With Super Mario Galaxy 2 Nintendo has, once again, proven that after decades of making games, the company is one of the most prolific and consistent developers in the industry.
As the name suggests, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is exactly that: a sequel to Super Mario Galaxy. But thanks to its charm, improved level design , sweeping soundtrack and creative ideas, it is also one of the best games available for the Nintendo Wii, as well as one of the best platformers ever made. With this title Nintendo has, once again, proven that after decades of making games, the company is one of the most prolific and consistent developers in the industry.
When a sequel to Galaxy was announced, a lot of people asked if it was even necessary. Maybe it wasn’t, but Galaxy 2 is an elegant platformer that keeps surprising after hours of playtime. There’s not much you should know in terms of story or gameplay, but what you should know is that Galaxy 2 is one of the most entertaining games of its kind and it achieves that by constantly introducing new and creative concepts without overwhelming the player. Borrowing from Super Mario Bros. 3, there are several ability suits you can equip: three returning ones (Bee Mushroom, Boo Mushroom and Spring Mushroom) and three new ones. The Cloud Flower power-up transforms you into Cloud Mario, allowing you to create temporary clouds that serve as platforms. The Rock Mushroom turns you into Rock Mario, letting the plumber encase himself in a boulder that rolls around the levels destroying pretty much anything he comes into contact with. Lastly, there’s the Spin Drill that, by shaking the Wii Remote, you can drill through planets to reach the opposite side and uncover hidden surfaces.
Then you have new galaxies that are masterfully designed, such as the level where everything is larger than usual or the level that has a mechanic that whenever Mario spins, the different platforms beneath his feet flip. Galaxy 2 might introduce a bunch of new worlds, but I also found that some of the best levels the game has to offer are renditions of Nintendo’s previous titles. There’s a level ripped from Super Mario 64 aptly titled Throwback Galaxy and even the theme that plays in the background is a remixed version from the one you remember from your childhood. You also play a galaxy based on Super Mario Sunshine which is arguably better than the game it’s based on.
The objective in most levels is always the same (reach the end to get a golden star,) but what you do to fulfill that objective always changes. The number of concepts and mechanics this game introduces is baffling, but it’s never overwhelming and the best part is that you always know what to do just by looking at what the game’s putting in front of you. There are hints in case you need them and should you die over and over in the same section, the game will even complete the level for you, but what this game’s able to communicate with its visual language is impressive. I don’t want to spent too much time discussing the different levels, but know that some of them change the laws of physics, gravity, the perspective in which you move and more. Nothing’s sacred in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and that defiance led to the development team taking some risks that paid off in some exciting ways.
A more conservative approach was taken in terms of the several boss encounters that occur throughout the campaign. Undeniably, the ones that stand out the most are those that have you fighting against your arch-nemesis, Bowser. The fact that the gargantuan monster shows up several times during your playthrough though, sadly diminishes the final encounter which is definitely a shame. The rest of the fights are traditional where you need to exploit an enemy’s weakness and attack a specific spot at least three times to win. Although these encounters require some trial an error, it isn’t difficult to figure out what you need to do to bring some of the gargantuan creatures down and since the mechanics that come into play are always imaginative, boss battles are a satisfying way to wrap up levels.
With this direct sequel to Super Mario Galaxy, Nintendo delivers once again, a classic platformer we’ll be talking about for years. Super Mario Galaxy 2 never loses sight of what it wants to be: a creative and eminently satisfying platformer that’s one of the best games the Nintendo Wii has to offer and that’s what makes it fun to play and fun to go back to.