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Super Mario Galaxy 2

by James Jones - May 21, 2010, 12:00 am PDT
Total comments: 52

9.5

It's called Super Mario Galaxy 2, so you know what you're getting.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a unique entry in the Mario franchise due to its notable non-uniqueness. The first true sequel to a Mario title - well, to a Mario platformer (New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Lost Levels notwithstanding) -, Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes everything good from 2007's Super Mario Galaxy and...well, that's it. It is the truest sequel Nintendo has produced in over a decade.

Most of Mario's 3D outings have opted to reinvent how they handle platforming: Galaxy introduced the idea of distinct levelettes chained together to form a stage; Sunshine introduced F.L.U.D.D.; Mario 64 introduced 3D. SMG2's stages all feel like they would have been equally at home in its predecessor, and that's a good thing. Nintendo is offering us another series of smartly-designed stages, and I'm all for it.

Since this is a Mario game, you know that the Princess has been kidnapped by Bowser (spoiler alert!), and Mario has to travel between stages to collect stars while in pursuit of his persistent foe. Keeping the level structure from previous 3D titles intact, each "galaxy" contains a number of challenges, for each of which Mario earns a star upon completion. Earning stars unlocks more galaxies. Each "World" consists of a series of galaxies (I know, that's backwards) ending with a "boss" galaxy. Completing the primary challenge of these boss galaxies (i.e. defeating the boss) unlocks the next world. It's all old hat, but it's still fun.

That's not to say that SMG2 is completely bereft of new ideas. The game adds a few new power-ups like the Rockshroom, which lets you roll around as a boulder (think Goron mask from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask), and the Cloud Suit, which lets you create clouds so you can climb to great heights and span great distances.

The best new power-up isn't new at all; you can finally ride Yoshi, and adding Mario's dinosaur friend to the Galaxy formula works surprisingly well. The pointer locks onto a target and the B-Trigger extends Yoshi's tongue. Yoshi himself gets a series of power-ups, such as a chili pepper that makes him uncontrollably fast, a blue berry that makes him float, and a yellow fruit that turns him into a light to see in the dark.

The game draws inspiration from older Mario titles as well. Beyond catchy throwback musical themes, it also borrows from Mario's 2D offerings. The level selection is done on a single map, similar to Mario 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros., rather than making you navigate a hub area to find each World's portal. It also seems to feature more 2D segments than its predecessor, And there's a level lifted right from the pages of Mario history that will make longtime fans very happy.

A tweaked version Co-Star Mode returns from Galaxy, in which a second player can offer some limited assistance to the person guiding Mario. The "Co-Star" can now do a spin attack. However, this is not a "two-player mode"; SMG2 is a distinctly single-player experience, and Co-Star Mode will likely appeal more to families than experienced players.

Opting not to mess with a good thing, SMG2 features the same solid controls as Super Mario Galaxy. You'll jump with the A-Button, butt-stomp with the Z-Button, spin-attack with a flick of the Wii Remote or Nunchuk, move with the Nunchuk's analog stick, and move the camera with the D-Pad. The only control issues are in a handful of motion-based mini-games that feel somewhat imprecise, but the imprecision certainly doesn't ruin them.

The visuals are still gorgeous. The world of Super Mario Galaxy was colorful, diverse, and detailed. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is no less beautiful; its sharp graphics and smooth animations are amazing. Only once did I see a hint of slowdown, while rolling around a huge group of enemies as I flattened them using the Rockshroom. Considering the number of times the game puts multiple enemies on-screen, that's impressive. The various galaxies are each notably distinct with their own visual flair, and each one is impressively designed and visually appealing. In short, Super Mario Galaxy had some of the Wii's best graphics upon its release, and Galaxy 2 matches it in every regard.

The sound is a great mix of effects and music. There's a suite of classic Mario themes that have been remixed and re-purposed for Galaxy 2, as well as some nice original compositions. The great sound effects from Galaxy make their way into the sequel, and Dolby Pro Logic II support rounds out a nice audio package.

We were promised a more difficult experience with Galaxy 2, and this definitely turned out to be the case. SMG2 gets right into the more difficult content early, and some of the later stars are brutally difficult. Prankster Comet stars (which thankfully no longer move between galaxies, but rather simply become available for selection and stay that way) can be particularly frustrating. To offset this additional challenge, the game features the Super Guide from New Super Mario Bros. Wii (called the "Cosmic Guide" here). However, it is not available for all stars, which means even the seemingly unlimited number of 1-ups the game throws at you can be exhausted.

Galaxy 2 features over 240 stars to collect, spread over a large number of galaxies. With the extra layer of difficulty it's doubtful that most players will ever see everything Galaxy 2 has to offer, but they can certainly try. Those who love challenging platforming should just call in sick to work for the next week, because they've got a big task in front of them.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes Super Mario Galaxy and makes a few tweaks to make it more playable. As such, Galaxy 2 instantly catapults itself into the discussion for the title of Best Game Available on Wii. If you liked Super Mario Galaxy even a bit, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a must-have title for your Wii game collection.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9.5 9 9 9.5 9 9.5
Graphics
9.5

The original Super Mario Galaxy has some of the best visuals on Wii, and Galaxy 2 is no different. There's rare momentary slowdown when there is a lot of action on screen, but there are no real negatives here.

Sound
9

The remixes of classic Mario themes provide a great soundtrack for Galaxy 2. The sound effects are diverse and plentiful. The game also features Dolby Pro Logic II support, which is a nice inclusion.

Control
9

Everything controls tightly aside from some of the motion controls It feels like the Wii Remote and Nunchuk were designed for this game, which may have actually been the case.

Gameplay
9.5

Galaxy 2 features the same fun and challenging platforming we've become accustomed to in a Mario game. There are enough different types of challenges to keep the game fresh. The incremental changes made to Galaxy 2 make the game feel more focused on getting you into the fun quickly.

Lastability
9

With 240 stars and a large number of galaxies, there is a lot of content in this game. As a more challenging title, don't expect to breeze through all the stars quickly. Galaxy 2 is also highly replayable, so expect to come back to it once you've finished.

Final
9.5

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a great game. Taking the successes of the original Galaxy and making smart improvements, Nintendo has taken a game concept that was already one of the best on Wii and made it better. It's quite an accomplishment.

Summary

Pros
  • Good – albeit limited - enhancements to the Galaxy formula
  • Great level design
  • Solid platforming mechanics
Cons
  • Motion controlled mini-games are imprecise
  • Some stages are just frustrating
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)May 20, 2010

Oh cool, you actually received your review copy early for once.
I'm glad you enjoyed this so thoroughly, James. I expected you to be the most critical out of everybody towards Galaxy 2 (especially after your most recent comments about Galaxy on RFN), so if you are impressed by this game... I can not wait.

GoldenPhoenixMay 21, 2010

What are you guys doing letting James review this? Shouldn't he be torturing himself with Ninja Bread Man 2 or something?

Anyways I'm actually excited now for the game.

I said this in an email conversation about my RFN comments: I don't get frothy at the mouth for Galaxy.  I still recognize that it is a very good game but there was a lot of reaction to the game that seemed excessive.

I'm really glad James reviewed this, because I knew he wouldn't come at it from a Mario fanboy's perspective.

I couldn't review it because my score cap for Mario platformers is now 7.5.

There isn't much here about the actual experience or interesting level and mechanics details... is this game really that similar to the first?  For instance do the new power-ups actually work well, and why?  How does the world design compare to the original in a functional sense, and a cohesive sense?  I would also like to hear how the new environment-altering power-ups and enemies play with the game's dynamics (e.g. Light Yoshi, Cosmic Mario, motion-controlled segments).  And can you explain the pros and cons, like level difficulty?

I'm inclined to agree with MegaByte. If the game is basically the same as Galaxy 1, then I'd refer readers to that review for the gameplay basics, then spell out what's different here, and go into more detail.

Maybe it's just me...

ThomasOMay 21, 2010

I agree as well. There's virtually nothing written here that I haven't read about already.


And it's "Cosmic Guide," not "Galaxy Guide."

happyastoriaMay 21, 2010

It's interesting to note that the lowest score for this game comes from a Nintendo site.

Quote from: happyastoria

It's interesting to note that the lowest score for this game comes from a Nintendo site.

When it's a 9.5, I don't think it makes a difference.

KDR_11kMay 21, 2010

Metacritic lists several 9.0s.

Luigi DudeMay 21, 2010

Quote from: KDR_11k

Metacritic lists several 9.0s.

The sites that gave it a 9 did so for the dumbest reason like lack of a storyline.  Any site that docks a Mario games points for lack of story doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

broodwarsMay 21, 2010

Quote from: Luigi

The sites that gave it a 9 did so for the dumbest reason like lack of a storyline.  Any site that docks a Mario games points for lack of story doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.


I don't see how that's an invalid concern, any more than docking story-based games for not having particularly great gameplay.  Maybe some people are tired of constantly saving the increasingly-useless and ungrateful Peach from Bowser in every single Mario platformer while the story remains completely stagnant the entire experience.  If frickin' Ratchet & Clank and Prince of Persia can have fairly interesting stories in the same genre, Mario shouldn't get a free pass.

steveyMay 21, 2010

Super Mario Game: +10
Pirates confirm, no Rosalina anywhere (beside the dumb super guide): -10
Game score: 0/10

Damn Miyamoto's Vendetta :'(

GoldenPhoenixMay 21, 2010

Quote from: broodwars

Quote from: Luigi

The sites that gave it a 9 did so for the dumbest reason like lack of a storyline.  Any site that docks a Mario games points for lack of story doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.


I don't see how that's an invalid concern, any more than docking story-based games for not having particularly great gameplay.  Maybe some people are tired of constantly saving the increasingly-useless and ungrateful Peach from Bowser in every single Mario platformer while the story remains completely stagnant the entire experience.  If frickin' Ratchet & Clank and Prince of Persia can have fairly interesting stories in the same genre, Mario shouldn't get a free pass.

Pac-man too. Screw focusing on gameplay, we need a good story. Also first time I've heard that Prince of Persia and "Let's shoot lots of stuff" and Clank are in the same genre as Mario.

broodwarsMay 21, 2010

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: broodwars

Quote from: Luigi

The sites that gave it a 9 did so for the dumbest reason like lack of a storyline.  Any site that docks a Mario games points for lack of story doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.


I don't see how that's an invalid concern, any more than docking story-based games for not having particularly great gameplay.  Maybe some people are tired of constantly saving the increasingly-useless and ungrateful Peach from Bowser in every single Mario platformer while the story remains completely stagnant the entire experience.  If frickin' Ratchet & Clank and Prince of Persia can have fairly interesting stories in the same genre, Mario shouldn't get a free pass.

Pac-man too. Screw focusing on gameplay, we need a good story. Also first time I've heard that Prince of Persia and "Let's shoot lots of stuff" and Clank are in the same genre as Mario.

Ah, the good ol' stereotype that you can't have good story and good gameplay.  One must be sacrificed for the other.  Nonsense, and you know better, GP.  As for Prince and Ratchet, how could they not be in the same genre?  They're both platformers, one incorporating melee action as well and the other firearm action.  Hell, Ratchet's even a Mascot Platformer like Mario.

YmeegodMay 21, 2010

GS review is in: 10.

Yeah the story in SMG (or any platformer Mario game for that matter) is rather poor considering the rest of the game is solid gold.  M&L series on the GBA/DS has great humor added to the plot and I wished they followed that lead in mario's platformers (silly and entertaining). 

Also for platformers with a good "E" storyline, you should look at what Sly Cooper offers.  It's a shame Sucker Punch went on to make action games because it's platformers were gems on the PS2.

broodwarsMay 21, 2010

Quote from: Ymeegod

Also for platformers with a good "E" storyline, you should look at what Sly Cooper offers.  It's a shame Sucker Punch went on to make action games because it's platformers were gems on the PS2.

Indeed, and incidentally Sly there has been my PSN Avatar since I first got my PS3.  ;)

As for the review itself, maybe it's just that "vague"-ness that the people above complained about (though, ironically, many would probably complain even louder if he got more specific, whining about "spoilers".  Honestly..."spoilers" in a Mario game...) but it just sounds like more of the same (including the waggle-tastic mini-games I hated so much) and I didn't particularly like Mario Galaxy.  Yes, it was polished; had good production values; and was moderately engaging, but it was a game I never really got into despite clearing it with all 120 Stars.  I think at this point I'm just done with Mario altogether outside of the Mario & Luigi series, because of all of Nintendo's franchises he's simultaneously both the most exploited and the one with the most conservative progression.

ReggieFA!May 21, 2010

He's in outer space now. What'd you want, trans-dimensional platforming?

broodwarsMay 21, 2010

Quote from: Bit.Trip.Rowsdower

He's in outer space now. What'd you want, trans-dimensional platforming?

Yes, he's in outer space now, but what has that changed?  Oh, sometimes he can jump around a surface through gravitational pull or go under it.  Yippee.  Nintendo barely did anything interesting with that in the first game, though supposedly this game does more with it.  I'd like to see more interaction with the environment like Prince of Persia, a better written adventure with memorable characters ala Ratchet & Clank (and Prince of Persia, for that matter), mind-bending puzzle platforming mechanics ala Portal (ditto), etc.  Mario lately just feels like a series that uses cosmetic changes to hide the fact that when all is said and done, very little has changed in many years.  Obviously, I'm in the minority here with disliking how "familiar" the Mario series formula has gotten.

KDR_11kMay 22, 2010

Most reviews say that despite being a familiar character and using familiar base concepts SMG2 still manages to surprise at every corner, it's not the story or character that are supposed to wow you.

A story needs time to tell. Time that could be spent on more gameplay.

GoldenPhoenixMay 22, 2010

Quote from: KDR_11k

Most reviews say that despite being a familiar character and using familiar base concepts SMG2 still manages to surprise at every corner, it's not the story or character that are supposed to wow you.

A story needs time to tell. Time that could be spent on more gameplay.

Exactly, Mario games and really Miyamoto games as a whole keep you going, not by a story but the level designs and atmosphere that draws you to them. Any hack designer can include a story, it is sucking the player in via gameplay that is the tough part.

Mop it upMay 22, 2010

Eh, some people need all new experiences to be entertained, there's nothing wrong with that. It just limits their choices. I, for one, love Mario games as they are, and new levels are enough for me.

GoldenPhoenixMay 22, 2010

Quote from: Mop

Eh, some people need all new experiences to be entertained, there's nothing wrong with that. It just limits their choices. I, for one, love Mario games as they are, and new levels are enough for me.

The thing is that a game like Mario has the sort of structure that a new experience IS the levels especially one with such an open structure. The freshness comes from the level designs.

Mop it upMay 22, 2010

Exactly, that's how I feel. But it is still the same characters and settings, and for some, that makes it stale.

The TravellerMay 22, 2010

I disagree with one of the breakdown points,the graphics, which I belive James should of given top marks too.

Also I kind of agree with some of the posters who were commentating about how the gravity wasnt really used to a greater effect in the first game. Before I played Galaxy 1 I thought that there would be varying degrees of gravity used throughout, but from what I remember and felt at the time the force of gravity was always the same no matter where you were in the game. I think some places should of made Mario heavier or lighter. Think basically mini mario from NSMB, for being lighter.

Wait, wait, wtf. Amazon, why are you not shipping my copy until the 28th?! That better be a damn mistake on your website. I'll be away on business most of next week, so a few days isn't a big deal, but if I'm buying it in stores for the long weekend if Amazon lets me down. Seriously.

When did you order?  I ordered on the 14th, and my delivery estimate is the 26th (2-day shipping, which would make the ship date the 24th).
UPDATE: Just got my shipping notification, so this might actually make it to me by Monday if I'm lucky.

GoldenPhoenixMay 22, 2010

Quote from: Mop

Exactly, that's how I feel. But it is still the same characters and settings, and for some, that makes it stale.

Well the setting to be fair is pretty malleable. Space is just an excuse for some super crazy and ingenious level designs with their own unique settings and situations. Mario Galaxy if anything was just an excuse for the developers to NOT be restrained by setting, but to let their imaginations go wild. That is why the "more of the same" is silly when supposedly Mario Galaxy 2 had some brilliantly creative worlds in it, it may have the same controls and characters, but the level designs are a mixture of fresh with familiar.

ShyGuyMay 22, 2010

The only question I have for James is why so low?

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMay 22, 2010

My copy shipped today and it had a delivery estimate of the 28th too TYP. So hopefully yours will soon if it hasn't already.

Mop it upMay 22, 2010

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

Wait, wait, wtf. Amazon, why are you not shipping my copy until the 28th?! That better be a damn mistake on your website. I'll be away on business most of next week, so a few days isn't a big deal, but if I'm buying it in stores for the long weekend if Amazon lets me down. Seriously.

I think what is called an "estimated ship date" might actually be the estimated delivery date. When I pre-ordered Monster Hunter Tri, the estimated ship date was April 26th, which was the day it arrived in the mail.

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusMay 22, 2010

I timed my 1 month trial of Amazon Prime for when this game came out, so I paid just 3.99 for one-day shipping, and was still annoyed to learn that it wasn't supposed to show up until Tuesday.

However, now checking, it's on track to arrive to me on Monday.  Rad.

SundoulosMay 22, 2010

Quote from: Pale

My copy shipped today and it had a delivery estimate of the 28th too TYP. So hopefully yours will soon if it hasn't already.

Same here for me, TYP.

PeachylalaMay 22, 2010

Quote:

That is why the "more of the same" is silly when supposedly Mario  Galaxy 2 had some brilliantly creative worlds in it, it may have the  same controls and characters, but the level designs are a mixture of  fresh with familiar.

Galaxy 2 is basically a HOLY FUCK out of 10.

kraken613May 23, 2010

Only gotten to play the first level so far. Wow, if the scope of the rest of the game is anything as diverse as the first level, just wow!

I hope to get some quality time tonight with the game.

23 stars in and I'm in love. The levels are even more crazy and awesome than the ones from the original.

Well, I got my shipping notice today, so at least I'll have my copy for the long weekend. I'll have to miss out on the fun for a few days, though. Oh well.

GoldenPhoenixMay 23, 2010

I'm getting mine Tuesday it looks like.

CalibanMay 23, 2010

First world completed... it's fuuuuun.

Although I think someone at Nintendo got mixed up on the subject of what a Galaxy and a World is. Oh well.

GoldenPhoenixMay 23, 2010

Quote from: Caliban

First world completed... it's fuuuuun.

Although I think someone at Nintendo got mixed up on the subject of what a Galaxy and a World is. Oh well.

Galaxy Get

I think by now you're either a raging Mario fanboy or couldn't care less about the series.  I'm with Broodwars, I'm just sort of done with Mario 3D platformers.  I haven't really cared about them since I quit Mario Sunshine about half way through.  It feels like different variations on the same thing over and over, and I can tolerate that with Zelda, but for some reason I have a hard time doing it with Mario.

GoldenPhoenixMay 23, 2010

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

I think by now you're either a raging Mario fanboy or couldn't care less about the series.  I'm with Broodwars, I'm just sort of done with Mario 3D platformers.  I haven't really cared about them since I quit Mario Sunshine about half way through.  It feels like different variations on the same thing over and over, and I can tolerate that with Zelda, but for some reason I have a hard time doing it with Mario.

So much irony in this statement!

The Mario series has consistently had some of the most diverse and well designed levels around. This is especially true of the 3D Mario's. The Mario theme is just the glue to hold together diversity in creative settings and level designs where no one world is quite the same.

Also is James a raging fanboi? Seriously that is a ridiculous thing to say. Perhaps people just appreciate some of the most creative level designs around? The Mario series at its core is one of the best examples of unrestrained level designs. To say it is the same thing is irrational, especially Mario Galaxy 1 and 2.

GP, it's ironic that you respond to my fanboy statement with a fangirl statement.

I've never said that the Mario Galaxy games aren't well-designed.  They most definitely are, but that doesn't mean the concept is interesting to me (or rather, is STILL interesting to me).

StogiMay 24, 2010

Yet shooting a gun at enemies still is?

GoldenPhoenixMay 24, 2010

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

GP, it's ironic that you respond to my fanboy statement with a fangirl statement.

I've never said that the Mario Galaxy games aren't well-designed.  They most definitely are, but that doesn't mean the concept is interesting to me (or rather, is STILL interesting to me).

Sounds like you just don't like 3D platformers. I think Jame's review demonstrates that you don't need to be a huge Mario fan to appreciate the game. If you critisize Mario games of being "More of the same' you better be prepared to accuse virtually every other action game out there, FPS or otherwise as being more of the same in regards to design.

Super Mario Galaxy 2: Troll Edition

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

I think by now you're either a raging Mario fanboy or couldn't care less about the series.  I'm with Broodwars, I'm just sort of done with Mario 3D platformers.  I haven't really cared about them since I quit Mario Sunshine about half way through.  It feels like different variations on the same thing over and over, and I can tolerate that with Zelda, but for some reason I have a hard time doing it with Mario.

Funny you say that.  I was never a big fan of SM64 and SMS, but thought SMG fixed most of their problems... to me, it was a fairly significant change in design and SMG2 goes in that direction even more.  Though, I'd argue that direction is more of a classic Mario direction and less of a standard 3D platformer direction.

Mop it upMay 25, 2010

Game genres don't grow stale, people simply lose interest in them.

DasmosMay 25, 2010

That's a load of garbage.

YmeegodMay 25, 2010

A Nintendo fansite mod doesn't like Mario platform games, property values in hell just dropped do to extreme weather conditions.  I have to agree with GP on this one, Nintendo has always gone out of it's way to make very cleaver level designs that focuses on gameplay and even though SMG2 is more of the same as SMG doesn't mean it's stale.

We can argue about it but I don't have the time *whips out his torch and pitchfork*.

Don't worry about the fork, it' been sanitized :) .

broodwarsMay 25, 2010

Quote from: Ymeegod

A Nintendo fansite mod administrator doesn't like Mario platform games, property values in hell just dropped do to extreme weather conditions.  I have to agree with GP on this one, Nintendo has always gone out of it's way to make very cleaver level designs that focuses on gameplay and even though SMG2 is more of the same as SMG doesn't mean it's stale.

Fixed.  Seriously, dude, you didn't know Lindy was in charge of the site?

Quote from: Ymeegod

Don't worry about the fork, it' been sanitized :) .

I'm more worried about the cleaver...

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Super Mario Galaxy 2 Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Nintendo
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Release May 23, 2010
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Release May 27, 2010
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Release Jun 11, 2010
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Release Jul 01, 2010
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral

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