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?