy introduces us to Rosalina, a beautifully designed character dressed in a jade-coloured slip-over. Her blonde fringe covers one eye, and she exudes a class that no other from the Mushroom Kingdom has. She has a manner that is both motherly (she is often referred to as “Mamma”) and almost goddess-like. Already, we see that these character ingredients and designs have been escalated to higher realms than has been in any other prequel – could the game play follow this trend also?

The presentation is second-to-none. There is an inert, world-class crispness to all of the audio and vision. No expense has been spared, and I’m sure that any criticism made to any of the game ingredients can only be chalked up to a difference in taste, not in technicality. This is the first time that I’ve really believed that players on other systems are truly missing out. Sure, Halo 3 is an X360 title only, and Gran Turismo 5 a PS3 exclusive, but when playing Mario Galaxy, you really feel that this experience will never be duplicated, even by Nintendo themselves. It is a vision of game play that cannot be re-packaged or re-mixed or improved on, any more than you can improve on Michelangelo’s David. (And no, I’m not equating this video game to that masterpiece, only its technical prowess, integrity and uncompromising vision). The inevitability of a Halo 4, Gran Turismo 6 is there for any gamer to sense – the inevitability of a Mario game of this ilk is vanishingly small. That is what makes this title special – its own uniqueness come across from Star Collection No. 1, and you are not led into believing that this is Super Mario Galaxy v0.95.

This game is the ultimate Mario experience is because it balances its key elements superbly. The mix of game play styles, the challenging yet intricate controls, the constantly shifting objectives all make this game a true pleasure to play through. No longer are re-visiting areas and re-treading paths with only a marginally different star location. ‘Galaxy has you visiting mini-world, figuring out how to get off them in any number of ingenious ways, all while executing the most smooth move system I’ve ever encountered. The camera, now an auto-shifting masterpiece, helps you navigate the true third-dimension like never before.

Again, the one thing this game exudes is charm. The “hardcore” gamer cares not for charm, and would only sneer at shell-surfing penguin, or a bee with a case of the itches. As quirky-for-quirkys sake as this may sound, it really is one of the core ingredients that make this game such a pleasure to play. So yes, the hardcore gamer may find these things repellent, but I would argue that no hardcore gamer should be without this title. I believe that a true hardcore gamer is interested in all of what gaming may offer, not just that disproportionably represented and aging first-person-shooter sub-genre, or that equally distorted portrayal of MMORPG sub-genre. A “hardcore” gamer should be looking for games that improve and progress gaming experiences, regardless of genre. Their interest should know no-bounds, and care not of company loyalties, only of gamer-loyalty. In this sense, ‘Galaxy is as loyal as Golden Retriever. The whole thing is geared for fun while pushing gaming to a new height. It shares this honour with a very small list of titles.

The Bad

The only thing that got annoying was the routine that you undergo after acquiring a star. The many fan-fares, the pattern of sound-effects, and the save option become a habit that is decidedly irritating (that is, after the sixtieth or so star pickup).

The Bottom Line

So ‘Galaxy improves on it’s predecessors in every single way. I cannot think of one area where this game failed in that regard. The graphics, the presentation, the sound, the controls, the last-ability, the vision, the heart, the passion, the direction are all superior to that other Mario title. And, they are all superior to any other game in this (increasingly mutating) genre. The other Mario game, the one that is on everybody's 5-star list, has now been dethroned, and this time they didn’t need to add a dimension, just explore it to the fullest.