“Review”: Super Mario Galaxy

I told you recently I had something to write. The last post was a part of that. This is another. I think Deus Ex could make a third part later on (just have to get close to finish it ^^) – but SMG for now.

First off, I don’t understand all the hysteria around this game. Perhaps because I played it four months after the Hype went out and never have been a Mario fan, so I guess hype and nostalgia have been important factors. It is a great game, which is really fun, but second best ever (gamerankings.com)?

Anyway, my doubts aside, it *is* a great game. First of all – it’s fun. They make it fun by constantly giving you new things to do in a happy and crazy world where anything goes. A part of this is that the levels are really varied, but it’s also very variating within the levels themselves. And this is where the “galaxy”-theme comes in.

Every level is called a galaxy, and more often then not have several planets which you go to in a linear fashion. To get to the next, you sometimes only have to run through, sometimes collect 5 items on the planet but most often something in the “misc”-category. This means you do several things to get through a regular level. Then there’s the bonus-levels, which throws strange stuff in such as “ray racing” – racing on a road filled with waves that might cause your ray to fly off the track, roll a ball through a maze, blow a bubble through another maze or other crazy stuff. And then there’s stars you have to find by taking an alternate route through the stage, or playing a mission only available at random times (signaled by a “comet in orbit”).

If you’ve heard of Super Mario 128, which was an intended Super Mario 64-sequel for the Game Cube (after -Sunshine), which got delayed to what became the Wii, I think you wouldn’t be surprised many of the controls uses the regular buttons rather then the swinging and pointing. But, on the other hand, they’re very-well done.
Swimming, for instance, can often be a frustrating thing as the controls are oddly changed to add the “depth”-dimention to movement, but SMG does that by letting the A button go forward and the control stick change the direction of the swimming. The A button makes you take a stroke forward, and then holding it will cause you to swim at a slower pace, which means you can mash A to swim as fast as you can if you’re in a hurry.
Jumping is also really easy, almost all being controlled by the A-button, but perhaps could get even easier with hold and release-combinations. Z is used for pounding at a jump, you see, something that tends to confuse me.
Pointing and tilting is used, though, in many good ways. Tilt the Wiimote to roll a ball, point and click to blow that bubble around, or point over a “Star Bit” (more on that later) to gather it.

So, any bad parts? Yes. It’s very harsh if you die. Checkpoints are scarcely spread, or none if the mission’s time-based, and if you’re collecting sometime and die you have to redo all collecting. Might sound minor, but some missions are all about gathering the 100 (purple) coins on the level, and dieing trying to reach the 70ish coin and then have to redo it all even makes me frustrated – and I’ve been a gamer since the 16-bit days! How much of a set-back wouldn’t that be for a new, casual, gamer who might have Wii as a first console?
And the voice-acting ticks me off, too. All grunts, shouts and silly sounds are okey, but when they start speaking English I’m not as happy. Primarily because they tend to voice-act *one word*, or only a short sentence, which then makes me think the rest will, too, only to get caught by that it isn’t. Not to mention I, as a player, give them a voice when they’re not speaking only to get distanced to it when they start talking.
And, also, there’s the Star Bits, a new currency in the game. You gather it by pointing at it with the ‘mote, and can shoot them at enemies. It’s not used to anything useful, though, and is a feature that could be scrapped for the first player to save the B-button, and giving the second-player another unique ability. But, as said, it’s mostly used as a currency. Coins are still in there, and they heal one hp (of three) and count for high-scores, but the Star Bits are what you use to “feed Lumas to make them transform into galaxies” – in English: gather to unlock new levels. But why use two currencies at parallel? Keep the coins, give mushrooms to heal and scrap the star-bits (let the other player toss coins, that hurts, too) – would make the gathering much easier (not to mention the Star Bits comes in seven or so different colors).

Let’s end with some up-sides. You rarely die due to camera or controls-issues, like buttons not responding, are too or sensitive or not sensitive enough, or cameras that prefers to show me a wall and not my character. Sure, I’ve died due to both (camera in a silly angle making me miscalibrate a jump and pounding instead of spinning, inverted control stick while up-side down), but at least they were my fault at the core and not the game. And, as I mentioned, it’s among the funniest games in years, which is a really good grade.

Sentence: Not perfect, but really fun and very varied.

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