Super Mario Galaxy 2: A Modern Masterpiece

I had forgotten why Super Mario Galaxy 2 was in the top ten – maybe even top five – games I’ve ever played. I knew that I held it in such high regard, and I knew that it deserved to be there, but it’s not until I picked up my Wii remote once again – this time on my Wii U, now that the game’s on the eShop and I actually own it – and returned to the cosmos that I knew why it’s one of the purest and most enjoyable gaming experiences out there, and why I loved it so much.

This isn’t coming after hours of playing the game; I’ve actually just put my controller down after completing the first proper level – after the two-dimensional introduction – but even that, with about five minutes of gameplay, tells me all I need to know about this wonderful title.

It’s a briskly paced and action-packed trip through space which sees Mario soaring from platform to platform – rocky planet to grassy celestial body to who knows what – and acts as an incredible introduction to the dozens of hours of fun that it precedes, culminating with an impressive first level boss. It’s in stark contrast to the very start of the game, which harks back to Mario’s roots, and it might be the only bit of the game you’d ever need to play to get it.

But you’ll play more. If you play the first ten minutes of Mario Galaxy 2, there’s no way you’ll be putting it down until you’ve completed the game, and then at least tried to collect all of the stars. You’ll want to explore – just one more level – to find out what’s next, and you’ll be delighted by what you find. And then you’ll play even more.

There’s something about Super Mario Galaxy 2 – the way that it makes you feel as though you’re playing the first level of something again and again, introducing new mechanics and constantly twisting things about constantly, that makes it really special. You’re getting a fresh Mario experience thrown at you minutes after you’ve barely digested something new. It’s Nintendo’s method: showing you something amazing, throwing it in the bin seconds later, and starting from scratch with something even better. There’s nothing quite like it.

Certain other games should be embarrassed to exist in the same medium as this – those games which become repetitive as you progress, or play the same tricks two or three times more than they should, or simply lack the content to be worthwhile. It’s hard to state how much of an experience this is without galactic levels of hyperbole, or without dismissing every other superb game out there, but it’s something that needs to be done.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a masterpiece. There’s been nothing quite like it in the near five years since release. Sure, The Last of Us took the medium to the next level in terms of storytelling, and there have been some really stunning technical showcases recently, but when it boils down to gameplay, I can’t think of anything that comes close.

Even Nintendo’s own recent output hasn’t nearly matched what’s on offer with this game: Mario Kart 8 was fantastic and my game of the year last year, but it just doesn’t get there in terms of sheer variety and fun level-to-level when compared to Galaxy 2. The most recent Super Mario title – 3D Land – was a fantastic game by any standard, but it’s so disappointing compared to the ingenuity of this title, and even feels like a step backwards despite the HD resolution and new mechanics.

The short section of Super Mario Galaxy 2 that I’ve just played makes up perhaps the five most enjoyable minutes of gaming I’ve had in the last year, and I’m really not sure I can say more than that. If games were reviewed on their opening moments, Galaxy 2 would be king. Even in this world where they aren’t, it soars above all else and consistently leaves you with a great big smile on your face. What more could you want?

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14 Comments

  1. Is it suitable for my 9 y.o. Girls?

    I don’t mean content, more the problem solving. They’ve just about managed to get their heads around Sonic Generations & Monument Valley but do balk a little when their pre-conceptions are challenged. Not a bad thing, just they are starting to amass a pile of Shame too!

    • It’s a Nintendo game, it’s DESIGNED for nine year old girls.

      • :)

        And big ginger love gods – must confess, been wanting to pick it up for ages but not able to justify!

      • It’s actually quite a hard game at points, particularly in the later levels, though there is a co-op aspect which allows the secondary player to shoot and stun enemies. But the timing required for some of the platforming sections can be completely rage-inducing.

        Makes the feeling of getting past each level more rewarding, though.

      • The level where you’re a spring, jumping over giant cannonballs come to mind. You know the one.

      • Thanks Blair – that’s what I was a little worried about. LBP2 & Puppeteer have a few “humph” moments too.

  2. Few games have this effect on me, but simply reading or hearing about Galaxy 2 makes me want to play it. I planned on finishing it over Christmas, but never got much singleplayer gaming done.

    I look forward to Nintendos next 3D Mario game. Personally I hope they do more large levels that branch out, in the vein of 64. Galaxy has had some worlds that come close, but I want more.

    It doesn’t really matter what I want though, I’ve faith in EAD and hope to see them create whatever they want.

    • Aye. Ever since the girls were given a Wii, I’ve been itching to pick it up.

  3. I am ashamed to say this is still in my wii backlog. Still sealed in it’s tin…..

  4. Only played the first and it was fantastic. I really should dust of the Wii and pick this up. SMG was quite easily one of my best gaming experiences.

  5. Oh how I yearn for a SMG HD Collection for the Wii U. 3D World was good but Im longing for another Mario game in the same vein as 64, Galaxy, or even Sunshine. Beautiful, joyous, outright fun-to-play games that I’ll never get tired of.

    Nintendo may struggle when it comes to designing consoles but when it comes to designing games they are the masters of their craft. Simple as that.

  6. Gah! Might have to trawl ebay for a cheap Wii just to play this game due to it’s recommendations. My best all time game has always been Super Mario 64 so it should be interesting to see the comparisons and upgrades from the behemoth.
    Being a big ginger love god is proving costly this year…yet another console!!!

    • Actually scratch that, I might invest in the real thing (Wii-U that is) as it’s price has been brought down to that of the Vita for a Basic jobbie.
      I presume that adding an external HDD via USB port turns the basic console into a premium jobbie? Just so happens that I have a spare USB HDD lying around…with it’s own power supply!

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