Sunday, 10 July 2011

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Lowdown: Innovative 3D platforming with the Mario characters for the Wii.
Less than a week ago I was lamenting how bad the Nintendo Wii's presentation is compared to my good old PS3. This week I rented Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii, and immediately my concerns for the Wii's presentation vanished into thin air. It's all for a very simple reason: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is such a good game that I simply didn't care whether it would have looked better in high definition.
The game is a redo of that good old platforming action gaming that Super Mario always was, but with a twist: it's in 3D. You play with the Wii remote in one hand and the nunchuk on the other, stirring your character around through some wonderful and incredibly well designed scenarios. These scenarios are not only numerous, they are also very innovative and original, each coming with its own twist: on one you may find yourself on a round "planet", having to dig holes to get to the planet's other side; on another you will find yourself jumping from one platform to another where you have to jump into thin air and conjure your landing spot as you fly. Your controllers will be used in various ingenious ways, from star collectors to aiming a dinosaur's tongue. The mix of originality and wisdom on display with the game design here can only mean one thing: Super Mario Galaxy is terribly addictive.
The transition from 2D to 3D platforming can be a bit of a challenge. Often, as with Worms 3D, the game loses too much appeal when it gains that extra dimension. Not so with Super Mario: yes, there are some orientation issues here and there; but the game does lend a hand to the user. Shadows help you figure out just what is on top of what, and a good fairy will come to your aid if you're having too much trouble.
A second player can join hands to as a guardian star to the main character, helping in collecting treasures and fighting enemies. The limited functionality on offer for player 2, coupled with the relative simplicity of the tasks they are in charge of, render player 2 duties ideal for young children whose skills leave them unable to master player 1 duties (or, for that matter, for a player in need of a rest). What a wonderful way for Nintendo to improve its game's family appeal!
Super Mario Galaxy 2 left me wondering why Sony (or, for what it's worth, Microsoft) have been unable to come up with the goods that would demolish Nintendo out of the market. After all, they have the technical superiority, so what is stopping them from coming up with similar games that will beat Nintendo in its own game (pun intended)?
The answer seems to be that both Sony and Microsoft are unable to come up with the goods that Nintendo is able to deliver regularly. Sony's best answer is probably Little Big Planet, which is a good game; but Super Mario Galaxy 2 eats it for breakfast when it comes to the variety of challenges and ability to keep the player coming back for more. Sony's technological advantage, manifesting itself through superior presentation and user designed platforms available on its Internet network, is there for all to see; but it doesn't work half as well where it counts the most, the heart of the game.
Overall: Game design at its best, providing sheer entertainment for everyone at 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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