Super Mario Galaxy 2  (Wii, 2010) Reviews
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Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii, 2010)

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If the first game was a sip, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the tasty gulp

Aug 19, 2011 (Updated Aug 19, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:excellent level design, creative platforming, plenty of challenges

Cons:The camera still has awkward moments

The Bottom Line: Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the peak of 3D Mario Platforming so far - whatever Nintendo does next will need to be even more out of this world to compare.

Surely by now those with a Wii have already played Super Mario Galaxy.  Since I'm a little late to getting a Wii, I'm also late in playing all of the games.  After I finished the game I already couldn't wait for Super Mario Galaxy 2, which in the end turned out to build upon the first SMG similar to the way Super Mario Bros 3 improved over the first Super Mario Bros.

Right from the get-go it seems that Nintendo took into consideration what fans were hungry for as the intro starts off as a traditional 2-D side scrolling game as you make your way up to the castle for some cake with Princess Peach.  This segment even proceeds as a virtual storybook until you get closer to the castle and emerge in the fully 3-D world to a colossal sized Bowser whose evil plan once again involves the kidnapping of Princess Peach.  He's also stolen all the power stars that you must retrieve in order to travel from galaxy to galaxy.

SMG2 wastes no time in starting the adventure and pretty much throws you into it headfirst.  Rather than navigating Rosalina's ship and entering galaxies through the different observatories, Mario has his own spaceship shaped like the plump plumber's head.  From there by stepping up to the ship wheel you'll enter the new world selection map that was made ever so popular by Super Mario Bros 3.  There's really not much to do on Mario's starship other than collecting more 1ups that are pretty much given to you. 

The game play in Super Mario Galaxy 2 is probably the closest to being Super Mario 64's spiritual successor even though it's a "sequel" to the first Galaxy game in 2007.  While the engine is practically the same and the space concept continues, SMG2 combines what worked well in the first game and refines that to near perfection.  It also adds new game play mechanics that are fun as well as retaining the challenge of the NES/SNES games. 

First up the power ups, which include both new ones and ones from the first SMG.  The Bee and Boo suits make their return as well as the Fire flower.  Unfortunately Spring Mario returns which was my least favorite power-up and the most annoying to control.  Thankfully it's not used much and when it is the star where it's required isn't very difficult.  The new power-ups are some of my favorite like Cloud and Rock Mario.  As cloud Mario you are allowed to create three fluffy cloud platforms by shaking the Wii remote.  I found that this power-up was the most entertaining one to play with.  Rock Mario doesn't get much use until a couple challenges later in the game, but when you're finally allowed to "roll out" it's really fun.

Probably the biggest addition to SMG2 is Yoshi's return.  The challenges that require the use of Yoshi are creative and add a lot of ingenuity.  Control his tongue by pointing the Wii remote at the screen, which can be used to suck up enemies or remains of enemies like shells and use them to shoot other enemies or pesky obstacles in the way.  Also the use of his ability to inflate like a balloon and eat red peppers to send you speeding across water allow for interesting star challenges.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes everything that worked from the first game and improves it, nearly perfecting the game play.  Taking Mario around different planets that can be fully explored and the challenges against gravity and defying laws of physics is even more fun.  The camera was tricky in the first game and there are still moments where it gets stuck or swings around awkwardly so that I have to stop what I'm doing for a second.  For the most part though Nintendo improved the camera so that it rarely disrupts the flow of the game.  This allows the level design to change from free roaming to side scrolling segments and back again without much of a fraction of disruption, if any.  These segments were some of my favorite from the first game and Nintendo seemed to focus on these parts of each world a lot and it pays off with the overall enjoyment of the game.  There are also little flagpoles throughout each world that act as checkpoints.  Some may think this hinders the difficulty, but actually they're very convenient.  Though the level designs are incredible so you may not mind starting over from the very beginning.

In my review of the first game I said that I had to use every move in Mario's arsenal to complete and find all 120 stars and that challenge continues here in this game.  Now instead of comets appearing randomly, there are comet coins hidden in every level.  Some can be seen in the opening scene of the star challenge that it's available in and are as simple as jumping on a tree or something to snag.  Others are pretty complicated and take some searching and skilled platforming to reach.  The same holds true for some hidden stars; the only way to reach them is to string together various moves like the spin attack, wall jump, triple jump, etc.  Once you've nabbed each galaxy's comet coin, a comet will eventually show up and give you another challenge to complete like beating a boss without taking any hits, completing a task with a swarm of shadow Marios imitating all of your moves, and completing a star challenge within a certain time.  Nintendo added a twist to a few of the timed runs this time around though.  The normal timed runs are easy and can be completed without much of a sweat.  Now, in some of the timed runs you are given less than a minute to start with and you have to collect green stopwatches throughout the level to add time to the clock in order to finish the challenge on time.  This adds giddy to my up and put a lot more pressure on me to complete the challenge.

Using the Wii remote you once again collect star bits by pointing with the cursor, which are used to purchase items from different Lumas that are usually located right before a boss fight or a particularly challenging segment ahead.  Coins are still used to restore health and Nintendo saw that other than that there was no other incentive to collect them in the last game, so now to get all 120 stars you have to collect a certain amount in some levels in order to unlock more challenges.  This brings me to the amount of stars; 120 right?  Wrong.  You can beat the game with less than 100 of the power stars collected, but the real replay value and challenges happen after collecting all 120 stars which unlocks another adventure for those that can't get enough of the game.  Luigi is also playable right from the beginning and he'll be hanging out somewhere at the beginning of some levels.  Just talk to him in order to play as him and if you complete that challenge with him you'll unlock developer ghost runs that you can try and beat. 

The visuals in Super Mario Galaxy 2 are exceptionally superb and full of life and vivid, bright, colorful enemies (boss and regular alike) and environments.  The level designs are ingenious and the various level locations like fire/ice/water are clever and creative.  Nintendo really put a ton of effort in this game and it paid off.  Each of the worlds look amazing and hopping from planet to planet in each world never really dulls.  What's really cool is seeing other planets in each world pretty vividly.  You may not go to it on that certain star challenge, but you can certainly see the detail in the draw distance adding a small perk to the already good looking graphics.  I don't know that they completely draw out the Wii's capability, but they look damn good and I can't even imagine how much better Nintendo gets when the Wii U comes out.

After the first game's orchestrated soundtrack there's no way that Nintendo would skip out on a fully orchestrated score for this outing.  The main theme gets stuck in your head and I found that I was humming to myself constantly and nearly every time it would play.  Old school themes are revisited with blasting horns and soaring strings as well as specific galaxy themes.  I have nothing to complain about with the music and I even have a new favorite like one of the themes from one of the desert levels. 

It seems like Nintendo used Super Mario Galaxy as a guinea pig for the space idea, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 was the fine-tuned epic Mario platformer that they wanted to create.  If flying through space from planet to planet, jumping around in 3-D environments to a 2-D side scroller and back, fighting creative bosses, and solving simple yet clever platform puzzles sounds like fun to you; there's no need not to play this.  I can't wait to see what direction Nintendo takes Mario on the Wii U.       
Related Reviews:
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Bros 3

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